Wilhelmine von Cotta, 1802Gottlieb SchickStaatsgalerie Stuttgart
Wilhelmine von Cotta, 1802
Gottlieb Schick
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Keeping a Low Profile

Off With Their Heels

Increasing criticism of frivolous extravagance heralded the end of the aristocratic age. With revolution in the air, the upper classes throughout Europe and North America began to embrace the more modest aesthetic of the rising middle class.

Men had abandoned high heels by the middle of the 18th century and, throughout the last decades of the century, women's heels became increasing lower. Sturdy heels were replaced by more delicate and thin heels and, by the 1790s, heels usually rose no higher than a few centimetres.

After the French Revolution, heels quickly went out of style. By the early 1800s, flats were the fashion. High heels would not be seen again in Western fashion for another fifty years.
Next Section