The humble wedge shoe has been around since 1935, when Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo designed the orthopaedic wedge; followed by the wedge heel in 1936. 2016 sees its return to our closets and here are 5 reasons why you should consider wearing wedges….
The first wedges didn’t have a distinct heel and had cellophane straps. Salvatore Ferragamo used cork and wood when creating his shoe because in 1936 there was a leather and rubber shortage. Cork was more popular than wood because it is lighter and the cork sole was also sturdy and durable. Cork heels and soles are still popular today as they are hard wearing and are hard to scuff. The shoes never look scruffy and look presentable, whatever the occasion.
During World War 2, wedges grew in popularity in the USA. Wedges offered height and easier walk in than skinny heels. During the war, wedge heels got up to 5″ high and were often worn with jackets that sported shoulder pads adding to the illusion of height. A fashion we saw repeated in the 1980s with power dressing – shoulder pads, wedges and big hair! Wearing a heel that you can walk in goes with this year’s Summer fashion of floaty palazzo trousers, culottes – although the shoulder pads haven’t appeared!
In the 1970s both men and women wore platform wedges – in outrageous designs. Once again it was the illusion of height that made the shoes popular. Wedges help to give the illusion of longer legs and give a slimming effect body silhouette.
Wedges provide stability. Like the stiletto heel, weight distribution in the wedge heel is still primarily on the balls of the feet and toes. The higher the heel, the more weight the wearer carries on the front of the foot. However, with the soles in 2016 being stacked too, the weight is distributed more evenly – making the shoe easier to walk in, especially when encountering uneven surfaces or grass. If you are a bride, walking down the aisle in wedges, may give you the height and confidence you need!
Wedges come in a variety of heel heights and encompass all age groups. In the 1990s wedge sneakers made an appearance, being the preferred footwear of the iconic girl band of the day, the Spice Girls. Designers like Natacha Marro have created “heel-less” shoes which work along the same principal as traditional wedges. Lower heeled espadrilles wedges are ideal for holidays; as well as boot companies such as Fly London making the most of a lower wedge for their range of biker style boots.
Ah, the humble wedge. Make sure you have a pair or two in your shoe closet (or 6 like me!) – they’ll be your best friends this year.
Photos by Linda Hobden.