Men have a tough time when it comes to fashion. For some reason, the average Western male seems to have been sentenced to a life of pants and flat shoes in limited styles.
Thankfully, we're starting to accept that men can wear pink when they want. We even turn a blind eye to a smudge of make-up — some eyeliner here, a little base there. But no man in his right mind would step out in a pair of lace-up stilettos, right?
You may or may not be surprised to find that the answer to that question is a resounding, "Yes, they would." Some fashion-conscious men are branching out into a range of footwear that involves some serious heels.
And why not? It's been done before. Seventeenth century France saw the male nobility flaunting embroidered high heels as decreed by King Louis XIV to show off their class and rank — until Napoleon banned the style in the late 18th century. Part of his "Napoleonic Code" covered an outright ban on high heels — for both men and women — in his attempt to illustrate equality in France.
In more recent history, the masculine high heel was taken up by glam rockers like David Bowie, Kiss and Prince. And now it's a trend that's begun to infiltrate the fashion-conscious youth in the USA. But these men aren't the typical drag queen crowd. Their high heels are paired with designer menswear and not with a skirt and blouse or mini-dress. So what's the appeal?
In an interview with New York Times journalist Tricia Romano, a trendy, young Sean Wagner explained that his high heel habit helped him to "see over the cattle."
According to Romano's article, Wagner isn't short. In fact, at just under two metres, she describes him as "tall even in socks". Men like Wagner — who enjoy wearing male fashion items — are beginning to experiment with their footwear more because they are tired of the small range of choices available to them.
"I literally look at girls and think, you have so many options. ... Boys have pants and shorts. Or suits and a shirt," explained another interviewee.
You might be surprised to hear that the challenge isn't so much that they are met with resistance to their fashion choice in public, but rather that a size 11 doesn't exist in a pair of designer Louboutins. Eager young fashionistas like Wagner have to go out and make it happen. "I found a company in Arizona that will do 15-inch heels for $3000," he told Romano.
High heels aren't the only "female-only" fashion items men have adopted. Recently, the clutch bag has been reinvented for the male stylista, offering a different take on the much-shunned "man bag".
Yet detractors, such as Daily Mail writer Cosmo Soave Smith, claim that it's impossible for a man to remember to carry around something that isn't attached to them. For a guy to remember to carry around a clutch bag is "enough to give a man a headache", she explained.
Yet for some the idea of being frozen in golf shirts, loafers and chinos for all time is a daunting enough prospect to inspire them to take the twisted ankles, blistered toes and lost clutch bags in their well-dressed stride, and allow trends like these to grow.
Not convinced that men can pull off wearing a sexy high heeled shoe? Check out our fashion gallery of examples here.