High Heels Are In For Men, Maybe

Sometimes people try really hard to write about something gay/progressive/different, and as much as they obviously mean well, they just don’t get it right.

Tricia Romano from the NY Times decided to show up to a super extra double trendy LA party and was shocked/thrilled/surprised/had feelings worthy of publishing upon seeing men wearing high heels. She was shocked to see men in traditional men’s clothing (button-up and slacks) who were also wearing high heels, so she wrote about it. Or at least, that’s how I imagine this went down. The article never declares it a trend, never speaks to any stylists or designers, but just says, “Oh hai. Some men are wearing traditional menswear with high heels.” There’s a splash of back story (men’s high heels were banned by Napoleon) and interviews with some dudes, but overwhelmingly, the focus remains on the size and cost of the shoes.

PHOTO CREDIT: AMY DICKERSON FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Let’s get real. As soon as the article says, “some would call it a form of drag,” (which it’s really not) the author made one thing very clear: this isn’t an article about men wearing high heels; it’s an oh-my-god article about men wearing women’s shoes. American pop culture has accepted high heels being worn by men for decades (see: glam rock, disco, David Bowie). Guys, cowboy boots are high heels. It seems like men would want to wear heels for the simple fact that they make you taller than everyone else and your ass look great.

Sean Wagner, a man interviewed pointed out, “I always make it very clear that I am a man, and I’m not trying to portray an illusion to anybody… As far as we’re concerned, this is just bringing a look to a club — which is what you are supposed to do.” At a time in fashion when men’s shoes are, well, flat and boring, should anyone really be so surprised that stylish men are turning women’s shoes? This sound like a super awesome idea to me.

HIGHHEELSPASSION.BLOGSPOT.COM

So yes, I happily hope that this is a part of high fashion becoming increasingly androgynous. According to stylist June Ambrose, “Fashion should be as unisex as it is right now. It’s probably the most unisex we’ve seen it.” Suddenly it’s okay for Kanye West to wear a women’s shirt or Justin Bieber to wear girl’s jeans. So, if super-high heels are in style for women, and men wearing women’s clothing is in style, it would make sense that men wearing women’s high heels would be as well. Right? Right? Maybe.

Honestly, to my immediate sense, wearing pumps isn’t some hot new craze that’s sweeping the nation one man at a time. These interviews were done at Mr. Black, which the article failed to mention is a gay party at an expensive LA club. So, if all of the interviews are with members of the high-end LA gaybar scene, I’m left wondering if this is/is going to be a mainstream thing or not. If not, who is rocking it? While I would appreciate the coverage of a new queer trend, without more explanation the New York Times leaves me confused about whether this is an LA thing, queer thing or rich-person thing.

RAD HOURANI FEATURED MEN'S HEELS IN HIS FALL 2009 COLLECTION

Instead of obsessing about how great the cost or how large the shoe size, the focus of the Times article should have been investigating who this trend appeals to and where this trend is going. Might we see a surge of men buying women’s shoes, perhaps leading to stilettos made specifically for men?

When skinny jeans were first hitting the markets for women, plenty of guys I knew were wearing women’s jeans. Why is it that shoes are seen so differently? Quite possibly this has to do with the long-term monopoly women have had on stilettos, but it’s certainly exasperated by both financial and sizing reasons. I would imagine it would be hard for men’s high heels to gain mainstream footing without, simply, more access. I would have loved an interview with a menswear designer on where he thinks men’s heels are headed. Might they be moving towards making men’s pumps? Perhaps even unisex heels? How many years do I have to wait until men are carrying their heels in their hand as they do the barefoot (unashamed) walk of shame.

Unfortunately, if men do join the mega-high heel trend, they also have this to look forward to:

HIGH HEELS FUCK YOUR BACK BIGTIME

Feature image via highheelsfashion.blogspot.com

Avatar of Lizz

Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 273 articles for us.

49 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    I love heels! If I was unable to feel pain I would wear them all day every day and happily die 30 years before my time from back issues. I also love when men wear heels; it looks super awesome and makes me happy that they’re bucking gender norms. That said, I think stilettos don’t really look right on guys; it might be that I just don’t like them with trousers or it might be my inner patriarchy trying to oppress these poor men again. Only time will tell!

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    I would love to see high heels being produced in wider widths and larger sizes because as a MAAB woman I have a very hard time finding any stylish shoes in womens 12-13 EE (that are even remotely affordable).

    As to men wearing heels, I don’t really understand it. Some of this is me simply viewing things through the window of gender stereotypes that I grew up with. It might also be connected to the dysphoria I feel about masculine items and bodies.

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    The original article felt less like an actual trend piece and more like the Current Events homework slapped together in the high school library twenty minutes before Civics. Someone should tell her three guys in one LA club and thirty seconds on Wikipedia don’t actually count as journalism.

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    I just went to Mr. Black last week for the first time! The whole ethos there seems to be a self-conscious look at me transgressive-ness. I’m not sure this is something that will catch on outside of queer or high fashion circles.

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    I still don’t even understand why women wear high heels. The only time I’ve worn them is because I had to. Why would any man do it when he can get away his whole life without needing to? I’m jealous! It’s a mystery to me why anyone, male or female, would — they are hard to walk in! — but to each their own. If you’re gonna wear them, just rock the shit out of them!

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    Wow. I could not possibly have imagined how hot high heels could look on guys until I saw that first pic. o_o I think this needs to happen. Androgyny/David Bowie whoo! Even though… I personally never… wear… heels… cuz they hurt… and are… stupid… :D

  7. Thumb up 0

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    if men want to be taller and wear heels, fine by me, I’m not using heels. I hate them. I like my comfy shoes. Even if I am ridiculously short

    As I read the article I was surprised that one of the guys tried to climb a fence in heels. my first thought was “are you an idiot?!” you have to be to try and climb wearing heels. predictably, he broke a leg.

    so, lesson: wear heels, just take them off if you’re going to do anything even remotely sporty.

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    Hi,
    I am male and found this article. I am straight, but have all my life enjoyed hgh heels. Over the last 12 months I have now taken to wearing heels in public, however my choice of heel is a heeled hiking boot design, so has an almost block heel. I wear trousers which covers two thirds of the heel. I can walk 5 or 6 kilomtres with out sore calf muscles or sore ankles, which is so often an issue for a first time wearer. my heels are 4 1/4″ and have about 1/2″ tread which is where the comfort comes from. I often wear these boots for 12 hours in a day and find them to be more comfortable than flats. I agree that Stilletos on men just don’t quite look right, not sure why but just how I feel.
    thanks for reading
    Blacksheep

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    I really like this. I never really wore heels, even before I started wearing mens clothes. but the 1st and 3rd pics are hot. I’d like to see gay guys doing this, and I might even consider it for myself. talk about gender bending

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  11. Thumb up 0

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    Wearing heels, both amle and female is a skill. It take grainy, practice and exercise to wear them confidently. What is worn with heels is also important to Cary off the style. Yes men should be able to wear heels as every day atiire.

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    High Heels & Sandals are for women only. Men don’t need to wear high heels. Any man wearing high heels where I live would be laughed at. I love it when my girlfriend wears high heels and sandals.

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    Heels have been a man thing long before they were considered a women thing. Starting from the priests in Egypt till the present day cowboys. In the Flower power era most men wore heels, so actually nothing new under the sun

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    As with Blacksheep above, I am a guy who wears high heels (Stilettos exclusively). I have been wearing them in public for 7 years. People have not only accepted me in heels, but some have actually expressed how much they like the look I present. I tend to wear stiletto boots with skinny jeans and stiletto pumps with dress slacks. I have received hardly any negative comments, but positive comments have been many from women, men and even teenagers.

    We are the real deal, there just aren’t enough of us out of the closet yet so to speak to be society’s radar.

    And if you think Blacksheep and myself are just yanking your chain, check out this link.

    http://izzym.hubpages.com/hub/Men-Have-The-Right-To-Wear-High-Heeled-Shoes

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    Hello there all you lucky Americans. Where there are still shop that also sell high heels for men. I started in the 1970s, then were able to buy mens shoe boots, in almost any high street shop except one’s I had were 3 inch high, & I could run in them, & wear them all day. My main pair the shank broke in 2002 after 24 years. Nowadays I have no choice but to buy drag shoes. my posture is better in high heels & more comfortable. Ray Brighton, England.

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    Most people assume that males wearing 4 to 6 inch stilettos or spikes wannabe women because they have not lived in a world where men in heels have been normal occurances. Had men continued to wear high heels, this scenario would have been perceived quite differently and not seen as farfetched. Granted, there are some that fit the women wannabe analogy, but there are many more who desire to wear heels and want this type of footwear to be part of their attiring choices. Actually, it is common knowledge that quite a few wear heels, even stilettos, inspite of the social taboos. Just peruse the internet to see for yourself the interest and attitudes posted towards male high heeling.

    Presently, with the knowledge that men and women have the desire and the capacity to wear heels, the reasoning to continue the taboos for male heeling are unjust and without merit. For those that don’t have such inclinations, it is their right not to partake, but each individual doesn’t have the right to decide for others what they should choose. If such power to decide for others is to be the rule, then why can’t those who want to wear heels force everyone else to do the same.

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    I’m a straight, married man, and after struggling for quite some time, I’ve recently gotten the courage to wear high heel boots out in public, and I am so happy I did so. There are many others like me and the list is growing exponentially.

    Guys – if you want to do this – my advice to you – DO IT TASTEFULLY, DO IT WITH CONFIDENCE, and ROCK YOUR LOOK.

  19. Thumb up 0

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    I’ve always worn cowboy boots with heels raised to 6 inches. If THEY FIT PROPERLY it’s very easy to walk in them. I wouldn’t even think of wearing women’s shoes. You can take any pair of pointy toed cowboy boots and raise the heels to 6 inches for a very small cost. These boots keep me aroused especially as the heels wobble on rough terrain and I slide around on snow or ice. They tell the right woman to cum and meet me.

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    As a young woman, I love to see guys in cowboy boots with very high heels. When I want to be satisfied, I like to fondle them and watch them try to struggle and get away in their super high cowboy heels, especially when they try to run away and stumble all over the place. I’m a real feminist and love to see these guys make fools out of themselves with their high heeled boots. These guys are never gay, and they love to be embarrassed and dominated in their boots with their super high heels. When they’re struggling in their boots, they get an instant erection.

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    I’m a young gay male. When I see a guy in cowboy boots with super high heels, I want to tear off his jeans and show him what real arousal means. You guys are hot and you can’t run away in those boots with their super high heels, so be ready for it.

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    I’m in my early 20′s and like to wear a cowboy outfit with a cowboy hat, red bandana, no shirt, extremely short cutoff jeans with a thong, and pointy toe cowboy boots with very high 6 1/2 inch heels. Men and women have very good compiments for me since I have a hot body and really nice legs. I go to parties dressed like this, buy I avoid gay bars. I get trapped by groups of gay men and can’t run out of the bar in my very high heels. These guys like to rub and lick my boots and my legs, and sometimes even worse.

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    Back in the 1970′s I lived in Texas and very short cutoff jeans and cowboy boots with 6 inch heels with metal taps were normal attire. I worked on a ranch and this attire was required by the ranch owner, and he provided the custom made boots. The whole group of us wore this attire. I was in my early 20′s, and I looked great in this outfit. One weekend I was traveling to the Gulf to the beach in this outfit, and stopped at a rest area. Back then groups of “guys” were hanging around these areas, and I didn’t know it. I loved to wear this outfit and was too naive to know what message it sent to certain types of men. Some of these guys surrounded me and were lusting at me in my outfit what with my wobbling around on my very high heels and short shorts. I was actually afraid at one point since I could barely walk in these heels, let alone run away. Eventually, they let me strut away to my truck, while laughing and making sexual comments. When I got to the beach, I had similar comments made from other guys in town. I wore this outfit on to the beach and found out that these heels don’t work in sand. I no longer live in Texas, but I still wear cowboy boots with 6 inch heels to this day and love the feeling of a good pair of boots with very high heels. The high heels are supposed to give men a feeling of authority and power, as they did in years past. The fact is that they deflate the male ego and turn authority and power to helplessness and vulnerability. I guess that’s what heeled men want since they certainly can’t fight off anyone or run away in cowboy boots with 6 inch heels.

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    This thread seems to have veered off into some sexual fantasy of a few, but make no mistake there are guys that prefer high heels, even stilettos, with the same ferver as some gals choose to wear them. Heels are items of footwear, which means they are subjected to choice, just like any other article of attire. It’s the man-made rules of stereotyping that promotes the idea that people should only want to wear certain things. Society has set up blanket rules for appareling that lacks the reality of how each individual perceives and what they desire.

    The fear that grips us when we are actually confronted with the reality that we wear items that somebody has labeled for women terrifies some men to know they’d be exposed. Now, should we adapt to the seasonal fashion and expose our choice of footwear? Wow! It’s a heaven/hell situation. Hell for us in hiding our heels and watching others walk around in theirs. Heaven for us who have moved on and wear heels realizing this fear is actually self-inflicted and would become a non-factor once people see guys regularly in heels. It’s that interim between now and then that could be a relatively short period of time and an easy step (deliberately punned) to a better life of freedom should we drop our inhibitions by heeling openly. However, we will continue to experience this excruciating ordeal as long as the status quo stays in our area. It’s up to each one of us. Make it happen and others will follow. Talking to the choir, aren’t I? Well, it could be the heeling concert revival!

    Today, women ignore the stereotyping and wear what they want. Men, on the other hand, fear being ridiculed or put down as unworthy of their manhood should they exhibit the desire to ignore their limited fashion prison. Which makes one wonder who are the better people to emulate? The people who only live with in their established stereotyping or the people who venture out as they follow the enlightenment from who they are.

    Historically, women were the ones without the say as to what they could wear, while the powerful and wealthy of society were the ones deciding the fashions of the period. Obviously, these people were more interested in showing how well off they had become and no longer had to be concerned with the daily mundane grind of making a living. Furthermore, they wanted to lord their social status of prominence over the less affluent classes of people.

    Today, we have so many things are available to us, that use to only be the possessions of the wealthy. In particular are the well made items of footwear accessible to public marketing. With the advances by industry and technology, many more people are able to live just as the wealthy of by-gone eras, except our cost are considerably less for even better quality. High heels have returned as one of these options. For years society forbade men to wear heels because of their reputation for being the footwear of the unpopular French aristocracy. Then men were prohibited from wearing heels for the impracticality. Through these periods the attitude that real men don’t want to wear heels became a standard as the gender gap got promoted in social circles. Any appearance by men in heels became viewed as comedic stunts or men wanting to be women. Society and its members misunderstood or misread the desires of men and women wanting the same things. This helped to encourage a lot of incorrect assumptions about the sexual orientation many people questioned. When people couldn’t get satisfactory answers from society as to why they had feelings and desires attributed to the opposite sex, a movement to be accepted for who they are. These people found roots in the homosexual way of thinking, since the stereotyping didn’t allow for inter-genderal feelings and desires people were and are experiencing.

    With this understanding, men wearing high stiletto heels is just as much a part of the masculine as it is for the feminine. It’s the social attitude that has become ingrained which keep such things as the status quo.

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