You’ve probably been wearing a lot of clothing throughout your life. Well of course you have, you probably don’t walk around naked (I hope). But have you ever stopped and wondered why we wear some of the things we wear?

What started outfits like the three-piece suit? Who invented high heels? Like what even is the point of that tiny pocket inside the bigger pocket of jeans?

Where did it all come from? Was it one really entrepreneurial businessman who changed an entire fashion trend? Did it come from something random like a jackpot casino?

I didn’t know and I assumed you didn’t know either, so I decided to look into it and try and dive in and learn about and figure out where these things came from. A long story short is that the history of a lot of these things is kind of muddled. A lot of them are just stuff that has kinda been around and no one really knows where it came from.

The suit and pants

I thought I should start with what I thought would be the simplest. The suit and pants. I (horrendously wrongly) assumed that these originated around the same time as the industrial revolution. Boy, was I wrong!

Why did I think something like this for this long? Honestly, I’m not sure why I thought this other than I haven’t ever actually put more than a brief thought into where suit and pants come from.

The largest theory of where they came from was the military jacket uniforms they have used for a really long time now. And that honestly makes more sense.

It came from militaries starting to use them as fancier, yet easier to maintain, uniforms. Presumably, the look caught on, and over the hundreds of years that they have been used eventually they just became commonplace among anyone wanting to be fancy.

The three-piece suit

The three-piece suit is a bit more complicated because there wasn’t a practical reason that they first got invented.

If you don’t know what a three-piece suit is it’s a suit like the one above except out of three pieces. That’s it has the jacket and pants but also a vest under the jacket. Before this would just be any sort of normal shirt underneath.

Some of you may already know this story, I think it’s one of those tales that keep getting told. At least this one has some truth to it.

The story goes that King Charles the second of the British Empire invented the three-piece suit in 1636. I believe it even says the exact date. But nevertheless, he invented the suit or at least really liked the design someone who did invent it showed him and he made a statement about how he was going to change modern fashion.

He started wearing a three-piece suit and because he was the king many people of the court followed after him and also donned the three-piece suit. After that, it spread to the nobles and higher-ups until the sign of a rich or influential person was depicted in their suit. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution where more and more people were placed into positions of higher standing.

More people were landlords or factory managers and needed to look the part. So that’s how it spread to most of Britain and of course, with them controlling almost a third of the world their influence spread quite far and many other places started copying and using the style of the suit.

While most of the facts in the story are very true, King Charles the second did in fact say those things and probably believed he created the three-piece suit as popular fashion. I think you might be able to say that he did it honestly.

All that is true but there is definitely evidence of people wearing the vest and in fact three-piece suits themselves almost a hundred years before King Charles the second.  Oh, well….

High heels

High heels, shoes with high heels. Perfect for raising your height a few inches, making your legs look longer and making you seem more imposing. Also notoriously uncomfortable, painful and, some doctors would argue, dangerous to your feet.

Whether or not high heels are good for you isn’t what this article is about though. We are here for the history of the shoes, not the ethicallity of what they do to your toes.

The shoe’s history is quite complicated though, especially because the term “high heel” is so broad. A lot of shoes for a really long time have had some sort of thick heel. Persian soldiers in as far back as the tenth century have had high heels in their boots for riding horses. The groove created by the heel and the base of the shoe is great for gripping the stirrups (the things your feet go into) on horses.

This is also the reason why cowboys have their signature cowboy boots. So their feet can stay in the stirrups of their horses better.

The first recorded proof we have of high heels being used as a means of fashion and beauty and not practicality is in the twelfth century, a statue in India depicting a  woman in high heels.

While this trend might have the first recorded use in India it’s almost certain that it was used across the entire world for a very long time. The medieval ages have lots of depictions of people wearing high heels for fashion
King Louis the fourteenth wore high heels to depict and impart status. So that he’d always be the tallest person in the room.

Many noble people wore a form of high heeled or platform shoes called chopines so that their feet wouldn’t have to touch the dirty trash and excrement-strewn roads when they walked them.

Some chopines were as much as thirty inches tall and the noble people were required to walk everywhere with two servants whose job it was to catch the nobles when they tripped.

There are a lot of appearances of high heels throughout history from this point forward. Most, if not all, civilizations had some form of high heels.

Some interesting facts I learned when researching the history of high heels;

  • Both the state of Massachusetts and the country of Britain tried to pass laws that would get women who wore high heels to be tried in the same way as witches. This meant a death sentence.
  • A town in California called Carmel-By-Sea requires people to have a permit to wear high heels over two inches

Who knew high heels had a really interesting history. I sure didn’t