Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Evolution of High Heels

This story by the BBC is really fascinating.

It seems as if high heels were invented in Persia in order to help soldiers better ride their horses
and shoot arrows at the same time.  The trend was introduced into Europe, but men adopted
high heels as a symbol of high social status.  Slowly, women adopted high heels from men
and men ultimately dropped the trend.

What I think is most interesting is that the article touches on the period of time when men's clothing became more and more boring and women's clothing became more and more fancy.  It's interesting to think about why this occurred.


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

evolution - development

glamour - if someone is glamorous she is very charming and exciting. Movie stars are often made to seem like glamorous people because they wear expensive clothing and act in a charming, sophisticated manner.

an accessory - something worn to add to one's main article or articles of clothing. Something extra someone can wear to be more attractive.

provocative - stimulating, exciting.

ardent - passionate, emotional.

practical - useful. The opposite term might be "idealistic."

cobbled - cobbled streets are streets that are rough or bumpy (uneven) because they are made of bricks. Bricks are used to make houses. They used to be used to make streets. In fact, there are still some brick streets in lower Manhattan.

posh - fancy, expensive.

stirrups - a horse-rider puts his feet in stirrups to stabilize himself while he rides.

cavalry - a part of an army made up of people riding on horses.

keen - to be keen to do something means to be eager to do something.

to forge links - to create links or ties.

aristocrats - members of the European royalty (i.e. princes, dukes etc.)

Ottoman Empire - this was the empire that existed before the development of the modern Turkish state.

virile - if a man is virile, he is strong or physically powerful.

to filter into - to slowly move into. Water is poured into a coffee pot and the water mixes with the coffe grinds; a coffee filter is used the allow coffee to slowly move through the coffee grinds and into the coffee pot.

muddy, rutted - mud is a mixture of dirt and water; rutted means broken, or cut up

no utility value - not useful

status can be conveyed through impracticality - wealthy people can show they are wealthy by wearing clothing which is not useful.

privileged status - having a status which indicates that one comes from an easy and wealthy background.

Imelda Marcos - This is a woman's name. She used to be the wife of the president of The Philippines.  After her husband was over-thrown, the people discovered that she had hundreds of pairs of shoes in her husband's palace. The girl loved shoes!!!!!!!!!!

arguably - it could be argued that...

diminuative - very small.  This King was a small guy.

supplemented - added to.

depiction - the way something is shown.

a martial overtone - martial means military.  A martial overtone means a military atmosphere or tone.

macho - very masculine, manly.

epaulettes - these are little flaps that are on the shoulders of some soldiers' uniforms.

unisex - both sexes can use it.

robust - strong.

dainty - small and very fragile or weak.

renunciation - to say no to something.  When the author speaks of the male renunciation of fancy clothes, the author speaks of a time when men stopped wearing very colorful and fun clothes.  Male clothing became very boring.

abandon - to get rid of.

ostentatious - showy. If you are ostentatious, you are showing off.

sober - not drunk.  Very clear-headed.

homogeneous - the same.

to blur boundaries - to make boundaries less clear. If your vision is blurry, it is not clear and you may need glasses.

female desirability - certain types of clothing made women more desirable to men.  because women wore certain types of clothing, men wanted them more.

pornography - this is sexually explicit material; sexual material that can be read or watched.

adornment - anything worn as a decoration.

dandies - men who really cared about how they look.  Now the term is 'metrosexuals.'


Why do you think men stopped wearing very colorful clothes?  Do you wish that guys could wear clothing which is as exciting as women's clothes?


Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.  

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at djg51qu@gmail.com and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P




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