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Top 10 Most Bizarre Shoes in History

retrocharm . . . Comments

Shoes date back to the 8,000s BC – a very long history, indeed. Over the millennia all manner of styles and materials have been used for shoes. Some successful (the modern athletic shoe) and some not successful at all (lotus shoes). This list looks at ten bizarre styles of shoe from early to modern history.


Japan, 18th century – today


Long before the 1970’s and the platform shoes, Japanese maiko (apprentice geisha) had been wearing Okobo sandals or clogs. The reason for wearing these very high platform shoes was not solely for fashion, but also for very practical reasons. If you are wearing a very expensive kimono that hangs all the way to your feet, you do not want to get mud on it when you walk outside. Okobo are made of one piece of solid wood forming the sole. Usually the wood has a very natural finish, or no varnish at all. But during the summer, maiko will wear black lacquered Okobo. The hight of Okobo shoes generally measures at 5 1/2 inches (14 cm), and the wood sole is carved hollow, giving them a very distinctive sound when one walks in them. In fact, the word Okobo is an onomatopoeia, that is it represents the sound of walking in them. A V-shaped thong of cloth forms the upper part of the sandal. The color of the cloth depends on the status of the maiko. For instance, a new maiko will wear red, while one who has nearly finished her apprenticeship will wear yellow.


Men’s high heels
Europe, 1700’s


Shoes and stockings became very important for men in the 1700’s, when the tailored coat and breeches came into fashion and the focus shifted to the lower body. Suddenly, it was all about the shapely legs, and men wanted to wear flattering, fanciful hose and shoes to accentuate them. Louis XIV also had a thing for high heels with red soles and heels. It must have been tough being short in stature but lofty in power, so I guess he thought he would even it up a bit. Of course, what the king does, everyone else copies, so everyone who was anyone wore high heels with red soles and heels. After all, what would be more proper to wear with Petticoat breeches, than high-heeled shoes? Boots went completely out of style in favor of these new elegant heels, now elaborately decorated with ribbons, rosettes or buckles.


Lebanon, 14th-17th century


Silver studded Wooden stilts known as “kabkabs” or “nalins” were once a practical way for women in the Middle East to protect themselves from dirt and discomfort on wet, muddy streets and in hot, wet bathhouses. Those belonging to the wealthy were often richly inlaid with mother of pearl. They were several inches high and had embroidered leather, silk or velvet straps. The name “kabkab” is derived from the sound they make when walking on marble floors. The uppers were embroidered with silver, gold or pewter wire. For special occasions, like a wedding, the wooden stilts were entirely covered with intricately decorated silver, or with small silver ornaments. Many times brides were very young girls and, therefore, small in stature. To compensate this, bridal kabkabs were sometimes made as high as two feet. Socially, kabkabs were only worn by women. In bathhouses, however, simple ones, sometimes with a little carving only and a leather-strap upper, were also worn by men.


Plaited birch bark shoe
Finland, mid 20th century


In the early part of the 20th century, women wore bark shoes daily, with cloth foot wrap inserts. They were also used as overshoes to protect more costly leather shoes against rain, mud and snow. These shoes were commonly made from Birch bark, but they could also be made from linden or lime-tree bark. Norway, Sweden and even Russia have all had their own version of the footwear. The lifespan of bark shoes is limited to about one week.


Italy, 1580 – 1620


Today, only a very small number of museums have examples of original chopines. The debut of these shoes was during the renaissance, but they were still the shoe of choice for many Italian women at the beginning of the 17th century. Like the Japanese Okobo, Chopines were highly impractical, their primary purpose was to make the wearer stand out. They not only heightened the wearer by up to 18 cm (5 inches) but were extremely extravagant and expensive.

These treasured shoes were made of wood, and either covered with fine silk or velvet. They were embellished with silver lace, tacks, and were finished with a silk tassel. The tragic twist to these coveted shoes is that chopines were rarely ever visible, even in paintings from the period, since women always wore long dresses that covered their footwear.


Heelless shoes

Mr 29E66A185Fa1F3

I decided to put a couple of modern shoe designs here too, as they are just too bizarre to miss. Heelless shoes made their debut on Antonio Berardi’s runway in 2007, and were made famous by Victoria Beckham in 2008. And despite their unnatural and extremely uncomfortable look, according to their English Italian designer, they do not cause the wearer any pain. He has said “They are perfectly balanced. When the girls come for fittings, they look a bit daunted, but by the end they say it’s just like wearing a regular shoe.” But medical experts have their concerns, saying that the shoes could lead to permanent damage to the feet, knees and spine if worn regularly.


Padukas (Toe-knob sandals)
India, 1700’s

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Ceremonial padukas, or toe-knob sandals, is the name of India’s oldest, and ultimate footwear. They were little more than a sole with a post and knob, which was situated between the big toe and second toe. They were commonly made from silver, wood, iron or even ivory. There is even a Spiked Paduka used for masochism. Masochism is for obtaining gratification or sexual arousal by having pain inflicted upon oneself. Some masochists enjoy a form of aichmophilia (the love of needles and spikes). Once pain has been registered for 20-40 minutes, the body will begin to produce opiate-like chemicals to reduce pain sensation. The release of these chemicals causes anesthetic, euphoric and trancelike qualities that allegedly enhance sexual sensitivity or experience. Spiked padukas sandals are worn by Indian Hindu Sadhus, or Holy Men, for this very purpose.


Wooden Bridal Shoes
France, late 19th century

Ori Rub 105

Out of the Bethmale Valley, south of the city Saint Girons in the Ariege district, comes this high pointed bridal wooden shoe. They go back as far as the 9th century, when local villagers conquered a camp of Moorish invaders, who kidnapped the village women, and pricked the hearts of their enemy on the pointed tips of their clogs, in celebration of their victory. The clogs were made in one piece of the trunks of walnut trees which formed a rectangle with its roots. Later the branches of a tree were pulled and warped in a special way to pre-shape the tree for making this type of clogs. Village men created the clogs for their future brides. It is said that the higher the point, the greater his love for her.


The Ballet Boot
1980’s-present day

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The ballet boot is a contemporary style of footwear. They started as a fetish shoe, but have grown in popularity as a general fashion statement, particularly in Japan. This shoe merges the look of the traditional ballet slipper with the ultimate high heel. The illusion is to force the wearers feet almost en pointe, like those of a ballerina using an ultra long heel. The Ballet Boot originally gained popularity in the 1980’s, and is now available worldwide through specialty stores and online. You may have guessed, but these shoes are not intended to be worn for any extended period of time. The shoes (based on the images one finds on google images) seem to be rather popular with fetishists.


Lotus Shoes
China, from the 10th century to 2009


The Han Chinese tradition of binding women’s feet to make them appear as small as a lotus bud lasted well over a thousand years. Shoes from the north, especially Beijing, had a ‘bow’ shape, an exaggerated curved sole and heel in one piece, often with leather reinforcements at toe and heel. Style conscious women from Shanghai in the late 19th century and early 20th century, (then the fashion capital of China), liked a multiple heel, while those from the southern provinces such as Guangdong wore shoes often made of black cotton or silk, with a fairly flat heel. Iron or wooden studs were added in some cases to the soles to raise and protect the embroidered silk shoe from the dirt of the streets.

As part of her dowry, a woman would make several pairs of shoes as proof of her needlework ability, as well as her small feet. After her wedding, a bride gave each of her main female in-laws a pair of shoes at a special ceremony known as “dividing the shoes.” The last shoe factory to stop mass production of lotus shoes was the Zhiqiang Shoe Factory. The factory added lotus shoes for old Chinese women who still had bound feet to it’s product range in 1991. In the first two years, more than 2,000 pairs of shoes were sold annually. It announced in 2009 that it will make the shoes only on a special-order basis.


Armadillo Shoes

Mcqueen Shoe Main

Alexander McQueen in 2010 released a set of armadillo shoes. They were then popularized by the likes of “Lady” Gaga, and other celebrities, who are not too worried about looking utterly ridiculous in public. The shoes above were the originals – many other styles have since followed. My advice to any real ladies reading this list – don’t buy these awful shoes!

  • Jaryuki

    We have birch shoes hanging on a wall outside – they're really old but unused. Most older people I know also at least used to hang them on walls as decor. It's like a little piece of history…

    I don't really care for shoes but this was a fun list. Thanks :)

    • junqueman2

      JARYUKI–Dammit, your not supposed to make a valid comment you're supposed to make an ass of your self and proclaim-First-1st-furst-or some other inane comment about being the number one poster. Taking tongue out of cheek. Grin

      I too thought it was a very interesting list, for sure it was different.

      • goofballreferee


      • kdr

        haha! likes this very much.

  • timothyjames

    Wow. Interesting idea for a list. Well executed also. I'm glad menswear is a little easier than women's in the shoe department, and I'm glad the hey-day of men's high heels has passed.

    This confused me though:

    " Like the Japanese Okobo, Chopines were highly impractical…"
    But you said that the Okobo were worn for practical reasons. Maybe it was a typo.

    • witcharachne

      I noticed the same thing and got kind of confused.

    • KXG

      Nothing about the equivalent of walking around on stilts seems practical to me. Not breaking an ankle or your neck whilst learning to just walk around in a pair of shoes seems like overkill. I’ve never felt the need to be taller, at almost 6’4″, and frankly if I have pants so long I’d need to wear 10 inch platform heels to keep them off the ground, I’d just shorten my pants, not add height to my shoes. The ass-backwards way humans go about things sometimes often scares the shit out of me.

  • brock


    • vonhohenzollern

      Actually brock, you're third. If you count replies, that makes you fourth. You can count, right? I understand, sometimes we skip a finger when looking at our hand and trying to figure out what comes after one.

      • ShakyFt Slasher

        Hey! Don't make fun of Brock just because he's in kindergarten.

        • vonhohenzollern

          Are you sure that he's that advanced in his learnings? I don't know, kindergarten just sounds a little too smart…

      • FLORIDA

        wow alot of bla bla bla for one word comment get a life i was second when i posted this right after FrancesLA

    • bucketheadrocks

      And you wonder why people hate you?

    • QuikeMo

      Actually, I gave you +1 because all people who replied to you made me laugh!!! :p

    • bleumoonselene

      Not to be rude, but no one really cares what number your comment is. Perhaps if you had merely mentioned it in a regular comment…

  • timothyjames


  • cqsteve

    Great list retrocharm! Not ascribing to any type of shoe or foot fetish I still found it very interesting. This is the type of list that makes one think "How the **** did they think of that?" And also I am now just that little bit smarter. (Though will shake my head at the armadillo shoe – not trendy or stylish – just stoopid).

  • Jael

    I was hoping you would add Alexander McQueen's idea of outrageous footwear.
    Regarding the okobo, I visited Osaka, Japan a few years back. While touring the city, the tour guide was talking about the geisha's in the city and mentioned that the reason why geishas in training wore such high shoes was because many of them were country girls sent to Osaka against their will and the shoes were designed to prevent them from escaping. Then again, she may have been making that up.

  • Jael

    I was in Japan a few years ago, and according to the tour guide I had while in Osaka, the Okobo was also designed to prevent young women sent into the city against their will from running away.

    • The novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, made reference to the fact that young girls were sold to men who took them into the City and re-sold them either into houses of prostitution or Geisha. Naturally, many of the girls desired to run away, but were thwarted by many layers of imprisonment…the Okobo being one of the more innocent.
      And no, I didn't use a novel as the basis of all my knowledge of old Japan. It was a nice bit of reading, though, especially as I read so little fiction.

  • necropenguin

    "Lady" Gaga. love it!


    • witcharachne

      Actually, I thought it was pretty stupid. Do we call other celebrities "Elton" John, or David "Bowie"? I know it's based on the rumour that she's a guy but it's a pretty lame joke.

      • bassbait

        Are you saying that Lady Gaga is on the same level as Elton John or David Bowie?

        Oh, and yes, we do put quotes around celebrity names:

        "Ozzy" Osbourne, "Freddy Mercury", and so forth.

        Celebrity names never say anything about the celebrity. Lady Gaga could be a man, so "Lady" Gaga isn't really immature, because that's just like calling Ozzy "Ozzy". "Ozzy" is really a John.

        • witcharachne

          Yes, but no one knows him as John, do they? Just Ozzie. I've never seen part of any celebrity's name in quotation marks unless it's a nickname that's being used as well as their proper name, like Nat "King" Cole. Lady Gaga is just that. Lady Gaga. It's neither a title, nor her nickname. It's her stage name. It'd be like calling Doris Day "Doris" Day because it's not her real name.

          And no, I wasn't making comparisons with Elton John OR David Bowie on any level other than names. Much as I love Lady Gaga she's nowhere near as great as either of them.

          Edited @ 10:50am for typos :P

      • Casey

        I'm pretty sure he put "Lady" in quotes because it's a title, not because he was trying to imply she's a man…

    • Har

      That was really lame. I know it's cool to say Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite or whatever, but it's also really stupid and immature. Even if you don't like someone, I hardly see the necessity of making infantile little jokes about them on a list about shoes.

  • Rowena Garcia

    wooow….very informative list, i enjoy reading it….though I'm not interested on trying any one of those.

  • Jack Deth

    Good list, I like it when an unexpected subject comes up. :)

  • lolcat

    i remember i tried those high platforms that were all the rage in the 90s for a whole school day and by fifteen minutes i felt my foot come off. ok it didn't really come off but it felt like it did it hurt so bad…at least i enjoyed being tall! lol

  • Ophiucha

    I feel dumb, but I'm gonna ask: where, exactly, do your feet go in those armadillo shoes? Is it a straight slant inside the shoe, or does it curve? How far down are your toes?

    • timothyjames

      According to the Alexander McQueen website, they have a platform inside on which rests a regular high heel structure. So, under the toes there are a few inches of pointless material and then the heels are extended to make up for it.

  • Armadillotron

    Does anyone know what happened to the shoes that were thrown at Saddam Hussein?

  • I definitely expected to see the vibram five fingers on this list.

    • barbie

      hahah yess! those are uglier than pretty much all of the other shoes on this list. i hate them.

  • Jay

    A very strange pair of shoes was worn by No-Name Jane, the adult film star. She's also known as Violet Blue. Over the fairly flat bottom, there was an uplifted platform which was held up by a star shape. I asked her if they didn't get uncomfortable and she said she'd have to change them soon. And she did.

    Later she wasn't wearing shoes at all, but that's a story for another list…

    The entire convention of having nearly identical shoes is apparently only a couple of centuries old. Before that a man might wear one red shoe and one blue one. And that was considered perfectly normal for the time. I wonder why we changed that. I know a lot of people who have trouble with one foot and could benefit by wearing two different shoes. Maybe we could start a new fad. Except they'd never let me do that at work. Still, let's wear non-identical shoes whenever we can and see if it becomes a trend!

  • That one guy

    Finally, something a little Bizarre. Also, Ballet boots are kinda hot.

  • Cool list! I love historical facts about everyday stuff.

  • becd85

    Interesting and unique list topic.. The things we do for fashion hey!

  • chapman6640

    Iv seen them chinese shoes before. The women, when babies, get their toes broken and bound until they are able to fit into such a little shoe. Its hard to comprehend for westerners but for them, it was a tradition.
    Oh and 'speciality' has been spelt wrong, in number 2 i think. For all the pedantists :)

    • zoethaeque

      Actually, nobody does feetbounding anymore.

      • eloise

        thats why she says "was"

    • Lym

      Wait, you are aware that Americans say specialty, right? You guys like to keep so many unnecessary letters around…

      • Woyzeck

        Actually, we just don't see the point of infantilizing the way we write.

        • oliveralbq

          as you shouldnt.
          that would be fucking dumb.

          but you do need to start driving on the right side of the street. ;-o

  • oouchan

    Neat list. I actually have a pair of Okobos…fun to wear if you are not going to be out running errands or anything strenuous. :)

    • Do my comments to you have be checked in moderation before being posted, or is it just Mom424?

      • oouchan

        I've been seeing random people's comments going into moderation for no reason. Have an email out to Jaime for clarification on this. I'm approving as I see them. Weird.

  • Arsnl

    The 1954 adidas football shoes would have been a nice bonus. They were the first football shoes with removable studs. Before they used somekind of long stripes to get grip. But it wasnt very useful in mud. Some say thats one of the reasons why germany won the world cup against a better hungarian team. Who knows? (some say the germans were using perfomance enhansing drugs)
    I was probably expecting to see high heels. They have no point, except aestetics(and thats subjective) the are even bad for your ankles, posture etc.
    I get very scared when i hear some who walks in high heels. Makes me wonder if the german army isnt invading.

  • astraya

    Australian men love wearing thongs!

    People from the rest of the world: interpret that however you like!

    • Stinky

      Hahaha, nice one!

      Us kiwis love 'em too but to us they're jandals and thus they can't be mistaken for a g-string equivalent… although you Aussies do love the speedo which is close (wink).

      • mom424

        Canadians wear thongs too – and not the dental floss between the cheeks kind. Although maybe those too! :)

    • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

      I've always wanted to rock one here in the US. For some reason my friends always talk me out of it…

  • danny k

    I would rather chop my feet off and limp around on stubs than to ever wear men’s high heels! What kind of dumb idiot would want to wear such a thing?

    • astraya

      Given that choice, I'd wear the shoes!

    • vonhohenzollern

      Well, back during Enlightenment, men weren't as fixated on being masculine as they are today. They believed that if they were rich, they should be able to wear splendid clothes. Before that, men didn't really dress up like women did, with huge long dresses and gold jewelry. Then, during Enlightenment, it all changed. I, personally, kinda like their outfits back then, but I would prefer not to wear the high heels. Although, if I were in the dilemna you described, I would wear them. They are only shoes, right?

    • Lym

      Wow, a little melodramatic, are we? Unless you're implying that women are "dumb idiots" for wearing high heels?

    • I would still chop my feet off!

  • Ey Explod

    My late granpa was an all out religious and all for nature kinda guy.He had these wooden shoes called ”khurum” in my language.I remember tryin them on when i was a kid…a lil heavy and it make sounds like a clog.

  • Lifeschool

    Shoe-bee-do-wah – Nice list – some weird stuff there. Women: if you wanna feel taller, just make men grovel! :)

  • oliveralbq

    i think kabkabs were really created by sadistic cops for use in field sobriety tests.

    • oh, drat! Have you ever had to take one of those field sobriety tests?
      Well, I have, and let me tell you, I don't care how sober you are, they can trip you up big time!
      I totally failed one section of the test…the heel to toe walk…it's just something I can't do…so I got to sit in the Highway Patrol version of "holding" for five hours!
      They tested me over and over and over, they took me to the hospital and drew blood, and tried me again. I never could pass the dratted test.
      BTW, I was wearing All-Stars!

      • oliveralbq

        yeah — ive taken them a few times. i always fail.
        the ones that do me in are the walking in the straight line,
        and tilting my head back and touching my nose. the last time i had to do this, i fell right over, at what point they decided to give me 47 breathalyzer tests. i passed.

        i m not sure i was wearing shoes at all the last time.

        major league pain in the butt.

  • Spuat

    Great list! Some of them were just creepy though.

  • Dian

    I actually like the armadillo shoe because it pushes the envelope of fashion. Pretty soon i think we will see more practical shoes that have been influenced by its look and shape. Mcqueen was a great designer. Gone too soon.

    • Arsnl

      Well wasnt his decision to leave?

      • Morgan

        Wow. Insensitive much?

  • evilspwn

    a word on the indian padukas. They were worn well over 2000 years back which dates it further than the 1700;s as you have said.


    How can 5 1/2" equal 14 cm (#10) and then 5" equal 18 cm (#6)?

  • itsallabout

    Interesting list! Until you mentioned foot binding, ack!


    very noice list this was interosting

  • mom424

    I've always contended that a woman can never have too many pair of shoes. After reading this list I might just have to change my mind.

    Something else I read about the Japanese Okobo and the foot binding tradition; it necessitates walking daintily with small, tiny little footsteps. Entirely alluring in Japanese society at the time. Hey maybe mom should have tried that for me instead of ballet lessons……they certainly failed at instilling anything lady-like or dainty in me.

  • Colleen

    Oh come now, I think armadillo shoes are neat.

    Good list, the only one I've enjoyed for the past week or so.

  • Gold

    i like this. can I reblog this? with your permission and of course I’ll include a link to this post :)

  • elise

    great list well written

  • undaunted warrior 1

    In the RSA where I live the Zulus often make their own sandals, they cut a car tyre to the shape of their foot ( treads to the bottom ) and cut the inner tube of the tyre in strips which then gets attached to the " shoe " criss-cross over the foot complete with ankle strap.
    One advantage is that you never need a tyre change and you will never have a puncture.

  • Maggot

    I always thought these guys wore very fashionable shoes:

  • ShoresLady

    This shows the extent to which men will go to keep women from living as equal members in society. You might say 'but women chose to wear the shoes" but I insist that men created them specifically to keep women from reaching their potential, including the ability to achieve or surpass men. When a woman is totally dependent upon a male-dominated society for life's most basic needs then she has no choice but to wear the shoes she is given. This list shiould make anyone sad for what some of the shoes really represent.

    • timothyjames

      Wow. That is so wrong. The only case in which I think you have a point is the foot binding.

    • Maggot

      You might say 'but women chose to wear the shoes" but I insist that men created them specifically to keep women from reaching their potential, including the ability to achieve or surpass men.

      I’m not saying women aren’t or haven’t ever been wrongly oppressed, but there are a number of well-known woman’s shoe designers who are female. For example: Maud Frizon, Beverly Feldman, Sandra Choi…

    • mom424

      I call bullshit. At least in most instances. In many societies women made the clothing, including shoes. What about the men in their frippery in France? In order to keep them subservient too? Even in those instances (i.e: Japan) that the footwear served to fulfill that purpose, it was a progression that had more to do with traditional division of responsibility. Men were warriors, women kept the house etc. The shoes were not designed with the intent of keeping anybody from fulfilling their potential.

    • bassbait

      I think you've got it all wrong. 51% of the world is women. Women aren't being oppressed in terms of shoes. It's just that women act and react more emotionally. If a man was presented with a really painful shoe design, they would definitely skip out on it. If a woman were presented with a really painful shoe design, all they need to hear is "Everybody wears them, they're the hot new thing!", and they'll sacrifice comfort for it.

      I'm not saying this applies to all women, but the tendency for women to act more emotionally than men is a big reason why this "oppression" goes on. The fact that the fashion industry is dominated by women and gay men only shows that there is no oppression. The people who decide that some really painful shoe is cool are the people who want to wear them.

      For my last example: Lady Gaga. There is NO point in wearing clothes like her, except that you'll look "edgy".

      In fact, if I were to use your logic, I could even say that MEN are being oppressed:

      The top two best selling movies are definitely not targeted to men. Avatar and Titanic sacrifice logic for emotion. Avatar designed it's aliens to look so cute and innocent that you not only want to save them from trouble, but also want to have sex with them.

      It's now become fashionable among men to dress "metrosexual" and wear womanly clothing.

      I could go on about that, but I won't, because men aren't being oppressed, and neither are women.

    • Woyzeck

      Oh drat. Curses. This womyn has exposed my evil plan. How will I keep that detestable sex from reaching their true potential now? This is worse than that time they figured out that cutting off their right breast improved their archery.

  • thisguy

    How can you even consider #4 a shoe?

  • Even though I'm a man, number 1 will haunt my nightmares for days to come…

  • bucketheadrocks

    My horse enjoyed wearing half of these

  • HannahH;)

    Yesterday I was googling bizarre shoes, and then I go on listverse today and this is the list. Weird….

  • Neil

    Not very practical, are they? I mean; a decent pair of shoes for any man or woman. I say 'Yes' to that, but some of these are just plain silly.

    Imagine trying to walk the three peaks in those high heeled 'things'!

  • Meghan

    Who wrote this post? It's lack of flow is hidden by the atrocious grammatical errors. Better yet, where the hell is the editor? (Or has AdSense revenue gone down so much that you can't afford one anymore?)

    • Lym

      I do so love when someone complains about grammatical errors with bad grammar. "Its" lack of flow, not "it's".

      • witcharachne

        I do agree with her, but yeah, it always amusing when someone does that :D

  • Brah

    I like the Armadillo shoes, acutally. I think they're cool looking, I wouldn't mind owning a pair.

  • fairtwiggy

    Oh my I love this website. I never coment but, today I thought what the hell. I also love all the comments you guys make me laugh.

  • I have to disagree that the Okobo sandals and clogs are bizarre. They are both functional and comfortable. Almost all doctors and chefs wear clogs, wooden ones. I have worn them for years. The comfort can't be beat, and you rarely wear a pair out!

    • mom424

      I worked in the food service industry for years – Clarke's clogs ftw! support, closed toes, but your feet didn't overheat because the rear of the shoe is open.

      I would disagree about wearing them out though – and none of the chef's I know ever wore wooden soled shoes; the health and safety folks here in canada would have a fit. A non-slip tread is a requirement. – they last about 1 year if they're worn 5 days a week. And if you work hard and move quick.

      • Nonono! You misunderstood me! The Clogs both the chefs and docs wear (here the US) are wooden, but have non-skid rubber tread. Replacing a tread every year or so costs very little, certainly much less than replacing a pair a shoes!
        No one in their right mind would go racing about on slick wooden soled shoes, you'd break your neck!
        Okobo are designed so that steps are tiny and dainty, and still, practice was required to learn the skill of walking in them properly.

        • I get it. If you reply to a (some) mod. You have to go to moderation before your comment can be posted.
          Why doesn't this happen if I reply to Jamie?

          • I just checked, oouchan doesn't have this happen either.
            So, it's not Jamie, it's not oouchan. It's either just Mom424 or just me that Mom424 does it to.
            I'm not known as one of the troublemakers. Look at my numbers! My numbers are higher than Mom's! Look at the crap that is allowed to be posted without moderation!
            This is stupid and personal, and I will definitely protest to Jamie.

          • oliveralbq

            usually i know exaactly what youre talking about. ive gotta admit, i dont undrestand. most of your post makes sense perfectly. but what is stupid and personal?

            instead of replying, e-mail me if you want. i just dont get it.

          • mom424

            I didn't kick your comments into moderation. nor did I delete them. Jamie can check and confirm this. I wouldn't . I enjoy debate. and I don't hate you. I don't do personal animosity nor do I hold a grudge.
            and I kind of resent the accusation,. actually I really do, not kind of.

          • Yes, I checked. The word that got me sent to moderation was "shoes".
            This is a list about shoes. Of course the discussions are going to be about shoes.
            Almost every other comment posted contained the word "shoe" or "shoes", yet it was only my post that was sent to moderation.
            Explain that.
            And you did delete them for awhile, at least until I called you on it…because there was only my comment and your reply.
            Why else would I have posted "What happened to my replies, Mom?"
            Nothing else.
            You see, after having had this happen with you before, I've gotten smarter, I copy the entire comment conversation, and in this case I sent it all to Jamie. So when everything but the two first posts were up, it was easy to reconstruct.
            So you didn't kick my comment into moderation…I was just randomly selected, out of all the other commenters who used the word "shoe", to be kicked into moderation. I believe that. I do.

          • mom424

            you must have been – I did no such thing. I didn't even know that you had replied until this morning. Again, Jamie will confirm this as soon as he checks the logs.

            I did not do anything to your posts. AT ALL. EVER, And when Jamie checks the admin logs, you can apologize with the same fervor that you've accused me.

          • Mom424 is right – as I said to you in the email it was entirely because of the word "shoes" being on the ban list. I have no idea why it was on the list but it is now removed and I have made other arrangements (as I told you in an email) to ensure that comments from trusted posters don't get moderated ever.

            I agree with Mom424 that you ought to apologize because she really didn't do anything at all.

          • oliveralbq

            frater — im not getiing involved at all.
            but i do have a question about your explaination.
            —you do not know why shoe was on a list of banned words — naturally. and if you told me to guess a new banned word every 15 minutes, i wouldn't have thought of the word 'shoe' until i was 103

            the question is — how many other words are on the banned list, that really dont belong there?

          • Mom424:
            I do apologize, completely and with total honesty.
            You must admit that circumstances appeared somewhat suspicious; this being a list about shoes, after all, and the word "shoe" or "shoes" having been in just every other post on the list prior mine.
            I over-reacted, totally.
            You have my deepest and most sincere apology, all other circumstances aside.
            I should have behaved in a more adult manner. I'm sorry I did not.
            The oddity of my being singled out of every other commenter, on a list devoted to shoes, for using the word shoe (as had almost every other commenter) certainly had something to do with my over-reaction.
            Hence-forth, I will deal with my posts as if they were separate, discrete, and apart from all other comments on the thread.

          • bluesman87

            classic persecution complex, tisk tisk …….

          • Bluey, I am being completely sincere here. Mom424 did nothing to warrant my behavior, it was a set of circumstances which appeared to be something other than what it was. I behaved badly. I can admit that.
            Mom424 did not deserve my scorn.

          • bluesman87

            i know but Im not being sincere im just screwing with you . I know the savoury taste of foot in my mouth all too well …

      • What happened to my replies, Mom?

    • mom424

      I've been giving this much thought and the only thing that I can think of is that shoes was read as s hoes by the filter. Now we all know that a hoe is a garden tool but it also has some not so nice connotations. I'm not so sure about the spelling – it's a ho in the singular, but is it hos or hoes in the plural?

      Apologies are thankfully accepted.

      back to the wooden shoe thing – here in Canada, health and safety folks will no longer let you wear wooden soled shoes in kitchens, rubber tread or no. They're all worried about your shoes growing bacteria. Pretty silly if you ask me – if shoes are in any way coming in contact with the food cooking and prep areas you've got some serious concerns unrelated to the material of said footwear.

      • I have never understood how anyone got the word "ho" out of the root word "whore", unless it was simply lazy speech habits.
        Seriously, pronounce the word whore, and see if you can find the emphasis on "ho" anywhere in there.
        You can't. Because it isn't there. It isn't even pronounced. It actually sounds more like "HOAR", like the frost, or to rhyme with with DOOR.
        It's as if we've allowed those those with some bizarre speech impediment to rewrite how we pronounce certain words.

        • mom424

          It's the lowest common denominator – again. Speech, entertainment. We do seem to wallow in it. Certainly explains the proliferation of "reality" tv. The reality in quotes because it is so far removed from actual reality as to be a joke.

  • Gandalf..

    next list for underwear or condoms rather…

  • anphydose

    ohh interestingg just imagine a kick from them bridal shoes,

    the birch looks cool

  • C&J

    quite interesting


  • lachicadecafe

    As a collector of shoes (you can never have too many friends or too many pairs of shoes) I really enjoyed this list. I wonder if some of today's flip-flops were not inspired by the Japanese okobo; I have seen some pairs of flip-flops that look almost identical to the okobo.
    Thanks for a great list! Watch out for the grammatical stuff, though!

    • The Japanese have always worn something very similar to the flip-flop, especially in the poorer sections and the fishing villages.
      For everyday, there was, and is, a sort of flip-flop made of a woven reed, with a band of fabric around the edges and for between the big and second toe. There are special socks to wear with them.
      I love them both. I do not wear shoes in the house, never have. That was how I was brought up. It drives me nutz that my husband wears his shoes, the same ones he has just been walking around outside in, in the house.

      • soph123

        Socks with jandals? Never!

        • I wasn't talking about jandals. You'd look pretty stupid wearing socks with flip-flops, which is, basically, the kiwi version of thongs.
          I was speaking about the Japanese version, the version of origin. And they do have a special sock, with a toe in it, to wear with them.
          When they wear the rubber version, of course they don't wear socks. You're right, that would be an idiotic idea.

  • glitteryspeckels

    I think this list is very interesting…..the armadillo shoes are hella cool. I was quite shocked when I saw the last entry. Informative and entertaining, great job!

  • Liking the "Lady" Gaga on the bonus one. You can never be too sure.

  • If you actually read the entries above, #10 and #3, both are types of clog, both mention that they are types of clog or that they are worn in place of clogs.
    Reading is a very useful tool. It gives you information and keeps you from appearing to be a fool.

  • Skata

    I am deesappoint!

    No one has mentioned POULAINES!

    Some great stories there.

  • Princess♥

    I think that crocs, uggs and the Roots Earth Shoe are pretty bizarre as well =)

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    This is actually a really cool list. The bonus ones on Lady Gaga looked like crustacean covered crabs.

  • Magnumto

    I was so certain I would dislike this list that I didn't even bother to read it yesterday when it was posted. Today I read it and really enjoyed it! Thanks for some great entertainment, retrocharm!

    BTW, I kept thinking those 70's platform shoes with the goldfish in them would make the list, but by the end, I realized they weren't in the same class with these bizarre examples.

  • Cait

    Oh wow. This is like a dream list for me since I'm going to school for anthropology. Awesome!

    • I have to admit a spark of envy.
      I studied a bit of anthropology in Uni, Native American Anthropology to be precise. We took field work in the deserts of New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and a bit of Colorado. The most amazing places we visited were the Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde, Casa Rinconada.
      We spent a month in the area, exploring the ruins, having access not allowed to tourists because we were studying the area and any artifacts we found would be turned over to the museums or the tribes (depending on where it was found).
      Boy! Are you in for an interesting life!

  • django jim
  • great liat. i just wonder if the kabkabs were created for short people or just to randomly attract people's attention hahaha…

    • oliveralbq

      i thought there might be something else to it, as well. much like the list write-up, the origin of these shoes seeems to be for women vnot to get their feet dirty or wet. the story i had heard involved bathouses.
      this is where i start to agree with you — because the accepted story starts not making sense.

      if that was the purpose, at first, then why the hell are they ten inches. aside from being safer, 3 inches would be high enough to keep hot bathouse flloors, and dirty ground from bothering the women.

  • sneed

    2007 was not the debut of heel-less shoes. I've seen examples from the 1800's during my studies of clothing history, and I'm fairly sure that if an example ended up in a theatre in halifax that it wasn't the original either, so they must stretch back beyond that.

  • Thomas Di Azzo

    A tad bit offensive how you would say that the Lebanese would often marry young girls. Considering that the Lebanese are considered the oddballs of the middle east for their Christian beliefs and ancient laws against marriage to a minor. As well as the fact that during the centuries aforementioned the Lebanese were in a culture war between the Christians and Jews against the Muslims and Druze.

  • Lore

    Celia Cruz used to wear heel-less shoes long before 2007. For those who don't know, she was a Cuban salsa singer considered by many like the best in history. Check out 4th picture in this link to the Celia Cruz itinerary expo for images of her amazing shoes

  • Strembop

    king leopold of somewhere or other was going to be assasinated but couldnt run because of soft pointy shoes

  • Omg, I love shoes! The ballet boot is kinda sexy, IMHO… I had never seen/ heard about the kabkabs, before! Freaky…

  • weidermeijer

    The woman in #2 is HOT AS HELL!

    That's when I notice shoes!

    • jajdude

      Angelina Jolie?

  • Knottia

    I love ballet boots and I think they are sexy as all hell. I plan to purchase a pair as soon as I can afford it. And yes, I am quite kinky and among my kinks is a shoe fetish!

  • Dolly

    You seem to have no idea about the Finnish bark shoes… They were worn for looooooooooong before the 20th century, probably already in prehistorical times, they were not used as overshoes, but regular shoes, and they can be used for far more than one week if used out of the modern roads. Also, they are not women's shoes only.

  • Wooden Bridal Shoes are so funny. Here are some more funny shoes.

  • I wonder how many of these shoes have been worn by Lady Gaga…

  • jerk

    # 9 Men's High Heels
    OMG… gay as you can get

  • I would rather chop my feet off and limp around on stubs than to ever wear men's high heels! What kind of dumb idiot would want to wear such a thing?

    • Dan

      The King of France…

  • i actually love those armadillo shoes… i really want a pair of those beauties

  • Ash

    The Lotus buds were not a Han Chinese tradition. It was the tradition of the Manchurians that invaded China….

    • jj

      The Qing dynasty did not support foot binding; a tradition already a part of China when the Manchus invaded. Empress Dowager Cixi banned the practice of foot binding and Manchu women were forbidden to bind their feet.

  • nazmul alam zico

    "PADUKA" looks the most royal one

  • pavehani


  • Jen

    Some of these are pretty cool! Feesk Sandals from Canada does fantastic paduka-style modern toe plug sandals!

  • Man I like this post and it is so fabulous and I am definetly going to save it. One thing to say the Indepth analysis you have done is greatly remarkable.No one goes that extra mile these days? Well Done! Just another tip you canget a Translator for your Global Audience ..

  • …..

    wow I like the ones from Lebanon the best

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  • jj
  • Me&you2008

    You should talk about the Mexican boots with super long tips.

  • bengalpuss29

    Them poor chinese women that used to wear them lotus shoes had to have there feet bound from an early age, Ultimately pulling their toes under the sole and and bending the foot so the toes were nearly touching their heals eventually the practice was banned in china in the 1930’s leaving poor old chinese women practically disabled. The women did this so they would look more desirable, Hence getting a better husband. The price of beautiful small feet, Which they wasn.t cost the women their mobility and were basically house bound as the pain that came from walking on their deformed feet was so great that they couldn’t go anywhere. It just shows you the extreme’s that some people and culture’s go to for vanity & Fashion.

  • Test Anchor

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  • Jennifer Fenn

    HAHA….what a fantastic and interesting article. Im glad fashion has advanced as much as it has…would hate to be getting around in a pair of Padukas…however those Plaited birch bark shoes look pretty comfy to sit round the house in. Keep the articles coming guys!

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  • alex

    i would so wear the armadlio shoes but they are way too high i like 2/half shoes comfy yet sytlish.

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