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Red Shoes Brief History: What Do Red Shoes Mean?

 By Chris Cagle

Red shoes are the symbol of the enduring power of unruly women. Keep reading to uncover the question, “what do red shoes mean?”

The red color has different meanings itself. It is usually considered the color of extremes, passionate love, adventure, anger, danger, etc. In the past, red was seen as the color of blood and fire, which also represented life forces and energy. And almost all the symbolism of the red color today derives from its vigorous associations in former times.

You might come across the image of red shoes somewhere on the internet. But what do red shoes mean? Does wearing red shoes mean anything? It is true that different regions and cultures have different meanings for red shoes. So, let’s discover the actual meaning, the message of red shoes. 

What Is The Meaning Of Red Shoes? A Brief History

Firstly, let’s go through the brief history of red shoes. There are various stories associated with red shoes.

Back in 1939, it was probably when Dorothy tapped her red shoes three times and said that there was no place like home. From that time, different generations of women have reached adulthood understanding the obvious power of red shoes.

But there is something else besides The Wizard of Oz about a female who wears a pair of red shoes to spontaneously convey the message of freedom and power to the world. 

Throughout history, only bold people in powerful positions have the right to own and wear red shoes. In particular, King Louis XIV, who was also modestly nicknamed the “Sun King”, wore a pair of red heel shoes while posing for royal portraits in 1701.

At that moment, only the real king could afford red dye as it was exceptionally pricey and very hard to buy. Besides, Pope was also the one who conventionally wore red leather slip-on shoes or loafers since around 1484. But after that, Pope Francis abandoned them for comfier, brown orthotic shoes. 

So, reading this far, you can assume that red shoes have been theoretically an emblem of powerful men. You might also guess what happens when a lady tries to declare a power symbol that is traditionally for males. So, yes, women who tend to wear red shoes are often considered as bad characters.

In a well-known fairy tale titled The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Andersen, an orphaned and poor girl named Karen was adopted by a rich lady after her mom died. Karen was given red shoes as a gift by the foster mom. She was so obsessed with the shoes that she wanted to wear them every time and everywhere. Karen even wanted to wear the red shoes to church, where they are deemed improper. She was followed by her severed feet. They kept dancing happily inside her red shoes, mocking her.

Ultimately, Karen gave up her rich life, began working as a maid, and prayed to God to absolve her narcissism. To put it simply, Karen is a woman who was punished for staying away from the paths and behaviors that she is supposed to follow.

But it is possible that the latest connections with the unsavory derive from The Red Shoe Diaries. This is a scandalous porn movie that was shown on Showtime. David Duchovny starred as a male who posted an advertisement looking for females to present their stories of temptation and passion after dissociating himself from his engagement after his fiancée started an affair with another man who sold her red shoes. In this case, the pair of red shoes is the symbol of the freedom of women’s desires.

Does Wearing Red Shoes Mean Anything?

We usually associate the red color with blood, fire, and passion. It is the color of the explosion, impulse, and bold. So, there is no surprise that the red color pops up on a lot of fall runways. People who are wearing the red shoes as a response to the world outside. It can also be seen that red shoes represent resistance. 

Nowadays, wearing a pair of red shoes, typically red boots, is equal to shouting out that I am a woman, hearing my voice, my power. Although striking reds like those displayed at Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, etc., may not be the best for daily wear, we can certainly benefit a lot from the energy that red color and red shoes bring.


Red shoes are considered the emblem of “wild” and unruly women. But they also represent their enduring power as a woman, which is conventionally seen as for men only. When a lady wears a pair of red shoes or boots, it seems like she wants to shout out loud that she is a powerful, freedom woman. In addition, it might automatically send a message of authority, energy, and liberty to the whole world. 

Article from Chris Cagle. A Brief History on Red Shoes.

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