(Heel) SIZE MATTERS (to Men)

The height of a woman’s heel exerts a powerful influence over men’s behavior.

Sailors Watching Photo Hank Walker-Getty Image

Photo Hank Walker-Getty Image

Research across various cultures has shown how important physical features, such as body size and the style and color of a woman’s clothing, influence a man’s behavior towards and judgment of a woman. Even though a link between high-heeled shoes and sexiness is implied by runway fashion shows, magazines and adult films. One previous study has tested the effect of women’s shoe heels on men’s judgment.

Flat vs. Heels

Nicolas Guéguen of the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France therefore set out to conduct field experiments to test the influence of different shoe styles on men’s helping behavior.

90 male participants between the ages of 25 and 50 were randomly selected on the streets in Brittany, France. Guéguen watched what happened when 19-year-old female participant asked them to complete a survey — once in flat shoes measuring 0.5 cm (1/4 inch), once wearing shoes whose heel height measured 5 cm (2 inches) and once again wearing high heels that measured 9 cm (3.5 inches).

Business suit and flats ballet-flats-burrbery-chanel-girl-legs-Favim.com-404896 Business women at a meeting talks to a male coworker businesswoman-wearing-heels

The results show that people’s responsiveness doubled between the lowest and highest heel heights.

He also tested people’s empathy, observing how approximately 180 men and 180 women responded when four young women of the same height, weight and shoe size dropped a glove on three occasions distinguishable by the height of the heels they wore.

dropped gloveThe female participants didn’t respond differently according to the heel height of the women who dropped a glove. (“Pick up your own d*mn glove…”)

But men’s readiness to help increased by one-third from the flat shoes to the 9cm (3.5 in.) shoes. (“Here, Milady!”)

“The results showed that high heels were associated with greater sexiness, overall physical attractiveness, breast attractiveness, beauty, attractiveness to other men, and willingness for a date,” Guéguen writes.1940-dadgetstheshot

Portsmouth University had completed the first study of High Heels: Men who were asked to determine if a figure was a female or male walking towards them. It took twice as long to decide if the woman was wearing flats.

heels vs flats how girls look different in heels vs flats fashion by he nyc street style

Photo: He NYC Street Style

The study concluded that the women looked more feminine in heels, as they made them take shorter strides and swing their hips more.

Marilyn Monroe - Some Like It Hot Walk

Marilyn Monroe – Some Like It Hot



The Guéguen study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

Reference: Guéguen, N. (2014). High Heels Increase Women’s Attractiveness. Archives of Sexual Behavior. DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0422-z

Information compiled from: Springer.com, The Daily Telegraph and NY Daily News

And a side note:

Huffington Post: Health Risks of Flats vs. High Heels


45 Comments on “(Heel) SIZE MATTERS (to Men)”

  1. DUH! There are other aspects to consider. Long ago our sense of smell told us when women were recpetive (so it is said) but a woman dressed up wears heels and that tells men that the woman is more receptive. It’s not true, but is perceived that way. It is a visual clue that over time has been picked up so as to make the woman in heels to be perceived as more receptive or more desirable. You could eliminate the shoe factor and use flats but adjust the hair and the same trend would be observed between various hair styles. The same with the fit of her clothes… these visual clues tell men (through culture) which women are more receptive. It’s not accurate, but that is the perceived understanding of the visual clues. Now take that information and go figure out why women are so catty with one another and work so hard to dress better than other women when they are going out in public. Human females wear the colorful plumage. Great plumage confers power and status so they can pick the male of their choice. Those women percieved to be showing the best plumage are perceived as more receptive by male suiters. So yeah, heels affect a man’s thinking … DUH!

    • Interesting on the plumage factor and the power dressers. However, I’ve got to give credit to the shoe itself– when the heel fits wear it– if an alternative cultural message were examined– i.e. which heel height indicated smarts might we see the same results? The power of the shoe, any shoe, dangled from the toes sends powerful messages as well. *read a little Gustav Flaubert. Alternatively, it may not be the attire at all…what about the ancient practice of foot binding? Perhaps we need to examine the toe more than the color, cattiness or plumage! After all, “barefoot in the kitchen” is experiencing a resurgence! (Uh.oh) Perhaps no women will have to go in public ever.again.

    • dievca says:

      Social Science studies prove “known” things 50% of the time. 25% of the time the study will disprove a “known” thing and the final 25% of the time a study will prove some “wild haired” unexpected theory.
      This one proved a “known” expected theory.
      But, it was fun to read about it – right? 🙂

  2. dodgysurfer says:

    I’ve come to accept that I do like women in heels, but that conflicts with my thoughts on how awful those things must be to wear and what they do to one’s feet, legs and lower back!

    • dievca says:

      You just have to manage how much you wear the heels — selective target presentations. I will tell you that I had foot issues because I was wearing flip flops too much….too much gripping with my toes. I had to start wearing flip flops sparingly.

      • dodgysurfer says:

        I’ll take your word for that as I haven’t worn them myself – yet – and as for the flatties, they don’t provide any arch support and that can be a bad thing for some.
        I’ll tell you what I do notice from Tai Chi classes, and oddly enough from walking in groups up hills, that many women have tight achilles tendons, which I assume is a result of wearing some sort of heel more than others.

      • dievca says:

        Could be…they say walking barefoot (Ret?) is very good, especially on the sand. Uses your whole foot.

      • dodgysurfer says:

        On sand it’s fine as it moulds to your foot. 🙂

      • dodgysurfer says:

        And I can’t quite believe that I’m discussing heel-wearing! Personally I always make sure I have good insoles with arch supports. 🙂

      • dievca says:

        Ah, no worries. It was a fun collection of information and actually it my M. who sent me the article and suggested a post. Plus, I love that you appreciate Women making an effort in heels.

      • dodgysurfer says:

        I most certainly do. 🙂

  3. Pelelotus says:

    An interesting bit of research, flat shoe prejudice… Bizarre.

    • dievca says:

      I thought the photo of the girl in heels and in flats was interesting to see (He NYC Street Style). Her whole demeanor seemed to be different — do you think it was on purpose?

  4. esther says:

    i give up! if they are not paying attention to my flirty eyes and provocative mouth because they are focusing on my shoe heel height, then they do not deserve me.

  5. BoPeep says:

    I wear heels 99% of the time. I wear them because they make ME feel more feminine, sexy, and attractive than wearing boring old flats, even though I’m 6′ tall in my 3″ heeled boots today!

    • dievca says:

      Fabulous! Are they knee high boots or booties? I love when taller women go for the heights with confidence. It’s so much more stunning than us short dievcas trying to do the same…less impact. XO

      • BoPeep says:

        Knee high on others maybe, mid calf on me. Paired with black tights and geometric print black and white knit dress-cowl neck. And the height? Might as well flaunt it. Any man with enough confidence to to engage a taller woman is worth a bit of my time 🙂

      • dievca says:

        I come awfully close to M’s height in certain platform heels and he loves it. XO

  6. Cinn says:

    Reblogged this on CinnamonAndSparkles and commented:
    As a higher the better girl, I loved this!

  7. oceanswater says:

    I wear high heels every day to work, and now I can’t even wear jeans and some shorts without them. I just buy mine very comfortable and it’s like I’m wearing nothing on my feet at all. I can walk long distances in them such as in the airport and everything. Other women I see in flats are very attractive in them. I even went through a period where I tried to wear them. But they seemed to make my arches fall…

  8. Dana Renee says:

    Until last week, I bought and wore high heels very sparingly. I worked for a prosthetic and orthotic office for many years and saw the results of women wearing shoes that were unkind to their feet, legs and backs. But I also never found a comfort level with them. But since I’m a bit on the short side (5’6″), I do know that men take notice when I wear heels. So, I spent quite a bit of time on Saturday trying on a variety of heels/styles and came home with 3 pairs. I do know that I will wear them “conservatively” … as I still love my cowboy boots. 🙂

    • dievca says:

      5’6″ is short?!?!?! I am dooommeeed…

      Wooo Whooo! Three pairs, that is a seriously successful shopping trip. I think if you do your selective usage and listen to your dynamic body, it will be good. XO

  9. Interesting research, and I’d have to say that a woman wearing heels will grab my attention quicker than one in flats. But those heels certainly don’t look very comfortable, though.

    • dievca says:

      Thanks for stopping by — sometimes you find a great pair of heels that has the right balance point and you buy that brand for the rest of your days! (Dries van Noten for me). 🙂

  10. hispetitelle says:

    I adore heels and I know I get more attention when I wear them. Truth be told, I like it when men watch me walk. I can go sky high because I’m short. A 4″ pair only puts me at 5’7″!

  11. Interesting the number, length and diversity of comments this post attracted, hey?

  12. Symon says:

    Naked under a coat and high heels, a perfect scene for a shoe fetish I’m definitely, emphasis on the details of this I love, a very sexy woman. J.Choo and C.Louboutin, they’re my personal favourites designers.

    Thank you Dievca for interesting article to read and look.

    Best regards

    • dievca says:

      Oh, My! The trench and heels have stopped my brain from functioning fully.

      You have left us with a great visualization of heels working! XO

      Thank you for stopping by~
      (PS. did you see the nod to Burberry the other day? I thought of you two.)

      • Symon says:

        It was with great interest that I read it but Constance, I don’t think so, she’s not familiar with your blog.
        I bought her, if memory serves me correctly, the long Sandringham color honey, it was a little present offered in reward for her successful challenge.

        Best regards.

      • dievca says:

        An absolute Classic! and a very lucky Lady. XO


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