From archeological and paleoarcheological evidence, experts hypothesize that shoes were invented around in the Middle Paleolithic period approximately 40,000 years ago. However, it wasn’t until the Upper Paleolithic period that footwear was consistently worn by populations. The earliest shoe prototypes were soft, made from wraparound leather, and resembled either sandals or moccasins.
Jump ahead a few thousand years to the beginning of modern footwear. In Europe’s early Baroque period, women’s and men’s shoes were very similar, though fashions and materials differed among social classes. For common folk, heavy black leather heels were the norm, and for aristocrats, the same shape was crafted out of wood.