Many may not reflect over the height of the heel on a pair of men’s shoes, but it is something that affects appearance and wearing comfort quite a lot. Here’s a closer look at this buoyant part of a shoe.

First of all, we’ll go through where you measure the height of the heels, which is a difficult story, since there are different rules and it is rarely stated which one applies to the respective manufacturers. On the men’s shoe side it’s obviously easier than with women’s shoes, with higher heels there is a big difference in height between the back and middle and at the front part of the heel.
One rule says that you measure the heel about a centimeter from the chest, the front part of the heel. In factory manufacturing this is the most common method (as I understand it). Another school measures it from the highest point, which in principle always is at the back. That method makes it easier for us customers, as it is easier for us to measure and compare. But as mentioned, for men’s shoes, we are in any case less affected by the fact that measuring is made in a few different ways, since the upper part of the heels is usually relatively flat.

Height of heels is traditionally measured in inches, here written as “. For classic men’s shoes, the most common heel heights  are 1″ or 1 1/8”, corresponding to about 25 mm and 29 mm respectively. You can say that when shoes have these heels, you do not think about it, it looks “as it should” in the eyes of most people. Some British manufacturers and alsoSpanish, use a slightly lower heel height in some cases. A few well-known examples are Crockett & Jones and Edward Green, they have models made with heel height of 7/8 “(about 22 mm), which is not uncommon to be perceived as a slightly low heel. Similarly, sometimes some bespoke shoes or more neat, elegant RTW has slightly higher heels, 1 1/4” (about 32 mm) or even 1 3/8 “(about 37 mm), they are perceive by many as rather high, “feminine” heels.

A low heel, 7/8 “(about 22 cm), on shoes from British Crockett & Jones. Photo: Crockett & Jones

Also Edward Green uses relatively low heels in some cases, here a Dover on the 606 with a relatively low heel. Photo: Edward Green

Gaziano & Girling’s heels are 1 1/8″, which is one of the more common heel heights used. Photo: Leffot

Japanese bespoke maker Main d’Or/Eiji Murata makes rather high heels, which are also accentuated extra by raising the upper edge against the upper leather.

When a new last is made, whether it is for RTW or bespoke, you need to decide what heel height to use. You may change it up or down, but only millimeters, if you go between one of the usual heel height levels mentioned above, you may change the toe spring (the height of the toe tip over the ground) and also the position of the flex point (under the footpad where the shoe bends) so much that the balance of the last is completely lost. It is therefore not uncommon for a manufacturer to have a last shape available for a couple of different heights of heels. If you make boots, you also need to change the pattern significantly, as the tilt of the ankle changes if you change the heel height.

How the different heels heights are perceived for the wearer and what is most comfortable is partly individual, but generally lower heels give a little more relaxed feeling, while higher heels can contribute to better posture (to a certain limit, high women’s heels is hardly positive from that point of view).

In other words, it may be worth looking a little extra on the heel for the next shoe purchase, if nothing else to learn what heel height is your favorite.