Kitten heel shoes have become a staple in women’s footwear over the past few decades. If you’re wondering what exactly a kitten heel is, you’ve come to the right place!

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: A kitten heel is a short, slender heel that measures around 2 inches or shorter. Kitten heels offer more height than flats but are much shorter than stilettos.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about kitten heels including their history, height, pros and cons, and how to style them.

The Origins and History of Kitten Heels

Kitten heels, a style of shoe with a small, slender heel, have an interesting history that dates back several decades. These shoes have evolved over time, reflecting changing fashion trends and societal norms.

Coined in the 1950s

The term “kitten heel” was coined in the 1950s, during a time when stiletto heels were gaining popularity. The name “kitten” was chosen due to the small and delicate nature of these heels. Unlike the towering stilettos, kitten heels provided a more practical and comfortable alternative for women.

Kitten heels were initially designed as a compromise between high heels and flats. They offered a slight elevation, providing women with a touch of elegance without sacrificing comfort. This made them a popular choice for everyday wear, particularly in professional settings.

Rose to Prominence in the 60s

The 1960s marked the rise of the kitten heel, as it became a staple in the wardrobes of many fashion-forward women. Iconic figures like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy were frequently seen wearing kitten heels, further popularizing the style.

During this era, kitten heels were often paired with A-line dresses and pencil skirts, creating a chic and sophisticated look. The heels were typically between one to two inches in height, providing a subtle lift while still maintaining comfort.

Regained Popularity in the 90s and 2000s

After a period of decline in popularity, kitten heels experienced a resurgence in the 1990s and early 2000s. This revival was driven by fashion designers who reintroduced the style on the runways.

Kitten heels became a symbol of femininity and elegance, and they were embraced by celebrities and fashion influencers. The heels were redesigned with modern touches, featuring embellishments, unique patterns, and different materials.

Today, kitten heels continue to be a fashionable footwear choice for many women. They offer a versatile option for both formal and casual occasions. Whether paired with a tailored suit or a sundress, kitten heels provide a touch of sophistication and style.

For more information on the history of kitten heels, you can visit

Defining the Kitten Heel Height

When it comes to footwear, there are various heel heights to choose from. One popular option that has gained significant attention in recent years is the kitten heel. But what exactly is a kitten heel? Let’s delve into the defining features of this stylish shoe.

Typically 1.5 to 2 Inches

A defining characteristic of a kitten heel is its height. Unlike high heels that can tower several inches above the ground, kitten heels are typically shorter, ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches in height. This moderate elevation offers a comfortable and practical alternative for those seeking a bit of added height without sacrificing comfort.

Shorter Than Standard Heels

Compared to standard heels, kitten heels are notably shorter. While stilettos and pumps may have towering heels of 3 inches or more, kitten heels provide a more modest and understated look. This shorter heel length makes them versatile and suitable for a wide range of occasions, from professional settings to casual outings.

Taller Than Flats or Wedges

Although kitten heels are shorter than standard heels, they still provide more height than flats or wedges. Flats, as the name suggests, have no heel height, while wedges offer a thicker and more substantial heel.

Kitten heels strike a balance between these two extremes, giving wearers a slight lift while maintaining stability and comfort.

Did you know? The term “kitten heel” was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s, when Audrey Hepburn and other style icons embraced this elegant and feminine shoe style.

For more information on the history and evolution of kitten heels, you can visit Vogue, a reputable fashion website that provides valuable insights into the world of fashion trends and styles.

The Pros and Cons of Wearing Kitten Heels

Pros: Comfortable, Versatile, Adds Height

Kitten heels are a popular choice among women who want to add some height to their look without sacrificing comfort. These heels typically measure between 1 to 2 inches in height, making them much easier to walk in compared to stilettos or high heels.

The lower heel provides a more stable base for your feet, reducing the strain on your calves and ankles.

Another advantage of wearing kitten heels is their versatility. They can be paired with a variety of outfits, from casual jeans to formal dresses. Whether you’re attending a business meeting or going out for a night on the town, kitten heels can elevate your style without being too flashy.

In addition to comfort and versatility, kitten heels also offer the benefit of adding height. For those who are self-conscious about their height, these heels can provide an extra boost of confidence. They give the illusion of longer legs and a more elongated silhouette, making you feel taller and more elegant.

Cons: Less Stylish, Still Can Be Uncomfortable

While kitten heels have their advantages, they do come with a few drawbacks. One of the main criticisms of kitten heels is that they are considered less stylish compared to higher heels. They lack the drama and impact of stilettos, which some fashion-forward individuals may find underwhelming.

Furthermore, despite being more comfortable than high heels, kitten heels can still be uncomfortable for some individuals. The lower heel height may not provide enough arch support or cushioning, leading to foot pain or discomfort after prolonged wear.

It’s important to choose kitten heels with adequate padding and arch support to minimize discomfort.

How to Style and Wear Kitten Heels

1. As Work or Office Shoes

One of the great features of kitten heel shoes is their versatility, making them a perfect choice for work or office settings. The modest height of the heel provides comfort and stability, allowing you to stay on your feet for extended periods without sacrificing style.

Pair your kitten heels with tailored trousers or a pencil skirt for a polished and professional look. The classic and elegant design of these shoes adds a touch of sophistication to any office outfit.

2. With Casual Daytime Outfits

Who says kitten heels are only for formal occasions? These adorable shoes can be effortlessly styled with casual daytime outfits as well. Try pairing them with a pair of high-waisted jeans and a tucked-in blouse for a chic and relaxed look.

Kitten heels also work well with summer dresses or skirts, adding a hint of femininity to your ensemble. Their lower heel height makes them a comfortable choice for running errands or spending a day exploring the city.

3. For Evening Events and Parties

When it comes to evening events and parties, kitten heels can be your go-to footwear option. They offer the perfect balance between comfort and elegance, allowing you to dance the night away without sacrificing style.

Pair your kitten heels with a little black dress or a glamorous gown to create a sophisticated and glamorous look. The lower heel height of kitten heels also makes them a practical choice for events that require standing or walking for long periods.

For more fashion inspiration and tips on how to style kitten heels, check out Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar.


Kitten heels are the perfect in-between heel height when you want a bit of a lift but don’t want to wear towering high heels. With their modest height and sleek silhouette, they can be worn to the office, out on the town, or anywhere in between.

Now that you know all about the history, height, pros and cons, and styling tips for kitten heels, it will be easy to incorporate them into your wardrobe!

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