The Stories Behind Your Favorite Fashions
How did Pumps, Stilettos, and Sneakers Get Their Names?
The term pump first popped up in 1550 in England, where male servants sported the style. It is said that the noise they made while wearing
the loose-fitting shoes resembled the sound of a water pump. The word sneaker entered the language in the 1870s; the rubber soles made the shoes quiet and therefore “sneaky.” The modern usage of stiletto, a Renaissance-era Italian word for an assassin’s narrow-bladed knife, made its debut in 1953. The word turned out to be especially
appropriate, because the shoes’ pointy heels were murder on wooden floors.
When Did Folks Start Toting Around Umbrellas?
For thousands of years, in such places as Egypt, China, Japan, Mesopotamia, and India, umbrellas were used exclusively to shade the heads of dignitaries from the broiling sun. (When it rained, the well-to-do stayed dry in covered carriages and sedan chairs.) Umbrellas weren’t employed in inclement weather until the late 17th and early 18th centuries. And another hundred years passed before advances in manufacturing made them lightweight, portable, and available to average Joes.