It seems both high heels and ballet flats (a slip on shoe with a small thin heel or no heel at all) are back in fashion for men. Height challenged males might revel at the prospect of the former but not perhaps at the latter. Ballet flats represent the antithesis of the four wheel drive shoes. That is shoes you could climb the Eiger with, but are more likely seen perambulating through the downtown shopping mall.
Real men prefer espadrilles and sneakers, i.e. chic and comfortable footwear. What has added interest (for me), as a shoe watcher, is both high and low styles share the limelight at the same time – a rare event in fashion. Zeitgeist (or sign of the times) necessitates we look at current events for an explanation. Alpha males appear to want to move adeptly as well as present themselves as trim and toned.
Ballet flats resemble the dancing pumps or “pompes” of the 16th and 17th centuries when dancing became all the range and no self respecting crown head was without their own ballroom. Then, as now best finery was the order of the day and dandy noblemen wore special ballroom slippers.
Emporer Napoleon's legacy to cultured Europe was dress balls and as the popularity of dancing swept through the civilized world. When new dance steps got faster women started to wear dance slippers every bit as delicate as modern ballet shoes. Men of the late 18th century wore the latest fashion, high boots and their dress slippers were eventually confined to the bedroom along with their pipe. The renaissance in fashions for dancing shoes is likely to mirror the immensely popular dancing TV programs watched by millions throughout the world.