A kitten heel is a short, slender heel, usually from 3.5 centimeters (1.5 inches) to 4.75 centimeters (1.75 inches) high with a slight curve setting the heel in from the back edge of the shoe. The style was popularized by Audrey Hepburn.
Kitten heels are shoes with a tapered heel of approximately 1–2 inches height. They are on the shorter end of stiletto shoes, which can have heels as tall as 5 inches.
They were introduced in the late 1950s as formal fashion attire for young adolescent teenage girls as higher heels would have been considered unseemly for girls as young as 13 because of the sexual connotations and unease of walk. They were sometimes referred to as "trainer heels" in the US, indicating their use in getting young girls used to wearing high heels. However, by the early 1960s, they became fashionable for older teenagers and eventually for women of all ages until the demise of the stiletto heel in the late 1960s. They emerged again in the 1980s along with wedge heels and have become once again fashionable since 2003, but are not made in abundance due to the preference for stiletto heels by women during this time period.
- L.K. Bennett illustration.