I’ve seen this image going around, and I feel compelled to point out that it’s only half-right. It’s true that high heels were originally a masculine fashion, but they weren’t originally worn by butchers - nor for any other utilitarian purpose, for that matter.
High heels were worn by men for exactly the same reason they’re worn by women today: to display one’s legs to best effect. Until quite recently, shapely, well-toned calves and thighs were regarded as an absolute prerequisite for male attractiveness. That’s why you see so many paintings of famous men framed to show off their legs - like this one of George Washington displaying his fantastic calves:
… or this one of Louis XIV of France rocking a fabulous pair of red platform heels (check out those thighs!):
… or even this one of Charles I of England showing off his high-heeled riding boots - note, again, the visual emphasis on his well-formed calves:
In summary: were high heels originally worn by men? Yes. Were they worn to keep blood off their feet? No at all - they were worn for the same reason they’re worn today: to look fabulous.
so then how did they become a solo feminine item of attire?
A variety of reasons. In France, for example, high heels fell out out of favour in the court of Napoleon due to their association with aristocratic decadence, while in England, the more conservative fashions of the Victorian era regarded it as indecent for a man to openly display his calves.
But then, fashions come and go. The real question is why heels never came back into fashion for men - and that can be laid squarely at the feet of institutionalised homophobia. Essentially, heels for men were never revived because, by the early 20th Century, sexually provocative attire for men had come to be associated with homosexuality; the resulting moral panic ushered in an era of drab, blocky, fully concealing menswear in which a well-turned calf simply had no place - a setback from which men’s fashion has yet to fully recover.
FASHION HISTORY IS HUMAN HISTORY OK
All of this is true, but I feel the need to point out that the wearing of high heeled shoes (after a fashion) dates back even farther than that, although not necessarily for reasons of fashion.
Greek actors wore large platform heeled shoes called “kothornos” (spelling differs in almost every resource you look at) in order to appear taller during theatre festivals, although this tradition only occurred in tragic plays, so it can pretty much be traced back to City Dionysia. Most actors performing in early productions at Rural Dionysia would have worn thin-soled sandals or no shoes at all). Because theatre was in it’s earliest stages at this point in history (only a few earlier recorded theatrical productions exist, such as the Abydos Passion Play), and because City Dionysia was first and foremost a religious festival, “acting technique” basically consisted of being seen and heard. In order to make their form larger on stage actors wore bulky costumes (a chiton covered in a hemateon), and large, exaggerated helmet-like masks. The high-heeled shoes added to their height, in order to make them more imposing. While it should be noted that Kothornos were really more of solid soled platform boots, they are still part of a style we consider most consistent with modern day women’s fashion, so I’m tossing them in the mix, as well).
tl;dr : high heels were originally created for men, because men were the actors of the time period.