Height of fashion: Women's obsession with high heels, illustrated by Isla Fisher in Confessions Of A Shopaholic, starts at the age of 12 and does not diminish until they reach 63
A woman will wear high heels over 51 years of her life, according to a study which links stilettos to the female psyche.
The average woman puts on her first pair at 12 and takes off her last at 63, when comfort begins to take precedence.
She will start with a low one-inch heel and build up to a towering five inches by the age of 23, as she teeters into womanhood.
There will be a small dip in the early 30s, when many women are running after young children. But the first real drop does not occur until the late 40s and early 50s, when the average heel falls to just under two inches.
Only old age and increasing frailty finally brings the enduring love affair to a reluctant end, sales figure show.
Said Debenhams spokesman Ed Watson: 'Deciding to put away their high heels for the last time can have the same psychological impact upon women that retiring from work has upon men.
'It's an all too public admission that they are getting older, and so naturally many women want to postpone this evil day for as long as possible.
The central role of high heels in a woman's psyche emerged during Debenhams continuing extensive research into the entire women's shoe market.
It reveals that the heel height worn by women begins to rise in early teens, increasing rapidly from 2.5cm to a whopping 13.5 cms by the age of 23.
Walking tall continues to be the order of the day through a woman's late 20s and 30s, only beginning to decline slightly by the age of 35 - possibly due to childbirth, Debenhams figures show.
High heels continue to feature prominently in her wardrobe through her late 30s and up until her mid 40s - the period when many women are building a successful career.
The first real dip in heel height only occurs in a woman's late 40s and early 50s, when the average height drops to 4.5 cms. And a final drop to 2.5 cms - virtually a normal height heel - occurs from 63 onwards.
Said Ed Watson: 'These results show that a woman's entire life can be mapped out according to the height of the heel she wears. After a meteoric rise, through youth and early adulthood, they begin to settle down before dropping back gracefully to a comfortable old age.