Real men have no problem with pompoms on their shoes. The “Evzones” — elite units guarding the Presidential Palace and the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece — wear a version of uniforms, unchanged since late 18th century, that reflect those worn in Homeric times.
Like the Queen’s Guard in England and other ceremonial guards around the world, they stand motionless, regardless of provocation. Other guards are on hand to see that pesky tourists don’t bug the Evzones.
The pompoms first made their appearance on the upturned toes of the Euzones (early spelling of Evzones) in the mid-1800s. Since then, the decorations have grown from walnut to grapefruit in size, possibly to disguise the fact that each shoe has more than 60 nails in it and weighs nearly 8 pounds.
Photo by Paolo Cinque.