Glossary of Terms for Women's Shoe Styles


Upper-Related Terminology
Pump (USA) / Court Shoe (UK) - the upper is closed at the back and sides of the foot, with a relatively low cut which reveals most of the top of the foot.  If no other designation is given, it is also closed at the front of the foot, concealing the ends of the toes
Peep / Open Toe - the upper is cut away at the front of the foot, revealing the ends of the toes.  Sides and back of the upper may be open or closed
D'Orsay - the upper is cut away on either one or both sides of the foot.  Front and back of the upper may be open or closed
Slingback - the upper is open at the back of the foot, with a thin strap running around the back of the heel, which serves to hold the shoe on the foot
Mule - the upper is cut away on BOTH the back and the sides of the foot.  Only the front portion of the upper remains, and may be open or closed
Pointed Toe - the front of the upper is closed and comes to a sharp, often elongated point when viewed from the top
Round Toe - the front of the upper is closed and has a rounded appearance when viewed from the top
Square Toe - the front of the upper is closed and has a squared appearance when viewed from the top
Almond Toe - the front of the upper is closed and comes to a soft point when viewed from the top; generally not elongated like the true pointed toe
Ankle strap - a strap which completely encircles the ankle, generally closed with a buckle or tie; not to be confused with the slingback, which runs around the back of the ankle only
Ankle wrap / ankle tie - a longer strap, generally of a ribbonlike material, which is meant to be wrapped several times around the ankle and/or lower calf and tied to fasten
T-Strap - a thin strap runs vertically from the lowest-cut portion of the upper where it meets the toes to an ankle strap
Mary Jane - similar in style to a pump/court shoe, with an additional strap running horizontally across the middle of the foot from one side to the other, usually closed with a buckle
Crisscross Strap - similar in style to a pump/court shoe, with two additional crossed straps forming an "X" shape across the foot
Sandal - the upper consists of one or more straps running over the foot and is more open in design than the other styles
Bootie - the upper is closed in the front, back and sides and covers the foot in its entirety up to the ankle bone
Ankle Boot - the upper is closed in the front, back and sides and covers both the foot and the ankle bone
Midcalf Boot - the upper is closed in the front, back and sides and covers the foot, extending up approximately midway between the ankle bone and knee
Knee High Boot - the upper is closed in the front, back and sides and covers the foot, extending up to the knee or just below the knee
Over-the Knee Boot - the upper is closed in the front, back and sides and covers the foot, extending up the leg just past the knee
Thigh High Boot - the upper is closed in the front, back and sides and covers the foot, extending up the leg past the knee to the thigh
Ballet - upper made of a soft, flexible material, often with an elasticized edge and bow at the top of the toes, akin to a traditional ballerina's slipper


Sole-Related Terminology
Standard - of minimal thickness; extends from the front end of the shoe to the heel and is of approximately even thickness throughout
Platform (standard) - thickened under the ball of the foot to reduce effective heel height; the effective heel height of a shoe with a platform is the difference between the actual heel height and the thickness of the platform.  The thick portion of the sole on a standard platform is visible when the shoe is viewed from the side。
Hidden Platform - like the standard platform, except the upper is attached such that the thickening of the sole is not apparent when viewed from the side (the material of the upper is used to cover the sides of the platform, and is then attached near the bottom of the sole where it contacts the ground)。

Espadrille - flexible sole made entirely of jute rope or similar synthetic material; popular in spring & summer footwear。

Heel-Related Terminology
Flat - the easiest description to grasp, the flat is just that - no height-enhancing qualities。
Kitten - short but narrow; less than 2" with a diameter of no more than 0.4" (1cm) where it reaches the ground。
Stiletto - long and narrow; 2" and above with a diameter of no more than 0.4" where it reaches the ground; generally round or square in shape
Prism - triangular; width and height may vary。
Wedge - the space under the foot is filled in, giving the appearance of a triangle "wedge" under the arch and heel of the foot when viewed from the side; not to be confused with the platform, which refers to a thickened sole under the ball of the foot, although the two often appear concurrently。
Espadrille - while the term technically refers to the sole of the shoe, it is worth noting that the espadrille sole is styled almost exclusively with a wedge heel given the flexible nature of the materials used。
Cone - wide where it connects to the sole, narrowing quite noticeably to a point where it reaches the ground; resembles the shape of an ice-cream cone held upright。
Spool - wide at both ends but narrower in the middle; resembles an hourglass shape when viewed from the back。
Chunky - wide at the top and the base; width remains uniform or decreases only slightly from top to bottom。
Louis / Pompadour - when viewed from the side, the front edge slopes slightly forwards toward the ball of the foot, while the rear edge exhibits an hourglass curve similar to the spool。
Cuban - chunky four-sided heel in which the front remains relatively uniform while the back tapers modestly from top to bottom。
Cowboy - when viewed from the side, the front face of the heel is perpendicular to the ground, while the back face of the heel is angled, beginning at the rear of the shoe and slanting forward (towards the front) from top to bottom。
Covered - any heel shape which is wrapped in the same material as the upper, or a complementary one; most high-end shoes have covered heels。
Painted - any heel shape which is painted to match or coordinate with the upper; generally found on lower-end brands as the paint tends to flake & chip easily, exposing the underlying colour。
Stacked - a wooden heel in which the "stacked" horizontal layers of wood are visible; popular for spring & summer styles。
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