About the Guide
Handbag Guide
Handbag Fit Guide
Handbag Glossary
Women’s Shoes Guide
Women’s Shoes Fit Guide
Women’s Shoes Glossary
Accessories Fit Guide

Women's Shoe Glossary

Want to find your sole mate? It’s a good idea to know what you are looking for in the perfect shoe. Search the women’s shoes glossary to find
definitions for the most common terms.
Ankle Strap: strap that encircles the ankle and is attached to the rear of the shoe; usually features elastic or
an adjustable buckle

Antiqued: surface treatment that has a rubbed-off, worn appearance and texture

Arch: high, curved part of the sole of the foot that’s located between the ball of the foot and the heel; also
refers to the raised area on the insole of a shoe

Athleisure: athletic-inspired, trendy footwear meant for casual, urban wear

Back Seam: vertical seam at the center back of a shoe or boot

Ballet: flat shoe with a thin sole

Burnished: polished finish produced by buffing or rubbing the surface

Calf Circumference: measurement around the shaft of a boot at calf height

Cap Toe: additional piece of material covering the toe of a shoe; also known as a tip

Collar: strip of material stitched to the opening of a shoe

Cone Heel: heel that is circular at the top and tapers down to a point

Contoured Footbed: insole that molds to the shape of the foot

Counter: stiff piece of material placed at the heel of a shoe between the lining and upper to retain
the shoe’s shape

Cushioning: padding on the insole or outsole of a shoe for added comfort

Demi Boot: style of boot whose shaft is generally no higher than the anklebone

D’Orsay: pump with one or two sides cut out

Embossed: design imprinted onto leather or leather-like material; most often simulates a type of animal skin

Espadrille: shoe or sandal style with woven rope or similar material that covers the wedge or sole

Eyelet: hole through which a lace is threaded; may be reinforced with a metal ring or grommet

Flip-Flop: flat sandal with one or two straps between the big and second toes; also known as a thong

Footbed: inside part of the shoe that runs under the bottom of the foot; also known as an insole

Galosh: boot or overshoe designed to protect the feet from wet conditions

Gore: elastic panel inserted into one or both sides of a shoe to make it easier to put on

Heel: solid part of a shoe that supports the heel cup

Heel Breast: forward-facing side of the heel

Huarache: flat sandal/shoe with a woven upper

Insole: inside part of the shoe that runs underneath the bottom of the foot; also known as a footbed

Instep: upper, center section of the foot between the toes and ankle

Kidskin: soft, porous leather made from the hides of young goats

Kitten Heel: low heel that tapers sharply to a narrow base

Laces: strips of material threaded through the eyelets of a shoe that adjust and/or pull it closed

Lining: surface material on a shoe’s interior

Moccasin: loafer-style shoe with decorative stitching; usually flat

Outsole: bottom part of the shoe that comes in direct contact with the ground; also known as a sole

Patent: extremely shiny, high-gloss type of finish

Pebbled: embossed finish that resembles the texture of a pebbled surface

Perforation: pattern of small holes punched or bored into the trim of a shoe for decoration or ventilation

Platform Wedge: wedge heel combined with a platform sole

Piping: narrow tube of material or fabric used to trim seams or edges

Quarter: rear portion of a shoe that covers the heel and sides; often joined at the back seam

Shaft: area of the boot from the top of the heel to the opening

Satin: fabric with a glossy sheen and a soft, slippery texture

Shearling: sheepskin or lambskin with the wool still attached

Slip-On: style of footwear that slips onto the foot with no further adjustment

Sock Liner: insole that the foot rests on inside the shoe

Sole: bottom part of the shoe that comes in direct contact with the ground; also known as an outsole

Spectator: two-tone design made from different materials; the edge of the dominant color has an exposed
zigzag pattern; a perforated design accents the toe

Stacked Heel: heel built from layers of material

Stiletto: slim, tall heel that tapers toward the bottom

Suede: leather with a napped or brushed surface; usually made from the inner surface of the hide

T-strap: shoe with a perpendicular strap that connects with the vamp and the ankle strap to form a “T”

Throat: main opening of a shoe; extends from the vamp to the ankle

Toe Box: part of the shoe that covers and protects your toes

Tongue: flap of material under the laces of a shoe or boot

Topstitch: line of stitching that borders the edge or seam of a material; usually seen in contrasting colors

Top Lift: bottommost part of a shoe's heel that comes in direct contact with the ground

Tread: shoe sole design that’s usually textured for added grip

Unit Bottom: single-shoe bottom made from rubber or plastic

Upper: part of a shoe that covers the toes, the top of the foot, the sides of the foot and the back of the heel

Wedge Heel: heel that is as wide as the shoe itself; follows the shoe’s contour from toe to heel

Wing Tip: additional wing-shaped piece of material covering the toe of a shoe