Shoe Glossary

  • aglet – the plastic covers on the ends of shoelaces that allow the laces to pass easily through the shoe’s eyelets
  • ankle strap – a strap attached near the end of the shoe that fastens to the ankle
  • arch (foot) – the high, curved part of the foot between the ball of the foot and heel
  • arch (shoe) – the curved part of the midsole designed to support the arch of the foot
  • ballerina flat – a flat shoe in the style of ballerina shoes, characterized by a round toe and thin sole
  • boat shoe – a casual shoe originally designed to be worn on boats, often characterized by side lacing detail and a non-slip outsole
  • boot – a type of shoe that covers the whole foot and extends anywhere from right above the ankle bone all the way up to the thigh; boots can be casual, dressy, or practical
  • bootie – a shoe that resembles a very short ankle boot
  • buckle – a clasp that joins one end of fabric to another, often used to fasten ankle straps together
  • cap toe – a type of toe style that covers the toe of the shoe with an additional piece of material
  • circumference – a measurement of the widest part of the shaft of a boot
  • cleats – any spikes or nubs on the outsoles of certain athletic shoes which improve the shoe’s traction in grass- or dirt-based sports such as baseball, football, soccer, or track & field; also refers to shoes which have cleats on them
  • clog – a casual, comfortable shoe featuring a closed toe, open back, and usually a platform sole
  • crocodile print leather – leather made from crocodile skin or fashioned to look like crocodile skin
  • d’orsay – a pump with sides that curve downward sharply, exposing the sides of the foot
  • distressed leather – leather that has been rubbed, scratched, or otherwise treated to look worn to stylish effect
  • driving moc – a casual shoe made for driving, with a pedal-gripping outsole and protective, wraparound heel
  • espadrille – a shoe with a woven rope or rope-like trim, which is typically found on the sole
  • eyelet – a hole on a shoe through which shoelaces pass; some shoes feature decorative eyelets not meant for shoelaces
  • finish – the process by which the final appearance of the shoe is created; the finish can include the application of polish for a high-gloss finish or scratching and rubbing on the upper for a distressed finish
  • fisherman sandal – a sandal with woven or stitched horizontal and vertical straps, often with a closed toe
  • flat – a shoe with no heel or a very low heel
  • flip flop – a thong sandal made of lightweight materials that hangs loosely on the foot
  • footbed – the insole of a shoe that cushions the foot; see also insole
  • galosh – a waterproof shoe, overshoe, or boot designed to protect the foot from winter weather such as rain or snow
  • gladiator – a style of shoe that mimics the footwear of ancient Roman gladiators, often seen as flat, strappy sandals
  • gore – an elastic panel on the side of the shoe’s vamp, used to allow easier on/off access and greater comfort; often seen on boots
  • heel – the backside of the shoe that cups the heel of the foot; also refers to the padded area of the shoe that supports the foot from underneath and shoes which have these supports
  • heel tip – a removable tip on the end of the heel that may be replaced when it gets too worn
  • insole – the inner part of the shoe’s sole that cushions the foot; see also footbed
  • leather – a type of material made from the skin of an animal
  • lizard print leather – leather made from lizard skin or fashioned to look like lizard skin
  • loafer – a low step-in shoe that lacks any sort of fastener
  • mary jane – a low-heeled or flat shoe with a strap running across the vamp of the shoe
  • mesh – a type of material often seen on running shoes that allow air to pass through the shoe to dry the foot more easily
  • midsole – the part of the shoe between the insole and outsole, used for reinforcement or cushioning
  • moc toe – a toe design with seam and stitching details inspired by mocassins
  • moccasin – a slip-on style of shoe with visible stitching and a soft leather bottom
  • motorcycle boot – a boot designed for motorcycle riding, made with very thick, durable materials
  • mule – a shoe (slippers and heels included) that covers the front of the foot while leaving the back exposed
  • nubuck – a type of leather that is similar to suede but sanded or “bucked” to leave a smoother feel
  • outsole – the outer part of the sole that makes contact with the ground
  • oxford – a low shoe that encloses the foot and laces over the vamp; traditionally, oxfords refer to dress shoes or sophisticated casual shoes
  • patent leather – a type of leather with a shiny, glossy finish
  • peep toe – a type of toe design that allows the toe to be shown through a small opening in the shoe
  • platform – a thick, high sole at both the front and the heel of the shoe; also refers to shoes with this type of sole
  • pronation – the orientation of the foot as it strikes the ground; normal pronators step with pressure in the middle-to-inner section of their foot; over-pronators place more pressure inward; under-pronators place more pressure on the outside of their foot; this is a common factor placed into the construction of running shoes
  • pump – a low-cut women’s slip-on shoe that surrounds the foot, typically featuring a moderate heel
  • raffia – a type of material with rope-like qualities that characterizes espadrilles
  • shaft – the area of a boot that runs up along the leg to the top of the boot
  • shearling – sheepskin or lambskin with the wool still attached, often found as lining in winter boots
  • slide – a shoe with an open toe and open back, allowing the foot to slide into the shoe easily
  • slip-on – a style of shoe that can easily be slipped onto the foot without need for any fastening
  • snakeskin – leather made from snake skin or made to look like snake skin
  • sneaker – a broad term referring to any athletic shoe and any casual shoe fashioned after athletic shoes; see also, tennis shoe
  • stacked heel – a heel made of layers of leather stacked on top of each other or made to look like that way by the presence of horizontal lines on the heel
  • steel toe – a steel reinforcement inside the toe of many work shoes and boots that protects the toe from potential hazards related to heavy labor
  • stiletto heel – a high, tapered, narrow heel; sometimes referred to as a “spike heel”
  • suede – leather that has been sanded or roughed to create a soft texture on its surface
  • T-strap – a type of shoe where two straps connect together in a T-formation, linking the toe/vamp area to the ankle/heel area
  • tennis shoe – a broad term referring to any athletic shoe and any casual shoe fashioned after athletic shoes; it can also refer to shoes designed specifically for use while playing tennis
  • thong – a sandal featuring a V-strap that connects from either side of the shoe to a point between the big toe and second toe
  • tongue – the flap of material sewn at the vamp of a laced shoe, running underneath the laces from the toe of the shoe to the throat
  • upper – the upper part of the shoe from toe to heel, not including the sole
  • vamp – the front part of the shoe that covers the toe and front of the foot
  • wedge heel – a type of heel that extends down to meet the sole, filling out the space between the ball and back of the shoe, creating a flat sole surface
  • work boot – a boot designed for heavy labor, typically consisting of very durable materials and various safety functions such as steel toe reinforcements
  • winter boot – a boot designed for inclement weather, typically offering increased insulation or resistance against rain and snow