Shoe Glossary - Shoe Terminology - Footwear Glossary

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A
 
Aglet
The plastic at the end of a shoelace which makes the lace easier to thread through the holes of the shoe.
 
Army Boots
A style of boot which is flat and comes just above the ankle which laces up to the top. Also known as a combat or military boot.
 
Ankle Boots
A style of boots that goes up to the ankle.
 
Ankle Strap
A strap that encircles the ankle and is anchored at the top or sides of the shoe.
 
Antiquing
A leather finish that creates a rubbed-off appearance.
 
Apron Toe
An overlay on the front of the shoe with distinct edges or stitching.
 
Apparel
Is dressed or clothed especially in fine attire; often used in combination; "the elegantly attired gentleman"; "neatly dressed workers"; "monks garbed in hooded robes"; "went about oddly garmented"; "professors robed in crimson"; "tuxedo-attired gentlemen"; "crimson-robed Harvard professors"
 
Arch
The high, curved part of the sole of the foot, located between the ball of the foot and the heel. Also refers to the part of a shoe insole which is meant to provide support for the arch of the foot.
 
Athletic Shoe
Footwear created for performance of a specific sport.
 
B
 
Ballerina Flat
A flat, ballet-style shoe meant for everyday wear.
 
Block Heel
A type of heel which is a square stacked heel.
 
Boat Shoes
A style of shoe which is normally worn on the deck of a boat, however they are now more popular as a fashion everyday shoe. Also known as a deck shoe.
 
Boot
Footwear which covers the entire foot and extends to the height of the anklebone or up to the thigh.
 
Bootie
A shoe that resembles a boot in style but is not as high.
 
Break
The crease naturally created across the vamp of the shoe from everyday wear.
 
Brogue
A style of boots and shoes which has a traditional embossed print.
 
Buckle
A clasp at the end of fabric or leather that joins one end of the material to the other.
 
Bucket Handbag
A large, bucket-shaped bag which usually features a zip top or magnetic closure.
 
Burnish
The process of buffing a shoe surface to create an antiquing effect on the leather.
 
C
 
Calfskin
Soft, supple leather created from the skins of very young cows.
 
Cap Toe
An additional piece of leather covering the toe of a shoe and comes in numerous shapes and patterns. Also known as a Tip.
 
Chelsea Boot
A style of boot with a gusset either side of the ankle, which is also tight fitting. Also known as a dealer boot.
 
Chukka Boot
A style of ankle boot usually made from calfskin or suede, with two or three eyelets for the laces.
 
Circumference
The measurement around the shaft of a boot taken at the widest part.
 
Clog
A closed toe, open back shoe with a wooden platform sole.
 
Clutch Handbag
A narrow, handheld bag with front closure and no strap.
 
Combat Boot
A style of boot which is flat and comes just above the ankle which laces up to the top. Also known as a army or military boot.
 
Combination Last
A last in which the heel is two sizes smaller in width than the widest part of the shoe, producing a narrow heel and a wide toe box.
 
Contoured Footbed
An insole that easily molds to the shape of the foot.
 
Convertible Handbag
A handbag with a wrist or shoulder strap that may be removed or hidden.
 
Covered Heel
A heel covered in the same material as the upper construction.
 
Cowboy Boots
A style of boots with a pointed toe, rounded top and fancy stitching also known as a western boot. Traditionally worn by American cowboys.
 
Crepe Rubber
A natural rubber with a crinkled texture, used in shoe soles.
 
Cross Body Bag
A bag with a strap that goes across the body.
 
Cuban Heel
A thick stacked heel with little or no curvature and tapered at the bottom; usually medium in height.
 
Cuff
A boot with a turned over top to make it look like a cuff.
 
Cushioning
Padding on the sole of a shoe for added comfort and stabilization.
 
 
D
 
Dealer Boot
A style of boot with a gusset either side of the ankle, which is also tight fitting. Also known as a Chelsea boot.
 
Deck Shoes
A style of shoe which is normally worn on the deck of a boat, however they are now more popular as a fashion everyday shoe. Also known as boat shoes.
 
Demi Boot
A boot style with a shaft that is no taller than the anklebone.
 
Demi Wedge
A shaped or scooped out wedge heel.
 
Desert Boot
A style of boot which is  a simple modern style with plantation rubber crepe soles and just two eyelets for laces.

D'Orsay
A style of pump with one or both sides cut away, exposing the arch of the foot.
 
Drawstring Handbag
Any handbag that is closed with a string or cord when one or both ends are pulled.
 
Dressing
A shoe finish with the application of polish or gloss.
 
Driving Moc
A slip-on moccasin.
 
Duty Shoe
Footwear for the professionals in the healthcare or service industry.
 
E
 
Elastane
A strong man-made fiber with extraordinary elasticity and stretchability. Also known as Spandex.
 
Elastic Gore
An elastic gusset inserted into shoes to add stretch.
 
Embossed Leather
Leather imprinted with a design or exotic skin texture, such as snake, ostrich or croco.
 
Envelope Handbag
A flat, envelope-shaped handbag, with or without a strap or handle.
 
Espadrille
A shoe or sandal with a sole covered by braided rope.
 
Eyelet
A small hole for lacing, usually rimmed with a metal ring or grommet.
 
Exclusive
A term used to denote a particular item that is offered exclusively.
 
F
 
Faux Fur
A material which is imitating fur.
 
Finish
The process of applying polish to create the final appearance of a shoe.
 
Fisherman Sandal
A type of sandal with woven vertical and horizontal straps, often with a closed toe.
 
Fitness
Athletic shoes that are designed for active lifestyles and gym-style workouts.
 
Footbed
The inside part of a shoe where the foot rests. Another term for insole.
 
Foxing
A rubber strip that binds the upper and the sole of a shoe. Usually found on canvas
sneakers.
 
Full-Grain Leather
Leather that has a naturally textured surface.
 
G
 
Girth
A measurement taken around the circumference of a shoe last, most often taken at the ball of the foot.
 
Gore
An elastic fabric panel inserted into one or both sides of a shoe, provides added comfort and is easier to put on and take off.
 
Grain
The natural texture of the animal skin surface.
 
H
 
Heel Height
It is the measurement of a vertical line from the point where the sole meets the heel down to the floor. Heel height is measured in increments of 1/8 of an inch.
 
Hidden Gore
An elastic panel that is hidden under the shoe's tongue, used to provide extra comfort.
 
Hide
The skin of an animal that is processed for making clothing, handbags and footwear.
 
Hiking Boots
A style of boot which is normally used for extreme walking or hiking, however can also be a key fashion trend.
 
Hobo Handbag
A soft, rounded bag, with a top zipper and a shoulder strap.
 
Huarache
A flat heeled, hand woven leather sandal.
 
I
 
Imitation Leather
Any man-made material with a matte or textured finish as to resemble leather.
 
Inseam
The hidden line of stitching in a welted shoe that attaches the welt, upper, lining and insole to each other.
 
Insole
The inside lining of the shoe that is underneath the bottom of the foot. Another term for footbed.
 
Instep
The arched section of the foot between the toes and the ankle, or the part of the shoe which covers that area.
 
Instep Strap
A strap that extends straight across the instep of the foot.
 
J
 
Jelly Shoes
Shoes made of PVC, a soft, rubbery material.
 
K
 
Kiltie
A flap of fringe used decoratively over the vamp or the instep of a shoe.
 
Kitten Heel
A type of shoe with a short, slender heel that is set forward.
 
L
 
Laces
A string threaded through the eyelets of a shoe used for fastening the shoe.
 
Last
A metal, wood or plastic form, shaped like a human foot, on which a shoe is constructed.
 
Lasting
The procedure in which the upper of the shoe is pulled and shaped onto a last.
 
Leather
The hide of an animal that has been treated and tanned.
 
Lift
One of the layers of leather which composes the heel of a shoe.
 
Lining
The leather, fabric or synthetic material used on the inside of a shoe.
 
Loafer
A low, step-in shoe without shoelaces or buckles.
 
Logger Boot
A style of boots which is normally made as a worker boot, with a thick grip sole unit. Red wing has a great selection of logger boots.
 
Lug Sole
A heavy, rubber sole with deep indentations, which adds traction to the ground.
 
Lycra®
A stretch material made of synthetic fiber, always blended with other natural or man-made fibers, providing stretch to the resulting fabric.
 
M
 
Mary Jane
A shoe style with a low heel and strap across the instep.
 
Microfiber
A very fine man-made fiber used to produce soft and lightweight fabric that resembles the look and the feel of natural fiber cloth.
 
Mid-sole
The part of the sole, between the bottom of the shoe and where the foot rests, typically made with cushioning material.
 
Military Boot
A style of boot which is flat and comes just above the ankle which laces up to the top. Also known as a army or combat boot.
 
Moccasin
A slip-on shoe with visible stitching around the perimeter of the toe box, creating a gathered effect.
 
Monk Strap
A closed-toe shoe with a buckled strap over the instep.
 
Monkey Boot
A ankle boot with a think sole round toe and laces up to the top of the boot.
 
Motion-Control
A design used in athletic shoes to reduce excessive inward rolling of the foot and provide stability.
 
Mule
A closed-toe, heeled shoe with open back.
 
N
 
Napa Leather
A version of sheep skin which is remarkably soft and supple.
 
O
 
Outsole
The materials that cover the bottom of the shoe, except the heel.
 
Oxford
A low shoe with laces over the instep.
 
P
 
Patent Leather
Leather made from cattle hide that has been varnished to give a hard and glossy finish.
 
Pebbled Grain
A leather finish created by embossing leather to create a pebble-like surface.
 
Penny-Loafer
A low, slip-on shoe with a band over the vamp that has a slit. Pennies are sometimes placed in the slit for good luck
 
Perforation
Small holes punched into the upper of a shoe, often in decorative pattern or for air circulation.
 
Piping
A narrow strip of leather that covers or decorates the seam of a shoe.
 
Platform Shoe
A shoe with thick sole under the front part of the foot, and high heel.
 
Polyurethane (PU)
A flexible and durable man-made material frequently used as a leather alternative or, in its rigid version, as a midsole cushioning material.
 
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
A semi-rigid plastic material that is used as support in outsoles and heel counters. It is also referred to as vinyl.
 
Pump
Classically a high, medium, or low heeled, totally enclosed shoe. Variations include an open toe or ornament.
 
Q
 
Quarter
The rear part of a shoe upper which covers the sides and the heel, and meets at the back seam.
 
Quarter Strap
One strip of material anchored at the sides of the quarter, with one strip extending across the front and one strip extending across the back.
 
Quarter Lining
The leather or fabric lining that comes in contact with the side of the foot.
 
R
 
Riding Boot
A boot designed specifically for riding horses. Usually knee-high and with a low heel. The term can also refer to fashion boots that are designed to resemble riding boots.
 
Rim
The top part of the shoe where the foot enters. Also known as collar or topline.
 
Ruched
Gathering or pleating of a material with stitching accents.
 
S
 
Saddle Oxford
An oxford-style shoe with contrast colored leather section across the instep.
 
Sandal
An open toe and open back shoe with leather or fabric straps across the foot.
 
Satchel Handbag
A structured handbag with a flat, wide bottom, double handles, and zipper or clasp closure.
 
Shaft Height
Measurement of the shaft of the boot, which is from the top of the boot to the inside seam where the instep and the sole meet.
 
Shank
A metal strip extending from the heel to the ball of the foot to strengthen shoe and add support.
 
Shearling
Sheepskin or lambskin with the wool still in place, often used as a lining material for shoes and boots.
 
Sheepskin boots
A style of boot which is made from sheepskin.
 
Shoe Horn
A curved metal or synthetic tool used to help slide the foot into a shoe.
 
Shoe Sizes
The difference between half sizes and full sizes is one-sixth of an inch, while the difference between full sizes is one-third of an inch.
 
Shopper Bag
A square, thin bag that sits on the shoulder.
 
Shoulder Bag
A bag that can be any size that sits on your shoulder.
 
Side Leather
Leather made from the side of cattle hide.
 
Silicone
A slippery material used to waterproof shoes.
 
Slide
A step-in shoe, totally backless with an open or closed toe.
 
Sling-back
An open back shoe with an elasticized or buckled strap going around the upper heel.
 
Slip-On
A style of footwear which is easily slipped on or off without further adjustment.
 
Slipper
A flat, casual slip-on, usually worn indoor.
 
Smooth Leather
Any leather with a smooth surface.
 
Sneaker
An athletic shoe that has a soft, rubber sole.
 
Sock Lining
The lining that comes in contact with the sole of the foot.
 
Sole
The outsole, or bottom part of a shoe.
 
Split Leather
Leather made from the lower layers of a hide that have been split away from the upper.
 
Stacked Heel
A heel made of leather or leawood covering that gives the appearance of wood.
 
Stiletto
A very high, slim and tapered heel.
 
Straight Lasted
A type of last with a straight shaped sole which is used to create a very straight shoe and prevent severe pronation.
 
Suede
Leather that has been sanded or buffed to create a soft, napped surface.
 
Synthetic Materials
Man-made materials designed to look or function like leather.
 
T
 
Tanning
A process by which the raw animal hides are converted into finished leather.
 
Tap
A leather or metal partial sole attached to the existing sole of a shoe.
 
Tassel
A decorative rope and knot element typically found on the vamp of a shoe.
 
Thong
A sandal with an asymmetrical "y" strap that passes between the first two toes.
 
Toe Box
A stiff piece of material placed inside the vamp to retain the dome-like shape over the toes. It can take many shapes - flat, high, wide, etc.
 
Tongue
A flap of material sewn into the vamp under the laces and extends all the way to the opening of a shoe.
 
Topline
The shape of the opening of the shoe that is close to the toe box.
 
Tread
The design of the sole of a shoe, or how a shoe's sole is worn.
 
U
 
Unit Bottom
The bottom of a shoe, which includes the sole, platform heel or wedge, that is made from a rubber or plastic mold.
 
Upper
The upper includes all the parts of a shoe above the sole that are stitched or cemented together.
 
Upper Leather
Leather used to make the upper of a shoe.

V
 
Vamp
The front center part of a shoe upper covering the toes and part of the foot.
 
Vintage
A classic style of shoes or boots which can be worn year after year, combining old world traditions with contemporary designs .
 
W
 
Waterproof Leather
Leather that has been applied a surface coat to prevent water penetration.
 
Wedge Heel
A heel that lies flat to the ground and extends from the shank to the back of the shoe.
 
Wellington
A rubber, pull-on boot worn for wet weather or at your favourite festival.
 
Welt
A strip of leather that is stitched as the binding point between the sole and the upper.
 
Width
Width is measured at the ball of the foot, in 1/6-inch increments and is often expressed in letters (AA=narrow, B=medium, D=wide)
 
Wing Tip
A piece of wing-shaped leather stitched over the toe cap of a shoe or boot.
 
Y
 
Yeti Boots
A style of fashion boots with a long hair fur upper inspired  by the mythical yeti.