Shoe Glossary


  • A


    The finishing end of a shoelace, usually metal or plastic, that prevents the end of the lace from unravelling.


    Almond toes are shoes that mimic the shape of an almond in the toe area. They can be flats, heels, boots or even sandals. They are usually closed toe shoes.


    Ankle boots are extremely popular to their ease of use and ability to combine with multiple outfits and styles. The shoe's upper as the name indicates does not extend far beyond the ankle joint. Hiking boots are often ankle height for added mobility.


    Ankle straps are supportive structures found on a variety of shoes from heels to boots and even sandals. The ankle strap can feature a buckle and holes to achieve a more snug or loose fit.


    Ankle wraps refers to the part of the shoe that secures the foot. Often seen on gladiator and wedge heel type shoes, but can also be found on more formal heels.

  • ARCH

    This part of the shoe supports the central section of the foot, between the toe and heel seat.


    A type of attire and footwear that borrows heavily from lounge clothing, yoga and pilates clothing and athletic shoes. Generally, it is both comfortable and fashionable everyday wear.

  • B

  • BALL

    The padded area of a foot which terminates at the toe crease.


    Ballet flats are soft, flat slip-on shoe that emulates slippers worn by classical dancers.


    A thick-heeled shoe or boot, that offers height in addition to stability and comfort. When seen in profile the heel often looks like a "block" thus the name.


    Boat shoes are flat slip-on or low lace-up footwear with a rubber sole for traction on slippery surfaces and a raised stitch on the toe cap upper. Sometimes also referred to as deck shoes. Boat shoes are an amazing choice for warmer weather and casual gatherings. You can find the perfect boat shoe at Brand House Direct.


    Boots are a type of closed-toe or open-toe shoe that extends further up the leg than other shoes. They can be worn for both fashions like chukka boots and activities like hiking boots and for protection during the winter. Winter boots may also feature insulation to keep your feet warm when the weather is cool.


    Low-dress shoes that sometimes feature a low heel or are completely flat. They are immediately recognizable by their elaborate designs created by perforating the leather upper of the toe cap, vamp and heel. Sometimes also referred to as "wing-tips" due to their scalloped toe cap or oxford shoes.


    Found on all kinds of straps including ankle straps and "monk-straps" they can be made out of metal, for both design and longevity. They allow the wearer to adjust the fit of their shoe depending on their anatomy.

  • C


    This resilient cotton-based (but can also be linen or flax-based) fabric can be seen on a variety of footwear usually in the upper part of the shoe.


    This section of reinforcing material can be used for both decoration and strengthening. It is often separated by contrasting or raised stitching from the upper of the shoe.


    A classic staple of functional fashion footwear. Chelsea boots often feature a one-piece upper, a low heel and an elastic fabric panel inserted for ease of wear. Although traditional Chelseas feature leather soles a more recent trend combines the classic look of Chelsea boots with a chunky military-style sole.


    As the name implies chunky heels are thick sole leather shoes with rectangular heel that offers stability and support. A trendy alternative that can be combined with jeans and skirts alike.


    This indicates the "opening" of a boot otherwise known as the boot shaft. This uppermost top open is also the widest point and where the measurement is taken from.

  • CLOG

    Clogs are open in the back and feature a closed-toe box and frequently feature a wedge heel made of wood. Clogs are an extremely popular vintage design that was popularised in the 1970s but has never gone out of fashion since.


    Combat boots as the name implies were originally intended as boots for the military but were enthusiastically adopted by youth subcultures and fashionistas. They usually feature a high-laced boot shaft a short heel and treaded soles for traction on anomalous surfaces.

  • CORK

    Cork is usually associated with sealing bottles but it is also used as a decorative element on heels of wedges or even for cushioning insoles.


    Cowboy boots are yet another type of boot that was made for function but today is extremely fashionable. They are characterised by their pointed-toe box and a low heel made of leather and can feature handsome scrolling stitched adornments. They usually rise to the mid-calf.


    Crepe soles are made of crepe rubber that is usually a beige or yellow colour. It is often textured adding a nice decorative flare, but its main function as a material is to absorb impact, making them both practical and comfortable.


    A natural type of rubber with a texture reminiscent of crinkled "crepe" paper. Usually found in its natural colour of a yellowish-beige.


    Croc-embossed leather emulates the texture of crocodile skin and can be seen in both patent leather and calf leather shoes and boots.

  • D


    Driving mocs or driving moccasins are slip-on shoes with a flat heel and usually a rounded heel to help the foot better interface with car pedals.

  • E


    Espadrilles originate in Spain and are a type of sandal that completely covers the foot, but are constructed with a woven rope which keeps them cool and airy. A great summer footwear choice!

  • EVA

    EVA foam is a type of material engineered to withstand and minimise impact from running, crosstraining and general exercise. It is often the spongy material seen above the rubber sole of sneakers.


    Eyelets are the small holes that shoelaces pass through to tighten the upper part of the shoe. They can be reinforced with stitching, plastic or metal.

  • F


    Fabric is soft pliable and washable material made from a myriad of different bases including cotton, synthetic, linen and flax. Characterised by its breathability, it is often used for casual or active wear.


    Faux leather or vegan leather is a synthetic animal-free material. Doc Martens offer most of their most popular models in vegan leather.


    As the name implies, flats feature no heel and can be seen in a variety of different styles including ballerinas, sandals, boots and sneakers. This makes flats both comfortable and stable.


    Flip flops or thongs are summertime favourites for their ease of wear and their open airy design.


    The footbed of a shoe is the inner part your foot rests on. Often made with impact-absorbing materials including EVA, cork or other engineered materials.

  • G


    Gladiator sandals are inspired by ancient footwear. The bottom of the sandal often looks like a flip-flop with long leather laces that wrap around the calf. These laces can extend to the knee, mid-calf or slightly above the ankle.


    Grommets are small hollow rivets that protect the eyelets and shoe uppers from fraying.


    Gym shoes are also frequently also called sneakers. Gym shoes usually feature a flat thin rubber sole and a simple cloth upper.

  • H


    Heel height is measured from a flat surface to the point where the heel connects to the heel cup. A higher heel height gives the illusion of a longer leg, and shorter heel heights offer more stability and comfort.


    The heel tip is a small piece of material that offers traction and protects the heel from abrasive surfaces such as concrete and asphalt.


    A hidden wedge shoe features a wedge heel that is covered in the same material as the shoe or boots upper.


    Huarache is an airy woven slip-on that are usually tan but are also available in metallics and more vibrant colours.

  • I


    The insole, also known as the footbed, is the part of the shoe that comes into contact with the bottom of the wearer's foot.


    This is the part of the shoe that comes into contact and supports the arch of the foot.

  • L


    Lace-ups are shoes or boots that feature laces as the primary retention system. Depending on the style and comfort level you'd like to achieve, laces can be tightened or loosened for optimal fit and foot retention.


    Leather is an organic material used since antiquity for footwear, clothing and even armour. Depending on the footwear construction method and leather processing it can be rugged and resilient, supple and pliable like grain leather or even feature a brilliant gleam like patent leather. It can be used in almost every part of the shoe including the upper, vamp, heel and even the sole.


    The loafer is a general term used for usually simple slide-on shoes which can be worn both casually and as a dress shoe, depending on the finish. In most case, they do not feature laces or straps.


    Lug soles are usually seen on the outsoles of hiking and work boots. This outsole is designed to be slip resistance and to give maximum traction on uneven, slippery or loose surfaces.

  • M


    Mary Jane shoes are a classic design that looks like a ballerina slipper or flat, but with the addition of a strap above the insole area. Mary Janes can be completely flat or feature a very narrow wide heel.

  • MESH

    Mesh is usually a synthetic loose weave breathable fabric used on athletic shoes to help keep your feet cool when working out.


    Microfiber is a soft absorbent synthetic fabric often used on the cuff of sneakers to protect against chaffing.


    Microsuede is an animal-free alternative to suede with the added benefit of being impervious to weather, unlike its real leather counterpart.


    The midsole is the part of the shoe between the outsole, upper and footbed. It can be built with a shock-absorbing material such as EVA for added comfort and support.


    Military boots emulate boots worn by the military but borrowing from all eras. The desert boot, Doc Martens and even the chukka boot can be considered military-style boots.


    Moc toe shoes resemble mocassins in the toe box, i.e. feature a round toe with a raised seam running around the upper perimeter of the toe.


    Moccasins are flat slip-ons that borrow their design from ancient footwear. They are characterised by a round toe and a raised cinched seam around the cap toe.


    Monk straps are a wide flap of leather that cover the shoe's upper and straps to the side, usually with two buckles. This design is often seen on oxford style dress shoes.


    Motorcycle boots are plain calf-high boots which may feature a square or round toe. Sometimes they also feature a triple strap that wraps around the ankle, vamp and under the insole.


    Mules are trendy sandal-like shoes that are open in the back and sometimes feature a wedged heel or are flat.

  • N


    Nubuck is rugged material made of top-grain leather, with a soft suede-like texture, created by abrasion of the leather's surface.


    Nude is a hue that resembles skin with the benefit of giving the illusion of a longer leg since it blends with the wearer's skin tone.

  • O


    The outsole is the part of the shoe that comes into contact with ground. Depending on the function of the shoe it can be made of leather, grippier rubber or feature a Goodyear welt for added reinforcement.


    Over-the-knee boots may also be named thigh-high boots, and as the name indicates are boots that rise over the knee. They can be bought in both flat or high-heeled variations.


    The overlay is when a material is laid over the shoe's upper for reinforcement or as a design element.

  • P


    Patent leather is the process of shellacking and or polishing leather to give it a high gloss finish.


    Pebble grain is a type of texture used on both traditional and synthetic leather. One of the most widely used patterns on synthetic and organic leather.


    A peep toe shoe as the name indicates has a small opening in the toe cap exposing some or all of the toes.


    The Platform heel or platform shoes have a raised outer or midsole. This can only be in the toe area or the entire length of the sole. Trends recently have seen platform military boots and even sneakers.


    Pointed-toe pumps may be flats or heeled shoes that slip on and are pointed at the toe. This type of shoe was popularised during the 80s but has recently seen a reemergence.


    Polyurethane is a widely used synthetic material used in multiple parts including the shoe's footbed, sole or midsole.

  • Q


    Quilted fabric is cross-stitched diagonally creating an attractive and distinctive rhomboid pattern. This also allows for extra insulation material to be used for warmth. It is seen in hiking and winter boots for this reason.

  • R


    Riding boots were borrowed by the fashion world from the sport of horse riding. Riding boots sometimes extend to the knee and can feature an elastic fabric panel inserted in the back of the shaft so they are easy to put on and take off.


    Ruched cloth is ruffled by cinching a stitch running across the edge of a material. It is usually featured on ballerina flats or Mary Janes.

  • S


    Sandals describe a huge category of footwear, which usually are open, and may or may not feature a strip of leather around the ankle or other ankle retention. This style includes but is not limited to thongs or flip flops, hiking sandals and formal high-heeled sandals.


    A sculpted heel can be moulded to feature interesting comfort or design additions like cutouts, open areas and voids for either aesthetics or shock absorption.


    The shaft of a boot is the top part that extends beyond the ankle.


    Shaft height is measured from the middle of the insole to the top of the opening of a boot. SINGLE SOLE PUMPS Single-sole pumps are flats that have only a single layer of material for the sole.


    Slide sandals are constructed with a single often wide strap of cloth or material connected to a sole. Initially, they were widely used by athletes since you can easily wear them with socks, unlike thongs/flip flops but have been adopted widely as a fashionable urban summer sandals.


    Slingbacks are shoes that are open in the back like mules and are held in place with an ankle strap. This style of shoe was widely popular in the 90s and has reemerged in the recent resurgence of the era's fashion.


    A slip-on shoe is described as any shoe that can be worn without loosening laces or unclasping a buckle but are usually a flat shoe. They can be both closed-toe, open-toe or sandals.


    The slipper was initially a formal shoe in medieval times but is now more frequently seen as loungewear or sleepwear. They usually feature a closed toe with a large opening in the back so they can be easily "slipped" on thus their name.


    This refers to the design of a boot's shaft, where no reinforcement is used so the grain leather or other material of the shaft gathers loosely around the ankle.


    Snake-embossed is when grain leather is made to resemble snake skin. It is widely used in all types of footwear from boots to sandals.


    Sneakers are fashion footwear that resembles or are a shoe for sports. Their name originates from the soft rubber soles that make them silent when walking.


    A snip toe box describes a type of toe that seems to have the pointed part cut or snipped. Usually seen on western-style boots, such as cowboy boots, or motorcycle boots.


    The sock lining is the upper part of the shoe that wraps around the uppermost edge of the shoe's upper, which helps avoid rubbing and blistering of the upper heel. Usually seen on athletic shoes.

  • SOLE

    The sole is the part of the shoe that comes into contact with the ground. It can be rubber, leather board, or EVA foam with a rubber outer sole.


    A stacked heel is composed of thinner layers of leather adhered or stitched together. The most recognisable and visible representation is often seen in the heels of cowboy or western-style boots.


    Steel toe shoes have reinforced toe boxes for safety against heavy falling objects such as tools. Many work boots feature steel toes, to protect the wearer's feet while on the job sites or in workshops. Some are legal safety equipment requirements for certain professions.


    Stilettos or stiletto heels are pumps that feature a thin and high heel. The narrow heel starts very thin and widens as it meets the upper heel seat.


    As the name implies strappy sandals are constructed with interlaced straps with or without extra foot retention. They can feature heels for a more formal evening-wear look or flats for everyday wear. SUEDE Suede is supple leather with a soft surface. It is a popular choice for a dress shoe but can be used on boots, sneakers and even the insole of sandals for comfort.

  • T


    A tassel is a decorative construction that ends in multiple loose threads creating a brush-like shape. Tassels are used on various footwear as adornments, including the largely popular tassel loafers.


    Tennis shoes feature a simple cloth or leather upper and a single-level flat sole made of soft rubber. Sometimes this term is used interchangeably for athletic shoes or sneakers.


    Thong sandals are probably one of the most popular summer shoes in the world, sometimes also called flip flop due to the sound they make when walking. They usually are constructed from a piece of dense foam with two straps that meet in the webbing between the big and second toe.


    The tongue of a shoe is the material between the two sides of the shoe's upper between the eyelets, on which the laces rest. Its name is derived from its tongue-like shape.


    T straps is a strips of leather that begins towards the toe of the shoe and loop through a strap around the ankle, creating a t-like shape.


    A type of resilient but pliable fabric that features diagonal ridges due to the weaving process.

  • U


    The upper is the part of the shoe that covers the foot (unlike the sole which the foot rests on).

  • V

  • VAMP

    This is the section of the shoe directly behind the toe cap and before the laced portion of the upper - when the footwear style has laces.


    Vegan shoes are alternatives to animal-derived leather shoes. The synthetic leather used is just as resilient as organic leather, if not more resilient due to its resistance to inclement weather.


    Velvet was once considered the fabric exclusively reserved for royalty due to its unique brilliance and luxurious silky texture. It is made from both organic materials like silk or synthetic materials.

  • W

    • WEDGE

      Wedge shoes are extremely popular due to their comfort and stability while still offering the addition of height. Similar to a platform heel but with a slight increase in height under the heel. This makes the insole flat or with a slight upwards curve with the height of a heel. Sometimes they feature an open toe or peep toe.

    • WELT

      The welt of the shoe is a rubber or strip of leather that adheres the sole to the upper leather or material of the shoe, like a Goodyear welt.


      Winter boots are functional or fashionable boots that keep your feet warm when the weather gets cold. They can feature synthetic or organic materials such as wool to achieve this. Some even feature a breathable fabric membrane that keeps water out but allows the foot to breathe and stay dry.


      A work boot is a general term used for boots that can be worn both as fashion boots or work boots. They can feature safety additions like steel toe box, antislip rubber outsoles or chemical resistance.