Shoe Glossary

  • A

    Aglet

    The plastic at the end of a shoelace which makes the lace easier to thread through the holes of the shoe.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 which comes in numerous shapes and patterns. Also known as a Tip.

    Circumference

    The measurement around the shaft of a boot taken at the widest part.

    Clog

    A closed toe, open back shoe with a platform sole.

    Clutch Handbag

    A narrow, handheld bag with front closure and no strap.

    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.

    Court

    Classically a high, medium, or low heeled, totally enclosed shoe. Variations include an open toe or ornament.

    Crepe Rubber

    A natural rubber with a crinkled texture, used in shoe soles.

    Cushioning

    Padding on the sole of a shoe for added comfort and stabilization.

  • D

    Demi Boot

    A boot style with a shaft that is no taller than the anklebone.

    Demi Wedge

    A shaped or scooped out wedge heel.

    D'Orsay

    A style of court 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 fibre 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 crocodile.

    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 Nine West term used to denote a particular item that is offered exclusively by Nine West specialty stores, and/or ninewest.co.uk.

  • F

    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.

    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 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.

    Lug Sole

    A heavy, rubber sole with deep indentations, which adds traction to the ground.

    Lycra ®

    A stretch material made of synthetic fibre, always blended with other natural or man-made fibres, 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 fibre used to produce soft and lightweight fabric that resembles the look and the feel of natural fibre cloth.

    Mid-sole

    The part of the sole, between the bottom of the shoe and where the foot rests, typically made with cushioning material.

    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.

    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.

  • 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 contrasting coloured 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.

    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.

    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 indoors.

    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.

  • 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, which 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.

  • 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.

    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.