A - Z Of Shoe Styles & Terms Glossary

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When finished this A - Z Glossary is intended to help those less familiar with 'names for shoes' to buy and sell more easily.

If you want to sell some shoes, you will find this A - Z great in helping you write a full and informative description for your buyers.



The plastic bit wrapped around the ends of a shoelace to make the lace easier to thread through the eyelet holes in footwear.

Alligator Skin

Reptile hide with a wide, squared or boxed pattern / print. Also refered to as 'Crocodile Skin'; or 'Mock Croc' for artificial alligator print.


A shoe made of loosely fitted canvas upper, fixed to a natural hemp (or hemp & rubber) sole. Also know as an Espadrilles.


A shoe for girls or women that has a strap around the ankle

Ankle Boot

A style of boot that is as high as the ankle bone.

Ankle Strap

An elastic or buckle strap attached to the back of a shoe which encircles the ankle and stop the back of the shoe falling away from the foot.


Is a type of finish given to leather, by buffing, that creates a worn, rubbed-off appearance.


On our feet it's the high, curved bit between the ball and the heel. On a shoe it refers to the matching raised area on the insole. This raised insole area is supposed to cushion and support the arches on feet.

Athletic Shoe

Footwear which is designed to enhance performance for a specific sport. Football, golf and hiking are examples of athletic activities with specific shoes designed for them.


Back Seam

The vertical seam at back of a shoe running up the centre.


The padded areas of feet between the toes and the arch.

Ballerina Flat

A ballet-style flat shoe designed for everyday fashionwear. Some also have ballet slipper ribbons attached to the back of the shoe in place of an ankle strap. Many contemporary women's indoor fitness / gym shoes now have ballet-style inspired designs.

Balmoral Lacing

A shoe featuring a laced 'V' shaped panel. Usually refers to men's dress shoes, but not exclusively. Balmoral lacing is 'closed-throat' and does not allow as much adjustment or 'give' around the instep than the alternative 'open-throat' Blucher lacing.

Bellows Tongue

A shoe tongue that is attached to the shoe at the top and sides.

Blucher Lacing

A shoe with two side panels which are laced together over the tongue. Usually refers to men's dress shoes, but not exclusive to them. Blucher lacing is 'open-throat' and allows for more adjustment or 'give' around the instep than 'close-throat' Balmoral 'V'-shaped lacing.


A natural crease formed across the vamp of a shoe by everyday wear.


A term used mainly to describe mens dress shoes with holes punched into the uppers creating patterns on the shoe. Heavy patterns covering the whole shoe or half the shoe are called 'full-brogue' and half-brogue'. If patern is focused on the toe area it's also less commonly know as 'medallion'.


The prosses of buffing leather to create an antiquing effect.



Leather made from very young cow's skin. Used for its soft, supple characteristics.


A [trade mark registered] synthetic material which is durable and breathable to reduce moisture and retain warmth.

Cap Toe

Where the toe of a shoe is covered with an additional piece of leather. Several different styles and patterns are comonly used on men's dress shoes, often including Brogue detailing. Also known as a 'tip'.

Cemented Construction

Where the upper part of a shoe is cemented to the sole, rather than stitched. Cement construction creates a lighter, more flexible shoe than stitching.

Chukka Boot

A style of boot with laces, usually ankle-height with a plain toe.


The measurement taken from the shaft of a boot at the widest point near the top.


A [trademark registered] shoe lining that is extreemly breathable and quick-drying.


A style of shoe which has a closed toe, open back and Platform sole. Originally carved from wood, now made from a wide range of materials. Continues to inspire numerous hybrid fashion designs, generally included in the Mule shoe category.


A strip of material stiched to the opening of a shoe or the topline. Collars may be padded for extra comfort.

Combination Last

A footwear last where the heel is two sizes smaller [in width] then the widest part of the shoe, thus creating a shoe with a narrow heel and wide toebox.

Contoured Footbed

An insole which molds itself to the shape of an individuals' foot. A well-known example [utilising contoured footbeds] is Birkenstock Footwear.


The leather from a horses' rear which becomes a rich, black cherry colour when tanned. It is such a distinctive colour that cordovan is now comonly used as a colour name.


A stiff piece of material at the heel of a shoe, between lining and upper, that helps the shoe retain its shape.

Crepe Rubber

Natural rubber, with a crinckled texture, used in shoe soles.

Cuban Heel


The application of certain chemicals to animal hides, to prepare them for tanning.


The padding of the insole or outsole to add stability and comfort to a shoe.


Deck Shoe

Usually light-weight, canvas uppers (slip-on or lace-up), but specifically with soft, flexible, non-marking soles to protect the walking area (deck) of boats from rubber marks and scratches.

Demi Boot

A style of boot typically no taller than the ankle bone.


Pronounced "door-say"; this is an elegant style of shoe featuring one or both sides cut away achieving a particularly delecate, feminine shape.


Application of shoe polish / gloss to maintain the shoes' finish and appearance.


A [trademark registered] two-layer composite knitted together. Underlayer is a moisture absorbing nylon fiber called Hydrofil. Outer layer is a moisture resistant material.

Duty Shoe

Work shoes designed for support, comfort and durablilty. Specifically used in the heath care and service industries by those who spend a considerable amount of time on their feet.



Abreviation for Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, a man-made compound used for outsoles because it is easily shaped by pressure and heat, providing cushioning for feet.

Embossed Leather

The imprinting (embossing) of a design onto leather to create raised patterns. Often used to replicate the raised patterns of reptile skins, but is equally employed to decorate with many kinds of designs and patterns. Mexican leather goods are a fine example of embossed Aztec artwork decorating entire surfaces of everyday leather products.


A shoe [or sandal] that has woven rope [hemp] or similar material which covers the wedge or sole. Originally from Spain, traditional espadrilles have a closed, rounded toe, closed back and ankle ties. They are now made in a wide varitey of styles, but always with the defining woven rope sole. Also see Alpargatas.


The hole, usually reinforced with a metal or plastic ring, through which shoe laces are threaded.



A mainly wood pulp based material used for insoles, counters and heel lifts.


A process of creating the final appearance of a shoe. For example through the application of polish for a high-gloss finish, or burnishing for an antique finish


Another term for insole. See insole for details.


The area between the ball and toes of a foot.


A strip of rubber which joins the uppers and soles together, e.g. canvas sneekers or deck shoes.






Kitten Heel

Knee-high Boot

A style of boot that finishes just under, or over, the knee joint.



Mock Croc

Artificial print imitating the wide, boxed pattern of alligator / crocodile hide, but not necesarily imitating its natural skin colouring.





A thick sole on footwear designed to increase the perceived height of the wearer. Thickness can vary from slightly above normal sole thickness to the more extreem platform heights found in pole dancing and fetish footwear.





Roll-top Boots




Thigh-high Boot

A style of boot that reaches as high as [anywhere on the] thigh muscle.


Where the toe of a shoe is covered with an additional piece of leather. Several different styles and patterns are comonly used on men's dress shoes, often incorporating Brogue detailing. Also known as a Cap Toe.




Wing-tip Shoes






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