A few weeks ago in this blog I was talking about the closure of several shoe chains and pointing out that if you are thinking of starting a business, whether it’s online, a market stall or in actual premises, a shoe shop might be a great business to get off the ground. Everyone needs shoes after all!
Where do you start though? Are you one of those people who think only the Dutch wear clogs? So you think a sole is a type of fish? Or do you assume that boat shoes are shoes that are decorated to look like ships? Here at Wholesale Clearance UK HQ we have been debating what different types of shoes are called, and looking online there’s not really a great deal of information in one place. With this in mind, if like us, you haven’t a clue about types and styles of shoes, then this article is for you. Here’s a handy reference guide for the types of shoes that are available for you to stock.Ankle boot
As you can probably tell from the name, an ankle boot is a boot that only comes up as far as the ankle. The boot will generally be enclosed although recently some ankle boots have had a piece cut out so you can see the toes. Ankle boots can be any height and can be either casual or dressy depending on the materials used (the colour, the pattern or the fabric) and the decoration (buckles, ribbons, diamante).
Depending on the wearer, ankle boots can be a little unflattering as they make legs look shorter. Short or dumpy people should definitely avoid wearing them. High heeled versions can be very glamorous with short and smart dresses, or can add a touch of style to slim fitting jeans or trousers. Never wear wide cut, flared or baggy trousers or jeans with ankle boots.Army boots
Army boots are either ex-military boots designed to be worn by soldiers during actual combat or combat training, or they have been made to look like army boots for fashion purposes. Good military boots are expensive and will usually provide a combination of grip, ankle stability, and foot protection and waterproofed leather. They can be picked up in army surplus shops.
Army boots have long been a fashion icon among alternative pop cultures. Bikers have been wearing them for decades, and punks adopted them in the seventies. They have also been picked up by Goths, grunge, heavy metal, skinheads and those among the BDSM cultures (apparently 😉 ). Recently they have appealed to a more mainstream clientele because they are cheap, long lasting and can give a vintage or retro effect to fashion wear.Athletic shoes (or plimsolls)
‘Athletic shoe’ is a generic name for footwear used for sports and other physical exercise. Over the past twenty years or so, the plimsoll has become a fashion item and is used in everyday activities. The athletic shoe has had a variety of names including trainer, sandshoe, gym boot or jogger, tennis shoe or sneaker in the USA.In the UK we would recognise the athletic shoe as a plimsoll and would use it for indoor athletics. Plimsolls were introduced in the mid nineteenth century by Samuel Plimsoll. The early versions were made with a cotton canvas upper and leather sole and were designed for leisure or beach use. They were used on tennis and croquet courts and ordered in bulk for Army use. They were made compulsory for physical education use in the UK during the twentieth century. All British kids will have worn them at one time or another and there is a strong nostalgia for them. Ballet shoes
Ballet flats or ‘dolly shoes’ are easily recognised. They are shoes that resemble the sort of thing a rag doll might wear. The ballet slipper has a very thin heel or no heel at all, and the upper is very soft and material like. They may simply be slip-ons or have some sort of elastic or adjustable string tie so that they can be adjusted around the top of the foot. Alternative versions will look like ballet slippers with ribbons that wrap around the ankle.
Ballet flats have been used in fashion since the sixteenth century when men and women wore the version known as pompes. They went out of fashion during the seventeenth and eighteenth century when high heels became all the rage, but high heels were a sign of status favoured by the likes of Catherine de Medici and Marie Antoinette and they went out of fashion for a while post French Revolution.
When Audrey Hepburn wore ballet slippers with skinny jeans in Funny Face in 1957, the world went crazy for them again. However, you should only wear ballet slippers if you are a) a ballet dancer or b) an Audrey Hepburn clone. Anyone with any sort of weight or anyone with a fat heel or ankle should not be seen dead in them. Similarly if you’re walking any sort of distance, avoid them like the plague because they are non-supportive and have little if any grip.Beach shoes
Beach Footwear has certainly changed over the years. It can, and has been taken to mean flip flops, sandals or crocs but now it usually refers to neoprene reef shoes. Reef shoes are the kind that you can wear when swimming, rock pooling or snorkelling. It saves cutting your feet if you stand on something sharp, and also helps if you are walking over pebbly beaches.Boat shoes
Boat shoes are also frequently referred to as deck shoes or topsiders. They tend to be made with canvas or leather and have non-marking rubber soles as part of the design. As the name suggests they are essentially designed for use on a boat, but as with many styles, they drift in and out of fashion. They are perfect for boat use because the soles are cut in such a way (called ‘siping’) that they can provide grip on a wet deck. Using leather in the shoes allows for the application of oil to the upper which will repel water. The stitching needs to be highly durable so that it does not rot. Boat shoes have come into their own since the 1980s (very Miami Vice) but beware! The whole look can only be carried off as long as the wearer does not utilise socks.Boots
Boots are an item of footwear that traditionally cover the whole of the foot and ankle, with many types extending above the ankle. Some boots rise as high as the knee or even the hip. The majority of boots will have a heel that is easily distinguishable from the sole although wedges and platforms are an exception to this. Boots are usually worn with socks in order to prevent blisters, especially when new.
Boots are usually pretty supportive of the foot and ankle and so are mainly worn for functional purposes – to keep the wearer warm and supposedly to exclude the elements: snow, rain, mud etc. Unfortunately most fashion boots do not keep out the elements. Certain boots are manufactured specifically to protect against hazards on construction sites, or during strenuous activities.
Women’s boots come in a zillion different styles – with stiletto, tapered or spike heels, platform of wedged heels, with pointed or rounded toes.
Bovver boots are boots that have been adopted into fashion (see also army boots above) by punks and skinheads, Goths and students. More recently women have enjoyed wearing them with pretty frocks. If you wear bovver boots you are either a) looking for trouble or b) trying too hard.Bowling shoes
Everyone knows what bowling shoes are. You hire them from a bowling alley. You take off your lovely new shoes and replace them with scuffed, old and cheesy bowling shoes that were worn by a million strangers with fungal nail infections before you, right? Right. The thing is that bowling shoes have been especially designed to be smooth and flat. The idea is that they are not worn outside in the elements and the soles therefore remain slick and free of debris. If the soles are not slick, you run the risk of slipping on the smooth surface of the bowling rink.
Beyond the obvious role of bowling shoes in bowling alleys, there has been some movement in fashion circles to wear bowling shoes out and about. Style conscious Mods are particularly keen on their chic, smooth look as of course were Two-Tone followers in the late 70s and early 80s. A top tip from those in the know, is to mix a little black polish into the cracks to give shade to the shoe, making it look older. So if you’re seeking to complete your Paul Weller look, consider yourself told.Brogues
Ah brogues. A style classic. The word comes from the Scottish for shoe (bròg) and the Gaelic bróg. The brogue is instantly recognizable by its sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations (or “broguing”) and its low heel. Brogues can be worn as either a shoe or a boot.
Modern brogues have their origins as a simplistic shoe with an untanned hide as the upper, which had a number of perforations in it in order to allow water to drain out when crossing boggy areas. They were long considered to be outdoor or country footwear rather than for formal or business occasions, but these days they are smart footwear and you can wear them anywhere.
Cleats have been in use among athletes since at least the 1500s. In 1526 ‘football boots’ were listed in King Henry VIII’s Great Wardrobe. Cornelius Johnson, shoemaker to the King, made the King a pair of hand-stitched boots “to play football” in. The shoes were made of strong leather. New methods and materials for making cleats coincided with the emergence of The Football Association in 1863 with football becoming an organized game in England.
From the 1840s, it was possible to harden rubber and stop it from decaying. This process known as vulcanization, was especially beneficial in the production of cleats. From the 1890s studs were first used to make football cleats and the concept of spiked and studded shoes for other sports began to emerge at this time too. It was in the 1890s, that a British company (now known as Reebok), developed the earliest known spiked leather running shoes.
From the 1920s, detachable cleats were first introduced and by the 1970s, players could wear footwear with short, rubber cleats for use on artificial turf. These days, different types of cleats exist for different surfaces.Climbing shoes
A climbing shoe is again aptly named. It is a specialized type of footwear that has been designed for more adventurous people to wear when they stylishly want to traverse mountains and such like. They are supposed to be closely fitting (well you wouldn’t want your shoe to come off at 1500 feet would you?). There’s no padding either. You can actually feel the rocks with your toes. The rubber sole is sticky. These shoes are completely unsuitable for anything except rock climbing and have yet to break into fashion.Clogs
If you’ve ever been to Holland, you’ll know exactly what clogs are. Clogs are shoes that are made either in part or completely from wood. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a clog as a “shoe with a thick wooden sole”. Whole foot clogs are those that have a wooden upper covering the whole of the foot to near the ankle, like the Dutch klomp. They are also known as “wooden shoes”. Clogs aren’t just a part of Dutch and European folklore however, they have been adopted around the world, although their design often varies by culture.
Traditional clogs have often been a ‘peasant’ type of footwear, worn by those having to undertake heavy labour. They are still used as protective clothing in agriculture and in some factories and mines even today because they are strong, functional and protect your feet.
Clogs have also used been used in several different styles of dance as they make a great sound when they are clacked against the floor. For evidence of this you only have to visit this video 😉 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcR3U77nPv4Court shoes
A court shoe (in Britain) or pump (in the USA) is usually a slip on shoe with a low-cut front. Some have ankle straps. They are traditionally worn by women although there have been male versions throughout history too – particularly at ceremonial or formal occasions when they are known as ‘opera slippers’ or ‘patent pumps’.
Women’s pumps are generally heeled, but the heel itself varies, they can be closed toe with a wide heel, or open toed with a stiletto or kitten heel as fashion frippery dictates. Note: a kitten heel is one that is medium height. You knew that didn’t you? A puppy heel is taught at dog obedience classes.
In the UK, we would understand “pumps” to refer to flat or low-heel dancing or ballerina shoes. The word pump can also apply to plimsolls. In the USA however, a pump would have a higher heel.Pumps are good to wear at work, with uniforms or suits, as they tend to be classy and unfussy. Depending on the materials used in their construction you can wear them with anything really: jeans, dresses, trousers. Pump construction is simple. They will have a whole-cut leather top and a full leather sole that is either glued onto the bottom (the cheaper styles) or sewn (expensive styles). Many pumps will have some form of decoration such as a bow on the front or the heel. Cowboy boots
You’d have to have been in hibernation on the moon for your whole life not to know what a cowboy boot is, but just in case some of our readers are space cadets and need reminding, a cowboy boot is a riding boot that has been historically worn by cowboys. They have a ‘Cuban heel’ which is described as a broad but moderately high straight-sided heel on a shoe or boot.
The cowboy boot has a rounded or pointed toe and no lacing. They are generally made from cowhide (yeeha!!) but can also be made from more exotic skins such as alligator and snake or even the skin of endangered animals such as elephants (very bad! Don’t encourage it!). If you’re a cockney cowboy you can have your cockney cowboy boots made of eel.
Apparently, there are two basic styles of cowboy boots. The western is the classic version of course. It reaches mid-calf and the heel is over one inch high (I wonder if cowboys were traditionally bow legged and short?). The other style is the “roper” style that has a short boot shaft that stops above the ankle but before the middle of the calf, and a low and squared-off “roper” heel, shaped to the sole of the boot, usually less than one inch high.
Cowboy boots can be decorated in a variety of ways but topstitching, and cut outs of geometric patterns are very popular.Crocs
Crocs were originally been developed as a spa shoe, with the first model unveiled in 2002 in Florida. Crocs are made from a foam resin named Croslite which moulds itself to a wearer’s feet and offers medical benefits according to some podiatrists. The shoes come in a bright range of twenty colours suiting men, women and children. Fittings vary because Crocs are manufactured in a number of countries such as Italy, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vietnam and China. in a variety of styles. They are manufactured in Crocs facilities in Mexico, and contract manufacturers in. Fake ‘crocs’ are widely available.
Crocs can be decorated with Jibbitz, little decorations that can be clipped into the ventilation holes in the shoes. A “Fuzz Collection” with removable woolly liners has ensured that Croc loving Brits can continue to wear the footwear will into winter.Cycling shoes
Cycling shoes are shoes used for people who like to ride their bicycles fast. It is possible to ride a bicycle in flip flops, (see below) but if you stub your toe on a kerb it can get messy. There are any number of designs of cycling shoes depending on how fast you ride your bicycle, and what sort of cycling you do (on road? Off road? At the Olympics?) The key features are: that the shoes have a rigidity, for more-efficient transfer of power from the cyclist and his or her thighs (Sir Chris Hoy?) to the pedals; weight; and a method of attaching the shoe to the pedal. Most cycling shoes do not have laces these days. The cycling shoe is not an item of fashion, except for those that like to dress in skin tight lycra and ride in pairs around country lanes oblivious to the traffic jams they are causing.Deck shoes
Deck shoes are also known as boat shoes or topsiders. (See boat shoes above). They have non-marking rubber soles designed for use on a boat, but have increasingly found their way into fashion. They should be worn without socks.Dress shoes
A dress shoe is an item of footwear that you would wear at a smart casual or more formal event. Dress shoes are supposedly worn when you ‘dress up’ for a special occasion or an evening out for example, although increasingly many people wear them as their daily shoes if they wish to look smart.
Men’s dress shoes will usually be black or brown although burgundy, oxblood, chestnut, cordovan or white are alternative options. They will be made of leather, this includes the outers, lining, and sole. The uppers and seams will be decorated in a variety of ways such as stitching and brogueing (see brogues above).Women’s dress shoes come in the full spectrum of colours of course including black, silver, gold, tan or white, but anything goes. Invariably a dress shoe is high heeled. Pumps with kitten heels (see court shoes above) are a good dress shoe. Slingbacks are another option. Slingbacks are similar to pumps except they will have a strap that wraps around the back of the foot so that the heel is exposed. Some sandals can be used as dress shoes, but they must have a heel, have straps, and usually a shiny finish. Elevator shoes
Now the phrase ‘elevator shoes’ stopped me in my tracks. I had never heard of them and assumed they were something that a bell boy might wear in a lift in the USA. Turns out however, that elevator shoes are shoes that have thickened sections in the insoles (also known as lifts!) under the heels to make the wearer appear taller. I have heard and don’t know is this is true, that Tom Cruise wears lifts. Elevator shoes can increase the height of a wearer by 2 or 3 inches and even as much as 5 and a half inches.Espadrilles
Now espadrilles I have heard of and am a huge fan of. They remind me of hot summer days, the smell of baking skin and candy floss. Espadrilles are usually casual flat shoes although recently there has been a tendency for them to be wedged. They originate from the Pyrenees (fourteenth century) although some versions were known to exist 4000 years ago. They have a coloured canvas or cotton fabric upper with a distinctive flexible sole that is made of rope. Some versions have a rubber sole that is moulded to look like rope. Often women’s espadrilles will have laces that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by both men and women.
Like clogs (see above) espadrilles were once the footwear of peasants but now many men and women wear them during the summer, the world over. Fashion espadrilles have soles that can be flat, platform or wedge shaped, and can be made of natural fibre or synthetic fibres. Toe styles may be open or closed, with open or closed backs. Espadrilles may be slip-on or tied. There are thousands of versions of the popular shoe from inexpensive versions you buy at the beach to high priced designer brands.Flip-flops
Let’s hear it for the humble flip-flop. This is an amazing piece of footwear that gets its name because of the noise it makes when you wear it. Flip-flops, also known as thongs, or slappies) are a marvellous creation. They’re simply a flat flexible sole with a Y-shaped strap that passes between your toes. Absolute genius! Imagine owning the patent for the flip-flop!
To be fair, some flip-flops are a little more sophisticated and can be held to the foot with a single strap over the front of the foot rather than a thong. The flip-flop is eternally popular and has been worn by zillions of people over the centuries through hundreds of cultures the world over. Ancient Egyptians were wearing flip-flops 4000 years ago.A word of warning. Flip-flops can damage your health (see cycle shoes above). Flip-flops are known to be responsible for many injuries, including ankle sprains and broken bones. They do not support your feet so if you’re walking long distances it is best not to wear them. Flip-flops offer little or no protection against common hazards so you’re liable to stub your toes. It is possible to buy flip-flops with thickly cushioned soles and those that have a strap that goes around the ankle…. Although if it has a strap around the ankle, surely it’s not a flip-flop? Flippers
(See swimfins below).Galoshes
Probably the best word ever for any type of footwear is the word ‘galoshes’. It is derived from the French word ‘galoches’ which in turn was drawn from a Gaulish shoe known as a gallicae. Galosh is used to describe a rubber boot that is often slipped over shoes to prevent them from getting muddy and wet. The word galoshes in Britain is also used interchangeably with ‘rubber boots’ and ‘Wellington boots’. They are also known around the world as boat shoes (but not to be confused with the boat shoes or deck shoes described above), dickersons, or overshoes. However, proper galoshes are slipped over other shoes and this is the key difference as they can prevent more vulnerable shoes from damage. Originally the gallicae had a wooden sole (a clog sole see above) but today the galosh is almost always made of rubber.Golf shoes
Another stunning fact is that golf shoes are used by golfers to play golf in. They should prevent the golfer’s feet from sliding around on the course as they manoeuvre themselves into position to make their next stroke. Golf shoes can be expensive and are not generally a requirement for playing golf on most golf courses but if people are serious about their game, they are a sensible purchase. Golf shoes are rigid with a firm base, that supports the ankle and are weighty to give added support to the golf player. Traditional golf shoes have metal spikes on the soles that will dig into the surface of the course, however many more modern versions of the golf shoe now use softer rubber spikes in order to do less damage to the green. Spiked golf shoes should only be worn on a golf course. The spikes will damage a parquet floor if you try to tap dance during your tea break in the clubhouse.Gumboots
Let’s hear it for the humble gumboot. In Britain we know them as ‘rubber boots’ and ‘Wellington boots’ as well as wellies, wellingtons, topboots, billy-boots, gumbies, gummies, rainboots, and Vulcanised shin-high flexi-pumps (well, not in my house they’re not!). The Wellington boot was a leather Hessian boot that was popularised by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington that became hugely popular with the ‘What ho!’ echelons of British society in the early 19th century.
We have a love affair with wellington boots in the UK because of how useful they are in wet and muddy conditions. They are usually made from rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) a halogenated polymer. They generally reach to just below the knee, although it is possible to get shorter boots and taller ‘waders’.
Renowned for their use in factory and industrial settings, for many years they were only available to the public in pleb black and Sloane green but now you can buy them as a fashion accessory in every colour and pattern you can imagine. It’s not just kids who can splash through the puddles, singing these days.Heel
A heel is the back part of the human foot, below and behind the ankle. When your shoes are too tight you can get blisters on your heels. A heel can also be part of a stocking, shoe, or the like that covers the back part of the wearer’s foot. Beside the toe, the heel is the most likely part of a sock to wear out. Fact.
Meanwhile a shoe heel is the projection at the back of a shoe which rests below the heel bone. It’s a functional part of the shoe that lifts you up and supports your weight. The shoe heel is used to improve the balance of the shoe, and increase your height. It can also alter your posture for better or for worse and it can be used for decorative purposes.
Do not be fooled for a moment into thinking that high heels are a modern invention. They have in fact been around for millennia. High heeled shoes are depicted in ancient Egyptian murals on tombs and temples, but are recorded in earlier pictures of men and women wearing elevated shoes in ancient Persia.
Short monarchs such as Mary Tudor, have been shown to wear heels as high as they could get away with and from the early 19th century, high heels were popular with both men and women. Louis XIV of France had some made in 1660 that were four inches high and high heels have really continued in popularity with men ever since, apart from the French Revolution when they were seen as a sign of extravagance and opulence and were frowned upon. High-heeled platform shoes were very popular with men during the 1970s.
Heels (Types of)Kitten heel
If you would like to recognise a kitten heel, note that it is a short and slender heel. It is generally 3.5 centimetres (1.5 inches) to 4.75 centimetres (1.75 inches) high and has a slight curve that sets the heel in from the edge of the shoe. The kitten heel was widely popularized by Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s.Stiletto heel
If you have ever had your foot trodden on by a woman in stiletto heels, you will know that stiletto heels should come with a health warning. A stiletto heel is a high heel attached to boots and shoes that is long and thin. It is named after the stiletto dagger. The stiletto heel can vary from 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) to 25 cm (10 inches) or more if a platform sole is used, and are sometimes defined as having a diameter at the ground of less than 1 cm. The heel can sometimes flare out a little at the top-piece (the tip). A real stiletto heel has a stem of solid steel or alloy. There are cheaper variations that are moulded plastic with an internal metal tube but they rarely achieve the true stiletto shape.Spool heel
A spool heel is an interestingly named heel. It is wide at the top and bottom and narrower in the middle, and therefore resembles a cotton reel. Historically spool heels were fashionable in Europe during the Baroque and Rococo periods, the 1860s and 1950s.Wedge heel
Wedge heels are extremely fashionable at the moment. They are a sole in the form of a wedge that is usually a single piece of material, normally rubber or wood, and this serves as both the sole and the heel and makes the shoe or boot high-heeled. Men’s wedge boots are more commonly called “wedgies” and should not be confused with the playground trick of yanking a man’s pant up from his trousers, splitting his bottom cheeks and causing immense pain to the victim and hilarity everywhere else. Wedged boots for men became popular during the 1970s and are making a comeback in the 2010s.Platform heel
Platform high heels are made of cork, plastic, rubber, or wood (see also clogs above). They add height and have been worn since ancient times although most recently they were popular among glam rockers in the 1970s and are currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity with women. Platform heels are thought to have been worn in Europe in the eighteenth century in order to avoid the muck of urban streets, as there were no sewers and human and animal waste was simply thrown out of windows.High heels
High heels are used on footwear to raise the heel of the person wearing the item. High heels make the heel higher than the toes. If both the heel and the toes are raised the same amounts then this is a platform heel and will not be considered a high heel. High heels are used by women to give the illusion of longer, and slimmer legs rather like wonder bras give the illusion of cleavage. High heels can come in a variety of styles including stiletto (see above), pump (court shoe see above), block, tapered, blade, and wedge (see above). Jimmy Choo and Gucci insist that a “low heel” is less than 2.5 inches (or 6.4 centimetres), while heels between 2.5 and 3.5 inches (6.4 and 8.9 cm) are considered “mid heels”, and anything over that is considered a “high heel”.High-top sneakers
The high-top is a shoe, that looks rather like a plimsoll (see above) but that extends significantly over the wearer’s ankle and is high above the ankle (hence high-top). It is commonly an athletic shoe, particularly for basketball and was once known as a ‘basketball shoes’. High-tops should not be confused with shorter-length boots such as ankle boots (see above), since high-tops usually refer to athletic shoes (hence the likeness to plimsolls). A sneaker is an American term for an athletic shoe.Hiking boots
Hiking boots are also known as walking boots and have been designed to be sturdy and supportive, especially for people who want to walk or hike in mixed terrain over a distance. Quality and durability are extremely important and so many walkers will invest a great deal of money in a pair of good hiking boots.
Good hiking boots can be used to walk considerable distance over rough terrain, while protecting the wearer’s feet against water, mud, rocks, etc. The boots tend to be heavy with thick soles and heel. Hiking boots should give adequate ankle support and be fairly stiff, but the footwear should not be too loose or too tight as this can cause blisters and sore feet or toes. Many hiking boots can also be used for other outdoor activities such as backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, and hunting.Ice skates
Ice skates are boots with blades attached to the bottom. The blades allow the person wearing them to move across a sheet of ice. They are worn as footwear in sports such as ice hockey, speed skating, and figure skating. The first ice skates (used in Finland 5000 years ago!) were actually made of animal bones and attached to the feet. The first evidence of a metal blade being used was found in Scandinavia and was dated around 200 A.D. It had a thin strip of copper folded and attached to the underside of a leather shoe.
The bottom of a modern ice skate blade, has a crescent-shaped hollow with two sharp edges on each skate. The two edges of the blade are parallel and need to be sharpened equally and regularly. The skater uses these edges in different combinations in order to manoeuvre around the ice. However, speed skates and touring skates have a completely flat bottom so that they don’t cut into the ice as this improves glide time.Inline skates
Inline skates have more commonly been known as Rollerblades and are a type of roller skate used for ‘inline skating’. Inline skates are dissimilar to quad roller skates, which have two front and two rear wheels, because they have four or five wheels arranged in a single line. Some inline skates also have a “stop” or “brake” which is used to slow the wearer down while skating. Most inline skates have the heel stop rather than the toe stop. The first commercially available inline skate was made in 1987 by Rollerblade. The inline skate is composed of a high boot that is worn on the foot and supports the ankle. A frame is attached to the heel which holds the wheels in place. Bearings are used to allow the wheels to rotate freely around an axle.Jackboots
There are two different styles of military boot that are known as jackboots: the cavalry jackboot and the hobnailed jackboot. The cavalry jackboot was worn during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century and originally referred to tall winged leather cavalry boots, which had been “jacked”, or reinforced against sword blows by use of armour that was sewn into the lining of the leather. ‘Jack’ came from the French word ‘Jaque’ meaning mail or armour. The wings on these high boots protected the horse rider’s knee-joint from a sword blow. These boots are still worn by the Household Cavalry Regiment of the British Army.
The hobnailed jackboot is a combat boot designed for marching. The unlaced boot reaches mid-calf and beyond. It is designed to be pulled on, has a leather sole with hobnails, and heel irons. In Germany the hobnailed jackboot is known as a marching boot and was very popular with the German Infantry in World War I. Before World War II the Stormtroopers dispensed with them in favour of laced boots and eventually the jackboot was replaced by lesser quality ankle boots (see above) by the German army when leather became scarce in World War II.Jelly Shoes
Jelly sandals or jelly shoes were originally based on the classic fisherman sandal but made in PVC plastic. They were invented in 1946 by Frenchman Jean Dauphant because there was such a shortage of leather in the aftermath of World War II. More modern designs have come in a full range translucent soft plastic in bright colours leading to the name of jelly shoes or jelly sandals. They are mainly worn by girls and women.Jibbitz
A form of plastic decoration that fits in a hole. They come in all manner of colourful designs and can really make your shoes look quirky and individual. Or they can look plain daft. Up to you. See Crocs above.Jump boots
The jump boot (also known as the ‘parachute boot’ or ‘para boot’) is another type of combat boot. It is used almost exclusively by Paratroopers and soldiers of the Airborne Forces. The uppers are usually composed of smooth black leather, with toe-caps and heel counters that accept a high polish.Kamiks
Kamiks are also known as Mukluks and are a soft boot that is traditionally made of reindeer skin or sealskin and is worn by Arctic aboriginal people, including the Inuit and Yupik. “Kamik” is an Inuit word. Kamik boots are extremely light and allow hunters to move around very quietly. Often they are decorated with pompons and beads and lined with fur. They are excellent cold weather boots, especially if they have a modern sole. The key component of its success is its ability to breathe, that is, to allow air exchange. However they are bulky and less effective in slushy or wet conditions.
Another kind of mukluk, which is usually made out of wool, is knitted with a soft leather sole. We would know these as slipper socks. See also Ugg boots (below).Loafers
Loafers are slip-on shoes that are usually low heeled, and without laces. They are very popular in American culture and have been designed to look like moccasins (see below). They are worn in many situations in a variety of colours and designs, and very often have tassels on the front, or metal decorations. During the 1980s they came compete with beads. Dress loafers are popular in Britain. They are smarter slip-ons with a side gusset and can be known as a dress loafer. They look similar to Oxford lace-ups (see below) without the laces and are snug when worn.Mary Janes
Mary Janes are an ever popular design of footwear. The term Mary Janes was previously registered a trademark in the USA and was the name given to a closed, low-cut shoe with one or more straps across the instep. In Britain we would traditionally know them from their popularity among children, but actually more and more adults now wear this design. They are most typically made of black leather or patent leather, and have one thin strap fastened with a buckle or button that goes across the top of the foot. They have a rounded toebox, low heels, and thin soles. Girls team them up with socks or tights and they are worn with skirts or dresses.
Men used to wear Mary Janes, including Henry VIII, Francis I of France and Charles IX of France, along with men and boys in Imperial China and boys during the 19th century, and the first half of the 20th century and among elite families after World War II. Today, Mary Janes are often considered semi-formal or formal shoes, that are appropriate for school, religious ceremonies, weddings and parties etc.Moccasins
A moccasin is typically made of deerskin or some other soft leather. It has a sole and sides made of one piece of leather, which is then stitched together at the top, sometimes with an additional panel. The sole of the moccasin is soft and flexible and the upper part is quite often decorated with embroidery or beading. It can be worn inside although it was designed for outdoor use. It is historically the footwear of many indigenous peoples of North America but was also adopted by hunters, traders, and European settlers. Moccasins are able to protect the foot from hazards and wet and yet they allow the wearer to feel the ground.Mukluks
See ‘kamik’ above. The word “mukluk” is of Yupik origin, from maklak, or bearded seal, while “kamik” is an Inuit word. Mukluk refers to the material that this type of footwear was made out of.Mules
Unlike mukluks above, fortunately mules are not made out of donkeys. Mule is a French word and refers to a style of shoe that is backless, that is, it does not have a closed heel. The toes are usually closed. Mules can be any heel height – from flat to high (see heel descriptors above). Mules are usually worn by women. It is thought that the mule dates back to Ancient Rome where it was worn by officials. It became a popular indoor shoe during the eighteenth century but then became associated with prostitutes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Marilyn Monroe popularized the mule during the early 1950s, helping to fix its broken reputation. During the 1970s mules were a popular of open-back Scandinavian clogs (see above), and then re-emerged in the early 1990s as an extremely popular open-toed shoe for women (see below).Open-toes shoes
Open toes shoes can also be known as peep-toe shoes, Peek-A-Boo Shoes or Peek-A-Boo Toes. They are a woman’s shoe (usually in the style of a pump (see below), slingback (see below) or other dress shoe in which there is an opening in the toe-box which allows the toes to peep out and be seen. A peep toe shoe will show part of the toes, but not the whole toe line. Open toed shoes will show the whole toe line. Peep toe shoes and boots are beginning to become more popular again after falling out of fashion in the 1990s.
Should you wear tights with open toed shoes? Wholesale Clearance UK (a well-known follower of fashion of course) adamantly suggest not! Tight with open toe shoes (or sandals come to that) does not look professional or sexy or polished. Nail polish or cover them up, ladies. That’s our advice.Oxfords
An Oxford shoe is a very classical style for men that can be recognised by the shoelace eyelets that are attached under the vamp, allowing for “closed lacing”. Originally, Oxfords were plain, formal shoes, made of leather but they have now evolved into a range of styles and can be used at formal and casual occasions. Oxfords are made using a variety of materials, including calf leather, patent leather, suede, and canvas. Normally black or brown, they now come in a range of colours and can be plain or patterned (see Brogue shoes above). The shoes were named after Oxford University where they were popular among students from the early nineteenth century.Peek a boo shoes
See open toed shoes (above). Peek a boo shoes show a flash of toe line rather than the whole toe line.Penny loafers
Not sure what penny loafers are? Think Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson brought the classic loafer into fashion; in fact he used them as one of his trademarks, along with his sparkly diamante glove. The loafer is a slip-on shoe which has a low heel and is usually laceless, often with a moccasin (see above) type construction. Many versions sport tassels. Less casual versions are made with side gussets (and are sometimes called a dress loafer).
It is not certain where the term penny loafer comes from, although one version suggests that during the 1950s, American prep school students made a fashion statement, by inserting a penny into the diamond-shaped slit on their loafers. Another version is that two pennies could be slipped into the slit, enough money to make an emergency phone call in the 1930s.
The twenty-first century has seen a revival of penny loafers. The new versions are more rugged and very low or flat without heels. They are favoured by American business and legal professionals and in Europe they have general casual and informal use. Women can wear loafers with socks or stockings, but it is becoming increasingly fashionable to be bear legged in casual circumstances.Platform shoes
(See also heels above). Platform shoes are also known as platforms or disco boots. They are worn as fashionable items, or in order to increase height. Versions of the platform shoe are known to have been worn in Ancient China and Japan, but their most recent popularity was in the United States, Europe and the UK from the 1930s to the 1950s, and the 1960s to the 1980s.
Platform shoes provide height without the discomfort of stiletto or spike heels (see heels above), but they are worn particularly in order to attract attention. Many glam rock musicians wore platform shoes as part of their act in the 1970s.
More recently Vivienne Westwood, the UK fashion designer, has re-introduced the high heeled platform shoe into high-fashion in the 1990s and they were worn with great effect by members of The Spice Girls.Pointe shoes
See also ballet shoes (above). A pointe shoe is shoe worn by a ballet dancer and it allows her to perform pointe work (meaning to dance on the tips of her toes). They are most commonly manufactured in pink. Ballet has been performed since the seventeenth century, and originally dance shoes would have had heels. In the mid-18th century non-heeled shoes were adopted to allow dancers to perform leaps. Rising on the toes allows dancers to appear weightless and ethereal and so choreographers look for ways to incorporate more pointework into dance. During the nineteenth century toes were padded to provide more support for the dancers’ toes. Later on a ‘toe box’ was added and a stiffer, stronger sole. A shank is used, which is a piece of rigid material that stiffens the sole of the shoe to provide support for the arch.
Pointe shoes have two fabric ribbons and an elastic band to secure them to the feet. The two ribbons wrap around the dancer’s ankle in opposite directions, overlapping one and forming a cross at the front before being tied in a knot.Pumps
Pumps are perhaps one of the most popular styles of women’s shoes as they are very easy to wear. A pump is a shoe that has a closed back and is slipped on. A classic pump will have a seamless vamp, and will be devoid of laces, buckles, straps and ties. However, the classic pump silhouette can also be decorated by using different straps. While the classic pump would have closed toes, it is possible to find open toes, peep toes, pointy toes, round toes, almond toes or square toes. Heels (see above) can be of any height.Rainboots
See gumboots above.Riding boots
You would never guess but a riding boot is a boot made to be used for horse riding. The classic riding boot will come high enough up the leg so that it prevents the leather of the saddle from pinching the leg of the rider. A riding boot will also incorporate a sturdy toe to protect the rider’s foot when on the ground with a distinct heel that prevents the instep from sliding through the stirrup. The modern riding boot is low-heeled.
There are a variety of styles of riding boots, including those used for horse shows, field work, dressage, hunting and pleasure riding. A lower, paddock boot that stops just above the ankle, is worn by children.
See also cowboy boots above.Rollerblades
See also inline skates above. Rollerblade is a brand of inline skates that are owned by Nordica, which is part of the Tecnica Group of Giavera del Montello, Treviso, Italy and was founded by Scott Olson and Brennan Olson in Minneapolis. The company became Rollerblade, Inc. when it was sold and has changed hands several times.
Rollerblading is therefore a name that is used for inline skating because of the large role that Rollerblade© USA as a brand has had on making inline skating popular. While Rollerblade© did not invent, design or manufacture the very first inline skates they have been very successful at marketing inline skates and equipment.Rollerskates
Roller skates are devices that are worn on the feet allowing the wearer to roll along. They are effectively ice skates but with wheels. The first patented roller skate was introduced as long ago as 1760 by the Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin. His skates were hard to steer and stop. In 1863, James Plimpton from Massachusetts introduced the “rocking” skate which used four wheels for added stability, and independent axles that allowed the skater to turn by pressing one side of the skate or the other. These days you can get either roller skates which are a boot with the wheels permanently attached or quad skates that slip over your own footwear and are tied with laces and buckles.Running shoes
Running shoes are footwear designed for running in. There’s no single ‘best shoe’ as everyone has individual needs. Depending on your weight, the shape of your feet and the height of your instep, and the surfaces you run on, you will have different needs. Running shoes need to offer stability and good support. They should be durable with adequate cushioning. Running shoes first crossed over into fashion when Melanie Griffith first wore them onscreen in the film Working Girl (1988). She wore them for her commute, but these days many fashion designers incorporate running shoes into their collections, often dressing down couture with sporty footwear. (See also athletic shoes above).Saddle shoes
Saddle shoes are a low-heeled casual Oxford shoe (see above). They have a plain toe with a characteristic, saddle-shaped decorative panel on the middle of the upper. Saddle shoes are usually made in leather and quite frequently are white with a black saddle, however absolutely any colour combination can be created. The black and white versions have been favoured by people who follow ska and two tone because of the prevalent colour combination of black and white and the overall look.
Saddle shoes are worn by men and women. They can have a variety of heels (see above) and can be cleated (see above) and used for golf. They are currently popular with teenage boys and young men.Sandals
Ah sandals. Whenever you see sandals you just know that summer is upon us. Either that or care in the community is not working. The sandal is an open type of footwear that has a sole held to the wearer’s foot by straps that pass over the instep and around the ankle. They are designed to be worn outside. Evidence of sandals has been found that dates the earliest footwear of this kind as around 10,000 years old. Ancients Greeks wore them and called them sandalon from where the name sandal is drawn upon. Ancient Egyptians wore sandals made of palm-leaves and papyrus.
The sandal will have a sole made from rubber, leather, wood, tatami or rope and will be held on by some kind of thong, strap or tie. It may or may not have a heel (see heels above). There are a wide number of variants, including: hiking and trekking sandals; Grecian sandal that have a sole attached to the foot by interlaced straps crossing the toes and instep, which then fastens around the ankle; high heel sandal (see high heels above); jelly sandals (see above); clogs (see above); Paduka sandals which are from ancient India and are toe-knob sandals, now only really worn by monks or for ceremonial purposes; and the fisherman sandal, which is a type of T-bar sandal originally for men with enclosed toes and a central length-wise strap and buckles for cross straps.T-Bar sandals are worn mainly by children and have an enclosed heel and toe. The sandal is fastened by a cross-wise strap or bar with buckles or Velcro. The sole will generally be low-heeled and usually of crepe rubber. Sandals (Hiking and Trekking)
Hiking and trekking sandals are designed for hiking or trekking. They have a robust sole that is usually rubber and will be suitable for a variety of terrains and environments. The sandal will have an insole for cushioning and will be shaped to support the arch of the foot. They tend to be quick drying and will use polyester or nylon webbing in order to repel perspiration.
See figure skates, roller skates and inline skates (above).Ski boots
Ski boots are the boots that are used by those who ski. Ski boots attach the skier to their skis using bindings. As skiing has gained in popularity ski boots have become more specialized and now there are a variety to choose from including those for downhill skiing (alpine) and cross-country skiing.
The modern alpine ski boot will have an unyielding sole and will attach to the ski at both toe and heel using spring-loaded bindings. Cross-country boots usually only attach to the ski at the toe of the boot, although they flex at the ball of the foot.Slides
A slide is a shoe that is backless and open-toed, just like an open-toed mule (see open toes above and mules above). All slides are sandals (see sandals above). Thongs and flip flops however are classified separately. Slides can be high-heeled, flat-heeled or somewhere in between. The term slide is descriptive, describing how the shoe comes on and off. And you thought slide was something you used to like to do in a play park, eh?Sling-backs
A sling-back, or slingback, is a type of woman’s footwear that has a strap crossing behind the heel or ankle. Slingbacks should not be confused with other shoes that have ankle straps, as in the case of a sling-back the strap completely encircles the ankle with either a buckle or elastic to ensure the correct fit. Slingbacks can be considered a type of sandal (see above) and are available in both casual and dressy styles. Heels can range from flat to high, from stiletto to wedge (see heels above) and the slingback can either be closed or open-toe (see open toes above).Slippers
Ah lovely! Slippers by the fire, a faithful dog and a nice cup of tea. What more could you want? There are a variety of types of slippers. Slip-on slippers tend to have some sort of fabric upper layer that encloses the top of the foot and the toes, but leaves the heel open. Closed slippers are slippers that have a heel guard that prevents the foot sliding out. Slipper boots have become increasingly popular especially among women. These can be fabric or furry boots with some sort of soft lining (fleece or lambswool) and are made to resemble boots but with a soft rubber sole. Some can be worn outside but most cheaper varieties cannot.Moccasins (see above) are also a popular style of slipper if they are made of soft leather or pelt. They may also be decorated, perhaps beaded, in a tribal style. Novelty slippers are favoured by the young and young at heart. These can come in a diverse range of soft and colourful material, quite often in the shape of animals or giant animal or monster paws, cartoon characters, and so on. Sneakers
Sneakers are an American name for athletic shoes (see above) and are designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise. Increasingly they have become more fashionable and have been used for everyday usage and even in high fashion. The shoes have a flexible sole made of rubber or synthetic material and an upper part made of leather or canvas.
Sneaker is a common term used in the North East of the USA and Florida. In the UK we would know them as trainers. They can also be called ‘kicks’ or ‘tackies’.
(See also boots and bovver boots above). A steel-toe boot is generally worn for safety purposes and is therefore also known as a safety boot, a steel-capped boot or a safety shoe. It is a durable boot or shoe with a great deal of protective reinforcement in the toe to protect the foot against hazards, particularly falling objects or compression. Traditionally made of steel, the steel-toe boot is vital in the construction industry and other industrial settings. More often than not, health and safety legislation or insurance requirements insist on the use of such boots. Safety footwear now comes in many styles, including sneakers (see above) and clogs (see above). Some brands of steel-toe footwear, including Dr. Martens, have become fashionable within many subcultures such as skinhead and punks.Stiletto heels
See heels above.Swim fins
Swimfins are also known as swim fins, fins or flippers. They are worn on the foot to help movement through the water in water activities such as swimming, body boarding, bodysurfing, underwater hockey, underwater rugby and various other types of underwater diving. Their primary use however is with scuba divers who use fins to move through the water efficiently. The large area of the fin is more efficient at providing a kick and thrust than the human foot can ever be. Flippers minimise the amount of energy needed to swim long distances and help the body conserve oxygen.Tap shoes
Tap shoes are the dance shoes that are used in tap dance. The shoes are characterized by using the sound of the taps as percussion as they hit the floor (or table, bar, or ceiling – whatever you happen to be dancing on). Tap shoes have a metal ‘tap’ on both the heel and the toe. Different types of ‘taps’ produce a different sound.Tennis shoes
A tennis shoe is a low heeled sports shoe with a flat rubber sole and an upper that is usually made from canvas or leather. The shoe is laced over the instep. See also athletic shoes (above) and sneakers (above).Toe shoes
My initial thought was that toe shoes were going to be something that ballet dancers or tap dancers wore. Hmmmm. How wrong I was. Toe shoes are hilarious! They are shaped like a human foot including the toes! Apparently they are becoming increasingly popular and are technologically designed to copy the natural and intuitive movement of the human foot. They are very low to the ground (called zero drop) which is supposed to enhance speed, balance and comfort. They are recommended for fitness work, running, water sports and yoga. While many people rave about their abilities, podiatrists warn that they do not provide enough support, stability or motion control and should be used cautiously. The jury’s out on this one …Track shoes
Track shoes are also known as track spikes, field shoes, or spikes. They are running shoes with the addition of spikes. The spikes are pointy protrusions that are made of metal, ceramic or plastic. These spikes are then screwed into the bottom of track and field shoes to increase traction and prevent the wearer from slipping. Spikes are similar to the studs that are used for team sports, although they are generally smaller.Ugg Boots
Ugg boots are popular across the Western world but particularly in Australia and New Zealand. The Ugg boot is a unisex style of sheepskin boot (see boots above). They are usually made of twin-faced sheepskin with fleece on the inside, and a tanned outer surface (which can be dyed a number of colours) and a synthetic sole. Ugg boots originated in Australia, where they were initially functional footwear that were worn for warmth. They were popular among surfers particularly in the 1960s and this spread to the UK and the US in the 1970s. Ugg boots emerged as a fashion trend in the late 1990s.
It is not clear whether “ugg” is a protected trademark, or a generic term. There are 70 registered UGG trademarks in Australia and New Zealand alone, but UGG is also a well-known brand manufactured in China by the California-based Deckers Outdoor Corporation. There are a large number of cheaper rip-offs.Valenki
Valenki are a traditional form of Russian winter footwear. They are felt boots, with the name taken from the word ‘valenok’ meaning “made by felting”. Valenki are made of wool felt so they are not water resistant. They need to be worn with galoshes (see above) to keep water out and protect the soles from wear and tear.
Valenki can be worn for walking on dry snow when the weather is frosty but the soles do wear out quite quickly. They can have a rubber sole, and there are valenki with glue-sew and moulded soles. Traditionally, valenki have been made using brown, black, grey and white colours but increasingly the variety of colours has increased.Waders
Waders are a waterproof boot extending that reach from the foot to the chest. They are usually made using vulcanised rubber, but can be found in more contemporary materials such as PVC, neoprene and Gore-Tex variants. There are two main types of waders: the stocking-foot and the boot-foot. The stocking-foot wader is separate from the boot and connects to it, while the boot-foot wader includes the boot in the make-up. Waders are worn by people who spend a lot of time in the water, mainly anglers, but industrially, heavy-duty waders are also used by those in the chemical industry, agriculture and in the maintenance of water supply, sewerage and other utilities.
Shoes made with a wedge. See heels (above).Wellington boots
See gumboots above and also galoshes for further reference.Wingtip shoes
Wingtip shoes feature a piece of leather that runs towards the pointed toe cap in the centre of the shoe, that then spreads out toward the sides of the shoes, in a shape that somewhat resembles wings. This part of the shoe is sometimes perforated with small holes around the edges (like a brogue – see above) but this isn’t always the case. The wingtip is often in a contrasting colour to the rest of the shoe however, a single-coloured shoe with the properly-designed toe cap is still a wingtip. Wingtips are most popular with men, but according to fashion trends, women may wear them too.Winkle pickers
Winklepickers, or winkle pickers, are a style of shoe or boot that became fashionable from the 1950s onwards. They were worn by both men and women, particularly those that were fans of British rock and roll. They are known as winklepickers because of their extremely sharp and quite long pointed toe. They resemble medieval styles of footwear with the elongated foot and pointed toe.Work boots
Work boots are quite simply boots that are designed to be worn to work, but will usually be won by those in manual trades or those who are expected to lift, carry or work with substances that might harm ordinary footwear. Many work boots fit into other categories and will have been covered elsewhere in this guide. Types of work boot can include hobnail boots, cowboy boots, gumboots, waders, wellington boots and steel-toe boots.Zories
A zōri is a flat Japanese sandal with a thong, usually made of straw, cloth, leather, or rubber (see sandals above).
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Have I missed any styles out or can I finally put my slippers on and put my feet up now? 😉