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

Ankle Strap
A strap attached at the rear of the shoe that encircles the ankle. Usually features an adjustable buckle or elastic.

Approach Shoe
A grip-soled athletic shoe meant to aid rock climbers on the path to and from the climbing area.

The high, curved part of the sole of the foot, located between the ball of the foot and the heel. This term can also refer to the raised area of the insole of the shoe, which is meant to pad and provide support for the arch of the foot.

Athleisure Shoe
Athletic-inspired, trendy footwear meant for casual, urban wear.

Athletic Shoe
Athletic footwear meant for performance of a specific sport. Basketball, crosstraining, golf, hiking, running, tennis and walking are some examples.

The padded area of the foot between the big toe and the arch of the foot.

Ballerina Flat
A ballet-style flat meant for everyday wear.

Mia Ballet Flat
Mia Ballerina Ballet Flat


Balmoral Shoe
A shoe construction featuring a laced “V”-shaped panel across the foot.

Bellows Tongue
A shoe tongue that is attached at both the top and the sides of the shoe.

A type of shoe or sandal with a contoured cork-filled sole and a thick leather upper.

Birkenstock Mayari Flat Sandal
Birkenstock Mayari Flat Sandal


A shoe construction featuring two side flaps of material that are joined across the foot with lacing.

A style of footwear extending to the height of the anklebone and above. May extend as high as the thigh.

Brannock Device®
A device used to measure the length and width of the foot in order to ensure proper shoe fit.

The natural crease created across the vamp of the shoe from everyday wear.

A heavy oxford-style shoe featuring pinked and perforated detailing.

Buffed Leather
A type of leather where the top surface has been removed using abrasion. This type of leather is often refered to as suede or nubuck.

Cap Toe
An additional piece of leather covering the toe of a shoe. May be in several different shapes or patterns. Also known as a Tip.

Cemented Construction
A shoe construction in which the upper of a shoe is cemented, rather than stitched, to the sole of the shoe. Cement construction results in a lighter, more flexible shoe.

Chukka Boot
A boot style with laces, usually with a plain toe, and is the height of the ankle.

Clarks Bushacre Leather Chukka Boot
Clarks Bushacre Leather Chukka Boot


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

A footwear style featuring a closed toe, open back and a platform sole traditionally fashioned from wood.

Crocs Original Clog
Crocs Original Clog


A strip of material stitched to the opening of a shoe or the topline. The collar can be padded for extra comfort.

Combination Last
A footwear last in which the heel is two sizes smaller in width than the widest part of the shoe, producing a shoe with a narrow heel and a wide toebox.

Contoured Footbed
An insole that molds to the shape of the foot.

A stiff piece of material placed at the heel of a shoe between the lining and upper in order to retain the shape of the shoe.

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

Padding on the insole or outsole of a shoe for added comfort and stabilization.

A style of pump featuring one or both sides cut-out.

Demi Boot
A style of boot whose shaft is generally no taller than the anklebone.

Durabrush is made of synthetic suede and micro-fiber materials to create a smooth, soft upper.

Duty Shoe
A health care professional or service industry shoe.

E.V.A. (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)
A synthetic compound used for outsoles. E.V.A. provides cushioning to the foot and is easily shaped by heat and pressure.

A shoe or sandal style that has a woven rope or similar material covering the wedge or sole.

LRL Ilene Wedge Sandal
Lauren Ralph Lauren Ilene Wedge Sandal


A material made primarily of wood pulp which is used for counters, insoles and heel lifts.

The process by which the final appearance of a shoe is created. The finish can include the application of polish to create a high-gloss finish, or a contrasting polish to create a rub-off finish like “antiquing”.

Finishing Room
The area of a shoe factory where the shoe is finished, including the removal of the last, insertion of the insole, completion of the outsole and final application of polish.

Flat Foot
A condition in which the arch of the foot is collapsed and the entire foot rests on the ground.

Another term for insole.

The area of foot between the ball and the toes.

A strip of rubber joining the upper and sole of a shoe. Typically found on canvas sneakers.

Waterproof (typically rubber) overshoes or boots meant to protect the foot and footwear from inclement weather.

Pronounced “gil-ee”, this is a style of footwear in which the laces pass through fabric or leather rings or loops attached to the front opening of the shoe, rather than eyelets.

The circumference of a shoe last measured around the ball of the foot.

Goodyear Welt
A shoe construction in which the upper and sole of the shoe are stitched together, resulting in greater durability. The resulting seam is visible and runs around the outside of the shoe, where the upper and outsole meet.

An elastic panel stitched into either side of a shoe’s vamp in order to make it more comfortable and easier to put on and take off.

“Heel” can refer to both the rear, padded area of the underside of the foot, as well as the solid part of a shoe that supports the heel cup. The standard measure for heel heights is as follows: an 8/8 (low heel) is 1″ high; a 16/8 (medium heel) is 2″ high; and a 24/8 (high heel) is 3″ high.
Types of shoe heels include:
Baby Louis – The same shape as a Louis heel but a 12/8 or shorter.
Built Heel – Created from layers of leather or fiber with contrasting tones.
Continental – A higher heel with a slightly curved back and flat front.
Cuban – A thick, stacked heel with little or no curvature and tapered at the bottom; usually medium in height.
Louis or French – Features a curved back and ranges in height from 16/8 to 24/8.
Stacked – Similar to the built heel but typically can be created from synthetic and leather materials. Often found on spectator shoes.
Wedge – A heel of any height that is as wide as the shoe itself and follows the shoes contour from toe to heel.

Heel Breast
The forward-facing side of the heel.

Heel Height
Heel height is measured on a vertical line at the breast of the heel, and goes from the bottom surface of the sole (where it meets the heel) to the floor. Heel height is traditionally measured in increments of 1/8th inches, so for example an 8/8 heel is 1″ high.

Heel Seat
The part of the shoe directly below where the heel of the foot rests, and where the sole and the heel are joined together.

Heel Spurs
Soft deposits of calcium that grow on the “plantar fascia”, a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, and are typically very painful.

Hidden Gore
An elastic panel at the front of a shoe that is covered by the shoe’s tongue and provides added comfort.

A flat sandal or shoe with a woven leather upper.

Industry Footwear
Work/industrial footwear with OSHA and A.N.S.I. ratings. If you need industrial footwear, you will find it here. View the Industry Collection

Injection Molded Construction
A type of sole unit construction created by injecting melted PVC or a similar material into the sole mold. Injection molded construction is an efficient way to mass-produce footwear.

A lining that runs the full length of the inside of the shoe.

The upper, center section of the foot, between the toes and ankle.

Jelly Shoes
Shoes made entirely of PVC.

Crocs Isabella Two-Toned Jelly Sandal
Crocs Isabella Two-Toned Jelly Sandal


Jodhpur Boots
A low-cut boot used primarily for equestrian activities. May be laced or a twin gore pull-on style.

A decorative, fringed tongue over the vamp of a shoe.

A strip of material strung through the eyelets of a shoe in order to pull the shoe closed and adjust its girth.

A metal, wood or plastic form used to create the shape of a shoe.

The process of pulling and shaping a shoe on a last.

One of the several layers of leather or leather-board used make a heel.

The inside material of a shoe. May be composed of leather, fabric or synthetic material.

A slip-on shoe, completely without fasteners.

Anne Klein Vama Patent Loafer
Anne Klein Vama Patent Loafer


Trademark name of a type of acrylic resin/plastic consisting essentially of polymerized methyl methacrylate.

Lug Sole
A heavy-tread, rubber sole.

Mary Jane
The style of low heeled shoe with a strap across the instep. The strap can be attached with elastic or a buckle, making it easy to slip on and off.

LifeStride Hart Flat
LifeStride Hart Flat


The layer of material between outsole and innersole used for reinforcement or cushioning.

Minimalist Shoes
Running Barefoot is the oldest form of exercise. Minimalist shoes allow for a barefoot-like experience, with some protection from the elements. Natural running does just that − allows your feet to work naturally, while strengthening your muscles.

A shoe in which the bottom is a single piece of leather, stitched around a last. The vamp is usually attached by whip stitching to the bottom of the shoe so it encloses the foot. Also known as Tru-Moc construction.

Minnetonka Thunderbird Soft Sole Moccasin
Minnetonka Thunderbird Soft Sole Moccasin


Monk Strap
A closed shoe, usually a blucher pattern, with a wide strap across the instep that buckles at the side. Also known as a monk strap.

Motion Control Shoes
Motion Control shoes are for runners who generally have a low or flat arch and are moderate to severe overpronators. These shoes employ extra support devices on the medial side to slow excessive pronation and tend to have wider and flatter outsoles. Heavier runners who need extra support and durability may also want Motion Control shoes.

Designs or devices found in athletic shoes that control the inward rolling (pronation) of the foot.

Backless, closed-toe slippers or shoes.

Naturalizer Georgina Mule
Naturalizer Georgina Mule


Natural Grain Leather
A type of leather which displays the leather’s original grain.

Neutral Cushioning Shoes
A Neutral Cushioning shoe is best for runners with a high arch who do not pronate effectively. These shoes do not have medial supports but are more concerned with midsole cushioning. The midsole will provide the extra shock absorption that the lack of pronation is missing. Along with a runner who does not overpronate, Neutral Cushioned shoes also work well for midfoot and forefoot strikers.

Lightweight, supple leather used on the upper of the shoe. Buffed to a suede-like appearance.

An orthopedic insole designed to cushion and stabilize the foot.

The bottom outer sole of a shoe.

A traditional term describing a low shoe laced or tied over the instep.

Naturalizer Hampshire Oxford
Naturalizer Hampshire Oxford


Penny Loafer
A slip-on style shoe with a slit over the instep where a penny traditionally was placed for good luck.

Aldo Bruschi Penny Loafer
Aldo Bruschi Penny Loafer


A pattern of small holes punched or bored into the trim of a shoe, for the purpose of decoration or ventilation.

Saw-tooth shaped edging applied to the trim of shoes for decoration.

A decorative, narrow strip of leather that typically follows the seam of a shoe.

The angle of the back part of the heel where it meets the sole, compared to the front part of the heel where it meets the sole. On a high-heeled shoe the pitch should be at a larger angle, in order to stabilize the heel.

Platform Shoe
A style of shoe featuring a thicker sole at the front; the heel is typically high to accommodate the higher height of the sole.

G by GUESS Winna Patent Platform Pump
G by GUESS Winna Patent Platform Pump


Polyurethane (PU)
A synthetic material frequently used as an alternative to leather in the manufacturing of footwear. PU is light, flexible and durable.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
A semi-rigid plastic material, often used in heel counters and outsoles for added support.

The inward rotation of the foot as it strikes the ground, causing shoes to wear on the inner line of the outsole.

A low-cut women’s shoe, typically moderate in heel height.

The rear portion of a shoe, covering the heel and sides and often joined at the back seam.

Quarter Lining
The lining of the rear part of a shoe, typically made from leather or fabric.

An insole that provides thermal reflection to keep your feet warm and cozy.

Riding Boot
A boot designed specifically for equestrian activities. Ususally knee-high with goring and a low heel. This term can also describe boots that are designed to look like riding boots.

Lauren Ralph Lauren Marion Riding Boot
Lauren Ralph Lauren Marion Riding Boot


The part of the shoe where the foot enters. Another term for collar or top line.

Saddle Oxford
An oxford-style shoe featuring a saddle across the vamp, often in a contrasting color.

Safety Shoe
A shoe or boot designed specifically for wear in an industrial setting. This style of shoe often includes protective features such as steel-toe reinforcement and waterproof and oil-resistant materials.

A form of footwear, with an open toe and open back, that is held to the foot by strips of leather or fabric.

Shaft Height
Shaft height of boots are measured from middle of the arch up the inside of the boot to the top of the boot shaft.

Sheepskin or lambskin with the wool still attached. Used often as a lining for shoes and boots.

Shoe Anatomy
A diagram depicting the parts of a shoe.

Shoe Horn
A curved metal or synthetic device used to aid in slipping the foot into a shoe.

shoe horn
Shoe Horn


Shoe Sizes
A variation between full sizes is one-third of an inch, while the difference between half sizes is one-sixth of an inch.

Shoe Width
The width of a shoe is typically measured in letters (AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE, EEE, EEEE) and refers to the width of the shoe last as measured at the ball of the foot. Widths are defined in increments of an eighth (1/8) of an inch.

A specific, razor-cut pattern in the outsoles of the deck shoes that help to disperse water and prevent slipping.

A shoe featuring an open toe and open back with a band across the toe. Can be flat, mid-heel or high-heeled.


Steve Madden Mylia Metallic Flat Sandal
Steve Madden Mylia Metallic Flat Sandal


A shoe held on the foot with a strap at the back of heel. The strap is typically elasticized or buckled for adjustment.

Slip Last
A simple way to make shoes in which the last is forced into the upper and then stitched to the sole.

A style of footwear which is simply slipped on to the foot with no further adjustment.

A flat shoe that is easily slipped on, usually meant for indoor wear and lined for comfort and warmth.

An athletic shoe, typically made of canvas with a rubber sole. Ther term “sneaker” comes from the wearer’s ability to walk in the shoe without making noise.

Sock Liner
A sock liner is the insole in the interior of the shoe that the foot rests on.

The bottom part of the shoe, not including the heel.

Sole Leather
Any heavy leather (usually cattle-hide), used for the soles of shoes.

A shoe design that is characterized by 2 materials, often of different colors or materials, with an edge of the dominant color having a pinking edge exposed, and a perforated design on the toe.

Split Leather
A type of leather used in shoes that is made from the lower layers of a hide that have been split away from the upper or grain.

Stability Shoes
Stability shoes are for runners who have normal or medium arches who are mild to moderate overpronators. These shoes have some medial support and good midsole cushioning. Because normal or medium arches are the most common foot type, most runners will need Stability shoes.

Static Dissipating
Boots and shoes are rated SD Type 1 to protect against the hazards of static buildup in the workplace. Static dissipating shoes regulate the buildup of electrical charge in a peron’s body. Static dissipative shoes are commonly used in manufacturing of computer components, solvent based paints, explosives and plastics. Static dissipating products reduce the risk of static shock to people and to the manufactured product.

Steel Toes
Steel toes are most frequently found in industrial-style footwear that is meant to prevent injury in the workplace. Steel toes are tested by the A.N.S.I. (American National Standard Institute) for their ability to maintain a minimum clearance when compressed by different weigths.

Straight Lasted
A type of last used to create a very straight shoe that helps to prevent severe pronation.

Leather with a soft napped surface.

The outward rolling of the foot while walking. The opposite of overpronation.

Synthetic Materials
Materials other than genuine leather, but which are designed to look or function like leather. Also known as man-made materials.

The attachment of a leather or metal partial sole over the existing sole of a shoe.

A rope and knot ornament typically found on the vamp of a loafer or moccasin.

Thermoplastic Urethane (T.P.U.)
A plastic material that gives support through the midfoot or medial side of a running shoe.

A sandal featuring a v-strap that connects to the sole of the shoe between the big toe and second toe and at the sides of the foot.

AK Vitaly Sandal
Anne Klein Vitaly Sandal


The main opening of a shoe extending from the vamp to the ankle.

An additional piece of leather covering the toe of a shoe. May be in several different shapes or patterns. Also known as a Cap.

A strip of leather or other material sewn into the vamp of a laced shoe and extending to the throat of the shoe.

May refer to the design of a shoe’s sole or the way in which a shoe’s sole is worn.

A shoe in which the bottom is a single piece of leather stitched around a last. The vamp is usually attatched by whip stitching to the bottom of the shoe so it encloses the foot. Also known as moccasin.

Unit Bottom
A single shoe bottom made from a mold of rubber or plastic. It includes the sole, platform heel or wedge.

The upper part of the shoe, not including the sole. May be made from leather, fabric or synthetics.

Upper Leather
Any leather used for making shoe uppers. The principal leathers used for shoe uppers are calf, kid, horsehide, goat, sheep and leathers made from the skin of reptiles. All of these may be made in a wide variety of finishes, such as smooth, suede, patent, embossed and glossy.

The front part of a shoe upper that covers the toes and part of the foot.

Vegetarian Shoes
Shoes made from non-leather or synthetic materials.

Registered trademark of Velcro Industries BV. Brand hook-and-loop fasteners are often used as straps to provide adjustable fits for shoes.

A type of durable, non-slip outsole typically found on hiking boots. Vibram is a registered trademark of Vibram S.P.A.

Short for polyvinyl chloride (P.V.C.), vinyl is a shiny plastic often used for coating shoes.

Waterproof Leather
Shoes that have been specifically treated to prevent the entry of water.

Wedge Heel
A heel which extends from the back of the shoe to the ball of the shoe, following its contour.

Sam Edelman Romy Patent Wedge Sandal
Sam Edelman Romy Patent Wedge Sandal


A style of pull-on boots with no trim, often made of rubber for inclement weather.

A strip of leather sewn between the insole and the outsole to create greater durability.

Wing Tip
A wing-shaped toe cap.

Cole Haan Giraldo Wingtip Oxford
Cole Haan Giraldo Wingtip Oxford