The Shoe Glossary


There’s a hell of a lot of shoe-related words out there, and sometimes it can all get a bit too much. Having trouble working out what a pump is? Clueless when it comes to courts? And what in God’s name is a D’Orsay? Consult our exciting (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) glossary when you’re not sure what we’re going on about and all will be revealed!


Court: (UK term) Classic closed-toe shoe with a medium to high heel. May be pointed or round toed.
Flat: Shoe with no heel.
Flattie: Cutesy term for a shoe with no heel.
Pump: (American / pretentious shoe designer meaning) Sexy high-heeled shoe, usually pointed. The same as a UK court.
Pump: (English meaning) flat cotton / elastic / rubber combo worn for school PE lessons. Or ‘Ballet pump’ – a fashion shoe in the style of a round-toed flat ballet shoe.
Sandal: Shoe with open toe and (usually) straps around the ankle / across the foot.
D’Orsay: Shoe with a closed toe and heel support, but missing the section in the middle.
Slingback: Shoe with a strap going round the heel.
Ankle Strap: Shoe with a strap that fastens around the ankle.
Mary-Jane: Shoe with a small strap across the front of the foot.
Dolly shoes: Similar to a Mary-Jane, with the strap set slightly higher on the foot. Round-toed.
T-bar: A shoe with an ankle strap that hooks into a strap running right up the foot creating a ‘T’ shape.
Dancing shoes: Mid heel T-bar shoes, usually with a closed toe / ankle, as worn by ballroom dancers.
Slipper: Slip-on shoes not designed to be worn outside.
Mule: A slip-on shoe without any straps / ankle support.
Slide: Similar to a flat mule, with just one piece of fabric over the foot.
Espadrille: Wedge shoe with a woven rope sole and a fabric upper (often with ankle ties).
Loafer: Shoe upper made in two parts, the top sewn onto the sides as a design detail.
Moccasin: (often suede) shoe similar to a loafer in style with more obvious stitching. Usually flat.
Pilgrim shoe: Flat, pointed shoe with a buckle across the front. Think founding fathers (or witches).
Peep-toe: Shoe with a cut-out section at the toes, revealing a tiny bit of the foot.
Ballet flat / pump: Flat shoes with rounded toes and thin soles like ballet shoes.
Trainer / Sneaker: Shoes supposedly designed for sport but usually used for posing.
Flip-flop: Flat shoe with a bar that sits against the skin between the big and second toes.
Toe-post: Name given to a flip-flop to make it sound more glamorous. May have a heel / extra straps.
Thong: Another name for a toe-post / flip-flop. Also a type of underwear.
Elevator shoes: Usually formal shoes that are worn by men to make themselves look taller. Elevator shoes have a higher than normal heel and are the males equivalent to high heels.


Stiletto: Slim heel that gets much narrower toward the bottom.
Kitten heel: A shorter version of the stiletto, a small slim heel.
Cone heel: Rounded heel that starts wide and tapers in to a point.
Stacked heel: Chunky heel made from ‘stacks’, usually wooden.
Block heel: chunky, squared-off heel.
Platform: A raised sole (usually ½ inch or more, with a heel)
Wedge: The heel is joined to the sole of the shoe, creating a triangular effect.
Platform wedge: Combined wedge heel and platform sole. See Marc Jacobs Summer line.


Chucks: Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars canvas sneaker-style shoe
Ugg boot: Sheepskin lined flat suede boots. Made in Australia, made famous by celebrities.
Mukluk boot: Canadian Moccasin-based boots with rabbit fur uppers, made famous by Kate Moss
Choo: Shoe by the Jimmy Choo label.
Manolo: Shoe by Spanish shoe designer Manolo Blahnik.
F**k-me pumps: Killer heeled, pointed-toe stiletto shoes. Thanks Amy Winehouse
Cobbler: Old word for someone who makes shoes.
Shoe envy: Extreme jealousy at the sight of someone else in shoes that are better than yours.
High Street: Affordable
Designer: Expensive
Couture: Extortionate

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  1. Help! My boytoy is always looking at other women. He has a thing for women who wair high heeled shoes. A 2 1/2' inch heels feels dangerous for me. What can I do to dazzle Biff and prevent him from shagging the stilleto wearing barfly who has her eye on him?
  2. Solid stuff. Been looking for minutes for a guide like this. Now all I need are some photo samples to match the names to. Beent rying to sign up to your forum but having a hard to registering?

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