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Glossary of Shoe Terms
Everything you always wanted to know about shoes but didn't know who to ask! 

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  • Aglet
    The plastic sheath at the end of a shoelace that makes the lace easier to thread through the eyelet holes of the shoe,
  • Alligator Skin
  • A reptile hide featuring a wide, boxed print.
  • Ankle Strap
  • A strap attached at the rear of the shoe that encircles the ankle.  Usually features an adjustable buckle, tie, or elastic.  Example
  • Antiquing
  • A type of leather finish that creates a contrasting, rubbed-off appearance.
  • Approach Shoe
  • A grip-soled athletic shoe meant to aid rock climbers on the path to and from the climbing area.
  • Arch
  • 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 a 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 - not recommended for sports.
  • Athletic Shoe
  • Athletic footwear meant for performance of a specific sport, such as basketball, crosstraining, golf, hiking, etc.

  • Back Seam
  • The vertical seam at the center of the back of a shoe or boot.
  • Ball
  • The padded area of the foot between the big toe and the arch of the foot.
  • Ballerina Flat
  • A flat-heeled shoe designed to resemble traditional ballet shoes, but constructed for everyday or dress wear.  Example
  • Balmoral Shoe
  • A shoe construction featuring a laced "V" shaped panel across the foot; most common in mens wear.
  • Bellows Tongue
  • A shoe tongue that is attached at both the top and the sides of the shoe, rather than only at the top.
  • Blucher
  • A shoe construction featuring two side flaps of material that are joined across the foot with lacing.
  • Boot
  • A style of footwear extending to the height of the anklebone and above.  May extend as high as the thigh.
  • Bootie
  • An enclosed shoe rising just below the anklebone.
  • Brannock Device
  • A device used to measure the length and width of the foot in order to determine standardized shoe size.
  • Break
  • The natural crease created across the vamp of the shoe from everyday wear.
  • Brogue
  • A heavy, oxford-style shoe featuring pinking and perforated detailing.
  • Bunion
  • A painful swelling at the base of the big toe, frequently leading to permanent enlargement of the toe joint, generally heriditary.  May be corrected through surgery.
  • Burnish
  • The process of buffing a shoe surface to achieve an antiquing effect to the leather.
  • Calfskin
  • Very supple, soft leather created from the skins of very young cows.
  • Calluses
  • Rough, firm patches of skin the develop from overuse or irritation; can be softened with soaking and pumice.
  • Cap Toe
  • An additional piece of leather covering the tip of a shoe; can be in contrasting material or color.
  • Carpet Bag
  • Roomy handbag originally made from carpet, featuring one large compartment and double handles.
  • Cemented Construction
  • A construction designed to produce a lighter, more flexible shoe by cementing rather than stitching the shoe upper to the sole.
  • Chukka boot
  • A laced, ankle-high boot with a plain round toe.
  • Circumference
  • The measurement around the shaft of a boot taken at the widest part near the top of the boot shaft.
  • Clog
  • A closed toe, open back footwear style with a platform sole, traditionally made of wood.
  • Clutch
  • A narrow, handheld handbag with no straps.
  • Collar
  • A strip of material stitched to the opening of a shoe at the topline; can be padded for extra comfort.
  • Contoured Footbed
  • An insole that molds to the shape of the foot; also known as an orthotic footbed.
  • Corn
  • A small, hard formation usually found on the toe, caused by friction or pressure in one spot.
  • Counter
  • A stiff piece of material placed at the heel of a shoe between the lining and upper to help retain the shape of the shoe.
  • Curing
  • A process to prepare animal hides for tannning by applying chemicals.
  • D'Orsay
  • A footwear style featuring one or both sides cut out.  Example
  • Drawstring Bag
  • Any handbag with a drawstring closure, rather than a zipper or latch.
  • Dressing
  • Applying polish or gloss to a shoe to maintain its finish.
  • Duty Shoe
  • Footwear designed for use by health care and service professionals.
  • Embossed Leather
  • A design imprinted onto leather to simulate exotic animal skins, random patterns, or logos.
  • Envelope Bag
  • As its name suggests, a slim handbag resembling an envelope; may be a clutch, or have straps.
  • Espadrille
  • A shoe or sandal with a woven rope covering a wedge heel and sole.
  • Eyelet
  • A hole through which a lace is threaded; may be reinforced with a grommet or metal ring.


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