Alligator Skin

A reptile hide with a wide, boxed print.

Aniline Leather

A leather in which high quality hides have been treated with aniline dye to create a soft, finished look.

Ankle Strap

A strap attached at the rear of the shoe that encircles the ankle.

Antiquing

A type of leather finish that creates a contrasting, rubbed-off appearance.

Arch

The high, curved part of the sole of the foot, located between the ball of the foot and the heel.

Back Seam

The vertical seam at the center of the back of a shoe or boot.

Ballerina Flat

A ballet-style flat comfortable for everyday wear.

Balmoral Shoe

A shoe construction featuring a laced "V"-shaped panel across the foot.

Bellows Tongue

A shoe tongue that is attached not only at the top, but also at the sides of the shoe.

Blucher

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

Boot

A style of footwear extending to the height of the anklebone and above.

Brogue

An oxford-style shoe featuring pinked and perforated detailing.

Buckle

A clasp that joins one end of the material to the other.

Burnish

The process of buffing a shoe surface in order to create an antiquing effect of the leather.

Calfskin

Leather created from the skins of very young cows. Calfskin is typically very supple and soft.

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.

Climatrac

A durable lining that is quick-drying and extremely breathable.

Clog

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

Collar

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 toe box.

Contoured Footbed

An insole that molds to the shape of the foot.

Cordovan

Leather from a horse's posterior.

Counter

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

Crepe Rubber

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

Curing

The application of chemicals to animal hides in preparation for the tanning process.

Cushioning

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

D'Orsay

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.

Drawstring Handbag

Any handbag with a string or cord (rather than a zipper or latch) closure.

Dressing

The application of polish or gloss to a shoe to maintain its finish and appearance.

Embossed Leather

A design that is imprinted onto leather and often simulated exotic skin - i.e., croco or snake.May also be a random pattern.

Espadrille

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

Finish

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".

Flat Foot

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

Footbed

Another term for insole.

Forefoot

The area of foot between the ball and the toes.

Foxing

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

Goatskin

Leather made from goat hide.

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.

Gore

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.

Grain

The inherent surface pattern of leather, differentiated by the animal from which it came.

Hammertoe

A condition in which the toe is bent in a claw-like position, occurring most frequently in the second through fifth toes. Hammertoes are usually caused by an imbalance of muscle tissue, but can also be aggravated by arthritis and poorly-fitting shoes.

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.

Hidden Gore

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

Hide

The skin of a large animal that is treated, tanned or finished for use in boots, shoes, handbags, and clothing.

Hobo Handbag

A roomy, unstructured, rounded bag, typically with a single top zipper and shoulder strap.

Huarache

A flat sandal or shoe with a woven leather upper.

Inseam

The hidden seam of a welted shoe holding together the welt, upper, lining, and insole.

Insole

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

Instep

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

Kidskin

A soft, porous leather created from the hide of young goats

Kiltie

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

Kipskin

Middle-grade leather created from the skins of young cattle that are larger than calves, yet not fully grown.

Laces

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

Lambskin

Leather created from the skin of young sheep.

Last

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

Lift

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

Lining

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

Loafer

A slip-on shoe, completely without fasteners.

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.

Mid-sole

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

Moccasin

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.

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.

Mule

Backless, closed-toe slippers or shoes.

Nappa

A supple version of sheepskin leather.

Nubuck

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

Outsole

The bottom outer sole of a shoe.

Oxford

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

Patent Leather

A glossy leather that has a shiny appearance. Patent leather is typically created from cattle hide.

Penny Loafer

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

Perforation

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

Pigskin Leather

Leather made from the skin of pigs.

Piping

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

Pitch

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.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

A semi-rigid plastic material, often used in heel counters and outsoles for added support.

Pull Grain Leather

A natural process to temper the hide using river stones. The result is a leather with an irregular grain that's soft to the touch and flexible.

Pump

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

Quarter

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.

Riding Boot

Usually knee-high with a low heel, this boot is designed specifically for equestrian activities.

Rim

The part of the shoe where the foot enters.

Saddle Oxford

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

Sandal

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

Shearling

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

Sheepskin

Skin from sheep, either with or without the wool attached.

Side Leather

Leather from the sides of cattle, divided by the backbone.

Slide

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

Sling-back

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 andthen stitched to the sole.

Slip-On

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

Slipper

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

Snakeskin

Leather made from the skin of snakes, with a rough, scaly texture.

Sock Liner

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

Sole

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

Sole Leather

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

Spectator

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.

Straight Lasted

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

Suede

Leather with a soft napped surface.

Tannage

The process of converting raw hides or skins into fine, finished leather.

Tap

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

Tassel

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

Thong

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.

Throat

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

Tip

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

Tongue

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

Tread

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

Tru-Moc

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 moccasin.

Unit Bottom

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

Upper

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.

Vamp

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

Waterproof Leather

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

Wedge

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

Welt

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

Wing Tip

A wing-shaped toe cap.