In most early civilizations, sandals were the most common type of footwear. Very few wore shoes, and except in 1600BC Mesopotamia, where shoes were common. These mountain-residing people at the Persian border discovered that it was easier to hike on rough ground with a soft wraparound leather shoe, quite similar to the moccasins of today. Thousands of years later, we have a hiking boot.
It might surprise you, but the hundreds of variations in shoe types are a fairly recent development. Up until 1850, shoes were made on flat lasts, and there was no differentiation between the left and right foot! We were still walking on leather soles back then.
At the turn of the century as the world sneaked into the modern age, industrialization led to the mass production of shoes. Lyman Reed Blake came in with the sewing machine, and suddenly, shoes were no more an expensive luxury but an affordable everyday item.
The shoe industry exploded and different brands and manufacturers starting popping up, making more and more diverse shoe collections. This made people want the most exclusive shoes they could find, and that, in turn, made shoes what they are today: a statement, a fashion accessory, and a symbol of beauty.
Let’s take a look at all the different kinds of women’s shoes that have since evolved into a hundred varying, beautiful types designed for different occasions.
- Flat-Soled Shoes
- Practical Shoes
Heels are widely known as the most common type of shoe for women. All women have to have at least one sexy black Jimmy Choo for those date nights, right? Well, in the 15th century when they were created, heels were supposed to help Persian soldiers keep their feet secure in stirrups.
It was not until the 17th century that aristocratic women in Europe started wearing absurdly high heels as a symbol of their status and wealth. In fact, the story of Cinderella- a woman whose social status is elevated with the help of one pair of high heels- has been traced back to first-century Egypt.
Read on to find out all the different types of heels that exist today and which ones offer most comfort and practicality without compromising on aesthetics.
Source: Teen Vogue
Let’s get stiletto out of the way first. They are the first kind of heels that come to mind when you think elegance. But because you balance your entire body weight on one thin, pointed heel, elegance comes at the cost of comfort.
Stilettos can reach up to 8 inches in height, and their fame comes from their ability to give legs a lengthened look. Some stilettos also come in platform varieties.
In platform heels, there is an additional plane in front of the shoe that raises the ball of the foot to be more aligned with the heel. This adds an element of comfort to these shoes. The heels of platform shoes can range from very small to very high, from wedges to stilettos.
Source: The Trend Spotter
Kitten heels were first made for young women to wear when high heels were considered too ‘grown up.’ Today, after the glamorization of kitten heels by figures like Audrey Hepburn, they are back in style. From the Duchess of Sussex to Taylor Swift, everyone is wearing them now.
The popularity of the shoe also has to do with the fact that it is more comfortable than stilettos. You can wear them on days you want to combine sophistication with practicality.
Source: Shoe Zone
Sling-back heels have a buckle that joins the foot of the shoe with the back of your heel. Although an irritable librarian comes to mind, think of the clattering sound that would announce someone’s presence in the room before they have even arrived.
Because the slingback cradles the heel and holds the foot to the shoes, it is an easily wearable day-time option and a nude heel would look fantastic on a night out.
Lace-up pumps are similar to sling-back heels. Instead of the buckled sling that goes behind the foot, lace-up pumps offer an open lace that you can tie at the back. Usually, the lace is quite long so as to crisscross around the ankles. The toes are closed and the heel can range from high to low in its many styles.
Source: Live About
A peep-toe is a shoe that has a small opening in front of the toe box which lets the toes show. This gives them their name as well. The heel can be a stiletto or a cone-shaped one.
Spool heels combine platform shoes with an equally chunky heel, with a narrow middle part. The shoe somewhat resembles an hourglass. The heel can either be tall or short, but with a distinctive flare at the bottom that provides comfort to the wearer.
Source: Fabi Shoes
‘Mule’ does not have anything to with the animal, but comes instead from the Latin word ‘mulleus’ which referred to a certain type of ceremonial show. These are one of the most comfortable and convenient shoes to wear if you need the class of a heel but the comfort of an everyday shoe.
They can be paired well with almost any outfit and can come in various heel sizes and shapes. Narrow heels, cone heels, kitten heels- the front covered shoe is available in all sorts of styles.
Source: Street Directory
Wedges are the most sought after summer shoes. With a large platform that goes from thick to thin as it runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. There are two types of wedge heels you can go for; while some wedge heels are closed from heel to sole, wedge sandals offer a more breathable, sandal-like design on the upper side.
Wedges can go pretty high and they are best paired with a summer dress and a floppy hat.
Source: Live About
To no one’s surprise, a cone heel has a cone-shaped structure with the pointy end towards the floor. It looks exactly like you are balancing on an ice-cream cone! Because of their wider shape, they are more comfortable to wear and easier to carry than stilettos. They do have some lengthening effect on the legs, but stilettos take the cake in that department.
Cone heels may be available in all sorts of designs ranging from open-toed to closed pumps; they can even be found at the bottom of some kinds of boots or booties.
Source: Business of Fashion
With jeans or under a dress, winter months call for high-heeled boots of all sorts to come back in fashion. They look like a feminized version of army boots and come with several different types of heel attachments. It can be chunky square heels under a zip-up boot or sexy stiletto heels with lacy ties that go around the length of the shoe.
With the level of comfort that it adds to the heel genre, high-heeled boots are a staple in every woman’s footwear collection. There may be fur varieties available for places with harsh winter months.
Source: BBC Culture
Ballroom Dance Shoes
Inside the ballroom, dance shoes provide the wearer with an added grip and support. Some even equipped with anti-slip materials that make it easier for you to swing around the dance floor without fear. The same qualities make these shoes viable for everyday wear.
The heels are usually similar to kitten heels with a tiny anti-slip rubber added to the tip. The style is usually lace-up to keep the shoe glued to your feet when you dance around.
Source: Dance Shoes Store
Flats are arguably the earliest types of shoes to exist in human civilization; even gladiator shoes were flat! They can be found in all cultures in their different local types and forms.
Up until the Industrial Revolution, flats were the only kind of shoes to exist. Today, there are hundreds of types of flat-soled shoes that you can choose from depending on your choice of style, material, and function.
Ballet flats have thin soles and they are tied with lace around the ankles for ease of mobility. Owing to their thinness and lightness, ballet shoes are perfectly suited for ballet dancing; but that is not the end of its versatility.
Many versions of the ballet flats have been created to duplicate their comfort level while suiting the needs of city dwellers. You will find some of them with the laces absent and a bow added to the top in their place. They are also commonly known as ballerinas.
Source: Dance Facts
Flat sandals come in many different varieties. You could get a slip-on, a single-toed one, a flip-flop, or even a slingback! They come in a wide variety of materials, colors, and designs so you can choose the one that suits your needs. Because this kind of footwear is quite inexpensive, you can buy several in the price of one good heel.
Source: Styles at Life
Slides give flip-flops a run for their money as the best summer shoes available in the market. The shoe, like its name, just slides onto your foot and is easier wearable to the beach or any outdoor event.
It is an open-toed sandal that only has one band to keep your foot in place. The shape and size of the band can be modified to include more patterns, designs, and textures.
Source: Gotham Foot Care
There are no two sides to this: flip-flops are the most fun kind of footwear ever! The first reason is its incredible versatility. Depending on designs and material, flip-flops can be customized to be appropriate for the beach, or a casual summer day out on the streets. The sole is made from a foam sole with a plastic toe-support down the middle.
Some experts have claimed that wearing flip-flops for a small amount of time is okay, but if you wear them all day long, they might cause significant damage to your foot health.
Source: Reader’s Digest
Boots can refer to any kind of footwear the covers the whole foot. Its types can extend to include all sizes and height, materials and colors you can imagine. Boots can be traced back to 15,000 BC in a cave painting found in what was previously Persia.
Today, depending on local culture and personal preference, there are several types of boots and booties you can choose if you want to protect your feet from natural elements and injury.
Source: Fashion History
When your boots are knee-high, they transform your ordinary outfit to something right out of a 90’s indie flick- think Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You. The material can be leather as well, but most knee-high boots are made of a softer material, like suede, so as to be comfortable around your legs.
You can wear them with anything, ranging from jeans and leggings to dresses and skirts; you will look fabulous regardless. Black, brown, and red varieties are common but other colors are also available.
Ankle boots usually have a small kitten heel, or sometimes a stiletto heel, that adds a touch of glamour while protecting your foot. They come in leather and suede varieties, with a zipper, a buckle, or laces to keep them in place on the foot. Whether going for a formal or casual look, ankle boots can work with anything if you want them to.
Source: Huffington Post
Almost completely flat and water-proof, Wellington boots are more comfort and practicality than style. The sole is made of hard rubber to endure all sorts of weather and land conditions; this makes them ideal for activities such as gardening or heavy industrial work.
If your job or everyday activities require this level of protection, you will be pleased to know that Wellington boots come in all colors, so you can switch it up from the boring black if need be.
There is no other way to say it: uggs are just adorable! The soft suede material and the cute colors that uggs come in make them a great option for everyday comfort wear, especially in cold weather. Uggs come in fur varieties as well.
Uggs originated in Australia as the ultimate footwear for warmth and comfort, but the variety in designs and colors has made them into a coveted fashion icon.
Halfway between comfort and elegance, moccasins are the daily wear office shoes you always wanted. Earlier, only leather options were available and they were mostly preferred by men. Now, they are available in several colors for men and women. Wearing a moccasin lets you be fashionable without compromising on comfort at all.
They are closed shoes with a soft sole that were earlier made with deerskin but now come in other soft materials such as suede. The soles and the side are made from single large pieces of leather that are carefully stitched together. The upper part is usually decorated with beading or bows.
According to several historians, very early tribes of humans had created a similar kind of shoe in order to walk on sharp or otherwise dangerous ground. You could say moccasins are the oldest kind of closed shoes in existence!
You guessed it right: Espadrilles are an import from Spain. It is a very light summer shoe that is made from canvas, featuring a fiber sole for added comfort. The material it is made from, however, makes espadrilles not durable for the long-term.
Espadrilles are currently very much in fashion and are preferred by men and women alike to wear as a fashionable alternative to moccasins or canvas shoes. You can pair them with pants, dresses, skirts, anything goes! Its versatility can easily take you from a boring office to an upscale restaurant without looking out of place.
Source: English Fashion
If you play a sport, you probably already know about joggers. Their thick rubber soles make them a favorite for your daily cardio or walk in the park. The specialty of these shoes is their flexibility that offers the support that runners and sportspeople need from their footwear.
With Adidas Superstars entering the scene, the classic white shoe is back in business. The Superstars are ready to be paired with sportswear as the ultimate fashion accessory that also offers comfort. Some people are even pairing them with semi-formal clothes and carrying them off quite well!
Source: Very Well Fit
If you often dress up in formal wear, it might be time to invest in a pair of good-looking black or brown Oxford shoes. They pull off the professional look to the T without looking uptight and give you the benefit of comfort. The eyelet tabs are attached under the vamp, which characterizes them as shoes with ‘closed lacing.’
You can also pair them with chinos or slacks for a smart casual look, usually in a professional setting. They are usually worn with socks.
Source: The Trend Spotter
Loafers are a kind of slip-on shoe that is similar in shape to a moccasin. While moccasins are made with large pieces of soft leather or suede stitched together, loafers can be made in any material. Loafers also have much flatter sole than moccasins and it usually has no decorative lace on the top.
They are casual shoes that can go well with jeans, pants, skirts, you name it! These shoes are quite comfortable and some fashionable options are available for those who are not satisfied with ease-of-wear alone. You can wear them with or without socks.
Source: Attire Club
Canvas sneakers are closed shoes made of canvas, a coarse cloth material that is similar to the medium oil-painters use. The shoe comes in two distinct varieties. High-tops are slightly tall and they cover the back of the foot completely. Low-tops, on the other hand, are short-heighted.
An advantage of canvas sneakers is that they are very low-maintenance; taking care of them is not a problem as you tap around town in them every day. These shoes are especially loved because of how many colors they come in. These days, even printed or painted canvas shoes can be easily found.
Source: Fiber to Fashion
When women go shopping for shoes, we either have to compromise on aesthetics or comfort; to have both we must pay a hefty, unreasonable amount of money. Learning about the different types of women’s shoes that are available in stores may help you know what you are looking for. This way, you don’t have to spend hours roaming around the mall for something that fits your requirements while also fitting your pocket. Have fun shoe shopping