Learning About The Different Types of High Heels

I recently was shopping with my cool aunt, Bobbi, not long ago and she opened my eyes to a whole new world of shoes and high heels: Nordstrom. Wow! They had soooo many shoes there… nice shoes… EXPENSIVE shoes… my eyes got wide and I really started to get into it! “OOhh! Look at these!!” Some were quite odd as well. We had a great time shopping around, and it inspired me to start thinking more about what I put on my feet!

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” – Marilyn Monroe

I was really excited about a fantastic deal I got on these very cute wedge sandals I got recently. While trying to explain them to my friend, Tessi, I couldn’t seem to explain them correctly. Quickly, I launched an investigation to find out the exact differences between different types of high heels. In my younger years I used to be quite into shoes, but over time I’ve valued comfort over cuteness.

This brought me to writing this blog because I figure some other “comfort over cute” girls out there had these same questions. Whats the difference between pumps and stilettos? And what on earth is an espadrille? Well, I’m about to open your mind.. Welcome to girl world! Feel free to click on the images. They will take you to have a closer look at the heels. I tried hard to find heels that were less than $40.
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Now, in my investigating I found there are 4 categories to understanding high heel shoes: Heel, Toe, Sole and The In Between


  1. Stilettos: The highest of heels, reaching up to 8” in height
  2. Pumps: Heel is 2-3″ in height
  3. Kitten: Heel is 2″ or shorter
  4. Cone: These heels are wide at the heel of the foot and get smaller as the reach the ground.
  5. Spool: Think of a thread spool. Large at the top, skinny in the middle, then large at the bottom. This is how these heels are shaped.
  6. Chunky: A wide, square heel (better for us clumsy girls)
  7. Comma: These look like someone messed up in the factory. (j/k…sort of) This heel curves in or out, like a comma.
Stilettos Pumps Kitten Spool



  1. Peep Toe: A small opening so the big toe and sometimes the second toe are seen “peeping” out of the end of the shoe.
  2. Open Toe: There is just a strap over the base of the toes and the rest is open.
  3. Close Toe: The toe is closed and typically rounded.
  4. Pointed Toe: I’ll get you my pretty! These are close toed and come to a point.
Peep Open Close Pointed


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how to spot different types of high heelsSole

  1. Wedge: The sole continuously joins from the front to back. These can come in heels (no straps or only an ankle strap) or sandals (with straps).
  2. Platform: Height varies, but this adds a little bit of height to the sole of the shoe.
  3. Cork: Adds some cushion to the step, made from a cork-like material.  My very favorite pair of heels in high school were cork soles. They hurt so bad but they looked so cute!
  4. Espadrille: These have a rope-like fabric that line the sole. My very first pair of wedges were espadrilles.
  5. Wooden: Hello, little dutch girl!
  6. Red Sole: Christian Louboutin’s signature look. I first saw these in The Proposal with Sandra Bullock! We can’t all have hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to spend on shoes, so I linked a sole sticker to look like red in case you want to pretend 😉
Wedge Platform Espadrille Red


The In Between

  1. “T” Strap: A strap that goes down the middle of the foot connecting an ankle strap to the toe covering material.
  2. Slingbacks: A strap around the heel. I think of these as the “walk of shame” heels you see the girls in the movie hauling home at 8AM on a Sunday.
  3. Mules: Mules come up higher towards the middle of your foot. Good for the workplace.
  4. Cutouts: the top material has a design or portions of the material cut out of it.
  5. Corset: The material on the sides lace together.
  6. High Heel Boots: Usually below or over the knee. These can dress up jeans, a skirt and a dress.
  7. Ankle Booties: short top boots, commonly worn in the spring and fall. Great for gals with larger calves!
Mule Cutout High Heel Boot Ankle Booties

Now that we have the basics down, its time to dig in a little deeper. These are a mix of select sections above that make up a shoe that has its own name or category.

A League Of Their Own

  1. D’Orsay Pumps: Close toed high heels with a separation of the material between the foot and the heel plus an ankle strap.
  2. Mary Janes: Round toe with a single strap across the middle of the foot.
  3. Oxfords: A style of shoe that appears to lace like a tennis shoe
  4. French/Louis/Pompador: These are weird looking shoes that I imagine a cobbler’s wife would wear. These are short, spool type heels that come up high on top.
  5. Lobster Claw: These are the “how are they walking?!” kind of heels. High platform with a high comma heel.
  6. Ballroom Dance Shoes: Typically strappy with an enclosed back and a medium sized heel. Best for weddings.
  7. Fantasy: Think Katy Perry or Lady Gaga, something wild and insane
D’Orsay Mary Janes Louis Lobster Claw


I hope to one day have a pair of Prada, Christian Louboutin and Talon Slash pumps. (Hey, a girl can dream!) but until then I will continue to shop the sales and dig for the bargains. If you find a size 7 at a deep discount, send me a link 😉
If you liked my thoughts on shoes, check out a few more of my favorite things.

Until my next Girl World post, chickadees! I’ll leave you with this quote:

“A woman with good shoes is never ugly.” – Coco Chanel


Resource: Clickless


I am a preeclampsia survivor and a preemie mom making my way through life as a wife, mom, friend and daughter. I enjoy writing, travel and photography, not to mention the Texas Rangers, fishing and quilting!


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