Not all shoes are built alike. From heel type, heel size, material, and support, knowing how heels differ from one another will enable you to pick the right pair for your next outing. Let’s take a look at 40 different types of high heels every gal should know.
1. Classic High Heels
A classic high heel is defined, simply enough, as a shoe with a heel that’s raised higher than the toe. Classic high heels can range in heel sizes, but average heights are usually between 2 ½ in. to 3 ½ inches in height. Classic high heels can come in a variety of materials and styles, but they typically feature black leather uppers with no straps and a closed toe.
2. Pump Heels
Pump heels are a more formal type of heel and are characterised by their short heel length. The term “pumps” dates back to the 1500s and is derived from the term “pompes” which described shoes without heels. Traditional pump heels are made of black leather with a closed toe and the heel is usually no longer than an inch.
The iconic stiletto is easily identifiable by its long, steel, skinny heel. Stilettos can range from 3 to 5 inches and will often feature a pointed closed toe. Classic stilettos are usually constructed out of leather, but the materials and styles can vary for both formal and informal events. Luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton have put identifiable touches on their stilettos, which include cherry red bottoms.
4. Kitten Heels
Kitten heels were the quintessential training heels for young ladies who were often referred to as “kittens”. Kitten heels have an innocent allure with their short stiletto heel of 1.5 to 2 inches. The heel has an identifiable curve that starts at the top of the heel and tapers into a curve on the back of the shoe. Kitten heels come in varying styles and materials, including sandals and strap backs.
5. Wedge Heels
Wedge heels offer optimal comfort because of their sole support. The heel on a wedge stretches from the back of the shoe to the front. Because of their optimal support, wedge heels are often elevated and can range from 2 to 4 inches in height.
6. Block Heels
Block heels offer more support than traditional heels but less than that of a wedge heel. The block of the heel can range from 1 to 2 inches in width and 2 to 4 inches in height. Block heels are an emerging trend and come in a variety of materials and styles. Depending on the season, block heels can be open toes, closed, or strapped.
7. Lace Up Heels
Lace up heels can come in all styles, though in today’s shoe landscape, lace up heels are often associated with block heels. They are also especially popular with wedge heels. The lace up closure starts at the back of the shoe and wraps around the ankle, usually two or three times. Because of this closure type, lace up heels are the quintessential summertime heel.
8. Mule Heels
Mule heels are a simplistic type of heels in that they feature a tight and supportive front closure but have no closure on the back of the heel. The closure in the front is usually crafted from a solid piece of material that wraps from one side to the other. The construction mimics a raised sandal in that there is nothing securing your heel to the shoe. For this reason, mule heels are usually elevated by no more than 3 inches.
9. Chunky Heels
Chunky heels can be very supportive because the heel is blocked and wide while the toe is elevated with a platform. Chunky heels can sometimes be mixed up with platform heels because the elevation is in both the back and front of the shoe. Chunky heels are typically made out of a durable rubber, are secure to the foot via a toe strap and ankle strap, and can be extremely comfortable to walk in.
10. Ankle Strap Heels
Ankle strap heels are a very elegant shoe option for any formal event. Ankle strap heels are primarily secured to the foot by a buckle strap around the ankle. They can often feature a single strap around the toes or a closed toe construction. Heel types will also vary, though ankle-strap heels usually feature a blocked heel of 2 to 3 inches.
11. Peep Toe Heels
Peep toe heels feature a mostly closed toe construction with the exception of a small opening of about an inch at the toe’s front. Peep toe heels can come in classic heel styles as well as boot styles. The heels can also be stiletto forms or blocked heels. The materials of the shoe can vary, though you’ll typically find peep toe heels made out of a durable leather or suede.
12. Ballroom Dance Shoes
Ballroom dance shoes are different from heels in that the sole of the shoe is flexible, allowing the wearer to move freely while dancing. The top of the heel is wide and sturdy and can sometimes flare slightly at the bottom. Styles of ballroom dance shoes vary, but they will usually have an ankle strap and open toe construction. They will also be decorated with gemstones and perforations
13. Oxford Heels
Oxford heels offer the formality and elegance of a classic men’s Oxford shoe with a feminine touch due to a raised heel. The heel on an Oxford shoe is typically a Cuban heel and is no more than 2.5 inches in height. Oxford heels are usually made out of sturdy leather uppers with an aesthetic lace up front closure.
14. Slingback Heels
Slingback heels are a type of shoe that features a single strap that wraps around the back of the heel and connects to the sides of the shoe. Slingback heels often have a low profile heel, whether it be a block heel or a kitten heel. Most slingbacks feature a pointed closed toe construction though summer slingbacks can feature a single strap securing the toe to the shoe.
15. Cuban Heels
Cuban heels will often be no more than 2 inches in length and are easily distinguished by their block structure and slight curve at the top of the heel. Cuban heels can be on both male and female shoes and are typically associated with ballroom dance shoes and Oxford heels.
16. Square Heels
Square heels are a sort of spin off of chunky and blocked heels in that square heels have a wide base and are usually short in height with no more than one or two inches tall. Square heels come in a variety of styles, including slingbacks, ankle straps, and full closure shoes.
17. Espadrille Heels
Espadrille heels are similar to wedge heels in that the heel extends from the back of the shoe all the way to the front of the shoe. In true espadrille fashion, espadrille heels are made out of wooden cork and wrapped in esparto rope. The heels typically have a lace-up closure and can be incredibly comfortable to wear.
18. Cone Heels
Cone heels are iconic in their triangular shaped heel construction with a wide top base that tapers down to the bottom. Cone heels can vary from 3 to 5 inches and offer a little bit more stability than stiletto heels do. They come in a wide array of styles, materials, and closure types and are versatile for any event.
19. Spool Heels
Spool heels were a once-popular type of heel in the 1860s and 1950s. Spool heels feature a wide top that tapers in the middle and then flares out again on the bottom, creating a unique shape that resembles that of a spool. Spool heels can be comfortable because of the support provided by the wide base and wide top. Though the heels typically don’t extend more than 2 1/2 inches in height.
20. Cut Out Heels
Cut out heels are a decorative type of shoe that have patterns cut out on the uppers of the shoe. These patterns can be floral, geometrical, or simple in design.
21. French Heels
The French heel is similar to a spool heel in that it has a wide top that attaches to the back of the shoe and then tapers down in the middle and then flares out slightly on the bottom once again. French heels are sometimes referred to as Louis heel or pompadour heels.
22. Very High Heels
Very high heels are the sister of stilettos in that the heel can extend for really as high as you want it to. In order to keep the foot from overstretching and to make very high heels possible to walk in, they will usually be accompanied by a platform in the front of the foot. The platform helps to offer stability when walking, and though it does add a bit more support, very high heels can still be tricky to walk in.
23. Medium Heels
Medium heels are often the perfect combination of comfort and style. Medium heels range from 2 to 3 1/2 inches in height and the heel type will usually be blocked or thick, offering a higher level of support. Styles vary with medium heels and include closed toe, open toe, and ankle strap buckles.
24. Lobster Claw Heels
Lobster claw heels have been made famous by the likes of designer Alexander McQueen and Entertainer Lady Gaga. These outspoken high heels feature a thin stiletto type heel that curves slightly inward and A front platform that is typically the same size as the heel. The front platform features a claw like shape similar to a lobster’s claw. Lobster claw heels are cumbersome to walk in and are typically reserved for extreme fashion shows.
25. Cork High Heels
As the name implies, cork high heels are made out of a tight cork construction and the heel can either be blocked or wedged. Cork high heels may often feature a small platform on the front as well for added height. These heels are typically reserved for summertime wear and can be extremely comfortable and lightweight.
26. Corset Heels
Corset high heels are typically made out of a durable leather and feature a lace up front closure similar to a corset. The shoes will often also have a stiletto thin heel. The shoe itself can come up to the top of your ankle or the middle of your calf.
27. Heels with No Back
Heels with no backs, or mule heels can be great additions to any summer wardrobe. They come in varying styles including open toed, though closed toed can offer more support in lieu of the strapless back.
28. Lita Heels
Formally known as the Jeffrey Campbell Lita, this type of shoe is a chunky heeled boot with a blocked 5 inch heel. The boot also features a 1 to 2 inch platform that curves on the bottom inwards toward the toe. Lita Are known for their crazy combinations, lace up front closure, and durable leather uppers.
29. Fantasy Heels
Fantasy heels have an air of mysticism in them and are often the heel of choice for themed outfits, costumes, and other expressive attire. The most common type of fantasy heel features butterfly wings on the back of the heel or some sort of fantastical decorative artwork on the top half of the heel. Fantasy heels almost always have a thin stiletto heel and may be accompanied by a small platform in the front.
30. Scarpin Heels
Scarpin heels are easy to identify with their iconic pointed toe that gives the foot an elongated look. The heel on a scarpin is typically thin and skinny like that of a stiletto. Because many scarpin heels don’t offer much of a platform on the front of the shoe, this can make them uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Often, this is the shoe of choice for professional events.
31. High Block Heels
High block heels offer the height of a stiletto with the comfort of a blocked heel. These heels typically consist of a single strap across the toes and a buckle strap across the ankles. High block heels will often come with a platform in the front that ranges from half an inch to an inch in height. Though the material of the shoe varies, high block heels can typically be found in solid leather and suede options.
32. Decorative Heels
Decorative heels are the latest trend in shoe fashion as the decorations extend past the uppers of the heel and directly onto the heel. Decorative heels usually feature a steel or metal decoration that is focused on the top of the heel. Designers like Yves Saint Lawrence have adapted the decorative heel making it an iconic feature in many of its shoes.
33. Slim Heels
Slim heels can add length to your leg without the bulkiness that comes with other heels. The heel length can vary, but when the top of the heel attaches to the back of the shoe, it does so with a wide attachment that keeps tapering to a minimum. Slim heels will often feature straps across the toes and ankles as opposed to full coverage uppers.
34. Pin Heels
Pin heels are similar to slim heels in that the heel is long and thin. Pin heels typically have no curve to them and are flush against the back of the shoe when they connect. This type of heel is most closely associated with ankle high boots so that a majority of the support comes for the front of the shoe, not the heel.
35. Comma Heels
This unique heel shape resembles a comma because of the thin heel that turns inward or outward. Though comma heels can come in varying lengths, you will typically find them ranging from 1 to 2 inches in length. Comma heels are typically skinny, but there are blocked comma heels as well.
36. Flare Heels
Flare heels rose in popularity during the 70s. Just as the name suggests, Flare heels have an elongated block heel that is slimmer at the top and wider at the bottom. This heel type will range anywhere from 2.5 to 4 inches in height and about an inch to an inch and a half in width at the base. They also come in a variety of styles but usually feature an ankle buckle and a closed toe.
37. High Heeled Boots
High heels boots can offer an elongated look to the leg. The boot can come halfway up the calf or right up to the top of the calf. The material is often a smooth leather or suede and can be adorned with buckles and side zippers. The heel can be blocked, wedged, or a thin stiletto depending on comfort and support needed.
38. Ankle Booties
Ankle booties are an ideal option for cooler weather wear. Ankle booties will usually have a blocked heel though the skinny heel is pushing to make a comeback. The uppers are often a leather or suede material for optimal comfort and warmth, and there can be additional attachments like buckles and zippers.
39. High Heeled Sandals
High heeled sandals come in a variety of styles ranging from blocked heels to slim heels. Because there is limited support and security in the front of the shoe, the heel doesn’t typically exceed 2.5 inches. Depending on the sandals, there may be an additional strap on the back of the heel.
40. Wedge Sandals
Wedge sandals are iconic to summertime, casual outing, and tropical vacations. They feature the supportive and comfortable wedge bottom, which is usually made out of cork, rope, or some other lighter material. The shoe is usually secured to the foot through a toe strap and an ankle buckle or ankle wrap. Materials on the uppers vary but are typically lightweight canvas or thin pieces of leather.
Why settle for one type of high heel when there are so many different options to choose from? We hope this comprehensive list of high heel types gives you plenty of ideas for your next pair.