Now that I have discussed some of the common shoe types in Shoes Maketh The Man Pt 1, it is time to delve into some of the confusing terminology from the shoe world.
I shall begin with some basic shoe terminology. With unique terms such as welt and vamp, it can be confusing if not familiar with the terminology.
So why is it that I recommend that you become familiar with these terms unique to footwear? Well the answer is, that when looking to purchase a pair of quality shoes, a basic understanding of the lingo will help you to compare shoes beyond just their external appearance.
Knowledge of these terms, will arm you with the ability to determine the build quality of the shoe. This in turn will allow you to purchase shoes that will last longer.
Whilst price point may reflect build quality to some degree, some basic knowledge will allow you to compare shoes of a similar price. I will also discuss, some terms that relate to a shoes appearance. terms such as pebble-grain, patent or whole-cut.
Lets begin with terms relating to a shoes construction and the name of it's parts.
The term wholecut is quite a literal term and refers to a shoe whereby the upper has been made from a single piece of leather. Wholecut shoes may contain a single stitched seam on the back of the heel or may been seamless.
Wholecut shoes are handmade my artisan shoemakers and possess very clean lines. As such they are typically quite an expensive shoe and suit more formal attire such as black tie.
The counter is a piece of stiff material between the upper and the lining at the heel. The counter strengthens the heel of the upper. Cheaper quality shoes may have no counter or one made from untreated cardboard.
A poor quality counter will deteriorate quickly and leave the heel unsupported. It is recommended that you always use a shoe-horn when putting shoes on so as to protect the counter.
The eyelet's are simply the holes for the laces.
Considered to be the very best way of attaching the sole to the the upper. The process is a labour intensive one as it is done exclusively by hand and is a complex process involving grooves cut into the insole. The outsole is then stretched over a shoe last by hand before the actual welting is fixed, whereby the welt is sewn to both the upper and insole rib. The last step is using a separate stitch to attach the welt to the outsole.
The heel is a term most of us are familiar with as it is the rear part of the sole that raises the sole higher at the rear. The heel seat is the part that comes in contact with the upper and the part that comes in contact with the ground is called the top piece. The entire heel can be replaced but it is more common ( and cheaper) to just replace the top piece when it wears.
The insole is the layer of material between the sole of the shoe and the foot. The insole hides the joining of the sole to the upper as well as offering the wearer added comfort. After market insoles can be purchased to improve shoe comfort.
Some shoes are made without a lining, however most come with a lining. The lining helps to improve comfort by adding a layer of protection between your foot and any stitching. Having a lining may also lengthen the life of your shoe by absorbing sweat away from the leather and stitching.
The outsole is the part of the sole of the shoe that is exposed and comes in contact with the ground. This can be made a a variety of materials including jute, rubber and leather and offers grip, durability and water resistance to the shoe. Some outsoles can be replaced, most notably leather soles.
Much like the counter, the puff is a reinforcing of the shoe giving it strength and defined shape. The puff is the reinforcing underneath the upper and toe cap that gives the shoe it's shape. Not all shoes contain a puff.
The term quarter refers to the rear and sides of the upper and sits behind the vamp
Not all shoes contain a midsole. The term refers to the layers between the insole and outsole.
The throat is not as some people assume the opening of the shoe through which your ankle protrudes. Instead it is the front of the vamp behind the toe cap.
The toe cap is the front of the shoe that covers the toes. A stitched over toe cap refers to an additional piece of leather that is sewn over the top of the toe cap and such shoes are referred to as capped toe shoes. The toe cap may be decorated with brougeing .
The welt is the thin strip of material, which runs around the edge of the sole. The welt on a dress shoe typically sticks out past the upper, it's purpose is to attach the upper to the sole.
There are three main ways of attaching the upper to the outer
The vamp is the front part of the shoe that covers the toes and a part of the foot.
Other Shoe Related Terms
Now here is one for the crossword buffs, for every now and then a word pops up for something you didn't know had a name. Such is the case with Aglets. An Aglet is that hard covering of metal or plastic at the end of your shoelaces. It's purpose is two fold, firstly it prevents the end of your lace from fraying and secondly it makes lacing your shoe much easier.
An apron toed shoe is one with a unique design where there is an apron like piece of material sewn in to form the top of the vamp. This extends only to the top of the toe.
Balmoral is simply another term for an Oxford shoe. The term is more commonly used in the USA.
Whilst the term Bespoke is generally more associated with suits, the term is still used in the shoe world. A Bespoke shoe refers to shoes that have been designed and hand made for one person. Each foot is measured and the shoes made unique for that individuals feet.
Blucher is a term used in America for Derby shoes.
The term break refers to the natural creasing of the leather across the vamp caused by everyday wear. Using a quality shoe tree can help in minimizing the effect of the break.
A Brogue is a style of shoe with decorative holes and edging. As mentioned in Shoes Maketh The Man Part 1 , brogues come in differing styles such as full brogue and wingtips.
Brogueing refers to the decorative perforations on a Brogue shoe.
Boat shoes, sometimes referred to as Deck shoes were originally designed to be a non slip shoe to be worn whilst boating.
A Cap Toe shoe is a shoe with a visible overlayed toe cap and straight stitching across the toe.
A boot style with elastic side panels and no laces. Chelsea boots are typically ankle height.
Chukka's are a plain ankle height boot with laces, frequently seen made with suede or nubuck leather.
Crepe Soles are shoe soles made of a thick crinkly rubber.
A Derby or Blucher is a shoe made with Open Lacing, where the quarter is sewn over the top of the vamp.
As the name suggests, the driving shoe was originally designed for driving. A simple moccasin design that is soft and flexible and without a hard sole. The sole of a driving shoe consists of a series of rubber grommets or occasionally rubber pads.
Espadrilles are a casual shoe style that can be lace up or slip on and were originally made using a woven jute sole.
The Flit-Flop (or Thong as it is known in Australia) is a very casual open slip on sandal that is ideal for the beach.
Full Grain Leather
Leather that has been tanned in such a way that the natural texture of the animal skin is still visible.
A Last or Shoe Last is a wooden block used to shape the shoe. A last can be generic or made bespoke to match an individuals foot.
A type of slip on shoe or moccasin. Loafers range from very informal to formal in style.
A thick and chunky sole as seen on work boots.
The Medallion is the ornamental brogueing on the toe of dress shoes.
The Monk shoe is a style of shoe that uses a buckle closure instead of lacing.
Nubuck is a leather similar to suede. However during the tanning the leather is sanded on the outside of the hide, leaving a much shorter nap than suede.
An Oxford shoe is a shoe where the quarters are stitched under the vamp and is more formal than a Derby.
This is a fine grade leather that has been treated with polyurethane leaving it with an extremely high level of gloss. Shoes made with patent leather are very formal so are really only worn to black or white tie affairs.
Pebbled grain leather has a unique pebbled texture and so adds an extra degree of interest and formality
Casual footwear with and open toe and back that encases the foot with straps.
A shoe horn is a metal or plastic tool used to aid in slipping the foot into a shoe. Use of a shoe horn is highly recommended as it protects the counter from being bent and twisted out of shape.
A shoe tree is a device used to preserve and maintain shoes. It does so in 2 ways, firstly it is shaped akin to a foot allowing the leather to maintain it's shape after wearing and the leather relaxing. Secondly, a good quality shoe tree should be made from raw and un-coated cedar, this allows the wood to absorb the sweat left behind in the shoe. A good quality shoe tree should be purchased for every pair of quality shoes you buy.
This is a type of napped leather with a distinctive furry appearance. Suede leather is typically soft and very pliable. However, shoes made from suede should be kept away from rain and water. It is recommended to use a spray on leather waterproofer regularly. Due to the nap of the leather, regular shoe polishes and conditioners cannot be used, instead a specific suede brush is required for cleaning.
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