32 Different Types of Heels

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High heels were first worn by men. They were considered riding shoes during the 10th century since the high heels enabled a better grip on the stirrups. The Persian cavalry wore inch-high heels while the Persian monarch Shah Abbas started the trend in Europe during his visit in the 1500s.

Since they were worn by men who rode and owned horses, high heels became associated with the upper class. In 1533, a 14-year-old bride named Catherine de Medici wore towering heels to look more like an adult when he married the Duke of Orleans. She became the first woman to wear high heels in public and soon after, upper-class women also started wearing heels which became part of their outfit throughout the 17th century.

Christian Dior introduced the first stiletto heel in 1954. The name comes from the Italian word for a “thin dagger.” Imelda Marcos, the wife of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, notoriously owns 3,000 pairs of heels.

Designs/Styles

Ankle Booties

Daomumen Womens Ankle Booties Chunky Side V Cut Block High Heel Zipper Pointed Toe Boots
Source: Amazon

Booties are simply boots that come up only to your ankle. They are great for women who love boots but don’t like the feel of the boot all over their legs. In other words, they want their legs to feel less restricted, which makes ankle booties perfect for them. Nowadays, a lot of ankle booties have stylish high heels that give them an extra special look. Best of all, ankle booties can be worn not only in the fall and winter but in the spring as well.

Ankle Strap Heels

Bamboo Women's Single Band Chunky Heel Sandal with Ankle Strap
Source: Amazon

Shoes with ankle strap heels are very popular nowadays. Their main characteristic is a strap that wraps around your ankle. This causes the heels to feel more comfortable and secure, making these types of shoes very easy to walk in. Furthermore, since ankle strap shoes can come in heels of all different lengths, they come in a wide variety of styles and designs to suit everyone’s preferences and tastes.

Ballroom Dance Shoes

TTdancewear Women Rhinestone Ballroom Dance Shoes Latin Salsa Performance Dance Shoes
Source: Amazon

The heels on these shoes are always very stylish and come in various heights, however, since the shoes are made for dancing, the heels do not usually get taller than two inches. Ballroom dance shoes usually have a lot of straps to make dancing more fun and stylish at the same time. These heels have become especially popular at weddings. The size and shape of the heel is always specifically made to provide the wearer with a little vertical lift, making their efforts at dancing a little easier.

Basic Pumps

VOCOSI Women's Basic Simple High Heels Slip On Closed Pointed Toe Ladies Dress Pumps
Source: Amazon

Pumps are normally called “heels” or “high heels,” and their main characteristics include heels that are two to three inches in height and a low cut around the front. Whatever image that comes into your head when you hear the term “pumps” or “high heels,” is most likely a very accurate representation. Nowadays, most women have at least one pair of high heels in their closet, not only because they are comfortable and durable, but also because they come in such a wide selection of colors and styles that you can easily have a dozen or more pairs to match every item of clothing and every event you have in mind.

Chunky Heels

Women's Strappy Chunky High Heel Ankle Strap Sandals Open Toe Dress Sandal For Wedding Birthday Party Evening Office Shoes
Source: Amazon

Chunky heels generally refer to any heel that has a square, wide base. They are not usually very high, and their thick look provides a lot more stability than stilettos or basic high heels do. They are becoming increasingly popular, in part because they are both stylish and comfortable to walk in.

Comma Heels

LongFengMa Women Fashion T-Strap Sandals Lady Comma High Heel Shoes with Pearl
Source: Amazon

Like its name implies, shoes that have comma heels have heels that almost literally look like commas. They tilt either outwards or inwards, and they give each pair of shoes a unique look that you’ll want to show off again and again.

Cone Heels

ElegantPark HC1508 Women Closed Toe Cone Heels Buckle Ankle Strap Pumps Lace Wedding Bridal Shoes
Source: Amazon

Cone heels are so named because of their cone-like shape. These heels are narrow at the base and get wider towards the sole of the foot. If you picture an ice cream cone on the very bottom of a shoe, you can get some idea of what cone heels look like.

Cork High Heels

XYD Comfort Platform Cork Wedges Slingback Shoes Peep Toe Sandals Ankle Strap High Heels for Women
Source: Amazon

These heels come in all sizes and thicknesses, but as the name implies, they are made out of a cork material. Although the cork material is made specifically for these types of heels and are therefore very strong, it also makes for a more cushioned, softer, and more comfortable step.

Corset Heels

Wild Diva Womens Peep Toe Lace Up Clear Lucite Chunky High Heel Ankle Booties Boot Shoe
Source: Amazon

These heels look similar to those of a mule or bootie, but the main difference is that the two sides of the heel are tied together and therefore, they look like a traditional corset. The heels are fashionable, eye-catching, and a bit unique, so if you’re into fashion, this is the heel for you.

Cut Out Heels

JJF Shoes Women Bonica Cut Out Buckle Peep Toe Chunky Stacked Block Heel Ankle Platform Sandal Pumps
Source: Amazon

These heels can come in various heights, but they are made more for style and fashion than anything else, which is why they have a part of the upper section cut out in a certain shape. The cut out is fashionable and elegant but fun and the rest of the shoe can be any style or design you want it to be.

Espadrille Heels

Syktkmx Womens Lace up Platform Wedge Espadrille Heel Peep Toe Slingback D'Orsay Sandals
Source: Amazon

Espadrille shoes have an upper section made of fabric and a sole made of fiber and plaited. The heels are generally flat and give the shoe a very casual and comfortable look. These shoes can have either a wedge base or a regular heel.

Fantasy Heels

The Highest Heel Women's FANTASY-81-SLD Clear Vinyl Up 7.5
Source: Amazon

Dozens of different heels fall into this category. A true renegade, the heel comes in many different shapes and designs, including heels with ribbon shapes, a swirled look, and those made of a material that looks like glass, making the wearer feel like a real-life Cinderella. Although mostly worn by celebrities, fantasy heels can be worn by anyone. There are so many different types that you are guaranteed to find ones that you love.

French Heels

French Blu Women's Elaine Double Strap Sling Back Block Heel Color Block Sandal
Source: Amazon

French heels are similar to spoon heels, with a curve at the tip of the heel that touches the floor. They are also called Pompadour or Louis heels, and they give any pump or boot a little elegance and fanciness. In fact, French heels are some of the fanciest heels you will ever see, lending a little ambiance to your next pair of shoes.

High Heel Boots

Odetina Women's Sexy Lace-up Zipper Buckle Strap Chunky High Heel Platform Mid Calf Punk Boots with Rivet Stud
Source: Amazon

When fall or winter comes, a lot of women automatically bring out their boots, and boots with high heels are some of the most attractive boots being made these days. Boots with high heels are stylish and attractive, and best of all, these types of boots come in a wide variety of lengths, colors, designs, and materials, so they are both beautiful and comfortable. Furthermore, you can wear these boots in a variety of ways, including underneath or over your pant legs, and the heels will do a great job of giving you an elegant look every time.

High Heel Sandals

PATRIZIA High Heel Dress Sandals – Ankle Strap Shoes for Women (8.5, Silver)
Source: Amazon

Much like the name implies, these shoes are simply sandals that have very high heels. The heel height can vary from one sandal to another, but in all cases, the upper part of the shoes consists of an attractive sandal.

Kitten Heels

Brinley Co Womens Faux Suede Ruffle Kitten Heels
Source: Amazon

Kitten heels can be thick or thin, but they are never very high. Perfect for work events and even parties, kitten heels are made for women who want a little height in their shoes but still want enough comfort to be on their feet for a long time without pain. Officially, kitten heels are those heels that are less than two inches in height – most often, they are one or one-and-a-half inches in height. Kitten heels can be found on everything from sandals to pumps, they are appropriate for a wide variety of events, and they’ve been around since the 1950s.

Mules

Christian Siriano for Payless Women's Nikolle Low Heel Slide
Source: Amazon

Mule heels can be any size or shape, but they come up high over the top of your foot. Mules can be open- or closed-toe and the heel can vary in height, but the thing that makes them unique is that they come up high over the top of your foot. Many mules are also open at the heel of the foot, making it easier to put on or take off the shoe.

Oxfords

Timberland Women's Camdale Oxford
Source: Amazon

At one time, all Oxford-style shoes looked like shoes you’d wear to classes at a fancy university and were very thin and flat. Nowadays, however, some Oxfords have heels with a little bit of height, although they are never too high. All Oxford heels are flat at the base, which gives them a look unlike most other shoes. Oxford shoes are sophisticated and practical, not to mention comfortable, which makes them very popular, even with people who have never before attended college.

Peep Toe Shoes

ElegantPark HP1542 Women Peep Toe Rhinestones Pumps High Heel Satin Wedding Bridal Dress Shoes Ivory US 9
Source: Amazon

These shoes come in hundreds of designs, shapes, and colors, and they are often called open-toe shoes. They look great when you combine a slender, tall heel with the open toe, and they are good for wearing regardless of the season.

Platform Heels

DailyShoes Women's Pointy Toe Hidden Platform Stiletto Pump - Red Patent, 7.5
Source: Amazon

The sole of a platform shoe is thicker than other types of shoes, which makes the wearing of high heels a lot more comfortable. Since there is less of a height differential between the front of the foot and the back, the shoes themselves are always comfortable and have a more steady and even feel. Platform shoes have heels of various heights, but the thicker bottom at the sole is what differentiates them from other types of shoes.

Slingback Heels

Wild Diva Women Peep Toe Slingback Minimal Wrap Stiletto Sandal EG86 - Black (Size: 10)
Source: Amazon

These shoes have straps that go around the back of the Achilles’ heel, instead of the ankle. They are most often open-toe shoes, but they can also be closed-toe. The main advantage of slingback heels is their ability to give your legs and feet a very elegant look, but of course, they provide a bit of stability and are easy to walk in as well.

Spool Heels

Fabulicious FLAPPER-01F Women 3
Source: Amazon

If you know what a spool of thread looks like, you can imagine a set of spool heels. These heels are thick at the sole of the foot, narrower in the middle of the foot, and slightly wider at the base of the foot. A lot of old-fashioned, ankle-high boots had this type of heel because it accentuates the design of the boot. Spool heels can be found on boots, pumps, and regular high heel shoes, and they lend some ambiance to any shoe that they are on.

Stilettos

MORNISN high Heels Sandals with peep Toe T-Strap Back Zipper Stiletto Pumps Platform Wedding Party Shoes for Women
Source: Amazon

When it comes to high heels, stilettos are the highest. They can get up to eight inches in height, which is why they are not recommended for women who have any type of walking problem. The biggest advantage of stiletto heels is that they can make your legs look a lot longer, which a lot of women love. In addition, due to the fact that they are so tall, many stiletto shoes are also platform shoes as well.

Wedge Heels

Carlos by Carlos Santana Women's Banjo Wedge Sandal
Source: Amazon

Wedge heels come in two main types: basic wedge heels and wedge sandals. In a wedge shoe, the heel is flush with the floor with no separation from the sole of the foot to the heel. It is flush like a high heel would be, except it is a continuous heel without a separation, which other types of heels have.

Wedge Sandals

MERUMOTE Women's Wedges Sandals High Platform Open Toe Ankle Strap Shoes Black 11 US
Source: Amazon

The heels of these shoes are just like basic wedge shoes, only the upper part of the shoe has an open look like regular sandals. Picture a sandal of any type with a wedge heel instead of a flat one or a slightly tall one, and you’ve just imagined a wedge sandal.

Materials

Cork

XYD Comfort Platform Cork Wedges Slingback Shoes Peep Toe Sandals Ankle Strap High Heels for Women Size 10 Blue
Source: Amazon

Cork has been used in various types of shoes since the 1300s. It is a great material for heels because it is flexible enough to provide the heel to bend a little bit, it protects the shoe, and makes it more comfortable to walk in. One of the biggest advantages of choosing cork for the heels on your shoes is that cork allows for a more natural walking motion; a more rigid sole doesn’t have as much “give” and is, therefore, more awkward to walk in.

Leather

Nanette Lepore Women's Darla Heeled Sandal, Black, 10 M US
Source: Amazon

There are dozens of types of leather that can be used to make heels for shoes. This includes a soft Italian leather that is usually thin, but durable and a more rigid leather that is very thick. Some leather heels have additions of thin rubber to protect the heel and make traction better, while others are made out of a mixture of rubber and leather. In these types of heels, however, the majority is made of leather, while the sole of the foot often has a rubber insert.

Plastic

Steve Madden Women's Clearer Dress Sandal
Source: Amazon

Almost all heels are made of a tough plastic, then covered with a material that matches the shoe’s uppers. Because it is lightweight and inexpensive to work with, plastic is the perfect material to use when making shoe heels.

Polyurethane (PU)

AdeeSu Ladies Metal Ornament Comfort Wheeled Heel Shoes Polyurethane Pumps Shoes
Source: Amazon

Polyurethane has certain characteristics in common with leather, but there are some differences. PU is a faux or artificial leather that is used not only in heels but also in sofa upholstery and smart covers for iPads. The leather is the hide of an animal that has been tanned and it is more expensive than PU. Of course, PU has characteristics that make it a better alternative than real leather, such as the fact that it is less expensive to use. Polyurethane is also easier to clean than leather, but like other products, heel manufacturers have to decide for themselves which material to use when making these products.

Rubber

Women's Nature Breeze Cb-01 Animal Blk/Wht Zebra Leopard Print Rain Boot Shoes, Leopard, 9,9 B(M) US
Source: Amazon

The rubber that is used to make heels for shoes is a natural rubber that has been used for many years. It is usually a combination of rubber compounds and synthetic rubber. These forms include a carbon rubber, which is a mixture of carbon and synthetic rubber; solid rubber, which is made from synthetic rubber and natural rubber; DRC, which is a solid rubber that has additives added to it in order for the heel to be more flexible; and a product called Duralon, which is a combination synthetic rubber that is very soft and produces great traction; and gum rubber. The latter is not always used because it is less durable than other types of plastic, although it produces great traction, which is why it is used more often on the bottom of sports shoes.

TPR

DREAM PAIRS Women's Dolce Fashion Stilettos Open Toe Pump Heel Sandals
Source: Amazon

TPR stands for thermoplastic rubber. The TPR used in shoe heels usually consists of a group of copolymers, known as thermoplastic elastomers, or TPEs. Since the 1960s, TPR has been used to make different types of heels, in part because it is inexpensive, durable, easy to recycle, and comfortable.

Wood

Mark and Maddux ANTONIO-06 Wood Effect Platform Women's Clogs in Black
Source: Amazon

This is a common material for making heels for shoes. The woods that are used include alder, maple, cherry, poplar, and walnut. Unlike what many people believe, the weight of the wood is actually more important than the hardness of the wood. Lighter woods work better than heavier woods. The companies that make wooden heels usually insert a layer of rubber at the bottom of the heel, both to protect the wood and for extra comfort while walking around in the shoes.

Miscellaneous Materials

Kork-Ease - Womens - Nero
Source: Amazon

Nowadays, shoe manufacturers and various artists are coming up with more and more materials to make shoe heels even more unique. These materials include:

  • Recycled or organic materials, which are not known for elegance or beauty, but which were used centuries ago by people who considered themselves royalty.
  • Human hair, which are thought by many people to be more comfortable than other heel materials. These were originally developed by people in Asian countries, such as Thailand, and the hair is weaved and shaped into the perfect heel.
  • Chairs and tables. These heels can be ergonomically shaped and are usually made out of leftover pieces of wood used during the manufacturing process. They are often mounted to a steel pin, then stacked on top of one another for a more durable and comfortable feel. These heels were designed by an Italian manufacturer and are thought to provide better weight distribution for models walking the runway.
  • Legos, which the heels are not exactly made of, but which instead cover the heels for a unique, attractive look. Shoes are made with so many different materials nowadays, including toys such as Legos, and these types of heels definitely catch people’s attention.
  • Circuit boards. If you’ve ever seen a circuit board inside of a computer, you’ll understand why someone thought of making a shoe heel from them. They are bright and colorful, unique, and strong. In addition, heels made out of circuit boards are environmentally a smart choice because instead of creating a heel using brand-new materials, you are using materials that are great for recycling and reusing.
  • Elephant dung. True, this is not what most people think of when they are looking for unique materials for their heels, and most people consider them either brilliant or disgusting. Ironically, elephant dung is odor free, so there is no smell to the heels. The dung is dried into a hard material, then used to make even very high heels, and these types of heels have been shown on many runways throughout the world.
  • Although items such as painted paper towels and recycled cereal boxes may not sound elegant or even sturdy, many artists have used these materials to make beautiful heels for their shoes. Many types of paper are usually used because the heel needs to have both beauty and durability, but the artists who create these types of heels work miracles with these materials to create some very beautiful works of art.
  • Taxidermy animal parts, such as hooves and fur, have also been used to make shoe heels, and their strength is the main reason why. Instead of using a taxidermist, the artist simply reuses the parts to make the heels. It may sound morbid to some people, but the artists who have created these masterpieces always find customers for their products.