A Guide To Heels – Types of Heels


Types of Heels

Kitten heels

True to its name, a kitten heel is a petite, slender, slightly shorter stiletto heel. The heel is generally 1.5/1.75 inches high and is slightly curved. They are great for a small boost in height.

Silver screen queens like Audrey Hepburn popularised kitten heels. Typically made out of heavy materials, they are round-toed. Because of their chunky and curved heels, they enhance the slender shape of the feet.


Created by the Count d’Orsay, these pump heels were originally made for men. D’Orsay heels expose the curved arch of the foot, normally covered. But on this shoe, the vamp and either the inside or both sides, of the shoe are cut away. This makes D’Orsays extremely flattering.

Part of the collections of high-end shoe companies like Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, D’Orsay’s heels are elegant and luxurious. Though the D’Orsay often comes in the form of a heel, D’Orsay flats are also available.

Because of the missing sides, D’Orsays can significantly leave the foot slipping out of the shoe since the shoes will stretch over time, making them even more prone to slipping. When selecting D’Orsays, make sure the fit is snug.

D’Orsays work well with formal, semi-formal, and casual outfits making them highly versatile.

Court Shoes / Pumps

Court shoes are named after the place they were first worn in: royal courts. Originally made for royalty and rich people, they became a popular style across Britain that endures today.

Court shoes are low-cut heels without any fastenings. They generally have a low line upper, which means that the top line of the shoe sits relatively low down on foot. They are typically a small to medium heel height and have a pointed toe. Although they are the perfect formal shoe thanks to their regal background, court shoes can be worn to almost any occasion and go with most clothing items, making them highly versatile. Court shoes come in classic colors such as beige, black and brown, but many other styles are widely available.

Cone Heels

Cone heels are named after the shape of their heel – it looks like an ice cream cone. Triangular in shape, the heel starts wide at the sole and tapers narrower, sometimes to a point.

This type of heel was first popularised in the 1980s by French shoe designer Maud Frizon.

Because it is wider, it is more manageable than a stiletto heel and so perfect if you don’t feel comfortable walking in heels.


Due to the straps attached to the shoe, this high heel forms a T-shape on the top of the foot when worn.

T-Straps merge a variety of positive points from other heel styles and combine them in a way that is practical to wear and comes in an assortment of designs – such as closed-toe and D’Orsay T-Strap styles.

A T-Strap adds a touch of sexiness to your outfit while maintaining an elegant look. The extra strap that goes up the foot and around the ankle keeps the foot secure, making walking in this shoe slightly easier than other heels.

Mary Janes

Mary Janes are low-cut high heels with rounded toes and a single buckle strap across the instep.

This shoe is named after Mary Jane, a character in the comic strip Busty Brown who used to wear this kind of shoe. Interestingly, Mary Janes were extremely popular for girls and boys back in the early 1990s.

Mary Janes are extremely versatile and come in many different designs and colors. They can be paired with dresses, skirts, trousers, jeans, etc. Since you can also wear socks and tights with Mary Janes, this heel is an all-year-round staple.

Ankle Straps

This high heel has a strap encircling the ankles, which can look very flattering.

Depending on the style, ankle straps can be worn for casual, semi-casual, and even formal occasions, making them highly versatile.One thing to mention is that ankle straps are not easy to wear if they are open-toed.

Because they are held on the foot by only a thin strap and an even thinner ankle strap, they are challenging to keep on the feet comfortably. Your toes may hang over the shoe, or the ankle strap may cut your skin. If you want to wear these heels, invest either in a closed-toe pair or a higher-quality version of an open-toed shoe.

Strappy Heels

These are heels open up to the ankle, exposing a lot of skin and having several fastenings across the foot.

Due to the way this shoe shows off the foot, it is more suited towards casual but glamorous occasions rather than formal ones. Like open-toed ankle straps, the foot is held in place by several fastenings on strappy heels. Depending on the number of fastenings and their thickness, the foot may easily slip out of the shoe, causing toe-overhang.

Block Heels

Popularised in the 1970s, block heels are thicker and chunkier than other heels.

Block heels are extremely practical — easy to walk in, much more stable, comfortable, and don’t get stuck in cobblestone.

Available in many different styles – from a small block heel to a very chunky one, open-toed or closed-toed, or even boot style- these are extremely versatile.

Whatever style you opt for, block heels add a touch of retro to any outfit.


Slingbacks are backless shoes with a strap that crosses behind the heel or ankle.

They may resemble ankle-strap heels, but they’re not the same. The strap goes back around the heels or ankles and is fastened at the front of the foot.

Slingbacks come in various styles from casual to more formal -from close-toed to open-toed, heel types ranging between stiletto-thin and wedge-thick, and heel height ranging from none to high. The bi-color slingback – a classic slingback design was introduced byChanel in 1957 and is still a refined version today.

Peep Toes

Peep-toe shoes look just like court shoes but the tip of the shoe is cut away exposing the big toe – which is why they’re called ‘peep toe’.

They may have a long history starting in Ancient Greece, but the 1940s was when peep-toes became popular. Referred to as the ‘pin up’ shoe, they were worn by the likes of Betty Page and Marilyn Monroe.

Peep-toe shoes are available in various styles such as flats, kitten heels, high heels, and ankle boots. They add a retro touch to any outfit, thanks to their pin-up image.

Open Toes

Like peep toes, the tip on this shoe is cut away to leave all the toes exposed, not just the big toe.

Open-toed shoes should be worn without stockings or tights (since you would see the seam at the toes) unless the stockings are opaque with a fun pattern.

Due to its open-toe nature, this type of shoe (along with the peep toe) may not be suitable for formal office wear or other formal occasions. However, open toes are a sexy, retro look great with any casual outfit.


Also known as Spiked heels, stilettos are long heels named after the stiletto dagger. The heel is tall and slim, having a diameter at the ground of slightly less than half an inch and a minimum heel height of 2 inches.

Although not designed with practicality in mind, Stiletto heels are extremely versatile for styling. Thanks to their seductive look, they can handle anything casual to formal, adding femininity and sexiness to any outfit.

Since Stiletto heels concentrate a large amount of force into a small area, they can lead to medical problems if worn excessively.


Platforms have thick soles that raise the feet from the ground more than usual. The heels are always raised higher than the sole.

Although they may not appear that way, due to their raised sole, platforms are comfortable to wear even for prolonged periods of time. They come in lots of different styles from sandals over shoes to boots.

An all-time favorite for petite ladies, platforms instantly and effortlessly add several inches to your height.


Wedges are just what they sound like: They have a wedge instead of a separated heel that occupies the entire space under the arch and heel of the foot. Wedge heels function as both the heel and the shoe sole.

If your feet tend to hurt in high heels, these are an excellent alternative. Wedge heels are easier to walk in and comfier to wear. As a result, they are a great alternative to a Stiletto if you’re planning to wear them for a long time.

Famous as a 90s fashion item, there are many different wedges, such as strap wedge heels, cork wedges, denim wedges, and simple pearl wedges. With a huge variety to choose from, wedges are extremely versatile.

Horn Heels

Horn heels are named after the shape of their heel: They are curved and somewhat resemble the letter C or a horn.

They have a futuristic, edgy feel to them and are mainly associated with the designs of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, in whose collections these heels frequently feature.

Lobster Claws

Another shoe design created by Alexander McQueen for his SS2010 collection and referred to as Armadillo boot, this shoe has the shape of a lobster claw.

Technically, this heel is a subtler version of the horn heel as it is only slightly curved.

The design is not a conventional shoe, though; the lobster claw appears as if it was part of the wearer, extending the leg and looking menacing and graceful at the same time.

Most of the Lobster claws were made for the fashion show only and were not intended for commercial production – each shoe was hand-carved from wood.

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