Women’s Dress Footwear Parts – Nomenclatures in English.
Learn All About The Footwear & Shoe Technical Parts, Materials, Techniques, and Technologies.
My goal is to bring helpful information to all professionals involved directly or indirectly in the Footwear Chain. Whether you are from Marketing, Design, Technical, Industrial, Sales, or any other area around the footwear business and industry.
In another article we detailed the main parts of sports shoes, now it’s time to go over the main parts of the Upper and Outsole of a Dress Shoe or Lady’s Shoe Models. Notice that Figure 1 below presents the main areas: Back / Heel + Shank / Midfoot + Vamp / Forefoot + Toe / Tip Areas.
Summarizing = If we could divide the footwear into four major areas, it would be like this
- Back Area / Heel: ¼ part located in the rear of the foot.
- Shank Area / Midfoot: ¼ part located in the arch of the foot.
- Vamp Area / Forefoot: ¼ part located between shank and toe.
- Toe Area/Toe: ¼ part located in the shoe front tip.
Keep this information in mind as it will be very helpful to better understand all the other 26 concepts listed and described below.
It is important to emphasize that this is just an attempt to offer a didactic and illustrative view of the main areas of footwear, as in many models it is difficult to establish where one area begins and the other ends. For more details about the major shoe structures (Upper + Midsole + Outsole) please read Article 2 of this series.
Figure 2 will serve as a basis for the parts that I will detail below:
1- Toe Cap = also called Toe Tip or just Toe.
The shoe region covers the toes of the feet. The Toe Cap includes and encompasses all types of Toe Tips. E.g. even a Flip Flop Sandal Style has a Toe Tip, but not a Toe Cap. It does not matter if the shoe has its Front Tip Covered (closed) as Picture 2 shows or it is a Peep Toe Style (Open Toe), both styles have a Toe Tip Area.
Toe Spring: the delta (angle) between the floor and the shoe toe tip height is called Toe Spring.
Each shoe type has the correct toe spring height. If it is lower than the right delta the shoe user will tend to hit the floor when walking. If it is higher than the right measure it will look funny and could also hurt one’s foot forcing the toes upwards.
It has two functions: to maintain the Last Toe Shape of the shoe’s toe and to protect the Toe Fingers.
Curiosities: the Toe Box, in general, for Dress Shoes, is made of Thermoplastic Material, Fabrics, and Non-Woven or TNT (Nonwoven Fabric) using Chemical Activation Resins, etc. for softening it and enabling it to be molded accordingly to the Last Toe Shape.
This is one of the topics that I will detail later on when we talk about Materials.
3- Outsole = the outermost layer of the bottom of a shoe.
In some cases, you will find the term Sole instead of outsole or simply Bottom. The Outsole, in the case of Dress Shoes, can be manufactured in different materials: PU, Rubber, Laminates, PVC, TPU, Leather, etc. There are several materials involved in the manufacture of soles (Outsoles), but we will see this topic later in the post on materials about Stock Fitting Types.
4- Vamp = the vamp is the front and center part of a shoe’s upper that covers the top of the foot (Low Vamp Shoes).
In some shoes, the vamp covers the entire surface of the foot from the toes to the ankle where straps or laces would be, while in other styles, like the stiletto, it covers the toes and exposes the entire top of the foot (Full-Length Vamp Shoes).
In short, we could have Low Vamp, ¾ Vamp, and Full-Length Vamp Shoes. Of all the sort of uppers shapes, Vamp is one of the most varied in terms of size and shape possibilities.
5- Single Stitch = Simple Stitch or One Single Row of Stitches.
Example in Figure 2: The Strap Across the Shoe Vamp has a Single Stitch on the Edges.
Curiosities: There are several types of stitches: single stitch, double, triple, etc., and they can be made by hand or by machine. You will see shoemakers referring to Stitching or Sewing Processes and they are both right. But if you like to apply these terms more specifically, I suggest using Stitching for Thinker or Heavier Stitches and Sewing for Delicate os Thinners ones (usually done by sewing machines).
6- Folded Strap: a Strip or Strap with Edges Turned Inward.
We call it Full-Folded-Edges because the edges are turned inward (towards the back of the material), meet in the middle of the piece, and, thus, “close” the strap as if it were a straw or a bag handle.
7- Folded Edge: commonly the Simple Folded Edge is turned inward about 4 to 8 mm.
It all depends on the technical needs and demands of the shoe style, material performance, etc.
Very Important: Dress Shoes Top-lines can have several edges finishing. Few examples of more common are: Folded Edge, Glove Stitching, Raw Edge, English Biding, French Biding. I will detail all those edge finishing types in a new article. Just for the record, the dress shoe pictured in this article is featuring glove stitching edge type.
8- Line Trimming: means Trimming or Cutting the surplus of the lining.
Once again, the shoe pictured doesn’t have lining surplus to be trimmed at the top-line as Glove Stitching doesn’t require that process. On the other hand, the strap or strip across the vamp probably does. I am saying probably as the designer or technical person can choose to line (back) or not a Full-Folded-Strap.
9- Vamp Top-Line: the line on the top of the upper that like a neck ring involves the ankle.
In our case here we will only call the Vamp Top-Line (Contour Line of the upper or Upper Top Line). Depending on the shoe model/style, this line may receive other nomenclatures, such as Instep Line, Throat Line, or Quarter Line. As you can see in the shoe picture the Vamp Top-Line has great shape!
10- ¾ Seam or Three-Quarter Seam: it is a seam on the inside shoe face.
It is named this way due to the fact that it is located on the Quarter area or Shank Area on the inside shoe face. Let’s go in parts because there are other possible nomenclatures for this type of Seam:
- Shank Seam = due to its position in the splitting area or region.
- Inside Seam = due to its position on the inside of the foot’s face.
- Inside Stitching = because it is a seam sewn and on the inside of the foot’s face.
Curiosity: there are cases in which this Seam is made Seamless, in this case, we call it Blind Seam. We will explore this topic further when we talk about the variety of seams.
11- Buckle: Metal Piece that has Adjustment, Fitting, or Ornament Functions.
In the case of Picture 2, the Buckle only has the function of decorating the shoes, and for this reason, it can be called an Ornament. Clearly, the Silver Buckle used is a nice piece of Ornament for this Shoe Style.
12- Shank Area: in the dictionary, it means a person’s leg, especially the part from the knee to the ankle.
But in the footwear terminology, we refer to the Shank Area as the inner part of the foot, but in reality, it is the middle part of the shoe corresponding to each of the lateral curvatures of the foot (internal and external) that extends, more or less, from the heel mouth (Heel Breast) to almost the flexion area (Flex Point or Forefoot area).
13- Insole: also known as Sock Lining.
It is a thin piece of material inserted in a shoe over the innersole. But pay attention that there is a huge misunderstanding about these three nomenclatures: Sock Lining, Insole, and Innersole. Let’s make it clear:
Sock Lining: usually a soft and cushion piece of material inserted in a shoe over the innersole that has comfort and design as major functions.
Insole: It the same as Sock Lining.
Innersole: usually a hardboard or any other stiff materials capable to give structure to the footwear. See Picture 3 below for reference about Innersole most used for Dress Shoes.
14- Innersole: as mentioned previously Figure 3 above shows it properly.
In most shoe types the Innersole is hidden between the bottom (Outsole) and the Sock Lining (Insole) and regular consumers don’t even know it exists. In addition, I am highlighting the Steel Shank (Steel or Metal Shank), which is one of the most important pieces in the support of footwear. The other materials that makeup Innersole will be detailed when we talk about materials and answer the following questions:
- What is the innersole made of?
- What is the function of each of the innersole materials?
- What types of innersoles exist and what are their applications and functions?
15- Innersole Binding: a regular biding covering the edges of the Innersoles for cosmetic reasons.
As the Innersole, in most cases, has a sharp or raw edge it requires finishing and the binding is a good option for that purpose.
16- Upper Lining: the internal material that covers or backs the upper material for comfort or aesthetic functions.
Lining: we can also cover the assembly innersole and there we have the Insole Lining (Assembly Insole Lining).
17- Counter: the heel counter refers to a little plastic (or any other compound) used to reinforce the heel cup of a shoe and increase support.
A firm, thick heel counter cradles the heel and arch and reduces over-pronation or supination. A good firm heel counter helps lock the foot into the shoe and anchors it to the mid-sole.
Counter Pocket: a thin piece of material backing the upper in the heel area that creates a “pocket” between the lining and the upper where the Counter is inserted, that is why that piece area is called Counter Pocket. It has two functions: hold the foot heel in place and offer comfort during walking.
18- Top Lift: or heel tip is a small TPU or PU place at the tip of a heel.
It has decorative and structural functions. In general, when the Shoe Heel has a wider area and/or size than the traditional one, it is called a Heel Lift. In short: the Top Lift is positioned at the top and/or tip of the heel (Luis Heel Types), while the Heel Lift is positioned at the base of the largest area heel.
19- Heel Notch = a U-shaped or V-shaped indentation in the collar of a shoe.
It is designed to lessen the pressure that the shoe puts on the wearer’s Achilles tendon An Achilles notch in shoes or mid- and low-top boots will accommodate the Achilles tendon in plantar flexion.
Another common name for this shoe part is Heel Tab or Back Patch.
Another way of seeing it is as a small flap or strip of material attached to or projecting from something, used to hold or manipulate it, or for identification and information.
In Figure 2 the Heel Notch has the function of reinforcing the closing seam of the rear so that it does not open the seam due to pressure and friction caused by the foot. In many cases, it can be used as a prop and/or help the user put on the shoe.
20- Heel: the heel is located at the back part of the foot below the ankle.
It can be done with Wood, Plastic, Leather, or any other material that serves properly the purposes and demands of each heel design and technical features.
Other heel parts are:
- Heel Bed = the top heel area where the upper lays.
- Heel Breast = the front of the heel.
- Heel Cover = the material that covers the heel for design purposes.
- Heel Tip or Lift = as seen above on item 18.