You might see the term “high heels” and think it refers to a single type of shoe, but in fact, there are many variations of high heels. When you dig really deep into the world of heels, you discover that there are dozens of different styles. Below is a selection of the most popular and common types.
Some think of pumps as a kind of sneaker shoe from years past, but they actually refer to probably the most recognizable and common high-heel shoe. They typically feature a heel of about 2-3 inches and are low-cut at the front of the shoe. They are the most common thing that people picture when they hear the words “high heels.”
2. Kitten Heels
As their name suggests, kitten heels are a cute, small type of heel designed to give a lift to the wearer, but without the extreme shift in foot angle that can cause problems in people’s feet when worn too often and for too long at a time. Kitten heels are sometimes associated with older ladies. But, they are also popular with white-collar women who want the power of lift while exuding irresistible style and grace simultaneously and are quite a la mode.
3. Stiletto Heels
Another well-known heel type is the towering stiletto, offering up to 8 inches of lift. Where the pump usually gives 3 inches, the stiletto is characterized by going far north of that number. They are arguably the heels that require the most skill to wear with grace, especially if there’s a lot of walking involved. They’re not the kind of shoes that you’d ever wear to Disneyland. Stilettos are sometimes combined with platform heels.
4. Platform Heels
Platform and stiletto heels are not entirely interchangeable, but they are often put together because they complement each other so well. The platform style creates a larger and raised front of the shoe to raise the toes a little higher off the ground. The extra surface area makes more room for bold colors, as well as floral styles and other patterns to be added in.
5. Sling Backs
These are a standard heel design with a strap that fits around the Achilles heel. They create a strapped feel but without actually having adjustable or detachable straps or laces. Many find the slingback look to be more graceful and elegant. But also enjoy the ease with which they can be slipped on and off.
6. Ankle Strap Heels
These are often confused with slingbacks to the untrained eye. The difference is that the strap on these heels goes all around the ankle and not just around the Achilles heel. How high the heel is can vary since the key feature is the strap. The strap itself makes the shoes feel more secure and stable when walking.
7. Wedge Heels
Whereas the traditional heel features a prominent and separate heel at the back that stands free of the shoe’s sole, the wedge — as the name suggests — forms a solid “block” heel that fills in all of that negative space between heel and sole. In other words, the shoe is all one piece.
Sometimes, the wedge heel and shoe body are colored and styled the same to create a unified look. Others make the wedge heel a different color or material to create a two-tone effect. One should also note that wedge heels also come in a sandal form.
8. Cone Heels
Finally, another common type is the cone heel which is often a much larger and exaggerated form of the kitten heel. The cone is very distinctly larger at the sole of the shoe and narrower at the base. Kitten heels often have a conical shape, too, but far less pronounced and always smaller. Some cone heels can be stiletto-like in height and feel.