Women are often stereotyped as being obsessed with shoes. But, with the enormous variety of shoes available for women, who could blame those with a major love of footwear? Women can find shoes for all different weather and occasions. Some shoes for women are comfortable and supportive, while others deliver purely on style. The right shoes to include in your closet will depend on your personal style and aesthetic, as well as your day-to-day footwear needs.
The types of women’s shoes available today vary greatly. Comfort, fit, durability, practicality, and style are all important factors for women to consider while shoe shopping. In addition, women should aim to have a good assortment of different shoes in their wardrobe so as to have an option for every outfit that they’ll want to wear. After all, it’s frustrating to put on a fabulous outfit only to learn that you don’t own the right pair of shoes to coordinate with it.
Fit is incredibly important when it comes to shoes. While you may know your shoe size, it’s still important to try shoes on before you purchase them, as shoe sizing can vary depending on the maker. Poorly fitting shoes can lead to foot or leg pain, blisters, and even chronic foot conditions. For women with particularly sensitive feet or who struggle with foot conditions, orthotic inserts may be purchased and placed inside of most types of shoes to minimize pain. Supportive inserts are also a good idea for women who spend most of the working day on their feet.
Running shoes are worn for walking, running, playing sports, and other types of exercise. Made to be supportive and comfortable, this type of shoe is great to wear for maintaining healthy feet.
The history of the running shoe dates all the way back to the late 18th century in England. The very first known pair of running shoes was basically a pair of formal men’s shoes with spikes built into the outsole. The spikes were added for traction and were thought to help runners both improve their technique and achieve faster times.
Today, running shoe technology has gone way beyond spikes for both men and women. When running shoes are developed, a large number of factors are considered, from the weight of the shoes to the breathability of the material and the flexibility of the sole. Running shoes must be ergonomic while also providing support and the perfect fit.
Running shoes can also be called athletic shoes, tennis shoes, and sneakers. There are several different brands of running shoe on the market today, and varying brands have individual specialties or areas of focus. While one brand of running shoe may have excellent options for competitive runners with grueling training regimens, others may offer options for less intense, day-to-day wear.
Running shoes are often worn on a daily basis by women who suffer from foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia. This is because running shoes provide extra support through the ball, arch, and heel of the foot. Additionally, running shoes can often be purchased with extra width, which enables women suffering from bunion pain and other foot issues to have less pressure in the shoe.
Main Features of Running Shoes
- Running shoes typically have a lace-up design. This enables the wearer to pull the laces as tightly as they want, or to leave the laces as loose as they want, in order to achieve their perfect fit. This is an especially convenient feature for athletes who struggle with foot swelling because the lace-up features will allow them to loosen the laces as needed to comfortably fit in the shoes.
- Getting the right fit with a pair of running shoes is very important for the health of your feet. If you wear a pair of ill-fitting shoes during exercise, you could develop an injury or foot condition. Luckily, running shoes generally come in a broad range of sizes, often including special models for extra width.
- Running shoes can be quite expensive, but high-quality options are the best when it comes to fit, support, and durability. If you’ll be wearing running shoes often, need them for athletic purposes, or have a foot condition, it’s best to invest in a great pair.
Sometimes, women need a comfortable pair of lightweight shoes that don’t necessarily offer the same level of athletic support as running shoes. In this case, casual sneakers made from a canvas material are a popular choice. Canvas sneakers are a cute, casual shoe option for everyday wear. Paired with jeans, shorts, leggings, and even summer dresses, sneakers are a comfy way to round out an outfit. Plus, women can even add orthotic insoles to this type of shoe for added support and pain relief.
In the summer months, canvas sneakers are a practical, lightweight option as an alternative to sandals if you’re doing a lot of walking. Sandals expose your feet and are therefore a tricky choice if you’re walking in an urban or even suburban area. Canvas sneakers, however, completely cover your feet with a lightweight material. So, the sneakers won’t overheat you or feel heavy, but they’ll offer a layer of protection for your feet.
Main Features of Casual Sneakers
- Canvas shoes usually have rubber soles. This flexible and durable material keeps the shoes lightweight without making them feel stiff.
- The classic canvas sneaker is all white and has a simple lace-up design. However, nowadays, you can also find canvas sneakers in all different colors, prints, and styles. A dark-colored canvas sneaker is a good choice if you’re worried about getting the shoes dirty.
- White canvas sneakers can get dirty easily, especially when worn often. While it’s advised not to run this type of shoe through the washing machine, as doing so could cause damage to both the shoe and the machine, you can spot clean them. There are cleaning products designed especially for white shoes, or you can use a baking soda mixture.
- Many women love wearing casual sneakers with dresses for certain events. The cute, quirky look of sneakers with a dress is both unique and trendy. Casual sneakers are comfortable enough to dance in, and far easier to walk in than high heels.
Heels are a classic variety of formal shoe for women. Delivering a boost of height and a flattering foot line, it’s not hard to see why high heels are a fail-safe choice for formal gatherings and dressy nights out. Heels are generally worn by women until older age and, while not known for their comfortable design, are a beloved component of many female’s wardrobes.
High heels have an interesting history that may surprise many people. Initially, high heels were worn by men. This type of shoe originated with men wearing high-heeled boots to stay secure to a saddle while riding a horse. Warriors, kings, and courtiers were also known to have worn high heels, and the shoes were considered fashionable for men.
High heels come in many different forms, from stilettos to kitten heels to peep-toes. Different women have types of heels that they prefer and wear more frequently. High heels can be difficult to walk in and are therefore not often a practical choice for long periods of wear.
Main Features of Heels
- Heels range in height, usually from one inch or less all the way up to six inches. One- to three-inch heels are considered low to mid-height heels, while four- to six-inch heels are high heels.
- Heels give women a boost of height for special and formal occasions. The few extra inches create a sophisticated, elegant look.
- Heels are flattering because they accentuate the calf muscle and lengthen the overall line of the legs. This is one reason why many women choose to wear high heels with short or mid-length dresses, which expose the legs.
- Heels that can be taken off and put on without buckles are often called pumps. Pumps are a common choice of heel for wearing to the office and other professional occasions.
Wedges are a variety of heel that stand apart from the rest for the way that they look, fit, and feel. Wedges are somewhat more casual than stilettos and other types of high heels, making them a common choice for women to wear during the spring and summer months. As opposed to a high or stiletto heel, which sits directly under the heel, a wedge heel continues underneath the arch and ball of the foot. This is why wedge heels provide a more supportive and comfortable fit.
The wedge heel was invented by Salvatore Ferragamo in 1936. The very first wedges were constructed with cork and wood, with cork being the preferred choice due to its lightweight feel and durability. Wedges have been popular throughout history, from World War II through the 1970s and 1990s and up to today. This type of heel offers a boost of height without the painful fit and feel that often comes along with stilettos, making them a practical option among women.
Wedges are shoes that are defined by a heel in the shape of, unsurprisingly, a wedge. The wedge itself can be made of rubber, cork, or even leather. Wedge shoes can feature either a closed-toe or open-toe design. This type of shoe may feature straps or buckles at the ankle and aesthetic details like flowers, rhinestones, ribbon, etc.
Wedges are a fitting heel option for women who struggle to or dislike walking in spike heels. The wedge is thicker than a typical high heel and therefore offers more leverage for more stable walking. Plus, while a stiletto heel can be especially tricky to walk in on the sidewalk, where the heel may get stuck in cracks or gaps, wedges are completely safe and not at risk of breaking.
Main Features of Wedges
- Wedges are usually categorized as heels and give will you an extra few inches of height. This type of women’s shoe is usually two to four inches high. 4-inch wedges are often worn for formal occasions, while 2-inch wedges provide a more casual look.
- Wedge heels offer a unique look that can make any outfit look distinct and sophisticated. Wedges are often paired with maxi dresses, maxi skirts, or even linen pants to create a bohemian look.
- Wedges may be secured to the foot with lacing (ribbon may be used for a decorative touch), buckles, or even a zipper at the back of the shoe, toward the heel.
- Espadrilles are a variety of wedge sandal. Espadrilles are often made of canvas and are considered a warm weather shoe. This type of wedge has a sole made from rope and is widely popular in areas of Europe.
Sandals are a classic summer shoe for women. Sandals are flat-soled shoes that expose most of the foot. Most of the time, sandals are secured to the foot with straps that may or may not be buckled. The minimal amount of material covering the feet in sandals makes them a lightweight option for women. Plus, sandals won’t overheat your feet or create uncomfortable friction. Women may choose to wear sandals home from the gym or other workouts to allow the feet to air out and accommodate swelling.
The ancient Greeks were known for wearing sandals as far back 500 b.c.e. At that time, the Greeks wore leather sandals that varied in style. The type of sandal worn by an individual spoke volumes to their class and position in society in ancient Greece. In fact, Greek gods and goddesses are usually portrayed wearing sandals.
Gladiator sandals are a popular style of sandal worn today and are inspired by the sandals of Greece. Made of leather or a mock leather material, gladiator sandals are characterized by a large number of thin leather straps secured to the sole and running horizontally across the foot.
Main Features of Sandals
- Sandals are a simple variety of shoe and, therefore, often quite affordable. Possibly the least expensive type of women’s shoe that you can find is a rubber flip flop, which is a great option for wearing at the beach, around the swimming pool, and in public showers.
- Sandals come in a large range of styles and designs. Flip flops, gladiator sandals, slingbacks, mules, and slides are a handful of the main sandals for women that you’ll find in stores today. While flip flops are slides are casual and may even be worn around the house, slingbacks and mules may be worn with formal or business-appropriate outfits.
- Sandals can be constructed using varying materials. Leather, rope, rubber, cork, and even wood are a few of the types of materials used to make sandals. Leather sandals are among the most durable options, while sandals made using rope could have a shorter lifespan.
Ballet flats are a versatile type of shoe that can be worn for both formal and everyday occasions. Ballet flats earned their name for their design, which is inspired by the foot-conforming slippers that ballet dancers wear in the studio and onstage. Ballet flats are not only a popular style of shoe for women of all ages, but are also considered to be a wardrobe essential.
Ballet flats gained popularity as a footwear option for all women, not just dancers, when Brigitte Bardot asked pointe shoe maker Rose Repetto to make a pair to wear in her 1956 movie And God Created Woman. The result was a pair of red ballet flats that hit the shelves following the movie release.
Today, ballet flats are available in a huge range of colors and styles. While some flats are simple and neutral, others feature eye-catching colors and embellishments.
Main Features of Ballet Flats
- Ballet flats are often worn with leggings, skinny jeans, capri pants, and dresses, both casual and formal. Depending on the pair, ballet flats can be appropriate for the office, a low-key weekend look, and a night out.
- Ballet flats have no heel and a flat sole. They’re a fitting choice for women seeking a formal shoe without the boost of height that high heels provide.
- This type of shoe for women is often noted as having a design similar to a slipper, which makes them extraordinarily comfortable. This also makes ballet flats a great option for young girls, as they’ll be able to walk and move around easily with the simple design.
Rain boots are a practical and highly useful type of shoe for women, especially in climates that experience frequent rainstorms. Rain boots are waterproof and enable you to walk outside in the rain without ruining a pair of shoes. So, this type of shoe is a great investment and should be a part of everyone’s wardrobe, but especially women that live in areas that frequently receive rain.
Rain boots must be made from thick enough rubber to withstand deep puddles and heavy rainfall. Ideally, when you remove a pair of rain boots, your socks should be completely dry. This is why traditional rain boots have a shaft that extends to just below the knee–the height will prevent rain from splashing into the boots.
Main Features of Rain Boots
- Rain boots are generally made from a variety of rubber. The rubber is often synthetic and won’t be affected by water exposure. The rain will run right off of the boot, keeping your feet and ankles dry.
- The outer sole of a pair of rain boots is an important factor. When it’s raining outside, sidewalks are roads will be slippery. So, you need to be sure that you have enough traction to walk safely. Rain boot outsoles are often textured to provide the traction that you need.
- Rain boots can be put on and taken off without laces. This slip-on design makes them comfortable without compromising fit.
- While rain boots may be compared to other types of waterproof shoes, such as snow boots or hiking boots, rain boots aren’t insulated. So, rain boots aren’t a good choice for wearing in the snow or in extremely cold conditions because they won’t keep your feet warm.
- The classic rain boot style rises to just below the knee. However, you may also find rain boots for women that only come up to the ankle, or even that rise above the knee.
- Rain boots are sometimes referred to as Wellington boots, which are simply defined as boots made from waterproof rubber with a knee-height shaft. Wellington boots are used for industrial purposes in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and more.
Ankle boots are a fashionable variety of shoe for women that can elevate an outfit and make it look more polished. The stylish yet professional look that ankle boots provide makes them a popular choice among women day for all different occasions.
Ankle boots are designed, predictably, to raise only to the height of your ankle. The height of the shaft of a pair of boots determines how high it will rise on the ankle. The shaft is the section of the shoes that rise from mid-arch upward, and the shaft is measured from the bottom of your foot to the very top of the boot. Ankle boots have a smaller shaft than other types of boots, usually ranging from approximately 3 inches to 7 or 8 inches.
While you can find ankle boots in a vast assortment of colors, black is the traditional choice (and also allows you to pair the boots with just about any outfit). Black heeled ankle boots in particular can be worn for dressed-up occasions, perhaps with black trousers or a skirt.
A particular variety of ankle boots is the Chelsea boot. Chelsea boots have a shaft that rises to ankle height and are known for having a built-in side panel made from elastic. While this type of ankle boot is extremely popular among women today, it’s been around for many, many years, with its origins dating back to 1851.
Chelsea boots were invented during Victorian times, and shoemaker J. Sparkes-Hall is credited with their creation. The boots were first made for Queen Victoria. With an elastic section built into the sides, the boots could conveniently be slipped on and off without the wearer having to fuss with laces or buckles. Queen Victoria wore the boots while riding, as previous shoe designs for the same purpose had laces that got caught in her stirrups.
Main Features of Ankle Boots
- Ankle boots are often paired with leggings or skinny jeans. When worn with pants or bottoms that are tight-fitting at the ankle, the design of the ankle boot can be shown off. Contrastingly, ankle boots can also be worn with bootcut pants or pants with a flare at the ankle. With this type of bottom, the boots would be somewhat covered by the pants.
- Many ankle boots have a slip-on design. However, some may feature a zipper at the heel to make putting on and taking off the boots easier. Also, ankle boots may have buckles or laces, but this is often for decorative purposes.
- Ankle boots for women are sometimes called booties because of the small shaft.
- Ankle boots are a common footwear choice during the autumn season. This is because, in the fall, the weather is often too cold for open-toe footwear, but there’s not yet snow on the ground to wear more heavy-duty, waterproof snow boots.
While loafers are often thought of as a common shoe choice for men, they’re also made for and worn by women. Loafers are defined as slip-on shoes with virtually no heel. The loafer design has been through many phases over the years and different pairs of loafers often look quite different from each other. Specifically, while some loafers are made to be worn as house slippers, others are dressy enough to be worn at formal occasions.
The loafer design draws inspiration from Native American moccasins. Moccasins are simple shoes without a heel, and while a lace is often included to keep moccasins secure, the design can be considered slip-on. Moccasins originated with the Native Americans, but shoemakers in other regions, such as Norway, created similar designs. Eventually, in the 1930s, shoe companies in the United States began calling moccasin-style shoes loafers.
Loafers have come a long way since the 1930s and now come in a huge assortment of designs. There are numerous types of loafer, namely penny loafers, apron loafers, tassel loafers, moc loafers, and even high-heeled loafers for women.
Main Features of Loafers
- Penny loafers are a common type of loafer, and may be what you think of when you hear the word “loafer”. Penny loafers earned the name because of the slotted strip of leather that’s attached to the upper section of the shoe. The slot provides just enough space for a penny. This type of loafer is a common choice of work footwear for men, but penny loafers are also made for women. Penny loafers for women have more delicate and feminine design details than those made for men.
- High-heeled loafers are an awesome choice of shoe for women who work in a traditional office and must wear formal clothing on an everyday basis. This type of loafer has the same design details as a traditional loafer, just with a raised heel instead of a flat one. High-heeled loafers often have small decorative details, such as tassels or prominent stitching.
- While loafers are a popular shoe choice among many members of the population, elderly people may find them especially convenient. This is because the design has only a small heel, if one at all, and doesn’t need to be laced up. So, loafers are comfortable to walk around in, as well as simple to put on and remove.
Lisa has a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Arts. She is an experienced blogger who enjoys researching interesting facts, ideas, products, and other compelling concepts. In addition to writing, she likes photography and Photoshop.