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Shoe Glossary



 
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

 

A

 

Aglet:
The plastic sheath at the end of a shoelace which makes the lace easier to thread thru the eyelets of the shoe.
Alligator Skin:
Skin from farm bred alligators or crocodiles, featuring a wide, boxed kind of grain.
Aniline leather:
Very fine full grain leather used in expensive shoes. It's named so because aniline dyes are used at the tanning stage to finish the leather instead of color pigmenting.
Ankle Strap:
A strap attached at the rear of the shoe that encircles the ankle. Usually features an adjustable buckle or elastic.
Antiquing:
A type of shoe finish where the leather under goes distress treatments like worn or washed look.
Arch:
The high, curved part of the sole of the foot, located between the ball of the foot and the heel. This term can also refer to the raised area of the insole of the shoe, which is meant to pad and provide support for the arch of the foot.
Athlete's foot:
A type of foot rash or fungal infection caused by prolong use of shoes made out of PU/Synthetic and other such man made materials. Untreated, athlete's foot can potentially spread to other body parts or other people including family members.
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B

 

Bellows Tongue:
A shoe tongue that is attached at both the top and the sides of the shoe.
Boot:
Any footwear that rises to the ankle or higher can be casual or dressy, practical or fashionable.
Boat Shoe:
A kind of casual shoe that can normally be slipped on and worn with or without socks. Boat shoes are typically made with non-slip outsoles so as to avoid slipping on a wet boat deck, often found with side lacing details on the top line.
Break:
A natural crease which appears on leather across the vamp from everyday wear.
Brogue:
An Oxford or Derby type shoe that flaunts ample pinking, perforations or zigzag detailing in order to accentuate the look of the shoe seams.
Bunions:
A painful swelling at the base of the big toe, frequently leading to permanent enlargement of the toe joint.
Burnish:
The process of buffing a shoe surface to achieve an antiquing effect of the leather.
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C

 

Calfskin:
Leather created from the skins of very young cows. Calfskin is typically very supple and soft.
Cap Toe:
Also referred as Toe Cap. An additional piece of component/leather covering the toe of the shoe. It can be of several different shapes, styles or patterns. Often found in classic dress shoes.
Cemented Construction:
A type of shoe construction where the upper of the shoe is glued to the outsole than just stitching to the outsole. Cement construction results in a lighter, more flexible shoe.
Chelsea Boot:
It's a type of boot usually till ankle height with or without elastic gores on sides.
Chukka Boot:
Also called as Jodhpur. A type of boot style usually till ankle height with laces usually with no design on upper.
Circumference:
The measurement around the girth or ball of the foot.
Clog:
A footwear style featuring a closed toe, open back and a platform sole traditionally fashioned from wood. Now such clogs are made of flexible rubber outsoles.
Corn:
A small, hard formation usually found on the toe. A corn is usually the result of continuous friction or pressure in one place.
Counter:
A piece of leather forming the back of the shoe for extra support and reinforcement. It can be stiff or soft depending on the style.
Croc. Embossed:
Leather that has been embossed or stamped in a pattern imitating crocodile or alligator skin.
Crepe Rubber:
A crude natural rubber with a crinkled texture, used in outsoles of casual shoes.
Curing:
The application of chemicals to animal hides in preparation for the tanning process.
Cushioning:
Padding on the insole of a shoe for added comfort.
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D

 

Derby:
A type of shoe where the facing overlays over the vamp component.
Distressed Leather:
Leather that has been deliberately painted, wrinkled, buffed or even scratched or treated for a stylish young look.
Driving Mock:
A type of casual moccasin or slip on, ideal for driving with a flexible, pedal gripping outsole.
Dress Shoes:
Often formal shoes are also referred as Dress shoes.
Dressing:

The application of polish or gloss to a shoe to maintain its finish and appearance.

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E

 

Embossed Leather:
A form of hot stamping the leather to create design or print. Often used to imprint or imitate exotic skins like Crocodile, Alligator, Ostrich and Snake.
Elastic Gore:
An elastic fabric panel inserted into shoes to provide stretch and comfort.
E.V.A. (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate):
A synthetic compound used for outsoles of thongs or some light weight platforms. E.V.A. provides cushioning to the foot and can be easily shaped by heat and pressure.
Eyelet:
A hole through which a lace is threaded may be reinforced with a metal ring or grommet. In some dress shoes eyelets can be hidden or blind.
Exotic Shoes:
Shoes made out of snake, crocodile, lizard or ostrich skins are generally referred as exotic shoes. Animals protected by wildlife conservation do not fall under this category. Also all above animals are farm bred for meat and skin is only a by product for shoes and other upscale leather products.
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F

 

Faux Leather:
It's a gimmick word used by some retailers or cheap labels to market a non Leather product.
Finish:

The process by which the final appearance of a shoe is created. The finish can include the application of polish to create a high-gloss finish, or a contrasting polish to create a rub-off finish like "antiquing".

Flat Foot:
A condition in which the arch of the foot is collapsed and the entire foot rests on the ground.
Flip-Flop:
A thong sandal with light weight foam like EVA outsole that makes a flip-flop sound as you walk.
Foot bed:
The insole of the shoe, where the foot rests
Forefoot:
The area of foot between the ball and the toes.
Foxing:
A strip of rubber or sometimes jute joining the upper and the outsole of a shoe. Typically found on vulcanized canvas shoes.
Full Grain Leather:
The most expensive form of leather that shows the natural texture or "grain" of a skin.
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G

 

Girth:
The circumference of a shoe last measured around the ball of the foot.
Goatskin:
Leather made from the hide of a goat.
Goodyear Welt:
A shoe construction in which the upper and sole of the shoe are stitched together with a welt, resulting in greater durability. The resulting seam is visible and runs around the outside of the shoe, where the upper and outsole meet.
Gore:
An elastic panel stitched into either side of a shoe's vamp in order to help slip the foot easy.
Grain:
The inherent surface pattern of the leather, differentiated by the animal from which it came.
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H

 

Heel:
Raised part of the shoe under heel of the foot.
Heel Types:
          Stiletto:
A higher heel with a slightly curved back and flat front.
          Cuban:
A thick, stacked heel with little or no curvature and tapered at the bottom; usually medium in height.
          Louis or French:
Features a curved back and ranges in height from 16/8 to 24/8. Originally designed for King Louis XIV, of France.
          Wedge Heel:
Heel that extends down and forward to meet the sole, filling the entire shank portion of the shoe with a flat tread surface.
Heel Breast:
The forward-facing side of the heel.
Heel Height:
Heel height is traditionally measured in increments of 1/8th inches, so for example an 8/8 heel is 1" high.
Heel Seat:
The part of the shoe directly below where the heel of the foot rests, and where the sole and the heel are joined together.
Hide:
The skin of a large animal that is treated, tanned or finished for use in boots, shoes, and handbags.
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I

 

Imitation Leather:
Any Man Made material made to look like leather. Also called as Faux Leather.
Insole:
A component shaped to match the bottom profile of the last, which will be layered between the outsole and the sock. The shoe is constructed around it, with the upper, welting, and lining attached.
Instep:
The top front part of a shoe. The point where we often also tie laces.
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J

 

Jodhpur Boot:
Also called as Chukka Boot, where facing along with quarters too getting lasted.
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K

 

Kidskin:
Soft supple leather created from the hide of a young goat.
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L

 

Laces:
A strip of material strung through the eyelets of a shoe in order to pull the shoe closed and adjust its girth.
Lambskin:
Leather created from the skin of young sheep.
Last:
A block or form often made of Nylon or wood shaped like a human foot used for making shoes.
Lasting:
The process of pulling and shaping an upper on a shoe last/form.
Leather:
Leather is a skin of an animal, an agricultural by-product of the food industry, tanned for use. Since leather being a byproduct, no animal is purposely killed for the skin.Leather is natures most versatile and sensual materials and is the only natural material which has properties like Breath ability- Leather "breathes", allowing air in and moisture out. A natural insulator, leather protects against extreme temperature and humidity. Flexibility- It is tear and puncture resistant and resists a nearly infinite amount of bending and flexing, which makes it the most ideal material for shoe making.
Lifestyle shoes:
Dress or formal wear shoes are also often referred as lifestyle shoes.
Lining:
The inside material of a shoe. Can be made of leather, fabric or even synthetics.
Loafer:
A slip-on shoe without laces or fasteners. Faux moccasins are also called Loafers.
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M

 

Mary Jane:
A type of women's shoe characterized by a strap across the instep. The strap can be attached with elastic or a buckle, making it easy to slip on and off.
Metatarsal Bones:
Five long bones in the foot that help to move the body forward when walking or running. They form the top slope of the foot, from the instep to the toes.
Mid-sole:
The layer of material between outsole and innersole used for reinforcement or support cushioning. Not visible in a shoe.
Moccasin shoe:
A slip-on shoe made from soft leather with stitches around the top at the front. It can be also called True-Mock if both the upper and bottom is a single piece of component.
Monk Shoe:
A type of shoe often designed like a Derby, but with a strap closure across the instep that buckles at the quarter rather than a basic lace up front closure.
Mule:
Backless, slip on, closed-toe shoes.
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N

 

Nappa Leather:
A type of leather characterized by its stretchy, soft, supple texture.
Neolite:
Outsoles made out of compressed rubber sheet duly surface ink coated to enhance the appearance and cut to make a sole unit. Primarily used in formal or dress shoes.
Nubuck:
A type of leather that has been "buffed" or fine sanded on the grain side to achieve smooth suede like texture.
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O

 

Outsole:
The very bottom of the shoe that contacts the ground. Also referred as sole.
Oxford:
A type of shoe where the facing is underlayed over vamp component.
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P

 

Patent Leather:
A type of leather that has been laminated with PU to get a super shiny finish.
Pebbled Grain:
An embossed Leather grain that resembles the surface of a pebble.
Peep Toe:
A narrow opening at the front of a shoe that allows some toes to be seen.
Penny Loafer:
A slip-on style shoe with a slit over the instep where a penny traditionally was placed for good luck.
Perforation:
A pattern of small holes punched or bored into the trim of a shoe, for the purpose of decoration or ventilation.
Pigskin Leather:
Leather made from the pig skins.
Pinking:
Saw-tooth shaped edging applied to the trim of shoes for decoration.
Piping:
A decorative, narrow strip of leather that typically follows the seam of a shoe.
Platform Shoe:
A style of shoe featuring a thicker wedge out sole made of EVA rubber.
Podiatry:
A branch of the medical profession dealing with the prevention and remedy of foot diseases.
Pointy Shoes:
Shoes with little pointer looking toe are generally referred as Pointy shoes. Though they appear to look narrow in front but often they are very comfortable. Check out Tansmith line of dress collection.
PU:
The commonly used abbreviation for polyurethane compound.
Polyurethane (PU):
A synthetic material frequently used as an alternative to leather in the manufacturing of footwear. PU for outsole is light, flexible and durable but not recommended to be worn on foot due to medical reasons. Also refer synthetics.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC):
A semi-rigid plastic material, often used in heel counters. It will make shoes heavy when used in whole outsole. Will make shoe slippery, noisy and dangerous when walking.
Pronation:
Pronation is the process, which allows the body to naturally cushion itself from impact while running or during other activities. It involves an inward roll of the foot and the arch in the foot collapsing to a certain degree. The severity of over pronation or under pronation can often be determined by checking if there is any excessive material compression of the inside or outside of the shoe.
Pumps:
Women's dress shoes usually slip on, often with enclosed toe and sides.
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Q

 

Quarter component:
The sides of the shoe from the instep line to the heel seat often joined by a back seam.
Quarter Lining:
The lining underneath the upper quarter component.
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R

 

Retro:
Referring to popular fashion style of the past.
Rim:
The part of the shoe where the foot enters. Often referred as the top line.
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S

 

Saddle:
A type of shoe component which runs across the vamp on instep point. Often found on loafer shoes with or without tassels.
Sandal:
A form of footwear, with an open toe and open back, that is held to the foot by strips of leather or fabric.
Shearling:
Sheepskin or lambskin with the wool still attached. Used often as a lining for winter shoes and boots.
Shoe Horn:
A tool made of curved metal or nylon used to aid in slipping the foot into a shoe.
Shoe Sizes:
A variation between full sizes is one-third of an inch, while the difference between half sizes is one-sixth of an inch.
Silicon:
A slippery polymer material used to waterproof suede or fabric shoes. Silicon helps seal the nap of the suede.
Sling-back:
A shoe held on the foot with a strap at the back of heel. The strap is typically elasticized or buckled for adjustment.
Slip-On Shoes:
A type of footwear which is worn by simply slipping the foot into the shoe. Such shoes have no laces to make adjustments.
Slipper:

A flat shoe that is easily slipped on, usually meant for indoor wear and lined for comfort and warmth.

Snake skin:
Leather made from the skins of farm bred snakes.
Sock Liner:
A sock liner is the cushion component on which the foot finally rests on. It is pasted onto the insole of the shoe.
Sole:
Another word for outsole, the bottom part of the shoe.
Sole Leather:
Any heavy leather (vegetable tanned cattle hides) used for making outsole of a shoe.
Split Leather:
A type of leather used in shoes that is made from the lower layers of a hide that have been split away from the upper or grain. It can be used to replace expensive suede materials.
Stiletto:
A high, tapered, narrow heel found in women shoes. Can go up to 4 inches in height.
Street wear Shoes:
Casuals shoes are often also referred as Street wear shoes.
Suede:
Leather that has been fine sanded or roughed to produce a surface with a soft texture or "nap". Suede can be produced on both grain and flesh side.
Synthetic uppers:
Mostly referred for shoes made with PU materials. The biggest disadvantage with shoes made out of synthetic materials is that, it does not breathe (Human foot produces between three and five centiliters of sweat every day and approx. 80% of that sweat should get evaporated in a genuine leather shoe), can not shape itself over time, to the wearer, has poor insulation properties and is highly prone to cracking and tearing in extreme climatic conditions.
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T

 

Tan:

Abbreviation for Tansmith line of high fashion leather shoes. Also means leather.

Tannage:
The process of converting raw hides or skins into finished leather.
Tassel:
A rope and knot ornament typically found on the vamp of a loafer shoe.
Thermoplastic Rubber (T.P.R):
A plastic rubber compound used for making outsoles for casual and dress shoes.
Thong:
A sandal featuring a v-strap that connects to the sole of the shoe between the big toe and second toe and at the sides of the foot.
Throat:
The main opening of a shoe extending from the vamp to the ankle.
Top Line:

The area around the shoe from where the foot enters. Often referred as rim of the shoe.

Tongue:
A strip of leather or other material sewn into the vamp of a laced shoe and extending to the throat of the shoe for comfort. The shoe composition and size is often printed underneath this shoe component.
Tread:

Refer to the design of a shoe's sole or the way in which a shoe's sole is worn.

True-Moc:

A slip on shoe in which the bottom and upper is a true single piece of leather stitched around at apron and then slip lasted. Can be also called as Moccasin. Considered to be one of the most comfortable constructions known.

T-Strap:
Also known as T- Bar. A type of ladies slip on shoe with an ankle strap attached perpendicularly to another strap that connects to the vamp, forming a T.
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U

 

Unit Bottom:
A single shoe bottom made from a mold of rubber or plastic.  It includes the sole, platform heel or wedge.
Upper:
The upper part of the shoe that covers the top part of the foot, from heel to the toe. Does not include the sole. 
Upper material:
Material used for making shoe uppers.
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V

 

Vamp:
The front part of a shoe upper that covers the toes and part of the foot.
Vegetable Tanned:

Leather that has been tanned using vegetable processes, most ideal for products like Belts and handbags.

Vinyl:
Short for polyvinyl chloride (P.V.C.)
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W

 

Wedge Heel:

A heel which extends from the ball of the shoe to the back of the shoe, following its contour.

Welt:
A strip of leather or synthetic attached to the outsole and upper, situated in the crevice between upper part of shoe and sole. For decorative purposes, it may also be only attached to the sole.
Wing Tip:
A type of toe cap shoe with overlays, perforation designs usually found in classic retro dress styles.

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