The Ultimate Guide to Women’s Footwear

Sandals for women

ultimate guide to womens footwear_cover

Boots, flip flops, stilettos, sandals – definitely all women’s footwear. There are, of course, more items that belong on that list, considering fashion trends always change these days. Plus, the production of such footwear is continuous not only in the Philippines, but also across the globe. It is also interesting to note that shoe designers like Christian Louboutin seemingly do not run out of creative juices, further contributing to the already-large footwear population, especially with his newest collection in which he emphasized the concept: “nude is not a color, rather a concept.”

For this matter, it may be true that it could be difficult to keep up with the footwear trends among women. But you don’t have to fret because Minal Footwear will show you the ultimate guide to a woman’s footwear; read it all below.

how do u classify footwear

How do you classify footwear?

For starters, footwear may be classified according to specifications as stated in the European Classification of Goods (CN). Here the three classifications:

  1. Material– A factor that could help classify footwear through depending on which material the footwear’s outer and upper sole is made from.
  2. Type and Purpose– Factors that help identify what type a footwear is and for what purpose it has been designed for.
  3. Details– Specific details that may include the size, the heel height – whether it’s covering the ankle or if it’s designed for men or women.

02_how does material categorize

How does material categorize footwear?

Identifying footwear by material includes two fundamental parts: the outer and upper soles. This also includes specific parts, which will be duly tackled below.

  • Outer sole

Based on the description, the outer sole is the part of a footwear (be it a shoe, slipper, a boot) that comes in contact with the ground whenever it is used. However, to clarify, this does not involve the heels. To further emphasize and establish what material the outer sole is made of, one should determine the area that has more contact with the ground – excluding accessories and any add-ons that may be attached to it. This exclusion may include: bars, spikes, protectors, nails, and the likes.

  • Upper sole

The upper sole is a part of the footwear that is found above the outer sole. Likewise, one has to determine first which material covers more of the external area, especially if the footwear is made of different materials. Moreover, this does not include the tongue or any similar padding around the collar of the footwear. This particular add-on may come off as: ankle straps/patches, ornamentation, edging, buckles, eyelet, tabs, or any similar accessories or reinforcements that may be attached to the shoe.


What is a Reinforcement?

Reinforcements are particular parts of a footwear such as plastic or leather patches, that are usually attached to the outside of the upper sole, and they could be linked to the sole or not. However, for something to be considered as a reinforcement, it should not appear as some sort of a lining material, rather it should cover the material that’s part of an upper sole.

04_other parts

What are the Other Parts of Footwear?

In order to accurately classify a specific footwear, it is best that you are also aware of the other parts that make it up. They are the following:

  1. Tongue– the part of a footwear that appears as a flap of the upper material. It is attached to the toe vamp that shields the instep of the user.
  2. Collar – the part of the footwear that forms the edge or lip of a shoe’s upper sole.
  3. Heel Tab– the attached patch onto the outside of the heel section and appears beneath the collar of a shoe.
  4. Heel Counter– the attached patch that helps stiffen the heel section of the footwear’s upper sole.
  5. Midsole– a particular portion of the sole that rarely or may not appear in women’s flats. It is usually visible in running shoes as it helps reduce the shock from running and walking.
  6. Foxing –the thin, rubber strip that is often attached around the edge of particular shoes (i.e. Chuck Taylor and Vans shoes).
  7. Toe Cap– the patch attached to the outside of the toe area that’s used to strengthen that particular part of the footwear.
  8. Toe Vamp– the area behind the toe cap that often goes all the way to the toe section, especially when the footwear has no toe cap (i.e. Vans’ Old Skool or a boot).
  9. Eyestay– the area where the eyelets are placed in a footwear.
  10. Eyelets – the reinforcement around the brim of lace holes, can either appear as plastic or metal eyelets.

Given the basic parts, let’s now move on to the popular variation of footwear, which is by its type and purpose.

05_type and purpose

How to Determine Footwear by Type and Purpose?

In classifying footwear, it’s important to note that apart from the material, it’s vital to identify which type it is and for what purpose it has been designed for. Most likely, this is the most common way for people, especially women, to identify a footwear. Truly, some are still confused about the differences of every other type of footwear. In light of this matter, here are the common classifications of footwear according to its type and purpose:

  1. Flip flops

Flip flops are common for casual and beach wear. Often times, they are also referred to as thongs (especially in specific locations i.e. Australia). This particular footwear is easily identified as all variants sports a Y-shaped strap that loosely holds the flat sole, and is worn with the first and second toe withholding the intersection of the strap.

Interestingly, this type of footwear has been worn by different people around the globe several years ago, even in the ancient era of the Egyptians in 1,500 B.C. Although the modern flip flops have actually descended from the Japanese’s footwear called zōri, which was brought home as souvenirs to the United States by American soldiers after the World War II.

  1. Hiking or Walking boots

While many may confuse this type for a sports footwear, hiking or walking boots are particularly designed for the purpose of protecting the feet and ankles especially during outdoor activities such as hiking and mountaineering.

Most likely, the upper is particularly snug-fit while the soles are deep-lugged of tough rubber to avoid slipping on any surfaces. Furthermore, the tongues are visibly higher to avoid water, debris, and dirt entering the boots.

Additionally, the boots are classified into subtypes, which include trail hikers, trail shoes, and mountain walking or hiking boots which are designed for a more specific purpose.

  1. Clogs

Clogs are usually made in one piece – and does not have any separate outer sole. More often, they are made of wood and have also been around for years and are worn according to culture, including serving as a protective footwear for workers in agriculture, mines, and factories.

They are occasionally used in clog dancing (or Klompendansen) in the Netherlands. However, the use of the footwear has not been very much practiced outside dancing purposes as of today. Regardless, clog dancing has served as a notion to tap dancing; which later developed as the American dance tradition.

  1. Espadrilles

Espadrilles are popular as they serve as summer sandals for most women around the world. This footwear is made of canvas, wherein its soles are decorated with rope, and varies in different heights. The earlier version of this footwear was worn by peasants. It was made by using canvas and rope, which are relatively cheaper than leather by then.

Today, this type could vary from designs, which could be purchased according to your preference – whether they are wedges or slip-ons. A popular type of this footwear is the use of jute – a natural fiber used to make the rope-work – combined with cotton canvas tops, which are basically exported from Bangladesh to the US and Europe.

  1. Moccasins

Moccasins are often made of one material, which is traditionally of soft leather or deer skin, to form the upper and the sole parts of the footwear. At times, the upper sole is attached with accessories such as beading or embroidery for stronger aesthetic. In history, the moccasins served as the primary footwear of the natives in North America, hence also called as the American Indian footwear type.

  1. Indian sandals

Indian sandals have simple architecture, which uses leather for the soles and the uppers. It has beadings intricately attached onto the straps. The upper includes straps that cross the instep and goes around the first toe. Furthermore, they are most likely to be flats rather than heeled footwear.

  1. Sandals

Sandals are a type of open footwear. Most often, its flat sole is held by straps (either made of leather or fabric) going around the foot, the wearer’s instep, and then around the ankle. The common impression on this footwear is that it leaves most of part of the foot exposed hence, it’s popularly worn during warmer seasons.

Among the many variants of sandals that could be seen in the market include: crochet, fisherman, caligae, geta, Grecian, jelly, roman, saltwater, and of course, high-heeled sandal. Unlike the common practice in Western countries, geta, the Japanese sandal, are worn with fabric socks to keep out the dampness and the winter’s chill.

  1. Shoes

A shoe is the broadest term ever made in footwear history. Given its purpose, shoes are made to protect and comfort one’s foot, regardless of the wearer’s activities. However, to identify if a footwear is a shoe, you may refer to the definition provided by  Merriam Webster: “it is an outer covering for the human foot typically having a thick or stiff sole, with an attached heel and upper part of lighter such that of leather.” Its variants could range from athletic to casual, from low to high heels, and from boots to flats.


  1. Slippers

Slippers are the most comfortable type of footwear, as it is originally made to bring comfort to its wearer. Generally, the outer sole is made out of rubber or plastic, and covered with a thin layer of fabric. Though the previous products were made of simple materials, some makers of today have already switched to using materials that are dotted with PVC or polyvinyl chloride, so as to further prevent the wearers from slipping and avoid any other household accidents. This type is the most affordable footwear, and comes in various colors and designs. There are the open heel, the closed back, and the novelty types – which is arguably comfortable and warm to wear.


  1. Safety footwear

Safety footwear is often used in locations, where hazards are mostly present as it is primarily designed to protect one’s feet against the possibility of injuries (i.e. compression, puncture, and impact) in a workplace. Basically, it has a metatarsal protection – a form of personal protective equipment (PPE), which protects the top of the foot from injuries.


  1. Neoprene footwear

This type of footwear is specifically designed for water sports including diving, snorkeling, water skiing, wakeboarding, and surfing, and can either be made from textile or rubber material. Neoprene displays great chemical stability and sustains flexibility over a wide temperature range, hence, being applied to major water gears.


How to Classify Footwear by Details?

Aside from the material, type, and purpose – footwear can also be classified according to its specific details including the size, the heel’s height, or whether it’s a woman’s, a man’s, or a unisex footwear.

  • Size

Classifying a footwear according to size is determined by charts. Most likely, brands provide particular shoe size charts as sizes can also vary according to the location.


  • Heels

Classification according to a heel’s height could vary from low to mid to high, which includes: cone, prism, puppy, kitten, spool, stiletto, and wedge heels. Among these heels, stiletto is considered the highest, while kitten heels are the lowest.


  • Gender

Oftentimes, people confuse a footwear, if it’s for a woman or a man. However, it’s important to note that with a particular form, size, and style, a footwear can also be designed for unisex – a footwear that both a man and a woman can wear.

Key Takeaway

Women’s footwear indeed differs in many aspects: from the material being used to create it to the specific details that it has. By using this guide, you can gain the knowledge to determine the many classifications of women’s footwear. Given all this information, you can easily categorize different footwear available in Philippine shops – both online and physical ones.

Minal Footwear offers a variety of women’s footwear. If you are interested in seeing our product, then you can check it out by clicking this link: