The Different Types of Women’s Shoes Explained

There are several styles and types of women’s shoes you should be familiar with. You can check out our guide here to learn more.

The average American woman owns 19 pairs of shoes — and you can bet that they’re not all the same style. 

There are so many types of women’s shoes out there that it can be tough to identify them all. Indeed, the differences between some styles are minor: pumps vs. stilettos, anyone?  

To make it easier, we’ve put together this simple guide on the shoe types that cater to female wearers. 

Types of Women’s Shoes

This list isn’t an exhaustive one, of course. But it covers many of the major shoe styles for women, as well as the history behind them. 


You might be surprised to learn that stilettos weren’t created with women in mind. Persian soldiers first donned the spiky heels for a practical reason — to clip themselves into horse-riding stirrups. 

Nowadays, though, anyone who rocks stilettos does so for the signature thin heel. Surprisingly, though, stiletto lovers say that their slim-heeled footwear is super comfortable. 


Not everyone likes stilettos. Indeed, they can be impractical if you’re walking uneven pathways or soft surfaces such as grass. 

If you want height and a bit more stability, you always have wedges. These shoes give you the same height, but it’s a broader and thicker heel. Sometimes, the wedge starts at the tip of the shoe and builds up to a high heel. 

Many who feel uncomfortable walking in stilettos will slip right into wedges. Try on both styles to see what works for you. 


Another one of the major shoe styles for women is platforms. 

A platform gives you height, but it’s flat. Alternatively, a wedge will provide you with some heel elevation. As such, some find it easier to walk in platforms. 

You’ll find a variety of platform styles, too. You can find platform sandals just as easily as you can find platform sneakers. 

Kitten Heels

Not all heels have to be high. Kitten heels are one of the shoe types that can help you build up to wearing sky-high stilettos if that’s what you want.

That’s because kitten heels feature a much shorter heel to give you a tiny lift off of the ground. They can look very retro and very fresh, depending on how you style them.

Mary Janes

A Mary Jane can have a high heel, a kitten heel or even a nearly flat bottom.

This style is more about the look of the shoe than the height of it. Mary Janes have at least one strap across the instep of your foot. 

In some places, they’re called doll shoes, and, if you try them on, it’s easy to see why. Mary Janes have that cutesy factor, thanks to the strap across them.


Need a shoe that’s work-ready but flat? 

If so, loafers could be perfect for your business-casual get-up. These shoes tend to come in stretchy materials, so they adjust to fit your feet. Because they’re malleable, loafers don’t need laces — you slip into them and go. 

You’ll find plenty of stylish loafer options out there, too. Platform versions exist, as do embroidered ones and loafers covered in spikes or studs. 


Everyone can wear sneakers — and there are a variety of choices for women. 

Sometimes, you need an athletic shoe to coordinate with your go-to physical activity. You’re probably familiar with the brands that can supply you with a model that matches your sport. Nike, Adidas, Puma, Reebok, New Balance and many other brands create functional sneakers. 

Then, of course, you have your daily-wear sneakers. These are great for strolling around town, and they’re often fashionable, too. Just check out the Superga 2750 and all of its colors and variations — there’s one style to go with every outfit. 

Combat Boots

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Another go-to flat shoe style is the boot. 

You have so many choices here, of course. But let’s first consider the combat boot. As the name implies, this style was created first for soldiers in battle.

If you purchase a bona fide combat boot, then you can expect it to be durable and weatherproof. Your feet will stay dry and comfortable no matter where you’re walking. 

Of course, you can also purchase fashionable remakes of the traditional combat boot. They might not be as sturdy, but they have the minimalistic, versatile styling you seek. 

Ankle Boots

Combat boots tend to reach mid-calf. If you want something shorter, swing for ankle boots instead. 

These adorable booties come in a seemingly endless variety of styles. You can find flat black suede ones just as quickly as you can discover high-heeled sequined ones. 

The variety of ankle boots speaks to the versatility of this shoe style. It’s easy to make a bootie part of a casual outfit, but you can slip into these shoes for a night out or day at the office, too. 

Ballerina Flats

You can imagine where these shoes got their start. Nowadays, though, they’re just as present on the street as they are in world-class ballets.

Ballerina flats are great casual shoes to wear to work or in your day-to-day life. Much like ankle boots and sneakers, you will be spoiled for choice as you search for the right pair. 

Best of all, they’re comfortable because they’re flat and often made of soft, moldable materials.

Choose the Shoe Styles For You

With so many types of women’s shoes out there, you have a big decision to make: which ones are for you? 

This list can help you decide, of course, but you won’t know for sure until you try on some shoes yourself. So, get to your nearest shoe store to figure out which women’s shoes work for you and your style.

And when that’s done, be sure to come back and check out our blog for more fashion tips and advice.

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