Heeled shoes have been in fashion for hundreds of years, leaving plenty of time for the creation of different shapes and styles. The true number seems countless, but for starters, here are 20 different types of heels explained.


1. Round Toe Pumps

The round toe is the most natural of all the toe shapes; it offers a bit more wiggle room for the toes, especially as our feet slightly expand throughout the day.  If you’re going to be wearing heels for a long period of time, a round toe may be the way to go.

Republic Round Toe PumpChanel Round-Toe Pumps

2. Almond Toe Pumps

Imagine an almond, pointy-side up. An almond-toe pump is really as simple as that: the toe’s shape will indeed have a soft, tapered point, but the overall toe is sort of rounded, as an almond, versus a more dramatic slope, like a triangle.
Faith Metallic Almond Toe HeelFaith Metallic almond toe heel

3. Peep-Toe Pumps

Peep-toe heels have an opening in the toe-box, revealing just a “peep” of toes. Great option if you have a pedicure you want to show off! They also pair well with skinny jeans, skirts, or dresses.

Jimmy Choo Evelyn Lace Peep-Toe PumpsJimmy Choo Evelyn Lace Peep-Toe Pumps

4. Cone Heels

Imagine an ice cream cone. Now, stick a shoe on top. That’s basically a cone heel, really: a heel that starts wide at the top and tapers down to a more narrow point where it meets the ground.  Cone heels can be a basic cone shape, or also have a bit of a curve — usually they are then called “claw heels” or “horn heels.”

Vince Camuto Open Toe Cone Heel SandalRag & Bone ankle boots stacked cone heel

5. Peep-Toe Platform Strap

As you can imagine, the peep-toe platform strap heel has an open toe-box, a very thick sole which gives more height, and a strap.  This is a very popular, very feminine type of heel.

Michael Kors Platform Peep-toe Strap heelGucci Patent Peep Toe Platform

6. Mary Jane Platform

Mary Janes have one or more straps that go across the instep, or top of the foot.  They’ve come in quite a few styles since they made their debut in a comic strip over a hundred years ago, like those with a chunky platform sole.

Louboutin Mary Jane PlatformsJeffrey Campbell Platform Mary Janes

7. Slingback Stilettos

Slingbacks have an open heel save for one strap (or ‘sling’) that hugs the back of the heel.  The stiletto heel, of course, is one of the most well-known heel shapes of all.  These extremely slender heels, named after the similarly-shaped stiletto dagger, have a reputation of being very sexy and sleek.

B Bryan Atwood Slingback StilettosB Brian Atwood Slingback Stilettos

8. D’Orsay

Interestingly enough, the D’Orsay cut was first designed as military footwear: the low-cut sides could accommodate wide feet, and the V-shaped toe gave a snug fit.  However, the heel was added and it became very popular among French women.

Giuseppe Zanotti D'Orsay pumpsSaint Laurent D'Orsay heels

9. Kitten Heels

Believe it or not, kitten heels actually started out as training heels for the big bad stiletto.  It makes sense, then, that the silhouette is very similar to a slim stiletto, but usually two inches maximum.  The style held its own, though, and was made even more popular by Audrey Hepburn.

Michael Kors glitter kitten heelsMichael Kors kitten heels

10. Peep-Toe Stilettos

Open toe-box with high, slender heels.

Burberry Peep-toe StilettosRiver Island Peep-toe Heeled Boots

11. Ankle-Strap Wedges

Wedges are already a good match between comfort of flats and the elegance of heels– add an ankle-strap and you have even more secure footwear, plus a cute detail.

Melissa ankle-strap wedgesVia Spiga ankle strap wedges

12. Pointed-Toe T-Strap

The T-Strap is so named because it is shaped as if the bottom of a capital “T” were placed at the toe-line (or “vamp”) of the shoe and the top crossbar wrapped around the ankle.

Sarah Jessica Parker Pointed Toe T-StrapRoger Vivier T-Strap Pointed Pumps

13. Ankle Boots

Also called “booties,” ankle boots are small boots that come to or just passes one’s ankle. They’ve become very popular and go well with many different looks, like rolled up skinny jeans or tights and a skirt.

Volatile Ralla ankle bootsRag & Bone ankle boots

14. Tall Boots

Typically knee boots or over-the-knee/thigh-high boots, they look great over a pair of leggings or skinny jeans, or even tights and a skirt or dress.

Dune 'Taite' Tall BootTopShop 'Bunny' Tall Boot

15. Peep-Toe Platform Slingback

These heels are definitely one of the most popular — great for a night out! The thick, platform sole gives an illusion of even more height than the heel alone; the open toe-box adds flirtatious detail, and the slingback complements the open-toe (while helping to keep the shoe on your foot!)

Fendi peep-toe slingback platform pumpsCasadei Slingback Peep-toe Platform Pumps

16. Cutout Heels

Cutout heels add lots of detail and are a very flirty, trendy style.  Sections of the material is cut out to reveal an intricate design when you wear them.  Not only do they look good with a dressed-up outfit, but they look amazing with a plain outfit of jeans and a tee.

Via Spiga Cutout HeelsPinkBlush Salmon Open Cutout Heel

17. Closed-Toe Platforms

These have got to be a classic; perhaps they’re the LBD equivalent for your feet. They seem to go with anything; the thick platform adds height, which adds to the illusion of longer legs.

BCBGMAXAZRIA Pamela closed-toe platformsVince Camuto Madelyn close-toed platform shoes

18. Mule

Mule heels are backless and are usually close-toed– they’re like slip-ons and heels combined. Marilyn Monroe helped popularize mule heels.

Chloeé chunky mules Prada Mule Heels

19. Platform Stilettos

The pinnacle of sexy shoes.  The platform sole plus the long, slender stiletto heel gives the illusion of a long leg.  All heels will alter your posture, but platform stilettos will especially do this, accentuating your chest, rear, and legs.

Lauren Lorraine platform stilettosBrian Atwood Stiletto Platform Pumps

20. Spool Heels

Also called flared heels, this shoe has an hourglass figure: the heel begins wide near the base of the shoe, the tapers in toward the center until it goes out once again to become wide as it touches down to the ground. They are so called because they resemble spools of cotton.

Spool heel bootiesMiu Miu spool heels