Women’s Footwear Guide

Your shoes or boots are the foundation of any great look, but the challenge is to achieve both style and comfort. This women’s footwear guide will help you strike the right balance.

Women’s Footwear 101

There are countless reasons why shoes occupy so much space in your closet. You need a different pair for work, play, household chores and evening wear, and that’s just scratching the surface. Your selections are based on purpose, fit, durability, comfort, style, and price. Heels or pumps are excellent for dressy occasions. Durable shoes that will last for years are worth the extra cost for the quality and peace of mind. Running or training shoes are a must for active days with the kids and trips to the gym. But let’s not forget the primary function all footwear: it’s meant to protect your feet. And when your feet are happy, you can be happy too.

Types of Women’s Shoes


Women's Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoes are designed for support and comfort. Choose the shoe that best suits your activity whether it’s training in the gym, running or playing a court sport. Running shoes must combine proper fit with important features such as a cushioned insole, stable outsole with good traction and a breathable upper. Some running shoes are versatile enough to use for indoor workouts and walking. Cross-trainers are designed to combine the best of both worlds. If you play tennis, squash or similar sport on a smooth service then court shoes are equipped with rubber soles for better grip and sturdier uppers for hard stops and sudden starts. If you’re a multi-sport athlete you may need several different pairs of shoes. 

Women's Boots

Boots are your go-to footwear in fall and winter for added protection and extra warmth. They can vary in height from ankle to mid-calf and knee-high. Unlined rain boots are suitable for milder days when the worst you’ll face is puddles and mud. Booties, also called ankle boots, rise to the ankle or a few inches higher and match well with most casual or business outfits, but not formal attire. Winter boots have a warmer lining, traction sole and waterproof upper for your daily trek to the store or office. In extreme weather you may need a fully-insulated snow boot with a lug sole for safely navigating icy streets and snowy sidewalks. 

Women's Casual Shoes

Casual shoes such as flats or loafers are great for everyday use around the house, commuting or shopping. Basic flats have no heel and come in materials ranging from knit and synthetic to leather. They can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. Espadrilles are truly versatile; known for their canvas upper and rope sole, they also come in flats, sandals, or a wedge. Loafers, similar to moccasins, are slip-on shoes and are often suitable with professional outfits. Clogs are slip-ons famous for their chunky wooden heel, but ultra- casual, synthetic rubber versions are perfect for gardening or the cottage. Mules, similar to clogs, have an open back and feature a heel. They often have a closed toe, but can be found in an open toe style. 

Women's Dress Shoes

Women’s dress shoes are designed for style. They’re appropriate for the office, going out, or as formal attire. High-heel shoes and stilettos accentuate your legs while increasing stature. Pumps are heeled shoes that feature a wide opening for your foot. A dress shoe doesn’t need to have a heel to be considered dressed up. Ballet shoes or ballet flats can be fitting for more formal events or work attire in the appropriate material and design. Oxfords are lace-ups and feature a leather or synthetic upper. This typical, flat-soled shoe can be upgraded to a more feminine look with a heel. 

Women's Sandals

Sandals are convenient, open-toed shoes for warm weather and informal events. The style can range from simple to dress-up depending on the material and design. Thick-strapped sandals are often more comfortable than those with thin straps, which are known as thongs. Slip-on sandals only have a strap at the front of the foot and are ideal for relaxed occasions. Slingbacks have a strap at the heel and usually have a more stylish design that’s easy to coordinate with spring or summer outfits. 

Women's Slippers

Slippers are the one type of footwear you don’t have to take seriously. Fit is secondary to comfort for those first steps on the cold floor early in the morning. They’re not recommended for outdoors due to their lightweight construction and soft sole. Slippers are for curling up on the couch with a cup of coffee, making breakfast and then kicking off into a corner when you’re on your way out. Indulge in a fun pattern or whimsical design to show your sense of humour or perhaps as a signal to others that you are off duty.  

Work & Safety Shoes

Work and safety shoes should be durable and safe for the specific task at hand and comfortable enough to wear all day. Insulated, steel-toe shoes are mandatory in professional workplaces where footwear must withstand punctures, heavy impact and possible exposure to high voltage currents and hazardous substances. Quality should be your top priority when selecting work shoes. Look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada) seal of approval and the green triangle patch that indicates Grade 1 protection under the Canadian Standards Association. If your job requires mobility and protection, an athletic-style safety shoe can be a safe and comfortable option.

Women's Footwear Buying Tips:

• Trust online reviews that reveal if a shoe is true to size
• Choose practicality over style for everyday casual shoes
• Quality and comfort are priorities when choosing work and safety shoes
• Break in shoes that feel a bit snug by walking around the house first
• Know your comfort level with high heels
• Wear your correct size shoe to prevent foot and toe damage

Women’s Shoe Features

Heel +

Heels range from flat or slightly raised to towering spikes or dagger-like stilettos depending on the type and style of shoe. The height of the heel is typically measured from the seam, where the heel meets the back of the shoe down to where the heel meets the ground. This detail can enhance your look for formal or dressy occasions, making you appear taller and showcasing your legs. Not all heels add height; boots and oxford shoes may have heels of an inch or less. As a general rule, the thinner the stem of the heel, the less stable and comfortable the shoe becomes. A thicker, wider heel provides better distribution of body weight and improved balance for walking.

Dress Heels +

A kitten heel is the smallest heel, one to two inches in height. A stiletto heel has a long, thin stem that can reach as high as six inches. They can be difficult to walk in, but are ideal for high fashion occasions. Platform heels have a thick, platform sole on the ball of the foot to create dramatically more height. A block heel is known for being thick and chunky, but also stable. A wedge heel extends all the way to the ball of the foot and does not have a typical gap like other heels.

Insole & Outsole +

The insole of a shoe supports the bottom of your foot, from heel to toes and absorbs the shock of your foot hitting the ground. If you have flat feet, try a custom orthopedic sole, which can prevent unnecessary pain. The outsole is on the outside of the shoe where it makes contact with the ground. This sole must be durable to withstand the constant pounding of each step. The tread on your outsole varies depending on the type of shoe, season and activity.

Upper +

The upper is the part of the shoe that covers the entire foot excluding the sole. The upper is comprised of pieces called the toe box, vamp and the quarter. The vamp is the front or top part of the shoe that encases the tongue, which is a separate material on shoes specifically with laces and hides beneath the top layer. The quarter is the material on the side and wraps around the back of the shoe. The upper can feature of a number of materials depending on the style of the shoe. Leather, canvas, and mesh are all possible materials.

Toe Box +

The toe box is the front part of the shoe that houses your toes. If your toes feel stuffed in the toe box, your shoe size is too small. This can cause bunions and other painful foot issues. High heels or pumps usually have a snug toe box, but this type of shoe is not meant to be worn regularly.

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Shoe Care Tips:

• Check and resole shoes before they wear down
• Wear appropriate shoes for the weather conditions
• Treat your leather shoes once a month
• Allow shoes to air-dry naturally away from a heat source
• Stuff shoes with absorbent material while in storage
• Store your shoes in their original box to maintain shape and appearance
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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