Did you know that your child’s shoes have over 30 parts? Knowing these parts can help you purchase the best shoe for your little one. With brands and shoe retailers using shoe jargon, it’s important to familiarize yourself with shoe anatomy. While you don’t have to be an expert in shoe terminology, you’ll be able to shop better for your child if you know what to look for. So here’s a guide to getting to know the many parts of shoes.
What are the main parts of a shoe?
All covered shoes will have an outsole, insole, heel, and toe cap. Your shoes can’t do without these main parts. However, secondary parts such as the vamp, lining, eyelets, top edge, and topline are all just as important as they provide your shoe with structure and detail for a fit that is secure and comfortable.
Parts of shoes inside (internal parts of shoes)
The internal structure of a shoe is up of many components, and the following terms help to describe them. However, not all shoes have all these structures.
Collar padding - The collar padding is a soft filling between the upper and lining of the shoe. It helps to provide comfort and support to the ankle for the wearer.
Filler - Some shoes have a hollow space between the midsole and insole, and materials such as felt or cork are used to fill it up. These materials are referred to as fillers.
Lining - Your shoe will most likely have a lining on the inside which comes in direct contact with your feet. The lining covers the rough parts of the shoe, working to improve breathability and comfort. It’s often made from soft material such as leather.
Counter lining - Also referred to simply as the counter, the counter lining is a material that lines the back part of a shoe.
Tongue lining - The tongue lining is a material that lines the inside part of the tongue of a shoe.
Vamp lining - The vamp lining protects the shoe’s vamp (front part). Sometimes, the vamp and tongue lining is made of the same material.
Toe puff - Often called the ‘puff,’ this is a light, soft material between the upper and shoe lining. It functions to give the toe area its shape. The toe puff also prevents stretching and adds support and stability to the shoe.
Shank - A shank is a rigid material such as plastic, wood, or metal placed between the outsole and insole. It supports the heel counter and wearer’s foot arch.
Stiffener - The stiffener can be found between the upper and counter lining. This lightweight but sturdy material is supposed to maintain the shape and structure of the counter. It also helps support the wearer’s heel.
Tongue padding - The tongue padding is a soft material that fills the tongue of the shoe. It is supposed to provide cushioning and comfort to the top part of the wearer’s foot.
Parts of shoes outside (external parts of shoes)
The following are terms used to describe external parts of a shoe. Again, not all shoes have all these parts.
Backstay - The backstay is a strip of material on the shoe’s counter. It runs vertically from the heel counter to the center and sometimes to the topline.
Breast - The breast is part of the shoe upper. It is the forward-facing part of the heel and is located under the sole arch.
Counter - The counter forms the back of the shoe. It provides support and shapes the back heel area. It also strengthens the rear of the shoe.
Collar - The shoe collar is usually padded to provide support and comfort for the wearer’s ankle. It is the edge that surrounds the top of the quarter and the upper back.
Eyelet - Eyelets are holes that laces pass through. Metal rivets or circular plastics reinforce eyelets to prevent them from ripping and getting damaged.
Eyestay - The eyestay is located at the top of the shoe vamp. This is where the laces are threaded through. Also known as the ‘lace stay,’ it is usually padded or reinforced.
Feather edge - The feather edge refers to the part where the edge of the shoe upper meets the sole. The feather edge can be rounded or edged.
Quarter - The quarter is made up of the rear and sides of the upper, just where the vamp starts.
Throat - The throat is located at the vamp section next to the toe cap. Sometimes, for shoes that have a one-piece vamp and quarter panels, the throat is right at the eyestay.
Toe cap - The toe cap is a material that covers the front upper or toe area of the shoe. It protects and reinforces the toe area as the upper front of the shoe is often subjected to wear and tear. However, for some shoes, the toe cap is purely decorative.
Toe box - The toe box is where the wearer's toes will be. It is at the vamp area and functions to protect one's toe. Toe boxes can be rounded, square, pointed, or almond shape.
Tongue - The tongue of the shoe rests on top of the wearer’s foot. It is right below the shoe laces for lace-up shoes.
Topline - this refers to the top edge of the upper. Sometimes you can tell the topline by the stitch that holds the outer upper, lining, and padding in this area.
Upper - The shoe's upper is literally the whole upper part of the shoe that covers your foot.
Vamp - This is the front panel of a shoe. It is part of the upper - from the toe tip to the end of the quarter right before the heel.
Waist - This is commonly the middle part of the shoe where the arch is. You’ll notice that shoes with better arch support have narrower waists.
Bottom parts of shoes
The sole is the whole part under the wearer’s foot. It is made up of the outsole, midsole, and insole.
Outsole - As the name suggests, the outsole is on the external part of the shoe. It is where the sole comes in contact with the ground. Outsoles can be constructed with various materials. However, they should provide a good grip to prevent slips and falls. They should also be durable and water-resistant.
At Two Little Feet, we offer shoes with different outsoles for various needs. You can check out our article for more information on the outsole of our shoes.
Midsole - Not all shoes have a midsole, which is the layer between the outsole and insole.
Insole - The insole is inside the shoes and provides the wearer with a comfortable, supportive layer between the foot and the sole. Sometimes, the insoles are removable, making them easy to clean. Removable insoles also allow for orthotic inserts. The insole is sometimes called the inner sole.
Other bottom parts of shoes include:
Heel - This is the back part of the shoe. It is usually elevated for balance and aesthetics.
Heel seat - This is the space where the wearer’s heel sits in the shoe. As such, it’s usually designed to support the shape of the heel. The heel seat is a common feature in many sneakers.
Shoe parts diagram
The following shoe diagrams will help you visualize the parts of the shoes mentioned above:
Images source: Shoeguide.org
Each shoe part plays an important role in protecting or providing comfort for the wearer’s feet. As such, we must choose shoes that are of good quality, especially when it comes to kids’ shoes. This is because children's feet are still developing, and they need adequate support while being comfortable.
At Two Little Feet, we understand that shoes are much more than fashion. Our shoes are designed with children in mind - their movement, activity, and development. From baby pre-walker shoes to active kids' shoes, our footwear is made from high-quality materials.
They're lightweight and durable, with removable insoles that are easy to clean and rounded toe caps for protection against falls. So you can rest assured that your child's feet will be comfortable in them.