Shoe basics

Understanding the basics of shoe construction will help you make more informed decisions and select shoes that meet your needs.

Shoes are made up of the following principal components:

  • The toe box - the part of the shoe that provides space for the toes. Toe boxes are generally rounded, pointed, or squared.
  • The vamp - the upper middle part of the shoe where the laces are commonly placed. 
  • The sole -  the softer the sole, the greater the shoe's ability to absorb shock.
  • The heel - the rear part of the shoe that provides elevation. The higher the heel, the greater the pressure on the front of the foot.
  • The last - the part of the shoe that curves in slightly near the arch of the foot to conform to the average foot shape. This curve enables you to tell the right shoe from the left.