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Anatomy of a Men’s Shoe

Anatomy Of Men's Shoe

When it comes to men’s shoes, there’s a fair amount of jargon which, if you don’t know it, can be quite frustrating to wrap your head around. Having a working knowledge of the anatomy of men’s shoes may never have been high on your list of priorities but it does come in handy, particularly when you want to buy a new pair.

In this article, we’re going to identify and describe the different parts of men’s shoes. In particular, we’ll be looking at the parts of men’s dress shoes. Knowing exactly how to describe what you want in a pair of shoes will help out massively when you go shoe shopping. You’ll also feel like more of a gentleman if you can accurately describe every part of a pair of men’s shoes, whatever their style.

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The Parts of a Man’s Shoe

Now, there are quite a few different components of men’s shoes to discuss. We’re going to go through them all one by one and eventually, you’ll know every part.


Everyone is familiar with the heel of their shoe. On a men’s dress shoe, this is the part of the shoe that your heel rests on. It’s made of stacked leather more often than not. The ‘heel seat’ is the part of the heel that connects it with the upper. The ‘top piece’ is the part of the heel that touches the ground. It’s a little bit backwards that the top piece is located on the bottom of the shoe, but such are the quirks of dress shoes. Heels can be easily replaced as they will eventually wear down as you use them.

Shoe Tongue


The tongue of your shoe is the strip of leather that sits beneath your laces. On a pair of trainers this is normally padded and branded. On dress shoes, it sits below, making contact with your instep.


Most people know that their shoes have a heel and a tongue, but are you aware of the throat? Much like a human throat, it surrounds the tongue of the shoe. You’ll find the laces and eyelets on it. This part is also referred to as a ‘lace stay’ sometimes.

Men's Shoe Laces


This should be another part of the shoe you’re already familiar with. Laces are threaded through the eyelets found in the throat, and you use them to fasten your shoes together and keep them on.

Toe Box

The toe box is the part of the shoe that houses your toes, located on the upper. It’s not a box in the literal sense but its name is a handy way of remembering which part of the shoe it is.


A welt is the area in which the upper adjoins to the sole. You’ll find it around the perimeter of the sole. Shoe welts are often made from either leather, rubber or plastic and they were invented in 1869.

Outer Sole

You should be familiar with the sole of your shoe. This is the what goes on the underside of your shoe. The heel is attached to it and so is the upper. It is often made out of rubber and its main function is to create a protective buffer between shoe and floor.



The insole is another part of the shoe you should know about. It is also known as a ‘footbed’ and is the part of the shoe that makes contact with the sole of your foot. It’s often made from cellulose paperboard and you can buy speciality insoles separately that increase comfort or combat odours.


The vamp of a shoe is an area of the upper. It is the part that covers the top of your foot, so to speak. You’ll find the throat attached to the vamp. It constitutes quite a large portion of the shoe. The size and shape of the shoe vamp will vary between styles. For instance, what you would consider to be the tongue of a loafer is actually the vamp.

Men's Shoe Upper


The upper is the part of the shoe that covers the foot. It is what you would consider to be the largest and most important part of the shoe. It pretty much is everything that isn’t the sole. You will find the vamp, throat, toe box, laces and tongue on the upper of the shoe.

These are all parts that you would typically find on a men’s dress shoe. The same terminology applies to other shoes, but you may find that not all of the features mentioned above are there.

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Dress Shoes Toe Styles

When shopping for a pair of dress shoes, there are six different styles of toe you need to consider. You may think this to be a minor part of the shoe, but they can actually make a pretty big difference to the whole outfit. The six styles are:

  • Split toe
  • Plain toe
  • Wingtip
  • Apron toe
  • Medallion
  • Cap toe

There are subtle differences across each toe style but each one is better suited for certain situations. For example, a plain toe or cap toe dress shoe looks really good with supremely formal outfits, such as for black tie events and the like. Wingtips and medallions still look great in a formal setting. But, you’d better off wearing these toe styles at an occasion that isn’t massively formal but is still smart, like a ball, or a wedding. Apron toes and split toes are quite versatile, mostly found on school shoes or work shoes. They tend to be featured on slightly more robust shoes, although the apron toe is often found on loafers.

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Knowing the parts of your shoe is a helpful nugget of knowledge to have. You can impress your friends with your master knowledge of shoe anatomy but also make discussing any repairs you may need much easier. Consider how each part of the shoe works with each other and get to know your dress shoe toe styles.

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Now you know all about men’s shoes, it’s time to find your perfect pair. Whether formal, casual or sporty, we’ve got the shoes for you!

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