15 Heel Types to Know (and How to Identify Them)

Heels are the kind of fashion item that can spur debates (kittens versus sky-highs, blocks versus stilettos, platforms versus flatforms), inspire museum exhibits (like the touring Killer Heels), and totally transform a wardrobe. So while the talking points of and fascination with the iconic style are endless, let's pause for a moment. We're first going back to the basics.

In the slides ahead, we've outlined 15 of the most common types of heels—presently popular, trends that come and go, as well as perennial favorites. And while novices may know their mules from their slingbacks, spotting Louis heels may be more of a challenge. Whichever the case, get to know the designs ahead by name, and if you catch the bug to do a little shopping for yourself afterward, well, so be it. Click in for 15 heel types and how to identify them for yourself.

Stiletto Pumps

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A Love Is Blind

This classic shape features closed toes and thin heels, making these great for elongating the line of the legs and wearing with, well, nearly everything in your closet.

Ankle-Strap Heels

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Style du Monde

While the heel shape and height can vary, the key trait of this style is the stabilizing ankle strap that adds extra support, especially on a spindlier design.

Block Heels

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Style du Monde

Just as the name states, this style's heels are chunkier, and thanks to the increased surface space, block heels tend to be a bit easier to walk on for extended periods of time.

Cone Heels

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Style du Monde

This style has heels that are wider at the top and slimmest at the bottom.

Flatforms

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Style du Monde

These shoes have an equal distribution of height added to the foot from toe to heel.

French Heels

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A Love Is Blind

Also referred to as "Louis" heels, this centuries-old style dates back to the 1700s and classified by a curvy shape: narrowest in the center and widest at the top and bottom.

Kitten Heels

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Style du Monde

For those who aren't fans of a sky-high design, kitten heels provide just an inch or two of height.

Peep-Toe Heels

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Rex

These heels allow your feet to do a bit of flirting by just revealing the tops of the toes.

Platforms

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Style du Monde

Unlike flatforms, this style has a thicker base just beneath the sole of the foot.

Slingbacks

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Style du Monde

Do you find shoes with an open back too wobbly? This style's little sling keeps everything in place.

Stacked Heels

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Collage Vintage

Stacked heels might just look like a wooden design, but upon closer inspection, you'll see stacked layers within the heels that help to create a secure, sturdy structure.

Sculptural Heels

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A Love Is Blind

Much like a work of art, sculptural heels can come in many unique forms. Brands like J.W.Anderson, Alexander McQueen, and Grey Matters are some of the current brands reimagining heels in unconventional silhouettes season after season.

Wedges

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Style du Monde

 

Instead of separated heels, this design features a seamless line that extends from the ball of the foot to its heel in—you guessed it—a wedge shape. 

T-Strap Heels

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Style du Monde

While the style had its heyday in the '20s, '30s, and '40s, the now retro silhouette—a T-shape strap that curves around the ankle—is just as charming today.

Mules

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Style du Monde

While mules might have many of the characteristics of pumps, they're backless, making them easy to slip on and off.

Ahead, shop some of our favorite shoe styles.