High-heeled shoes, also known as high heels or simply heels, are a type of shoe in which the heel is tall or raised, resulting in the heel of the wearer’s foot being significantly higher off the ground than the wearer’s toes.

High heels make the wearer appear taller, accentuate the muscle tone in the legs and make the wearer’s legs appear longer. There are many high heels varying in colors, materials, style, and origin. High heels have a long history, dating back to the 10th century. For example, the Persian cavalry wore a kind of boot with heels to ensure their feet stayed in the stirrups. Further, heels kept arrow-shooting riders, who stood up on galloping horses, safely on the horse.

In the Western world, high-heeled shoes exist in two highly gendered and parallel tracks: highly fashionable and variable women’s shoes with long thin heels and practical, relatively uniform men’s shoes in a riding boot style, with thick, relatively short heels. Heels are often described as a sex symbol for women, and magazines like Playboy and other media sources that primarily portray women in a sexual way often do so using high heels. The 21st century has introduced a broad spectrum and variety of styles, ranging from the height and width of the heel to the design and color of the shoe.


  • Stacked heel – usually layers of leather 5 mm thick stacked together and trimmed to match the shape of the heel. These are commonly known as block heels.
  • Continental heel – 7.5 mm, with the upper part of the chest of the heel spreading towards the center of the shoe.
  • Setback heel – similar to the continental heel, but the surface of the back of the heel is straight, forming a right angle.
  • Cuban heel – similar to the continental heel, but not curved, generally medium height
  • Pantaloon heel – “similar to pantaloon pants: the top lift part of the heel is spread out as it extends to the bottom part of the heel, and the waistline of the heel curves inward naturally.”
  • Angle heel – “the surface of the base of the heel is straight until reaching the waistline, and it looks like the shape of the Korean letter.”
  • Pinet heel – straight and skinny
  • Cromwell shoe – based on Oliver Cromwell with heel up to 170 mm (6.5 in).
  • Bar style – had jewelry or other decorative aspects; associated with flapper
  • New Look in 1947 – a slim, elegant heel, newly created by putting steel in the heel. This enabled the heel to be skinny without snapping.
  • Annabelle – 7-cm platform heel
  • Stiletto – tall, skinny heel; first mentioned in a newspaper in September 1953. In Italian, the term means ‘knife,’ ‘blade,’ or ‘dagger.’
  • Wedges – popularized by Salvatore Ferragamo, who introduced this in the Italian market in the late 1930s.