Different Types of Heels For Women’s Shoes – The Ultimate Guide

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Every season, there is a new shoe silhouette that dominates the runways, social media, and the streets. We all want to feel like we are in the know, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up when styles change every few months.

The good news is the new shoe trends coming out every few months aren’t new at all but are recycled and updated versions of fashion trends gone by.

At the end of the day, if you really want to be in the know, get to know your heels. The heels are what makes the shoe, and most often what dictates the current style.

We’ve put together a style guide that outlines different types of heels for women’s shoes, so regardless of what comes strutting down the runway next season, you’ll be ready for it and know what to look for the next time you go shopping.


Contents

Heel Heights

Just a note on heel heights before we get started: it’s important to know that all of the different heels you are about to see come in varying heights. It’s not about the height, it’s about the shape.

A heel less than 2.5 inches in height is considered a “low heel”, while heels between 2.5 to 3.5 inches are considered “mid heels”. Anything over that is considered a “high heel”.

A heel less than 2.5 inches in height is considered a “low heel”, while heels between 2.5 to 3.5 inches are considered “mid heels”. Anything over that is considered a “high heel”.


Different Types of Heels For Women’s Shoes 

Let’s dive in to the most common types of heels for women’s shoes.


1. Cone Heels

Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

It’s usually the cone heel that people most often associate with women’s shoes with an elevated heel.

Defined by a wider, sturdy base that slightly tapers down to a more narrow, delicate tip, the cone heel is one of the most, if not the most common heel for women’s dress shoes.

INC International Concepts Women's Gavi Strappy Cone Heel Dress Sandals Shoes Brown Size 6 M
INC International Concepts Women's Gavi Strappy Cone Heel Dress Sandals Shoes Brown Size 6 M
3" cone heel; Almond-toe, ankle strap, cone heel dress sandals; Bold buckle at ankle strap; full back zipper closure
Sale
LifeStride Womens Suki Pumps Lux Navy 5 M
LifeStride Womens Suki Pumps Lux Navy 5 M
Traction sole provides you with extra stability
$49.99 Amazon Prime
Linea Paolo Serena - Womens Cone Heel Pointy Toe Mid-Height Slouch Boots Fatigue Suede 9.5M
Linea Paolo Serena - Womens Cone Heel Pointy Toe Mid-Height Slouch Boots Fatigue Suede 9.5M
2.75" mid height stacked cone heel; pull-on entry with back zipper closure; synthetic lining comfortably cushioned insole

2. Stiletto Heels

Photo by Alena Darmel, Pexels

The stiletto heel, named after the stiletto dagger, looks like its namesake and it’s characterized by a long, thin heel that comes straight down and measures less than half an inch across at the floor.

The really high heels are often stilettos, which is why stilettos are synonymous with female sensuality. It’s not only because of their height, but because a really high heel changes your posture and the way you walk to accentuate your calf muscles among other things.

That new posture you’ve assumed to be able to walk in really high heels without falling over naturally emphasizes your posterior and makes your chest more prominent.

That new posture also puts a lot more weight and strain on the ball of your foot! This makes really high heels difficult to wear for long periods of time without discomfort.

People most often think of stilettos as being super high heels. But you can, in fact, have lower stilettos. ‘Stiletto’ merely refers to the shape of the heel, not the height.

Stilettos, even the lower ones, are not easy to walk in. Their narrow base makes them less sturdy than other types of heels, not to mention more prone to getting stuck between pavers and in drainage grates.

And don’t even try to walk in grass or on the sand with them. 

Sexy? Definitely!

Practical for 90% of daily life? Not so much.

But if you like the sleek look of stilettos and would like to be able to wear them all day, while avoiding uneven terrain, opt for a lower heel.

Yes… midi stilettos actually exist, and the low stilettos are referred to as ‘kitten heels’ which we’ll get to a little further down.

No products found.


3. Block Heels

Photo by Engin Akyurt, Pexels

Block heels are exactly as you would imagine them to look like. Block heels have a thick, rectangular, box-like shape.

Unlike traditional heels that taper down to a more narrow point, the box heel distributes weight differently, making them a more sturdy and supportive type of heel.

Sale
Soda WAIT-A ~ Women Open Round Toe Chunky Heel Ankle Strap High Heel Dress Sandals (CONGNAC, 8.5)
Soda WAIT-A ~ Women Open Round Toe Chunky Heel Ankle Strap High Heel Dress Sandals (CONGNAC, 8.5)
Nubuck Faux Leather; Heel measures approximately 3"; Adjustable Ankle Strap Closure; Various Colors to Choose From
$29.00 Amazon Prime
Allegra K Women's Rounded Toe Block Heel Khaki Foldable Ankle Boots - 6 M US
Allegra K Women's Rounded Toe Block Heel Khaki Foldable Ankle Boots - 6 M US
Vamp: Faux Suede; Outsole: Rubber; Heel: ABS; Foldable Shaft, Block Heel, Round Toe, Slip On, Mid Calf/Ankle Boots

4. Skinny Block Heels

Photo by Darina Belonogova, Pexels

Skinny block heels are a hybrid between block heels and cone heels and the best of both worlds. They are wide across but, as the name suggests, skinny in profile.

So what you get is a sleek and elegant silhouette with the extra stability of a wider support base.


5. Spool Heels

Credit: Instagram / londonraginternational

This style of heel was first popular between the 1600s to 1800s. The spool heel is wider at the top and bottom, but cinches in the middle, much like the spool of an old spinning wheel, which is where it got its name. 


6. Kitten Heels

Photo by cottonbro studio, Pexels

The kitten heel was once relegated to grandmas and young teens learning how to walk in heels. But women have started to realize that you can be stylish AND comfortable at the same time without having to sacrifice one for the other. And hence, we have a huge resurgence of the kitten heel happening right now.

The kitten heel is typically slender and is less than two inches in height.

A kitten heel does not actually refer to the shape of the heel, unlike the other heels on our list. Any heel that is less than two inches tall, regardless of the shape, can be considered a kitten heel.

A kitten heel does not actually refer to the shape of the heel, unlike the other heels on our list. Any heel that is less than two inches tall, regardless of the shape, can be considered a kitten heel.

Below we have some examples of kitten heels with a skinny block heel, spool heel, and cone heel.

Calvin Klein Women's Fabian Heeled Sandal, Silver 040, 5
Calvin Klein Women's Fabian Heeled Sandal, Silver 040, 5
Square Toe; Slip on Closure; Imported
Allegra K Women's Cutout Pointy Toe Stiletto Heels Boots Leopard Ankle Booties - 7 M US
Allegra K Women's Cutout Pointy Toe Stiletto Heels Boots Leopard Ankle Booties - 7 M US
Vamp: Black&White: Faux Leather, Leopard: Faux Suede; Outsole: Rubber; Heel: ABS; Pointed Toe, V Shape, Stiletto Heels, Ankle Booties, Zipper Closure
$38.99 Amazon Prime

7. Cuban Heels

Photo by Gui Avelar on Unsplash

Taking their inspiration from men’s shoes, the Cuban heel is a block heel that slightly tapers in at the back from top to bottom.

They are typically short to medium in height and most commonly found on ankle boots, Oxfords, loafers, western-style boots and other closed shoes.

Women's Cuban Chunky Heel Lace-up Ankle Booties Oxford Shoes Tan 8.5
Women's Cuban Chunky Heel Lace-up Ankle Booties Oxford Shoes Tan 8.5
Measurement (tested sz 6; approx.): Heel: 2.75",Platform measures approximately 0.25".; Sole / Padding: Synthetic non-skid sole / cushioned foot bed with padded insole.
Sale
LifeStride Women's ROZZ Shoe, black, 8.5 M US
LifeStride Women's ROZZ Shoe, black, 8.5 M US
Flexible Sole; Available in Medium and Wide widths; Closure Type: Buckle; Material: Synthetic
$36.65
Sale
Dr. Scholl's Womens Kall Me Western Bootie Oyster Fabric 7 M
Dr. Scholl's Womens Kall Me Western Bootie Oyster Fabric 7 M
MATERIALS: ReFiber – Microfiber made from recycled plastic bottles; FIT: Side zipper for easy on/off
$60.90 Amazon Prime

8. Comma Heels

Credit: Instagram / emiliefrankland

Even though it seems like comma heels are a new thing, it’s only because there’s been a recent resurgence on the runways. The comma heel was originally designed by Roger Vivier in the 1950s, and was actually the precursor to the stiletto.

As new and innovative as it may seem, it’s actually been around for a long time and has just made a recent resurfacing.


9. Flare Heels

Photo by Pexels User

Just like flare jeans, flare heels became wildly popular during the ’70s. Flare heels are characterized by a slimmer base that gradually widens toward the bottom.

Vince Camuto Women's Footwear Women's Akenta Flare Heel Pump, Beige, 9
Vince Camuto Women's Footwear Women's Akenta Flare Heel Pump, Beige, 9
100% Leather; Made in the USA or Imported; Man Made sole; Flare Heel; Heel Height: 3.7 inches
Sale
Delicious ADENA – Women Squared Toe Flare Block Heel Soft Stretch Boot Shaft w/Side Zipper Fashion Ankle Bootie (Black PU, numeric_9)
Delicious ADENA – Women Squared Toe Flare Block Heel Soft Stretch Boot Shaft w/Side Zipper Fashion Ankle Bootie (Black PU, numeric_9)
Latest Fashion and Trend for Stylish, Sporty & Sexy look; Functional Side zipper closure for easy in and out of the boot
$39.99 Amazon Prime

10. Wedge Heels

Photo by HARSH KUSHWAHA, Pexels

Originally created as an orthopedic shoe in 1935, the wedge has become a timeless summer classic, and more recently a favorite pick for fall and winter boots.

Wedge heels are an extension of the sole that spans the entire underside of the foot, filling in the gap with a wedge shape, between the toes and heel of the shoe.

Because of this, wedges are generally more comfortable and provide a lot more arch support than other types of heels.


Final Thoughts

You may have read similarly titled blogs with articles on the ‘different types of heels’. Yeah, I’ve read them, too (a girl’s gotta do her homework).

But they can’t seem to differentiate between shoe types and heel types, and I sit there thinking to myself, that’s a half hour of my life (per blog I’ve read) that I’m never getting back. 

Unlike other blogs, I do know the difference between the two! So be sure to check out my article on the different types of shoes for women… 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).