English Handmade Shoes – Terminology & Glossary Part 2

English handmade shoes - Terminology & Glossary Part Two

Welcome to part two of our terminology and glossary for English handmade shoes.

As mentioned in part one, our aim is to compile the definitive glossary to help when choosing your next pair of English handmade shoes or just to feed your interest in the craftsmanship of handmade footwear.

Part three will follow shortly and then all three parts will be compiled as a permanent page on the site.

Please comment with any omissions which you may think will be helpful for those of us interested in English handmade shoes and or any corrections you may feel are needed.


Insole – The part of the shoe that the foot rests upon, usually cushioned

Instep – The area of the foot between the toes and the ankle. Much of this is covered by the shoe’s vamp and tongue. (the top front part of the shoe).

Internal lining – An internal lining of a shoe or boot to give extra comfort and sometimes support to the shoe.


Jodhpur Boots – A low-cut boot used primarily for equestrian activities. Maybe laced or a twin gore pull-on style


Kidskin – A soft, porous leather created from the hide of young goats

Kiltie – A decorative fringed tongue section of leather, often found on the vamp area of loafers.


Laces – A strip of material strung through the eyelets of a shoe to pull the shoe closed and adjust its girth.

Lace Stay – Most commonly known as the Eyestay. The part of an oxford shoe into which eyelets and laces are inserted and used to adjust the fit.

Lambskin – Leather created from the skin of young sheep.

Lapped Seam – Created when two pieces of material are attached by being sewn together, one on top of the other.

Last – The wooden block around which the shoe is formed. The last represents the shape and size of the intended wearer’s foot. Last’s can be standard sizes or bespoke.

Lasting – The process of pulling and shaping a shoe on a last.

Leather Soles – Shoe or boot soles made from leather. Known for their breathability and ability to mold and shape to your foot. This makes for a comfortable shoe or boot that fits like a glove over time. Leather soles are also the most formal of all the shoe sole types and are a favorite with dress shoes. There are three kinds of leather soles commonly used in men’s shoes and boots which we detail below.

  • Single leather soles – These are the most formal type of sole and what you’ll most often find in classic dress shoes. Leather soles are slim, sleek and elegant. Single leather soles break in the fastest and their pliability allows the sole to conform to your feet over time for a comfortable custom fit. The downside is that single leather soles also wear down the fastest out of any other leather sole type.
  • Double Leather soles – As the name implies, double leather soles are made of two pieces of leather resulting in a thicker sole that is stiffer and a little harder to break in. The upside to a pair of double leather sole boots is that they are more hard-wearing and last longer than their single sole counterparts.
  • Triple Leather Soles – These soles are tougher, more resilient and take the longest to wear when compared to a single or double Leather sole. Triple leather soles are the most casual of the bunch as they are usually clunkier and hold more visual weight.

Lift – One of the several layers of leather or leather-board used to make a heel.

Lining – Most leather shoes have a leather lining that helps the shoe maintain its overall shape.

Lizard – Leather made from the skin of a lizard, typically with a specked, grainy appearance.

Loafers – Also referred to as Moccasins, they are slip-on shoes noted for their comfort. The shoe’s construction tends to be simple and ‘roomy’ and is constructed completely without fasteners.

Lug Sole – A sole with a heavy three-dimensional traction pattern


Medallion – The decorative and ornamental details that are created by punching or perforating (brogueing) the toes of dress shoes in varied, but always symmetrical designs.

Mersey Boot – Similar to the Chelsea or Jodhpur boot, but zipped along the side (instead of elasticated) and often fitted with a slightly raised heel.

Midsole –  The part or layer of the sole between the outsole (the part that touches the ground) and the insole (the part that touches the foot).

Moc Toe – A type of shoe that has a seam and stitching detail around the forefront of the vamp.

Monk Strap – The monk shoe is one of the main categories of traditional men’s shoes. It is a traditionally designed, low-fitting shoe with an upper that’s made from three leather pieces and is characterized by the lack of lacing being replaced by a buckle closing mechanism to hold the foot in place. It is considered less formal than an Oxford but more formal than the Derby. According to some, it was aptly named, after a monk from the Alps who created a special form of sandals in the 15th century. Legend has it that a gentleman visiting from England took note of the shoes and was given a pair to take home with him. When he got back to England, locals were so enamored with the shoe that it became popular almost immediately.

Motorcycle Boot – Boots ideal for riding a motorcycle, often with thick, durable soles.

Mule – A closed-toe shoe with no back.

Muflone leather  – A leather that goes into dry drums that tumble it to achieve the softness and great texture.


Nailed Construction – Refers to shoes that have their pieces nailed together, instead of sewn.

Napa or Nappa Leather – A generic name for a supple version of sheepskin leather. A type of leather characterized by its stretchy, soft, smooth texture.

Nevada leather – A full grain calf leather that is very slightly embossed with the look of a very fine craquelure (a fine pattern of dense cracking) across the leather to achieve an aged look. It is premium grade leather. Nevada is the brand name given by the tannery.

Nubuck – A grain leather that has been slightly brushed on the surface to create a very fine velvet-like appearance. Nubuck has a finer texture than suede because the natural grain pattern is left intact. The leather is very soft and has good breathability. The disadvantage of this surface is a markedly increased sensitivity to stains and soiling however nubuck is still more durable than suede.


Olivvia Deerskin – Deerskin that is amazingly supple and soft to the touch feeling like it has had years of wear but it is also extremely strong and hard-wearing.

Orthotic – An orthopedic insole designed to cushion and stabilize the foot.

Outsole – The exposed very bottom part of the sole that touches the ground.

Overlay – Detailing on a shoe made by layering material on top of other materials.

Oxford – A low-cut, laced shoe of balmoral design. where the two flaps of leather with the piercings for the laces (“quarters”) are stitched together at the bottom underneath the vamp. The laced area opens in a closed-throat v-shape and does not allow as much adjustment or ‘give’ around the instep as the alternative open-throat Derby style. Also known as a Balmoral.

Part three coming very shortly, please comment with your thoughts.


William and Joanne.

William and Joanne

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