What are Wedge Heels?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Wedge heels are women's shoes with a heel that runs the length of the sole or bottom portion of the shoe — in the shape of a wedge. This is differentiated from other forms of shoes that merely provide a heel that drops down from the back of the foot and comes to a point. Shoppers can commonly find this type of heel in summery shoes, with open toes, in slides or strappy sandals.

Woman shopping
Woman shopping

The wedge itself may have decorations or designs, and can be made with molded plastic or rubber. Wedge heels can have what looks like an artificial wood-grain, be covered with jute rope, as is the case with espadrilles, or simply look like an extension of the sole featuring the same essential color as the shoe. One of the most popular versions from in the late '70s and early '80s was made by the shoe manufacturer Candies. These shoes had hard plastic heels and again became briefly popular in the 1990s and 2000s.

Sometimes, wedge heels and platform shoes are confused. The two designs are not mutually exclusive, and wedges can be platform shoes if the sole of the shoe under the balls and toes of the foot is raised above the ground by a thickened bottom. Wedge heels are not always platforms, however, and sometimes the wedge merely elevates the upper portion of the foot, descending to a thin sole underneath the balls and toes.

Wedge heels are a popular fashion choice, never really going completely out of style. They often provide a bit more stability than the standard heel, because the wedge extends out from the entire sole. Instead of having to balance on the point of small heel, the wedge allows the wearer to firmly place her full heel on the ground. People who are not used to wearing heels may find that this style can be a good place to start. As with any heels, the higher they are, the more likely the wearer may turn an ankle if she doesn’t keep her ankles stable.

Like the single heel, weight distribution in the wedge heel is still primarily on the balls of the feet and the toes. The higher the heels, the more weight the wearer carries on the front of the feet. Many women still find that wedges are more comfortable than stiletto or kitten heel styles, and those with rubberized wedges can provide a little bit of spring. Wedge heels on a small rubber platform can also be quite comfortable to wear.

Wedge heels are thought appropriate for more casual wear. A woman might pair them with jeans, summer dresses, flowing gauze skirts, or when wearing styles evocative of the 1970s. A standard rule in 2000s fashion seems to apply: wear wedges with flared legged pants or wide skirts and a thinner heel with skinny pants, capris, and pencil skirts.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@Grivusangel -- We must be about the same age. I wanted some Candies too -- the kind with the chunky heel. I saved my money for about a year and finally got some. My mom wasn't crazy about the idea, either.

I wore them to school with my skinny jeans and I thought I was red hot and smokin'! Well, for about a month, anyway. I went to the movies with friends, stepped on a grate and turned my ankle. I literally fell off my shoes! It was so embarrassing and my mom didn't lose an opportunity to say, "I told you so" for the rest of the summer. It took me a while to live that one down.


When I was in high school, wedge heels and high-heeled Candies came back into fashion. I wanted a pair like nobody's business, but my mom wouldn't let me have a pair because it would "ruin my feet." I didn't have enough cash to get a pair on my own.

I did convince her to let me get a pair of black suede boots with 2-inch heels, but that was as far as she would go. I was prowling in the closet one time, looking for something. I came up on a couple of pairs of stiletto heeled shoes in a size 6 -- two sizes too small for anyone except my mom. The heels must have been four inches high.

I showed them to her and asked her why I couldn't have heels, too. She said she was older when she got those shoes, and she had problems with her feet because of them. Parents.

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