What Are Wedge Shoes? The Most Popular Types of Wedge Shoes 

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Whether you love them or hate them, wedge shoes are one of the most popular styles on the market.

These shoes are synonymous with spring and summer, with every woman owning at least one pair of wedge shoes over their lifetime.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Vikander, Elle Fanning, Kate Hudson, and Angelina Jolie wear different styles of wedge shoesGwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Vikander, Elle Fanning, Kate Hudson, and Angelina Jolie wear different styles of wedge shoes (Credit: FayesVision / Sean Thorton / Daniel Deme / WENN)

Wedge shoes come in every shape and size, from sneakers to boots and everything in between.

Our guide gives you a full rundown of everything you need to know about wedge shoes and the most comfortable wedge shoes for women.

Are heels and wedges the same thing?

No, they are not. Wedge shoes are characterized by their distinctive sole, which is made out of one piece of rubber material that also acts as the heel.

Wedges have continuous, solid outsoles that are elevated at the back, while heels have the elevated back part separated from the sole underneath the toesWedges have continuous, solid outsoles that are elevated at the back, while heels have the elevated back part separated from the sole underneath the toes

The design originated in ancient Greek with wedge shoes being worn as a status symbol. They were typically worn as part of stage plays to help the audience identify which characters were of a higher status.

Actors wore platform shoes to help differentiate between tragic and comedy characters, with the latter wearing plain socks.

This satin sandal with sculpted kidskin-covered cork platform is just one of the first few wedge shoes designed by Salvatore Ferragamo in the 1940'sThis satin sandal with sculpted kidskin-covered cork platform is just one of the first few wedge shoes designed by Salvatore Ferragamo in the 1940s

Our modern version of wedge shoes for women was made popular by the Italian brand, Salvatore Ferragamo.

The designer brought the silhouette back to the Italian market in the 1930s, with the shoes continuing to evolve through the 1990s.

It’s not just women who have popular worn wedge shoes. During the 1970s, men’s wedge boots – known as ‘wedgies’ – became mainstream, with a low wedge heel.

Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has a penchant for wedge shoesDuchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has a penchant for wedge shoes (Credit: Phil Lewis / WENN)

Although these shoes have a vintage feel to them, they’re still popular together.

One celebrity that’s famous for their love of wedge shoes is the Duchess of Cambridge, who has several go-to pairs that she wears every spring and summer.

Are wedges more comfortable than heels?

You could be forgiven for thinking wedge shoes were just like heels. The main difference between the two is the soles.

Wedge shoes have a solid outsole that gives you an elevated high with a tapered flat toe.

This silhouette typically makes wedge shoes more comfortable and easier to walk in than their traditional high-heel counterparts.

By comparison, stilettos have a heel that sits separately from the sole of the shoe.

Even though there are distinctive differences between wedge shoes and high heels, you’ll often find them grouped together when you’re out shopping.

Increasingly though, we’re starting to see wedge shoes take on new silhouettes, particularly with sneaker styles.

What are the Benefits of Wedge Shoes?

You might be wondering what makes wedge shoes so special. Not only are they more comfortable to wear than traditional heels, but they also have several health benefits.

The wedge sole gives you extra arch support and can reduce the likelihood of ankle and foot problems.

If you’re someone who suffers from knee or ankle issues, wedges can be a gamechanger for your closet.

You can still enjoy the benefits of a few extra inches in height without worrying about spraining your ankle or straining your knee.

Salma Hayek, Nicki Minaj, Rose McGowan, and Fergie add a few inches with comfy wedgesSalma Hayek, Nicki Minaj, Rose McGowan, and Fergie add a few inches with comfy wedges (Credit: John Rainford / WENN)

Like any shoe that gives you extra height, wedge shoes help to elongate the appearance of your body and can improve your posture by making you stand taller.

Choosing a pair of wedge shoes in a neutral tone can help make your legs look longer by creating a streamlined silhouette.

The Most Popular Types of Wedge Shoes

While wedges can come in and out of style every year, their general silhouette is considered to be fairly timeless.

What makes them a wedge shoe is their sole.

While more styles are hitting the market every year, there are three prominent styles that you want to add to your closet.

1. Wedge Sandals

These are the most popular style and the earliest modern silhouette of the shoe.

Cork wedge shoes are the most recognizable in today’s fashion industry.

Christian Louboutin Plume Sling 100 Leather Slingback Wedge Sandals, $675 at Net-A-Porter

Cork wedge sandals are the most common style of wedge shoes and most popular during spring and summerCork wedge sandals are the most common style of wedge shoes and most popular during spring and summer

They first appeared on the scene in the 1950s, thanks to Salvatore Ferragamo, who utilized cork due to the economic sanctions in place against Italy.

When he was no longer able to pay the inflated prices for steel to make traditional heels, he began to experiment with Sardinian cork to make soles and heels. The cork was glued to the shoe as one piece, connecting the heel and sole.

2. Wedge Boots

This style gives you the practicality of the traditional shoe with the added comfort of the wedge sole.

If you’re someone who has always wanted to wear knee-high boots but scared of a block heel, these shoes are the perfect alternative.

Tila March ZigZag 110mm Wedge Boots, $514 at Farfetch

A pair of wedge boots should give a chic and comfy finish to any winter outfitA pair of wedge boots should give a chic and comfy finish to any winter outfit

They’re also proof that wedge shoes are not just for spring and summer.

You can find wedge boots of all heights and shaft styles, from rubber ankle boots to over-the-knee suede boots.

3. Wedge Sneakers

ASH Body Mixed Leather Wedge Fashion Sneakers, $290 at Neiman Marcus

These shoes are the latest style to hit the market.

With the industry focusing on prioritizing comfort, it’s no surprise that our favorite sneakers have had a makeover.

Give off cool-girl vibe with '90s-style wedge sneakersGive off a cool-girl vibe with ’90s-style wedge sneakers

Wedge sneakers are unique as you get to enjoy the usual comfort of these shoes but with the benefits and versatility of a few extra inches in height.

Wedge sneakers first made an appearance in the 1990s, when they frequently showed up in music videos by the likes of Spice Girls and other pop groups at the time.

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