d'Orsay Pumps—Chic Men's-Turned-Women's Shoes

d'Orsay pump
Image courtesy of Amazon

The d'Orsay pump is a women's shoe in which the inside, or both sides, of the shoe is cut away, revealing the arch of the foot, and the vamp is cut very close to the toe box. Though the d'Orsay often takes shape in the form of a heel, it can also be a flat.


The d'Orsay (pronounced door-say) was originally worn by men during the 1800s. They were created by Alfred Guillaume Gabriel, the Count d'Orsay: a prominent noble who had married into the aristocracy. The Count was a former soldier with the French military and created the d'Orsay in 1838 as a military shoe. The flat shoes featured low-cut sides that accommodated wider feet and the V-shaped vamp provided a snug fit.

Although the shoes worked for military wear, the silhouette became popular amongst female aristocrats who soon adopted the style. The heeled, arch-baring design stirred controversy.

The d'Orsay Today:

The Count d'Orsay may have created these shoes with military men in mind, but they ended up becoming one of the most classic, enduring styles in women's footwear.

The d'Orsay exposes the curved instep of the foot; a part of the foot that is typically covered. The extra exposed skin is very flattering, as it lengthens the legs. It's a very sexy shoe, especially in a pump.

D'Orsay flats and pumps are made by just about every high-end shoe designer, including Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, and Manolo Blahnik, but their lasting appeal and widespread popularity make them accessible at any price point. You can easily find an affordable pair of d'Orsay pumps in your favorite department store or boutique.

How to Wear a d'Orsay Pump:

The d'Orsay, whether flat or heeled, looks fabulous with just about anything because it exposes one of the most underrated parts of the foot: the arch.

On a normal heel, the sides of the shoes keep the feet secure and in the shoe. With a d'Orsay the insides—or both sides—of the shoes are gone, making the foot more prone to slipping out. The shoes will stretch out over time, making them even more prone to slipping, so you may want to go down half a size for a more snug fit.

In order to keep the shoes on the feet, many shoe manufacturers make the d'Orsay's toe cap a little tighter, which can cause painful blisters. The pointed toe doesn't help either. Take time breaking in the shoes and stretching them out. Once they're broken in you'll be able to wear them stylishly and pain-free.

The d'Orsay pump is a utility shoe. It's like a regular heel, but the exposed arch kicks it up a notch. Wear them to the office, a cocktail party or with a pair of jeans. The pumps, as well as the flat that emerged in spring 2014, look particularly flattering when worn with a pair of cropped pants that expose the ankles.

Watch Now: 7 Must-Follow Women's Style Instagram Accounts