Shoe Glossary: Lining

The better the lining, the longer-lasting the shoe

Family's shoes lined up together
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The lining is the material inside the shoe that comes in contact with the entire foot: the sides, top and heels. The main purpose of lining is to cover the inside seams of the shoe and lengthen the shoe's lifespan. Linings made out of certain materials cushion and comfort the foot or draw out moisture. They can be made out of a variety materials.

About Shoe Lining:

Leather lining is perhaps the best quality lining, but it's also the most expensive.

Leather lining feels soft on the skin and will conform to the shape of the foot over time. It's also durable and allows air flow, letting moisture evaporate. Although leather is the highest quality material for lining, certain shoes, particularly athletic shoes, don't use leather lining because the leather adds extra weight.

Fabric is the most common lining material, particularly cotton and viscose. Cotton and viscose are both extremely breathable fabrics that absorb moisture, making shoes more comfortable and sterilized. Even if a pair of shoes is worn regularly, if it's lined with cotton or viscose it will likely retain its shape. Cotton and other natural fabrics are certainly breathable, but not as breathable as leather.

Synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic and elastane are very common materials for shoe linings, but they hardly absorb any moisture. The only reason shoe manufacturers use these synthetic materials is to cut costs.

Synthetic lining causes odor and breaks down more quickly than fabric, and much more quickly than leather. Many people throw their shoes in the washing machine to clean them, which speeds up the break down process. If you have sweaty feet, avoid synthetic linings. Although these are common materials for shoe linings, they barely absorb moisture and lock in dampness.

Warm weather shoes are typically lined with linen because of its natural breathability and moisture absorption that helps to cool the feet. Cold weather shoes lined with wool or lambskin help retain heat and absorb moisture without a damp feeling.

How to Care for Shoe Lining:

Throughout the day our feet sweat and the lining absorbs the moistures. Not only can this make shoes stink, but it can also ruin the lining and other materials of the shoe. To keep the lining in good condition, give your shoes time to air out. It's tempting to wear your favorite shoes every day of the week, but try to cycle between a few different pairs.

The moisture the lining absorbs can also negatively alter the shape of the shoe. Use a shoe tree. In addition to maintaining the shape of your shoes, a shoe tree also prevents odor, wicks away moisture and keeps the materials in pristine condition.

See Also:

  • Shoe Glossary: Upper