Shoe Glossary: Stacked Heel

The Style That Appears in Nearly Every Shoe

Red boots at laundromat
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A stacked heel, also known as built heels and stack heels, gives the illusion of thin layers of wood or other materials that have been stacked up to create the heel. Stacked heels are most recognizable in women's heels, but they can also appear in wedges, boots and men's shoes.

About Stacked Heels:

The word "stacked" refers solely to the heel's layered construction, and the design can be found on just about any type of footwear: pumps, low heels, boots and men's shoes.

Often times a stacked heel denotes a pump with a chunky, thick heel, although sometimes the heel is thin and resembles a stiletto.

A stacked heel pump, also called a chunky heel, combines the structure and support of a wedge with the height and similar look of a stiletto. Stacked heel pumps look chunky when compared to a pair of stilettos, but "chunky" doesn't mean "clunky." The heels have the feminine lines and sophistication of stilettos, but they're much more comfortable and a lot easier to walk in, making them an appropriate choice for everyday wear.

As is the case with all heels, the height of a chunky heel varies. It doesn't offer the same kind of lift as a pair of stilettos. Many stilettos contain a platform underneath the toe box to elevate, but stacked heels are typically single-soled, meaning the toe box has the original thin sole of the shoe and doesn't provide any extra lift. The main difference between a chunky heel and a stiletto is the size of the heel: a stacked heel is wider and covers more surface area, while a stiletto is thin and covers very little surface area.

Sometimes the stacked style is prominently displayed in a pair of shoes, i.e. a pair of summery, high heeled sandals with a stacked wooden heel. Other times the heel is covered. Because a stacked heel is noticeable in size, many shoe designers make it detailed by covering the heel in a material different from the body of the shoe, like an animal print, a bold print, a pop of color, etc.

How to Wear Stacked Heels:

A chunky heel is a great alternative to a stiletto. If you have a hard time walking in heels, you might find a stacked heel to be a lot less wobbly. Stacked high heels are the perfect option for a night out when you want height, but don't want to sacrifice comfort, or if you spend most of your day on your feet.

Stacked heel boots are perfect for all types of weather. A pair of stacked heel sandals made out of a natural material like wood denotes a casual look and is appropriate for warm weather outfits. These kinds of shoes evoke a summery, resort style, and look great paired with maxi dresses, shorts and skirts. Forget clunky snow boots. A pair of boots with a sturdy, stacked heel and a durable tread will have you navigating snowy sidewalks in style.