The Upper of the Shoe and Its Parts

The Upper Is the Part of the Shoe Encasing the Foot Above the Sole

The term upper refers to the part or parts of a shoe that cover the toes, the top of the foot, the sides of the foot, and the back of the heel. It is attached to the outsole of a shoe by the welt. It is one of the two general parts of the shoe, the upper and the sole.

Depending on the style of the shoe, the upper of a shoe can be cut or molded as a single piece or it can be comprised of many pieces stitched together.

Parts of a shoe's upper can include the vamp, the back, the tongue, the quarter, and the lining.

Uppers can be made from a variety of materials, with the most popular being leather, satin, suede, and canvas. Athletic shoe uppers are often made of a breathable mesh fabric. Uppers for sandals and flip flops may be simple straps.

Parts of a Shoe Upper

Whether made in one piece or many pieces, the upper is designed to conform to the foot and to keep it secured to the sole for walking and standing. To do this properly, there are several components, each with its own function. A shoe upper may have different materials in different areas to satisfy these requirements.

Quarter: The quarter covers the sides and back of the foot. In the heel area, it is often reinforced with sturdy material for support. The heel counter is a stiffening component that can be added to the quarter to keep the shape of the back of the shoe.

The top line or collar is the part of the quarter where the foot is inserted. It is often padded to provide extra cushioning and comfort.

Vamp: The vamp covers the top of the foot at the front and center. It helps to support the foot and keeps the foot secure in the shoe. It's often made out of a breathable fabric or has perforations to allow air to flow around the foot.

Eyelets: The eyelets of the lacing section of the shoe may be included in the quarter or in the  vamp, depending on the style. A lacing section allows the fit of the shoe to be individually adjusted and opened for ease of putting on or taking off.

Tongue: The tongue is found on shoes that have lacing. It provides a covering over the top of the foot while allowing the lacing to adjust the fit. It may be attached to either the quarter or the vamp.

Toe Cap: While some shoes simply have the vamp extended all the way over the toes, others have a toe cap piece over the toes, either as a separate piece stiched onto the vamp or material stitched over the vamp. It can be decorative or made of sturdier materials to protect the toes and maintain the shape of the toe box.

Puff: A shoe may have a puff in addition or instead of the toe cap, which is a reinforcing element inside the upper to shape the toe box.