Name That Shoe

Clothes maketh the man, but shoes define the man. Or woman. I just made this up so don’t quote me. Shoes are an important aspect of any outfit; you just can’t have good clothes and terrible shoes. Separate from the rest of your clothing, shoes are a visual endpoint and receive a disproportional amount of attention; despite covering only 5% of your body they can make-up more than 30% of the visual judgment we make when sizing up a stranger. So what are the types of shoes out there? I have outlined a few basic types that are popular on our streets so that the next time you go shoe shopping, you can name them instead of pointing.


  1. Flat Sandals

These are by far the most common shoe type on Kenyan streets. They come in a myriad of colors, materials and designs. They come in very handy on those casual days when you want the sun on your toes. They are usually easy and comfortable to move around in plus they give you a chic look. “A pair to cover every occasion, women’s flat sandals make an understated easy going statement.

  1. Pumps

A pump is a high heel shoe where the fronts of your toes are covered. The reason they are called pumps is because they are closed toe shoes and are usually without buckles. These will distinctly stand out if you are going for the ‘Boss’ look.  They may be made from any type of material ranging from leather to canvas.  Heels usually vary from half inches to 4 inches

  1. Wedges

This is another popular shoe type. This heel is different from other heels as it covers the shoe throughout in its lower section. Thy got their names from their heels which have a shape similar to a wedge. They can go with basically every outfit.  There is broad selection of wedges: wedge sneakers, wedge sandals, wedge boots and wedge heels. Usually they come in the form of sandals, but many types of wedge boots and wedge pumps are available in the market.

  1. Ballet Flats

Ballet flats are a soft, slipper like, closed toe shoe with no heel height, modeled after the shoes worn by ballet dancers. They are popular in warm environments, and feature very low and flat heel. They are a common sight and are popular across all age groups due to their versatility and comfort.


  1. Oxfords/Derbys

Most of us have owned a pair of oxfords at least once without even knowing it. They are characterized by their round toes and are usually with a cap. They have a close lacing style. These shoes are considered good options for a formal business wear. They are best worn with suits and formal wear.  I advise every man to own a classic pair of oxfords to wear with his 2-piece suit.

  1. Derbys

Derbys are also formal shoes like oxfords. The big difference between the Oxford and the Derby has to do with whether or not the laces are opened or closed from the vamp (front) of the shoe. Oxfords are closed, derbys are open. They go well with suits and formal wear.

  1. Brogues

Brogues are simply put, shoes that have decorative perforations, serrated details and separations along the visible edges of material.  This is the only requirement for a shoe to be categorized as a brogue. It can even be a derby shoe with perforations which is referred to as a brogue shoe. They are versatile in that they can be worn as outdoor footwear or as casual shoes.

  1. Loafers

These are quite popular on our streets and come in all shapes and colors. It is basically a low, step-in shoe without shoelaces or buckles. Their styles are wide and range, but the purpose of their construction is to fill the void between canvas shoes and dress shoes while maximizing comfort at a value price.


  1. Sneakers

One of the most versatile shoe types out there. They come in a wide variety of styles and colors and can be worn with almost anything.

  1. Boots

Boots are the universal go to shoes for cold weather. They are designed to cover and protect the ankles and lower legs. Not only are they practical, they are also known for their stylish look. There are many different types of boots like rigger boots, dress boots, chelsea boots, fashion boots, cowboy boots, hiking boots, etc

  1. Espadrilles

These are shoes or sandals that have a woven rope or similar material covering the wedge or sole. They are mostly flat but sometimes come in high heel versions too. They are made of material like canvas or cotton. The main characteristic of this shoe is the jute rope sole, as the upper section may different from one shoe to another. They are popular in warm weather areas.


Kenyans are savvy shoppers and are always looking for a deal. There are plenty of placed where you can go shoe shopping top of the list being the infamous Gikomba market. If you want something a bit more formal then you could pass by City Walk, Instyle Kenya, La belle and Backyard shoes. There also is a vibrant online shoe market with Aneri shoes, Shoeholic Planet, Shoe_ke, The foreman and mensshoesinkenya just a few popular stores you can check out. Don’t let my paltry list deceive you, there are far more shops, both physical and virtual, that you can check out.


I am sure you have come across some weird shoe size numbers that don’t make sense. Well, we’ve got you covered. Below is a quick shoe conversion chat depending on which market the shoe was bought from.

3.5 36 4 5 22
4 36 ⅔ 4.5 5.5 22.5
4.5 37 ⅓ 5 6 23
5 38 5.5 6.5 23.5
5.5 38 ⅔ 6 7 24
6 39 ⅓ 6.5 7.5 24.5
6.5 40 7 8 25
7 40 ⅔ 7.5 8.5 25.5
7.5 41⅓ 8 9 26
8 42 8.5 9.5 26.5
8.5 42 ⅔ 9 10 27
9 43 ⅓ 9.5 10.5 27.5
9.5 44 10 11 28
10 44 ⅔ 10.5 11.5 28.5
10.5 45 ⅓ 11 12 29
11 46 11.5 12.5 29.5
11.5 46 ⅔ 12 13 30
12 47 ⅓ 12.5 13.5 30.5
12.5 48 13 14 31
13 48 ⅔ 13.5 14.5 31.5



American Women’s shoe sizes are the same as American Men’s shoe sizes plus 1½.

American Men’s shoe size = British shoe size plus •

Japanese shoe sizes are American Men’s shoe sizes plus 18. (Some companies say add 19.)

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