We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Court Shoes?

By Grayson Millar
Updated Jan 29, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Court shoes are slip-on shoes that have low-cut tops and traditionally do not have any fastening devices or laces. However, some varieties do feature ankle straps or bows. In American English they are known as "pumps," whereas the name "court shoes" remains common in British English. They most often are worn by women, but they sometimes are worn by men, mostly in combination with formal wear.

Women's court shoes are generally heeled, but there is not a standard height for the heels. The height of the shoes that are available will vary depending on current fashion and can range from a short-heeled ballerina style to long, thin stiletto heels. The term "ballerina style" is indicative of the historical association of court shoes with dancing; various types are worn for ballroom dancing and ballet. Especially in the United States, low-heeled ballerina pumps are worn as a flexible shoe that can be paired with a wide variety of styles and outfits, from jeans with a T-shirt to dresses or other more formal attire. The shoes traditionally are associated with formal dress, but low to mid-height women's varieties also are flexible in terms of style, can be worn for informal occasions and can even be worn with a pair of jeans or shorts.

Women's court shoes do not have a standard toe length and are manufactured with toes that are both open and closed. Like the height of the heels, whether the toes are open or closed will vary depending on current fashion. Court shoes are made from a variety of materials, but black patent leather traditionally been common for formal wear. Satin is common for ballroom dancing shoes. Some are manufactured with ankle straps or bows, but these items generally are decorous and serve no real function.

Men's court shoes are almost exclusively worn as an accompaniment to formal wear, and they traditionally have been paired with a black or white tie. They often are known as "patent pumps," because they frequently are composed of black patent leather, or "opera slippers," again referring to their association with formal events. Both varieties have been produced with a bow just beneath the opening on the top of the foot. In general, men's court shoes have been replaced by the oxford style shoe and rarely are worn, though they are still fashionable in the realm of high style.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Jun 12, 2014

I like slingback pumps. My heels tend to blister easily, so slingbacks allow me to wear pumps (or court shoes) without worrying about killing my heels.

For warm weather, I also like open-toed pumps because they are a little cooler and look more dressy than sandals.

I have some suede pumps I really like because they are more flexible than leather and seem to fit my feet more naturally. I usually wear pumps more in cooler weather, since my feet do get very warm in the summer.

By Scrbblchick — On Jun 11, 2014

I'll admit it: when I saw the title of the article, I thought they were probably talking about basketball shoes, which are often referred to as "court shoes" -- because they are used on a basketball court. I didn't know "court shoes" was the term for pumps in the UK. I'd never heard the term referring to anything but basketball shoes.

The origins of the term court shoe is obvious, which makes me wonder where we found the word "pumps" for shoes. I've wondered before, but knowing there's a more descriptive term around, makes me think again about the etymology of "pumps."

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.