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What is a Slingback Shoe?

Kathy R
Kathy R

A slingback shoe is a type of women’s shoe, usually a sandal, that has an open back with a strap around the heel. All of the back of the foot is exposed except for a very small area. These shoes are reminiscent of a slingshot since the strap pulls back into almost a v-shape to conform to the shape of the foot.

To ensure slingbacks fit tightly on the foot, most have either a buckle or an elastic band on the heel strap. This also helps the wearer to slide her feet into them more easily. It is difficult to put these shoes on without unbuckling them or pulling the elastic band back.

Companies make slingback shoes with a variety of materials, including corduroy.
Companies make slingback shoes with a variety of materials, including corduroy.

While once considered to be strictly for summer wear, the slingback shoe is now popular at both casual and formal occasions year-round. Companies make them with a variety of materials, including suede, patent leather, canvas, satin and even corduroy. While the slingback shoe can be a style in and of itself, these shoes are available as peep toes, espadrilles, booties, stilettos, flats and several other shoe varieties. It is not considered fashionable to wear a slingback shoe with socks.

One of the advantages of the slingback shoe is that it can make a woman’s legs appear longer and thinner. This is especially the case if she pairs her slingback shoe with a knee-skimming skirt, a pair of capri pants or culottes, or a standard straight-legged pair of trousers. Women of all heights can make this look work for them with flattering results.

A major problem with the slingback shoe is that its strap can slip down the heel, causing the wearer discomfort. In extreme cases, it can even cause the shoe to come off of the foot. One can often prevent this from happening by ensuring the shoe fits properly, and going to a cobbler if necessary. People can keep falling straps in place by using a special type of double-stick tape, which can be found at most high-end shoe retailers.

A person wishing to purchase a slingback shoe will not have much trouble finding a pair. Most shoe retailers that deal in fashionable footwear will have several styles in stock. These shoes are also available online at many different retailers. It’s best to buy them at a physical store to ensure proper fit, or to at least try a pair on for size, before buying them over the Internet.

Discussion Comments


Slingbacks are nice to look at but I find they almost always cause me blisters. I know this is true of most shoes and you eventually build up a callous, but I don't particularly want one on my Achilles tendon, as I wear flip flops and other similar kinds of styles a lot.

I've only found a few slingbacks that don't cause a blister there, but it's almost impossible to tell which ones do and which don't before you use them, so I just forget them altogether.


I have never before thought of the fact that slingback shoes make your legs look longer and therefore slimmer.

I guess it's the same effect that jeans have, if you get a good pair that almost brush the ground when you're standing up. I often have to let out the seams to achieve this.

It's nice to know I now have another trick up my sleeve (so to speak).

Actually I always liked slingbacks more because they give you slightly more leeway in shoe size, simply because you can stick out the back a tiny bit more.

Not too much though, or the shoe will be very uncomfortable (and not nice to look at!).

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    • Companies make slingback shoes with a variety of materials, including corduroy.
      By: Kitch Bain
      Companies make slingback shoes with a variety of materials, including corduroy.