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What are Pump Shoes? A Clear Explanation of this Classic Style

If you're a fan of women's shoes, you've undoubtedly heard of pumps. Pumps, also known as court shoes, are a classic style that has been around for decades. They're one of the most popular styles of women's shoes, and for good reason – they're versatile, stylish, and can be worn with a wide variety of outfits.

But what exactly are pumps? At their most basic, pumps have closed counters and a cutout top line that exposes the entire top of the foot starting at the toe box. They're typically made without laces, buckles, straps, or ties, and have a seamless vamp. However, pumps can come in many different variations, with features such as peep toes, pointed toes, ankle straps, and heels of varying heights and types. In this article, we'll take a closer look at pumps and explore their history, different styles, and how to wear them.


Pumps, a style of shoe that is now exclusively associated with women, actually originated as a type of footwear for men. The exact origins of the pump are uncertain, with some historians suggesting that it evolved from chopines, which were platform shoes popular among wealthy aristocrats. Others believe that pumps were originally created in the Near East as male equestrian footwear that provided a better grip on stirrups, a feature that is still evident in cowboy boots today.

Until the mid-1600s, men's and women's shoes were quite similar in style. However, they began to diverge, with men's shoes becoming more practical and women's shoes becoming more luxurious, made from materials such as silk and velvet and adorned with embellishments. Pumps were the epitome of luxury during this time, and owning a pair was a sign of wealth and indulgence.

By the beginning of the 1800s, political revolutions in Europe and the United States rejected the extravagance of royalty, and pumps fell out of fashion. Ballet slippers became the new trend in women's footwear.

However, the pump made a comeback in the mid-1800s, reinforced with brass heels and higher than ever before. In Europe, they were called court shoes, while in the United States, they were known as pumps.

The pump as we know it today was born after World War II, when shoe designer Roger Vivier created the three-inch stiletto heel in 1954. This new style was much more glamorous than the practical court shoes that had been popular for the previous century.

Although the pump has gone in and out of fashion over the years, it has remained a classic and enduring style.

Pros and Cons

Pumps are versatile shoes that can add a touch of sophistication to any outfit. They have the ability to elongate the leg and enhance the appearance of the calves, buttocks, and chest. Pumps can also improve posture, making the wearer appear taller and more confident.

However, wearing pumps on a regular basis can lead to several health issues such as hypertension, skeletal and muscular problems, pain, and swelling. They can also cause hammer toes, bunions, and lower back pain. Additionally, pumps are not the easiest shoes to walk in, increasing the risk of falls, sprains, and fractures.

In summary, while pumps can elevate your style, it's important to wear them in moderation and be aware of the potential health risks they pose.

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