Footwear is a garment for the feet that serves several functions, including protection against adversities of the environment such as wear from ground textures and temperature. It also eases locomotion and protects against injury.
In some cultures, footwear is a sign of status or rank within a social structure. In other cultures, shoes are worn for fashion and adornment.
Traditionally, footwear was used for protection against water, snow and hazardous industrial materials. It was also used for arduous work. Today, it is mostly used for style and fashion purposes.
The earliest evidence of footwear dates to about 50,000 years ago. Archeological finds of complete shoes date back to the Chalcolithic (ca. 5000 BCE).
There are many different types of footwear, but most commonly there are three basic categories: boots, dress shoes and sandals.
Boots are footwear that cover not only the foot but also the ankle and sometimes even the lower leg. They are usually shaped to fit the foot and have a flexible upper of leather or plastic and a sole and heel of heavier material.
Some types of footwear may have a removable platform foot bed or insole and may overlap the upper, other than at the toe and heel, by 1/16 inch at the ball of the foot on a uniform height overlap. Infants and children’s sizes up to US male size 11 and female size 12 are considered to overlap the upper, other than at the toe or heel, if a unit-molded outer sole extends to the ball of the foot on a uniform high overlap.