Although the word “pump” is likely derived from the French word “pompe,” which in 16th-century France was the word for a low shoe worn mostly by men, the pump as we know it today is generally used to describe a slip-on shoe with a rounded or V-shaped throat. Most pumps have heels that are at least moderately high, but the toes of pumps can be round, come to sharp points, or even remain open.

While some pumps rest on relatively modest heels, many people think of pumps and high heels in the same breath. Because a pump’s throat is uninterrupted by Mary Jane-like buckles, t-straps, or even ankle straps, they have a clean, business-wear look. That’s why a good pair of pumps can give a professional woman a commanding and empowering presence in a meeting or interaction with colleagues. Then, back at her desk, she can easily kick off her shoes to give her dogs a rest.

The shapes of pumps can vary, but the classic profile was codified in the 1950s by companies such as Gina in London (named by shoemaker Mehmet Kurdash after his muse, Gina Lollobrigida) and designers like Roger Vivier and Salvatore Ferragamo. Up front the toe comes to a point. In the back, echoing the toe’s geometry, the heel tapers quickly. The outside of the shoe is often monochromatic, constructed from shiny patent leather, mysterious black satin, and soft, elegant suede.

Since World War II, fashion firms as different as Christian Dior and Herbert Levine have produced pumps in a profusion of colors and materials. Gina pumps are often covered from heel to toe with rhinestones and colorful fake jewels; Jimmy Choo likes to shoe his customers in snakeskin and kid leather; Christian Louboutin goes to great lengths to make sure the vamps on his pumps reveal just enough, but not too much, sexy toe cleavage; and Manolo Blahnik likes to let color do the talking, creating pumps with high heels and low-cut lines in brilliant yellows, greens, purples, and, of course, reds.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Nib Christian Louboutin Bianca Black Patent Leather Platform Pumps Size 36Kylie Jenner Christian Louboutin Purple Suede Leather Pump Heels Size 38.5 ItalyChristian Louboutin Black & Grey Patent Leather Pointed Toe Pump Heels Size 37.5Christian Louboutin Pigalle Gold Graffitti Pumps 35.5/6Christian Louboutin Taupe Whipstitch Lady Indiana Slingbacks Pumps Sz 39 9Christian Louboutin Black Leather Very Prive Peep Toe Classic Pumps Sz 39 9Jimmy Choo Black Eros Patent Leather Pumps $750 Size 39.5Kylie Jenner Christian Louboutin Black Suede Leather Peep Toe Pump Heels Sz 38.5Auth Christian Louboutin Black Patent Leather Bianca Pumps Sz Eur 36 6 In BoxChristian Louboutin Bianca Black Pumps Size 36Christian Louboutin Black Leather Very Prive Peep Toe Classic Pumps Sz 39.5 9.5Christian Louboutin Daffodile Pumps 38.5Christian Louboutin Taupe Elisa Pumps Heels Size 38.5Christian Louboutin Brown Patent Leather Pumps Size 38.5Christian Louboutin Silver Exagona Metallic Leather Glitter-toe Pumps Size 39Christian Dior Pumps, Navy/black, Outstanding Condition-worn Only Once!Chanel Beige & Black Spectator Pumps + Original Box + Shoe Bags - 37 (7m)Auth Christian Louboutin Black Patent Leather Yoyo 85 Pumps Sz 38.5 8.5 In BoxJimmy Choo Pumps Size 7 Christian Louboutin Designer Decollette Black Suede 110mm Alm Toe Pumps Sz 40Christian Louboutin Sling Back Pumps!!!$795 Yves Saint Laurent Ysl Black Pebble Leather Tribute Tribtoo Pumps 40 9.5 10Christian Louboutin Black Patent Closed Toe Platform Pump Size 38.5Christian Louboutin Marine Blue Glitter Ron Ron 100 Pumps Sz 36 6 Christian Louboutin 4 Inch Round Toe Pump Dusty Nude Pink Leather Size 38Christian Louboutin Pigalle 120 Black Patent Leather Pump Calf Size 41Christian Louboutin Delcoltissimo Pumps, Us Shoe Size (women's) 11Auth Christian Louboutin Black Patent Leather 'bianca' Platform Shoes Pumps-38.5Christian Louboutin Black Pumps Peep Toe Suede 2 Inch Heel Size 40Christian Louboutin Pumps Us Shoe Size 9Christian Louboutin Highness 160 Kid Patent Toe Pump Size 40Jimmy Choo Pink Anouk Suede Pumps 36.5Valentino Rockstud,pumps 100mm 4" Rockstud Cage T-strap Pump Authentic RougeYsl Yves Saint Laurent Tribtoo 105 Pumps Nude 36.5Jimmy Choo Tan Platform Pumps Size 36.5 NwbChristian Louboutin Ron Ron Purple Size 36.5 Similar To Simple PumpSalvatore Ferragamo 'pim' Black Suede/patent Leather Women's Pump Size 7.5 BWomens Ladies Designer Shoes Jimmy Choo "anouk" Nude High Heel Pump Sz 38 (us 8)Christian Louboutin Black Suede Peeptoe Very Prive Platform Pumps Sz 38.5 8.5Christian Louboutin Brown Leather Peep Toe Peniche Platform Pumps Sz 39 9Euc $890 Christian Louboutin Bianca Zip 38 Us 8 Platform Pumps Suede Must Have!Jimmy Choo Tan Suede Leather Platform Ankle Strappy Pump Sandals Sz 37 7Fluevog Baroques Rubens Med Hexagonal Heel Blue Leather Mary Jane Pumps Size 9Christian Dior Cherie Point Toe Pump High Heel Shoes Size 40Petrol Blue Louis Vuitton Frilled Pom Pom Fur Pumps Heels $1,410 Pre Fall 2013Christian Louboutin 38 Simple Pump 100mm Black Kid Leather Sling Back AuthenticJimmy Choo Black Classic Pointed Toe Leather Pumps Sz 38Christian Louboutin PumpsChristian Louboutin Studded Black Leather Pumps High(3in. And Up) Us 7.5, Eu 38Christian Louboutin Red Patent Leather Pumps High Heel Shoes Pre-owned Size 38 7Jimmy Choo Classic Black Leather Pumps Size 39Christian Louboutin Brown Leather Very Croise Sandals Pumps Sz 38.5 8.5Christian Louboutin Pony Hair Pumps Black Red Pigalle Sz 41 Us Sz 9 - 9.5Tory Burch Tiffy Leather Cap-toe Wedge Pumps $265 Size 7.5mGucci $395 Black Gold-tone Patent Leather Bit Buckle Low Heel Pumps Sz 8.5Jimmy Choo London Pointed Toe Kitten Heels Pumps Shoes Size 40Prada Black Suede Ankle Strap Wedge Pumps $790 Size 37Reed Krakoff Leather And Patent-leather Oxford Pumps Black Nude Size 39Tory Burch Black Quilted Patent Leather Gold Tone Logo Detail Reva Pumps Sz 6 MFendi Black Snakeskin Leather Embossed Pumps Size 38