Slingbacks are a type of women’s shoe, often a dressy sandal or pump that features a strap at the heel of the foot, at the ankle, crossing over or on the anklebone on each side of the foot. They may feature a buckle on the side of the foot, but many simply have the strap. Modern pairs may incorporate a little bit of elastic to keep them on the foot without needing a buckle.
Early slingbacks first became popular in the 1930s. They were usually one of two designs. They featured a pump front toe box, or had an open toe. In the second style, the top of the front of the foot was covered and the toes merely peeped out of the uncovered part. These are also called peep toe pumps. Strappy sandals with slingbacks have become increasingly popular, since you can simply slip your foot into the shoe without messing with buckles.
Sometimes this style of shoe is confused with sandals that feature an ankle strap. The primary difference between slingbacks and ankle straps is that the ankle strap crosses over the top of the foot. Ankle straps on sandals predate the slingback style and were often used, even on pumps, to keep the shoe on while pursuing some of the more vigorous dances of the 1920s. Slingbacks do have the occasional disadvantage of slipping off, especially when the shoe does not fit properly.
Modern variants of this shoe are slides or mules. Like slingbacks, these feature designs that cover the bottom half of the upper foot, in pump styles, strappy sandal styles or clog-like styles. They don’t feature the back strap, so they’re often called "slip-on shoes." Many prefer slides to slingbacks because they are easy to wear and won’t blister the back of the heel.
Since the 1930s, slingbacks have been reinvented with virtually every shoe trend to incorporate the latest styles. They are sometimes used on platform shoes, on loafers or comfortable shoes, and even on Keds® like tennis shoes. Espadrilles may feature this kind of design, as can shoes with kitten heels, stilettos, or any other varieties. They remain popular and stylish shoes and a nice variation on the traditional closed shoeback look.
If you do enjoy wearing open-backed shoes, be aware you’ll be showcasing part of your heel. In order to keep this look attractive consider regular exfoliation of the feet and moisturizing, especially when you don’t wear nylons. This will present attractive, exposed heels.