‘Discalced’ literally means ‘without shoes’. The term was commonly used in religious parlance at the time if St Teresa of Jesus to indicate an order which had reformed itself and adopted a more dedicated and austere form of life. Members of these orders went barefooted or wore some form of open sandals. The term had particular meaning in Avila because of the visits of Peter of Alcantara, who had founded his Discalced Franciscans, an order that soon perished, principally because of the severe austerities and imprudent penance demanded of its members.
In Teresa’s reformed convent of St Joseph, which she founded on August 24, 1562, the nuns wore strap sandals, and thus came to be known as ‘Discalced Carmelites’.
Extract from an article titled Spiritual Preparation for Being Received into the Order by Marie Janine’s OCDS, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Community, Washington D.C., in the book Welcome to Carmel, a Handbook for Aspirants