Walking Flats Are the New Stiletto. Here Are the Best Ones for Women on the Move.
Between 2017 and 2021, the market for blister bandages will grow by more than 200 percent more per year than the U.S. footwear market. That means, in part, that we could be in for some uncomfortable shoes -- and that’s not good for the future of our feet. Just look at Sarah Jessica Parker, whose years of wearing high heels as her “Sex and the City” alter-ego caught up with her after a stern talking-to from her podiatrist.
The good news: We’ve got a roundup of well-reviewed flats that should be able to you from morning to night when it comes to style and comfort. Here are some of the best options to consider.
Cole Haan StudiøGrand Packable Ballet Flat
What We Love: Cole Haan markets this ballet flat as their “packable” option, meaning they’re easier to bring via purse or briefcase if you’re planning to switch shoes during the day. The flats have elastic tops for better fit, fully padded sock lining and a rubber outsole with Grand.ØS technology (Cole Haan’s responsive cushioning system for shoes). If you can afford to go more casual, its sister shoe is a cheaper and more breathable option.
What Customers Say: One reviewer writes, ‘Comfortable from the start.’ Another says, ‘Good fit, nice color and easy to match.’
Rockport Total Motion Ballet Flat
What We Love: This flat incorporates technology developed by Adidas Sport for all-day cushioning in both the forefoot and heel. A polyurethane plate helps with support in the shoe’s midsole and also with shock absorption to cut down on foot fatigue. Color options include silver, brown and black, and the heel measures less than one inch.
What Customers Say: One reviewer writes, ‘They are extremely comfortable and really classy-looking with any outfit -- casual or dressy.’ Another says, ‘I can wear them all day without issue. Would not hesitate to purchase again.’
Sam Edelman Felicia Ballet Flat
What We Love: This flat has close to 50 options in color, texture and pattern, whether you’re looking for a classic (“black leather,” “classic nude leather”) or a statement shoe (“periwinkle suede,” “cranberry jacquard”). The flat has an elastic top line for accurate fit and a padded leather insole for all-day comfort.
What Customers Say: One reviewer writes, ‘By far the most comfortable flats I have ever owned… I want them in all colors and prints.’ Another says, ‘They are as comfortable as slippers.’
SoftWalk Napa Flat
What We Love: A rounded black leather toe characterizes any color option for the Softwalk Napa Flat, whether you choose “tan luggage,” “oxblood,” “grey” or another look. The flat has a cushioned footbed with gentle arch support, and to further up comfort, it incorporates a soft microfiber lining and leather inserts. (If you’re aiming for a more flexible version, its sister shoe looks similar with elastic side gores.)
What Customers Say: One reviewer writes, ‘These shoes are great! I work 8+ hours a day in retail… These shoes had little to no break-in time... I will be reordering another couple of pairs!’ Another says, ‘Great shoes if you are on your feet and need padded insoles for comfort! I have worn SoftWalk shoes for years.’
Clarks Grace Anna Flat
What We Love: Two classic color options are offered for this flat -- “black nubuck” and “rust nubuck” -- but its cross ankle straps are what really set it apart from the typical ballet flat. Besides adding detail, they -- and the rear zipper -- make for a more secure fit. Plus, the brand pads its shoes with Clarks Cushion Plus for all-day comfort. (For a more traditional look minus the ankle straps, try its sister shoe.)
What Customers Say: One reviewer writes, ‘Most convenient and comfortable flats I’ve ever purchased, and I plan to purchase another pair to have as a backup at work.’ Another says, ‘Looks great and comfortable.’
Best Place to Buy: $100 on ClarksUSA.com.
Dr. Scholl’s Vixen Flat
What We Love: The Dr. Scholl’s Vixen Flat comes in a variety of patterns and colors -- from classic to statement -- but they all share the brand’s flexible sole and a memory foam cool fit insole. The shoe also offers different width options to help with fit. (For extra color and pattern choices, try its sister shoe.)
What Customers Say: One reviewer writes, ‘Very comfortable and the grey goes with so much. I often have events for my job that calls me to be on my feet and running around for the better part of the day.’ Another says, ‘It's rare to find a cute flat shoe in real leather or suede, so this is a winner in my eyes.’
Best Place to Buy: Between about $34 and $75 on Amazon depending on color and size.