The Hunt: Comfortable Ballet Flats

comfortable ballet flats for work roundupSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We’ve talked a lot about flats over the years, but I don’t think we’ve ever done a major roundup of the most comfortable ballet flats for work.  So ladies, let’s hear it — which are your favorites? What are your favorite ways to break in a new pair of flats, or make them more comfortable for your feet? (As someone with narrow heels I’m always adding these heel pads.) Although rounded toes have come really far for work, I still think the best flat for work is one that has a bit of a point to it, in a durable leather, preferably with a rubber sole or rubber heel for comfort and grip. I know some people hate the look of patent leather flats, but I don’t mind them, particularly in a tumbled patent leather (like the Calvin Klein flat pictured below) or a color other than black, like a nice gray. We’ve rounded up some of the best-selling, highest rated styles below — which brands and styles are your favorite?

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Stylish Work Sneakers For Women and Other Casual Professional Shoes

work sneakers and other casual shoes for womenWe recently got this question from a reader who’s running for judge (woot, you go!), and it raises an interesting issue of what is casual but professional footwear for women — for weekends and other outings outside the office. Can you be professional in sneakers? What are some other options besides work sneakers? We tried to talk about the casual-but-professional-uniform a few years ago, but I still feel like it’s an issue. Reader K asks:

Kat, I am a 42-year-old lawyer, mother of two, and am running for judge [locale redacted, but suffice it to say somewhere hot]. I made it through the primary and am in a runoff on May 24. There are occasions (like when I’m working the polls) that I wear my campaign t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I have worn boots with my jeans (in February), but now that it’s getting warmer, I think I need a pair of sneakers. The problem is I have running shoes, boots, flip flops, or dress shoes. Do you have any suggestions for stylish, comfy sneakers?

Congratulations, and good luck!  As to the question: very interesting.  Comfortable, stylish, but vaguely professional sneakers: I’m curious to see what readers say here. I’m a diehard Chucks girl myself — they’re classics! But aside from off-white Converse, I would worry that they show a bit too much personality — I associate black ones as being an outsider/artist/comedian kind of shoe, for some reason, and colorful ones being too young/wacky. (I currently wear gray ones on weekends, which perhaps is my way of saying “I used to feel like an outsider but now I’m a mom and have no feelings of my own.”) Instead, I might steer you toward a few other options for work sneakers and other casual-but-stylish shoes:

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The Hunt: Flat Knee-High Boots

flat knee-high boots for workSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Even though it may feel like a bootie world right now, flat knee-high boots are still a great look, particularly for commuting and casual days at work. It’s been a while since we last rounded them up (2014, 2013, 2012), so I thought we’d go on the hunt today. Ladies, have you bought any great knee-high flat boots to wear to work lately? Do you still like the look, or have you mostly switched over to booties for work outfits?

Psst: check out our recent round-up of knee-high heeled boots for work.

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The Hunt: Stylish Knee-High Boots for Work

Stylish Knee High Boots for Work | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Which are your favorite knee-high boots for the office? As booties are big this season do you find that you’re wearing them less than in prior years, or do you still prefer the sleek look of knee-high boots with dresses?  On the flip side, are knee-high boots inappropriate at your office?  We haven’t done a round-up in a while (2014, 2013, 2012), so I thought we’d take a look.  As noted in previous years, the sleekest boots for work avoid Western influences like buckles and heavy seams, and while a heel isn’t essential (flat knee-high boots have come a long way!) they do tend to be more flattering with skirts.  (We’ll do a separate roundup of flat knee-high boots for work a bit later this season; stay tuned!)  Fun questions for the gang: do you pretreat your boots or otherwise make changes (e.g., waterproof sprays, adding rubber heel tips) or do you only do that when you take your boots in to the cobbler for their seasonal refresh?  If you love your boots, which brand and style is your favorite for work? 

First, a round-up for some special interests:  — unless noted all links go to Amazon, Nordstrom or Zappos:

As far as general sales go, do note that Cole Haan is on sale today at Nordstrom Rack, 6pm has a ton of Weitzman boots marked 50-70% off (including these gorgeous boots), and Amazon has a ton of Taryn Rose on sale for at least 25% off.

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How to Wear Flats in the Winter

How to Wear Flats in Winter | CorporetteIn cold weather, what are the best ways to wear flats to work? With socks? Tights? Reader E wonders…

Could you recommend some ways to style flats for the winter? In years past I have worn skirts and opaque tights with pumps or booties in cold weather (I don’t live in a particularly cold climate), but earlier this year I decided to give up on heels altogether because of some foot problems I’ve been having. I’m happy with my flats for summer looks, but ballet flats just look so odd with tights to me. I’m hoping for some better style ideas! What flat shoes work best for winter looks? Thanks!

Great question, Reader E — and even though it still feels kind of warm outside, the cold will be upon us in no time. (Winter is coming!) We’ve talked about wearing flats all the time, as well as interviewing in flats, but not in a while. Obviously you can just wear flats where you would have worn pumps, but if you can’t walk in flats with tights (I can’t!), or if you feel like something is off with the silhouette, then we need to dive a bit deeper.  I’m curious to hear what readers think, but here are some of my thoughts:

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The Hunt: Booties for Work

Booties for Fall | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Booties: they’re in one season, out the next — but right now they’re hot. They’re inherently a more casual look than, say, pumps — boots become more and more casual the blockier the heels get, and the more Western-y the details get; a seam or two is on one end of the spectrum, while fringe, buckles, and belts are on the other end. For casual days at the office they can be great with ankle pants (worn with low, hidden socks so your ankles are still exposed), tights and skirts for casual days, or — if hemmed appropriately — trousers or flares. (The bottom of the hem should graze the top of your foot, leaving only about 1/2″ of heel exposed in the back.)  On the weekends, of course, they’re great with all sorts of denim, and the bare-leg-plus-bootie look continues to go strong (but to me that really looks like a weekend look!). I thought I’d round up a few that look great to me — readers, which are your favorite booties this season?  Which are your favorite styles of booties (e.g., pump-booties, stiletto booties, rugged booties, wedge booties) to wear to work — or do you primarily wear them on the weekends?

(Another fun question: we haven’t talked about peep-toe booties in AGES — what’s your feeling about them now? Yea or nay?)

First, some roundups of special interest shoes (unless noted, most links go to Nordstrom, or Zappos):

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