The Most Comfortable Ballet Flats, For Work and Beyond!

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?

comfortable-ballet-flat-under-$100Nordstrom’s in-house line, BP, continues to win rave reviews with the simple “Moveover” flat.  For $49 it’s hard to go wrong — it comes in three colors, sizes 5-13, and has a zillion high ratings. BP. ‘Moveover’ Pointed Toe Flat
affordable-ballet-flats-for-workWe’ve featured these Gaila flats from Calvin Klein before, and they’re too good not to include here — I love the pointed toe, the slight cutout, the price ($99!) and the zillion colors the shoe comes in. Zappos has the shoe in five colors, while Nordstrom has it in another six mostly metallic colors (some as low as $69) — and Amazon has older colors in lucky sizes as low as $39. Pictured: I like this black tumbled patent from Zappos, full price at $99. Calvin Klein Gailia
affordable-comfortable-flatsA lot of shoes in today’s roundup are styles I’ve been hearing good things about for years — but this is the first time the Felicia flat is coming on my radar. I like the affordable price point ($100), the rave reviews for comfort, the extended sizes (wide widths and sizes 4-13 — check out our bullet points above if you’re looking for more extended size options), and the many, many color options.  Zappos has it in 14 colors (!), while Nordstrom has it in (!!!) 22 colors, with a whopping 971 reviews.  (How have I not seen this one before?) Pictured: this lovely Maliblu blue nappa leather, from Zappos, for $100. Sam Edelman Felicia
comfortable-ballet-flatsFrench Sole’s ballet flats have long been on any list of the most comfortable ballet flats, and they have the 88 five-star reviews at Zappos to back that claim up. I like the quilted leather, the slightly pointed cap toe, and the adjustable cords at the front. Reviewers note that this one runs large; it’s available in sizes 6-11 in basic colors at Zappos and Nordstrom. (Whoa, and Amazon has a ton of colors, with some lucky sizes as low as $45!) Pictured: French Sole PassportR
comfortable-ballerina-flats-for-workPeople looooove their AGL flats. Readers have been swearing by them for years, and when we talked about fashion for doctors, my hospitalist friend specifically recommended AGL flats for being able to walk for miles. They’re definitely more of a splurge, but if you watch for Triple Points days (coming up May 4th!) or anniversary sales (come up July 22) you can often score some great deals on them.  Nordstrom currently has 10 colors available in their popular cap toe style, all priced between $298-$335. Pictured: AGL Attilio Giusti Leombruni Cap Toe Ballerina Flat 
comfortable-classic-ballet-flatsYou can’t talk about comfortable ballet flats and not mention Ferragamo’s legendary Varina — it just won’t quit, and every season brings new colors and prints and more rave reviews. Nordstrom currently has 15 colors priced $525-$775, while Zappos has 12 colors, priced $525-$775 (ooh, including a fun stripey one). If you prefer a sneaker ballet flat, check out the newish style, Rufina. Pictured: this lovely “anemone patent” is at Zappos for $550. Salvatore Ferragamo Varina

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Comments

  1. Baconpancakes :

    Sorry for the immediate TJ, but I wanted to check – is $35 a reasonable price for dress alterations? I just took two dresses to the seamstress, and they were quoted at $35 each. One is a bridesmaid dress, taking in the v-neck, and bringing the back seam in to secure the straps. The other one is a casual dress, slimming the sides of the torso, taking up the shoulders, and shortening the sleeves. I’ve only ever gotten skirt waists taken in before, so I have no idea if this is reasonable. I live in a HCOL small city.

  2. I’ve been looking for a new pair of pointy flats for work. After trying a million different pairs I finally settled on these: http://www.6pm.com/cole-haan-rosalie-flat-ii-blazer-blue-black-patent in all black (bought accidentally at Nordstrom Rack). The sole is more supportive than typical flats but I am finding the patent leather toes more of a pain to break in. I read that putting rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and running alongside the interior of a shoe & then wearing the shoes helps but haven’t found the time to actually try this yet.

  3. Toe cleavage? :

    The biggest issue I have with ballet flats is toe cleavage: Is it OK or not? I mean, I assume it’s not a huge faux pas, but I’m still self-conscious about it. Maybe I just have long toes. Is this something anyone else cares about when looking for flats?

    • I also have long toes (and long feet) and I don’t like having toe cleavage. I take it as a sign the manufacturer just made the body of the shoe longer, instead of expanding all the proportions of the shoe. Which is why I usually avoid buying most ballet flats I try on.
      The brand I’ve had the best luck with (but by no means an exhaustive search) is Cole Haan and the Manhattan/Elsie flats (Elsie are the Outlet branding).

    • I definitely care about toe cleavage when trying on flats. I’m not sure it’s a faux pas necessarily, but I am not a fan of the look so I try to avoid it when picking shoes.

    • Anonshmanon :

      anti-commiseration: I have short toes, mockingly call them sausage toes. So I don’t experience problems with toe cleavage, but otherwise always think of my feet as unelegant, chubby-looking. Come sandal-season, I will envy those women who have elegant, long toes. How good we all are at making the individual features of our bodies into problematic areas…

      • Well, there are elegant long toes, and then there are the ones that are long enough to double as fingers. Seriously – my second toe is almost as long as my pinky finger.

        FWIW I consider the long toes problematic because they make my feet outside the range of typical shoe sizes and makes it hard to shop for shoes. They are, however, excellent at picking things up off the floor when i don’t want to bend over. Or providing a pretty solid basis when stand in heels.

    • Anonymous :

      IMO, lack of toe cleavage = old person shoe.

  4. I have a few pairs of LifeStride flats and they are very comfortable. One pair has some kind of memory foam cushioning which is amazing.

  5. anonymous :

    How many pairs of work shoes do you have and at what price point? I think I have about 8, and it feels like I have way too many shoes.

    • hoola hoopa :

      4-6: black flats, nude flats, tall boots, short boots, and usually 1-2 ‘fun’ flats

    • er, let me count (I keep mine in my filing cabinet)… I buy 1-2 pairs a year and my oldest date to about 2006. As I mentioned below, I wear these pretty much exclusively inside, so they last for-ev-er.

      Closed-toe heels:
      – 3 pairs black leather (round toe, pointed toe, patent leather)
      – 1 pair black wedges
      – 2 pairs brown leather (medium brown and dark brown)
      – 1 nude-for-me
      – 1 gray patent
      – 1 burgundy
      – 1 forest green
      – 1 floral

      Peep-toe heels:
      – 1 black
      – 1 brown
      – 1 nude-for-me

      Booties (fall/winter only):
      – 1 black leather
      – 1 gray suede

      Flats:
      – 2 brown (one plain, one with bow)
      – 2 black (round and pointed toe)
      – 1 nude-for-me
      – 1 metallic

    • Anonymous :

      I just checked and I have 7 pairs of flats at my office right now. Once it warms up I’ll bring in sandals (casual office so sandals are ok). So maybe 10 pairs? I am definitely the “shoe person” of the office.

      • You must be alot taller then me. I can NOT wear flat’s b/c I am short to begin with and dad says I look dumpy unless I wear a 3 to 4 inch heel at all times, and even then he says I look squat. FOOEY on DAD!

    • Um, a lot. I have 5 pairs of black pumps of varying heel heights and materials.. 2 pairs of gray pumps (1 suede, 1 leather). 2 pairs of nude pumps. 2 pairs of black wedges. 1 pair of blue wedges. 1 pair of leopard pumps. 5 pairs of dressy ballet flats (1 burgundy, 1 gunmetal, 1 cream, 1 olive, 1 metallic pewter). 2 pairs of tall heeled boots, one with a 4 inch heel and one with a 3 inch heel. 2 pairs of flat black boots. 1 pair of brown flat boots. Oh, and I have booties too… I am sure I have more and that’s not counting my more summery shoes. I have a problem.

    • I can’t count but can tell you that I have three pairs of shiny red slingbacks (one a brighter red, one a darker red, one a more pointed toe . . .). I might have a problem, too.

    • A lot, but I’m trying to replace some of the super grungy ones.
      Heels:
      Black pointy-toe wedged, patent leather toe with a tiny lace detail (EasySpirit, they’re so comfortable…..)
      Solid black leather wedges
      Grey patent leather wedges
      Grey Toms wedge booties
      Black suede Toms wedge booties
      Sand suede Toms wedge booties (ALSO wicked comfortable)

      Flats
      Black fake leather ballet flats
      Brown fake leather ballet flats
      Grungy canvas floral ballet flats I should really replace
      Pink patent with a slightly pointy toe
      Black patent with a slightly pointy toe (All 5 flats so far are from target)
      Black ballerina-type shoes with the elastic around the ankle and a tiny wedge heel

      Sandals
      Black leather wedge sandal/heel

      I work at a legal aid office, so I can wear pretty much any of these except for on days I go/observe court, where I wear one of the pairs of heels or black patent flats.

    • Anonymous :

      5.

      Made to order pointy toe wedges in (1) zebra (2) red (3) gold (4) blue and pink. Price $500-600 each.
      1 pair SW brown sandals.

      they match everything I own.

    • Wow, this makes me think I need to go buy some shoes for work! I have 2 pairs of black pointed toe pumps, 1 pair of navy pointed toe pumps, 2 pairs of black flats, and 2 pairs of black boots for winter (one pair of tall boots, one pair of booties, both high heeled). I wear the pumps and flats all year since it doesn’t get that cold here. I have a few other pairs of flats and boots I wear on Fridays when we can wear jeans. My work wordrobe is pretty boring and conservative but it’s easy and the amount of shoes seem sufficient.

  6. I’ll add a plug for Delman — well tailored, classic flats, with minimal-to-no breaking in required. They don’t provide arch support, but that’s not a feature I prioritize as I use them as “inside shoes” only (I wear Sperrys to commute).

  7. Anonymous :

    I highly recommend Softwalk Narina flats. They are really comfortable.
    Memory foam insole, classic round-toe design, available in extended widths and many colors/finishes.

  8. Paul Meyer flats! They look very much like the French Sole ones and come in a multitude of colors. They are the best, most comfortable, and most durable flats I’ve ever had.

  9. NotLegalCounsel :

    I am not a fan of the BP Moveover flats for comfort. They have zero support. While they are darling, they are not good for all day wear. I am a fan of the Dr. Scholls Really Flats. I particularly love the leopard calf hair flats (usually on Amazon for ~$50). They do tend to run wide, though.

  10. Does anyone have opinions on how the Ferragamo wide widths fit? I’ve heard that Ferragamos run narrow so does “wide” really mean “normal” in the Vera or Verina?

    • anon prof :

      I have wide feet, and the Varas in wide are tight across the ball of my foot. They are really rigid shoes and haven’t stretched much with wear.

    • anon-oh-no :

      some other Ferragamos run narrow, but I have two pair of the Vera/Varinas (wedges and high heels, not the flats yet) and they run normal. I don’t usually have to buy a wide, but I’m on the wider side of” normal.”

    • Anonymous :

      In Asia, Ferragamo sells D width (their widest). I think they don’t go wider than C in the US (I asked).
      That’s because Asian women generally have smaller but wider feet. Western women have longer, narrower feet.

      Speaks an Asian with Size 9 “D” width feet:(

  11. Anonymous :

    I love my Sam Edelman “Felicia” flats – they have absolutely no support so I can’t wear them if I’m walking a lot, but for just wearing around the office they’re great. The leather has softened so much, they’re like slippers.

    • I just bought a pair of these at Nordstrom Rack and they’re fantastic. On days when I don’t want to wear heels, they’re like wearing comfy slippers.

      • I have 3 pairs of Felicias and am about to order more. They are the best ballet flats I’ve ever owned. Nice, comfortable, not super expensive – I wear them all the time and walk all over the city in them, so they take quite a beating, but hold up well. And no toe cleavage even with long toes. Perfect for urban travel too. Maybe not everyone can walk around in them all day- but I actually walk miles in them with no issues at all.

  12. I picked up some flats from Aldo during their spring sale and I’m loving the Kedeassi pair so far. It’s a *little* bit on the vampy side but works for summer in a casual office.

    Otherwise, the Anne Klein flats seem to have the most support at an affordable price.

  13. LL Bean indispensable skimmers. I wear these at least 3 days a week, usually in black or the metallic, and have been for at least ten years (one product redesign and I still love them). I usually have to replace them every 3-4 years due to the wear, but at the price point and comfort level, I am happy to do so.

  14. Anonymous :

    I was diagnosed with plantar fasciatis recently, and as a result have been on a hunt for cute flats (ballet or otherwise) that have some arch support and don’t look orthapedic. It’s been a VERY challenging hunt. After a ton of research (i.e. reading the internet), I ordered pairs to try from Vionic, Pluggz, and Earthies, and ended up keeping Pluggz EOS ballet flats (even though I’m not sure I buy into their whole “grounding” theory”), and 2 pair of Vionics (a loafer and a sandal). The Earthies arch was a little too high for my relatively flat feet, but I suspect that they would be great on other people. Another shoe that I almost ordered and feel like I should mention in case other people are on a similar hunt, is the Taryn Rose ‘Bryan’, which gets rave reviews, but is pretty expensive.

    If you’ve tried other brands of flats with arch support, I’d love to hear what they are. Sadly, I have a feeling that I’m going to be replacing a lot of heels.

    • Wildkitten :

      Have you tried the Strassburg sock? It’s a really weird looking $40 sock-thing that you sleep in. It made a 100% difference in my runner SO’s plantar fasciitis, and for less than new shoes or new insoles for all your shoes.

    • I’ve struggled with plantar fasciitis and I really like Clarks “Corabeth Abby” pointed-toe flat. They are affodable, have great support, and are nice enough for the office. They don’t in any way look like an orthopedic shoe.

  15. I love Bloch ballet flats! The leather is so soft and they feel so good on my bare feet!
    Downside of the soft leather is they don’t wear too well (tonnes of scuffs).
    And they are increasingly hard to find.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes! I love my Blochs. Well made, not too expensive, and cushioned while still looking like classic flats.

  16. I’m wearing my super comfy Beautifeel black flats today. They must be a style from last year because I can’t find them on line.

  17. I like Ivanka Trump and Taryn Rose flats a lot for the office. I have bunions and have found the toe box width to be really helpful in avoiding blisters.

  18. For business casual and casual offices, I would recommend J.Crew’s Cece flat (or the Factory Anya version). Takes almost no breaking in, and stretches comfortably for wider feet.

  19. No Tieks listed???

  20. California Navy :

    Second Tieks!

    • Anonymous :

      Another vote for tieks! I bought the lovestrucks to wear with my wedding dress – most comfortable shoes ever

      • Anonymous :

        I received my first pair for Christmas and love them! They’re great for walking to the office and if you’re flat footed like me they’re especially great. They also fold down easily, which make them a great commute shoe, or great to toss in your bag when going out at night!

  21. Only comfortable once you break them in, but I really love Tory Burch Revas. I wear them around the house with thick socks to break ’em in. The newer ones don’t have elastic at the back so perhaps you don’t have to size up anymore, but if you’re interested, I advise sizing up 1/2-1 full size.

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