By Emma Childs
September 27, 2023
As seen on marieclaire.com
"Comfortable flats" may sound a little redundant—but just like feet, not every flat is the same. The shoe is held to pretty high standards, after all: As a slip-on that needs to be super walkable as well as work-and party-appropriate, flats can't always get away with comfort the same way a sneaker can. And you probably don't want to wear a sneaker to work for an important business meeting or on date night. But what's unacceptable is a flat that pinches your toes, rubs your ankles, or falls flat (hah!) when it comes to arch support. The best flats are comfortable and easy to wear because, otherwise, they contradict their purpose as a supposed-to-be-effortless shoe.
Marie Claire tapped Marion Parke, a podiatric surgeon turned footwear designer, for insight on what to keep in mind when looking for comfy and walkable flats (surprise, surprise: support is key). We also turned to our favorite comfortable shoe brands—think Rothy's, Allbirds, and Vionic—and rounded up the best flats in all categories to make sure you're supported in any situation. From ballet flats to slip-on clogs to Oxford loafers, click through to find the ones that will carry you here, there, and everywhere. Let's try to see your favorite sneakers do that!
What to Look For in Comfortable Flats
Yes, it sounds counterintuitive to be thinking of height when shopping for flats, but hear us out: "Sometimes a flat is too flat and wearing it is effectively like going barefoot, which can aggravate the Achilles tendon or plantar fascia," explains Parke of the eponymous shoe brand. "Even just a half-inch heel can help reduce the tension on the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Anyone who has had plantar fasciitis knows what I'm talking about."
• Arch Support
"Try doing what I call 'the shoe test,' where you hold the shoe from heel to toe, bend it, and then look closely at where the shoe bends," offers Parke. "The only place a shoe should bend is across the widest part of the toe box. Avoid wearing shoes that bend across the arch or midfoot for an extended period of time. When a shoe bends or folds across the midfoot, it isn't providing support to your arch, and that can lead to soreness and fatigue with weight-bearing over time."
Parke knows a thing or two about foot comfort. All of her shoes are made with this in mind but with excellent-looking design at the forefront, too. "My favorite comfortable flat this season is our Chase Loafer," she tells Marie Claire. "The new hardware detail and the elongated toe shape are a feminine approach to a traditionally more masculine style. I have mine on repeat with denim and knits!" These sleek loafers can easily replace any work pumps you’d normally grab first.
Read the full article here.