Ballet flats aren't known for being the most comfortable. In fact, they don't generally have that much support, and may pose as a challenge to wear for our feet in the future, according to Dr. Suzanne Levine, D.P.M., RPT, PC. "As we age, we lose cushioning in the balls of our feet, so this type of shoe can be more and more difficult to wear, especially for people who are on their feet a lot." But that certainly doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to flats forever. Nor does it mean that there aren't any comfy ballet flats floating around the web to wear. Rather, the key is to pay attention to the design of the shoe and how you may need to modify your fit, if need be.
What to look for in a ballet flat?
According to Dr. Brad Schaeffer, board-certified foot surgeon at Sole Podiatry NYC, it's important to look for a flat that has "nice arch support" or some type of gel cushioning. But if that's not possible, opt for a shoe that has enough space for you to customize it. "If you need to wear them, I’d say look for ballet flats that have gel cushioning in the shoe, or you can put gel inserts in to provide the cushion and support that is needed," Dr. Schaeffer says. He personally recommends adding the Dr. Scholl's Cushioning Insoles for Flats and Sandals ($10) to help absorb impact. Additionally, it's best to search for flats that have a spacious toe box or thick padding in the midsole. This will help give your feet more support and make it easier on the balls of your feet as you walk.
To help you find some ballet flats to add to your wardrobe, we've rounded up some top picks that are both stylish and follow Doctor's orders down below.
Most comfortable ballet flats for work
What makes these Rothy’s ballet flats such a fan-favorite even among podiatrists like Dr. Levine comes down to three key things: roominess, breathability and flexibility. The toe box is extra spacious to keep your feet from becoming squished. Additionally, the shoe comes in a range of different colors and has moisture-wicking knit fabric to keep out odors (plus, they’re machine-washable, so if they do get stinky, just throw ’em in your washer!). Oh, and there’s even room for you to add your custom orthotics if need be.
For a more elevated look heading into the office, these Italian-made M.Gemi Danza flats may just be what your wardrobe needs to keep your feet happy throughout your workday. Not only are they super sleek, but they’re also easy to walk in for long periods. Part of the reason for that has to do with their hidden heel wedge and “stiff sides that are good for support,” says Dr. Levine. The slight elevation adds more structure for your feet while the square toe box gives your toes more room to breathe.
Super lightweight and supportive are all the things you can expect from these FitFlop Multi-Knit Ballet Flats. The footbeds really stand out though, thanks to their Dynamicush™ high-impact cushioning tech. And while not gel, the foam insoles are also pretty comfy and designed to adjust to the shape of your feet over time. All in all, if you’re looking for a flat that has the same lightweight feel of a sneaker but is a bit more formal, these are the ones to add to your cart, stat.
Looking to insert a little a fun and comfort into your shoe collection? Say no more with these Vivaia Round-Toe Foldable Flats. Made with eco-friendly knit fabric, these shoes are super flexible and padded with a yoga mat-type of insole to keep your feet feeling supported with each step. Additionally, the toe box is flexible, so your toes don’t squeeze together.
If you plan on being up on your feet for hours at a time or running errands from sunrise to sunset, consider these Josef Seibel Fenja 01 Flats for your shoe rotation. The plush footbeds and flexible outsoles that stretch with your feet are what make these shoes easy to wear for hours on end and out on the town. In fact, multiple reviewers at Nordstrom noted that the shoes “well-cushioned for comfortable walking.” What’s more? The toe box is also slightly square to prevent your toes from rubbing against the top of the shoe.
As far as versatility goes, these shoes get five out of five stars. For example, you can wear them to the office on one day and out to Sunday brunch on the next. But we really love the All-Thru comfort cushioning in the midsoles, which has arch support with memory foam and an antimicrobial sock lining to keep out excess moisture and odors.
While these Tods Ballerinas are definitely an investment (and they lean more toward loafers than ballet flats), they sure don’t sacrifice style in the name of comfort. And we just had to add them to the list. Dr. Levine especially loves these loafer-style flats because of their modern design and “good flexible sole with grip.” This helps make the shoes adjust to your feet and increase durability over time. Not to mention, the toe box is also super roomy so your toes can breathe and comfortably sit against the top of the shoe.
The best part of these Skechers Cleo 2.0 Be Amazed Flats? Their Air-Cooled Memory Foam® cushioned footbeds. They help support your feet and keep them dry, which is a major plus if you’re prone to sweaty feet. As a bonus, they’re also machine-washable and use 75 percent recycled polyester.
Most comfortable ballet flats for wide feet
One of the few options on this list that has received the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance are these Vionic Minna Ballet Flats. Like many Vionic shoes, these are designed to hug your arches and support your foot’s natural alignment, thanks to the Vio-Motion Technology. Also, the inserts are removable EVA orthotics which means you can customize the fit at anytime.
Made with soft leather uppers, these Julianne Flats have microfiber-covered cushioned footbeds. Not only does help better support your feet, but this also is great for preventing long-time wear and tear. In particular, the micro-fiber helps prevent peeling and abrasion over time.
Originally $155, now $100
When it comes to shoes that are both stylish and supportive for all areas of your feet, Cole Haan is known for their massive selection of styles. And these Tali Bow Ballet Flats also check those same boxes. Available in both wide and medium, these shoes are padded with the brand’s signature Grand.OS technology to keep your feet comfy.
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