Best Flat Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Is there anything better than a good pair of flat shoes? A good pair that is comfortable, easy and finding the perfect pair, sounds good right? It’s like finding your new best friend. From shorts for the beach to summer dresses to fall jeans, you can find flats that go with almost any outfit. The right flats can even be found for semi-formal or formal occasions. They are among the most versatile type of shoes and they can be more comfortable than almost anything with a heel.
But like high heels, they aren’t always great for your feet. Many flats can cause foot pain because they lack arch support, they may be far too flexible to provide any support to the foot and the soles generally aren’t cushioned or shock-absorbing. Wearing a bad pair of flats can cause long-term injury to your feet. Who said those cute little slip-ons couldn’t have a dark side? But don’t worry; we’ve made sure all the flats on this list will leave your feet smiling.
- Roxy Rory
- Rubber Sole
- Toms Classics
- Synthetic Sole
- Minnetonka Thunderbird
- Memory Foam Insole
Quality shoe manufacturers add elements to shoes that help keep your feet healthy, or at the very least, avoid damaging your feet as much as possible. We’ve collected flats from several manufacturers and reviewed them for comfort, support, stability, fit and other factors that make your great little flat even more fantastic. We give you the skinny on each of them, so you can make an informed choice about your next bestie. With no further ado, meet our lineup:
10 Best Flat Shoes
1. Roxy Rory
Thermoplastic rubbers are a great material you can recycle and offer a cushion and durability for the shoe. Not only does it mean the shoe is much more environmentally friendly, it's also able to stabilize your foot during any activity and keep you comfortable.
Memory Foam Insole
A memory foam insole means everytime you put the shoe on, it will conform to your foot's shape and size. A shoe that fits like a glove continues to be comfortable. Sliding these shoes on and knowing they're going to fit correctly from the beginning is a good feeling.
Cost and Value
Roxy is a well-known name and has a reputation for making quality clothing for the adventurous type. With the Rory, you get a well made and comfortable shoe that's at a middle price range on this list. It's a great buy for a great shoe.
- Machine Washable
- Memory Foam Insole
- Flexible TPR Injected Outsole
- Needs to be Broken in
2. Toms Classics
Toms shoes, including the Classic, have suede insoles and cushioning for soft comfort for your feet. It also features a latex arch support insert so your foot will avoid pronation (flattening toward the arches).
Built to Last
These canvas flats have a rubber outsole that leaves the flat flexible while providing durability and resistance to wear on hard surfaces.
Cost and Value
These are very reasonably priced shoes for the quality and durability. Breathable canvas, durable rubber, cushioning and arch support will leave you very happy with these flats. Bonus that for a reasonable price, you are also giving a pair of shoes to a kid who needs them.
Suede, Padded Insole
Each Pair Purchased Supports Children’s Charity
- Runs Narrow
3. Minnetonka Thunderbird
With the Softsole, you get a choice of soft suede or smooth, comfortable leather upper with a suede or leather sole. There are no more luxurious materials for shoes.
This moccasin will envelop your feet in softness and for an extra measure of comfort, it has a padded cushion insole.
Cost and Value
The Thunderbird Softsole is in the lower range of flat shoes on our list. For a reasonable price, you get classic aboriginal American design, in a soft, comfortable moccasin.
Leather or Suede Construction
May Run Large/Small
4. Sam Edelman Felicia
The upper in this little ballerina flat is made from soft calf leather that is dyed in a variety of colors and patterns so you’re sure to find one (or three) that you like. The leather makes for a very soft interior for your feet.
The synthetic sole on this flat is only ¼” but that is enough to provide the shoe with structure will keeping its appearance as a ballet flat.
Cost and Value
These Sam Edelson ballet flats are in the mid-range for prices on our list. You get a very versatile little flat with a lot of style choices for the price, along with a little extra padding in the heel.
Calf Leather Upper
5. Dexflex Claire Scrunch
The whole length of the top of the ballet flat is a soft elastic material that will stretch to accommodate your feet without pinching. The Claire Scrunch also comes in wider sizes for fit.
The Claire Scrunch also comes with a cushioned insole for a little extra comfort. Unfortunately, it is glued to the ballet flat as part of the structure so is not removable but the stretch of the material will allow for some custom insoles or orthotics to be used.
Cost and Value
This is the least expensive shoe on our list of flats. For the price, you are getting a functional shoe that will stretch to accommodate your feet without pinching. The shoes are not for those with high arches as they offer no arch support, and if you wear custom insoles or orthotics you may wish to look at other flats on the list. Overall, this is a no-frills but cute and functional shoe that will last longer than other shoes of similar cost.
6. Alegria Essence
This Nappa leather sneaker is made to breathe. The leather has perforated details to allow air in and out, keeping your feet cool and dry. The lining is also a light mesh which will allow your feet to breathe. Great if you have sweaty feet!
The footbed in the Essence is made of memory foam and polyurethane in an anatomically correct shape that will also conform to the shape of your feet for that perfect fit. The footbed is removable if you wish to wear a custom insole or orthotic.
Cost and Value
The Alegria Essence is on the lower end of the price range. For the value, you are getting a very comfortable flat shoe that will allow your feet to breathe. On top of that, the rubber outsole will provide good traction and grip, is slip-resistant and non-marking. A great shoe for working all day or get out there and play!
- Breathable Upper
- Nappa Leather
- Gripping Outsole
- Low Arch Support
7. Rockport Cobb Hill Parker
EVA is ethylene vinyl acetate and is a cushioning, shock-absorbing material that was originally used in athletic shoes but is now used in most styles of shoes for its comfort. The Cobb Hill Parker in this footbed will provide you with sneaker-like comfort in a Mary Jane style shoe.
The strap on the Cobb Hill Parker features stretch gore and an adjustable hook and loop closure so that they are easy to get on and off. Adjust the strap to your fit and slide the foot in comfortably. Stretch gore also helps the shoe move with you so the strap doesn’t dig in.
Cost and Value
This Rockport falls into the mid-range for the shoes on this list. For the money, you are getting a stylish Mary Jane style flat that is quite sensible. It is comfortable, shock-absorbing, lightweight, and easy. It is also built to last, increasing the return on your money
Rubber Sole for Traction
Wide Sizes Available
Shallow Toe Box
8. Alegria Dayna
The rocker bottom on this flat is designed to guide your foot through a normal step and improved gait when you have a condition that requires stabilization of the midfoot. But it’s great corrective stride for anyone else as well.
The printed leather upper is very stylish and available in a lot of patterns and colors. More importantly, it’s breathable, leaving you will cool dry feet as you work all day.
Cost and value
This shoe is in the lower-range prices, relative to the others on our list. For the reasonable price, you get a solid, fantastically comfortable work shoe that will leave you on your feet for hour after hour.
Makes a Squeak Sound While Walking
9. Clarks Candra Glow
The molded Ortholite insole in this ballet flat is very comfortable and adjusts to the curves of your feet. It is paired with a fabric sock liner for additional comfort and moisture absorption.
The outsole of this shoe is synthetic. It is flexible and durable enough to last and to allow you to walk in a natural, confident gait.
Cost and Value
The ballet flat is priced in the mid-range relative to other shoes on this list. For the investment, you are receiving a very versatile, comfortable flat that is stylish to suit a wide range of clothing and situations. You will appreciate the flexible sole and memory foam insole and wherever you take them, they will be non-marking.
Ortholite Memory Foam Insole
May Run Large
10. Toms Diamond Jutti
The rubber sole on this cute little flat is thicker than on most flats and will provide for a durable shoe that also has good traction on most surfaces. In addition, they are durable and will help you on a variety of surfaces.
You have a choice of chambray or suede in the upper for this shoe, in a variety of colors and styles that include die cuts and patterned suede detailing. With so many choices, you are sure to find the one that suits you
Cost and Value
These shoes are in the mid-range of prices for the shoes on our list and they are worth the money, The feature a thick, padded insole for a flat, along with the wide style choices, comfortable materials in the build, antimicrobial lining and a rubber sole. This shoe will suit casual and business casual wear.
Rubber Outsole for Traction
Antimicrobial Inner Liner
Each Pair Bought Benefits Children’s Charity
When you hear the word flat, often you picture a ballet flat. While that is the most common variety of flat shoe, there is more variety in flats than only those that are ballet-inspired. Even within the ballet-style, there is a great deal of variety. There is certainly something that will suit everyone’s different tastes and styles.
Flat shoes don’t have to mean uncomfortable shoes either. Many of the shoes in our list are great for walking around or working in all day long. Many also have enough versatility to wear in the casual environment of a local cafe with friends, a day touring a new city or even flat-out, back to back, business meetings.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Flat Shoes
Many people have no idea that the sole consists of three (usually) separate parts of a shoe. The insole, midsole, and outsole all perform different functions but work together to create a comfortable, shock-absorbing, protective, and durable shoe. The sole, so to speak, is the soul of any footwear. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up:
The outsole of a shoe is the part that makes contact with the ground. In a flat, it really may be the only part of the sole (in a true moccasin, many flip-flops, or some espadrilles, for example). It performs several functions.
- Durability: A good sole will stand up to the surface it is used on, whether that is hardwood flooring, carpeting, concrete, pavement, sand or dirt. Rubber is a great choice for durability and so is hardened leather.
- Traction: Important in an outsole is how well it grips the ground beneath you. Rubber has great traction, leather is slippery, EVA has good traction but wears quickly, and plastics can be slippery or not depending on the pattern that is molded into them.
Much like the outsole, a midsole (which rarely exists in a flat but sometimes does) is multi-functional in most shoes:
- Cushion: Midsoles are almost always made of EVA foam compressed to different degrees to provide some cushion for your feet.
- Shock Absorption: The great thing about EVA foam is that it can take a shock and absorb it instead of passing it through to your heels and forefoot. Other shock absorbing materials include polyurethane and synthetic rubbers. Leather is a poor shock absorber as is most plastic.
In a flat shoe, the most important part of the sole is usually the insole. Since there is little space between your feet and the hard ground, the insole is where you will find the comfort and support for your feet in most flats. Insoles can be made from a very large variety of material and what you choose will really be a preference that is your very own:
- Memory Foam: Compresses to shape to your feet while also ‘bouncing back’ to provide cushioning. The thicker the memory foam, the more molding effect is achieved.
- Cork: Shock-absorbing and pliable, it will mold to your feet. It does not bounce back well and over time it will permanently take on the shape of your foot.
- Latex: A soft, pliable material that can mold to the shape of your foot and can take a great deal of compression without breaking. Latex is usually used as a top layer of an insole to protect the softer material underneath from damage and because it is easy to clean with a damp cloth.
- EVA: A high performance, compressible foam that can be molded to the shape of a foot to make a very comfortable, though odor-absorbing insole. It can be easily cleaned with a little warm water and soap in a damp cloth.
- Fabric: Cotton, hemp rope, and other fibers are often used to create an insole material for flat shoes. These are the least comfortable but very durable materials. They are used rarely now because they absorb odor and are more difficult to clean. They also offer little in the way of shock absorption or cushion.
Arch support is the mythical unicorn of the flat world. Few flats will offer much in the way of arch support, so these are usually not going to be comfortable or healthy for people with high arches or people who have moderate to severe overpronation (flattening of the feet near or through the arches). However, some in our selection offer arch support or have a removable footbed or insole so that you can wear a flat with your own custom insole or an orthotic.
Other than arch support there are many ways a flat can support your feet and prevent damage. Look for some of these features:
- Heelcap: The heelcap (the material that wraps behind the heel) should curve in without irritating the back of the heel and without allowing your foot to slip out. Soft elastic material or an internal stitch style may accomplish this but either way, the heel cap needs to move with you and not you with it.
- Topline: The topline on a flat should also stay with your foot and not sag outward. Look for quality material and stitching in the topline like thicker suedes and leathers, fabric that is stitched well but still flexible and synthetics that shape to hug your feet rather than pull away.
- Sole: The sole of a flat will be flexible to allow your foot to move (which is why flats are not the greatest for many with flat feet), however, it should still be rigid enough to stay with the foot and offer some support with each step. If it is too flexible, your foot will have to not only do all the work but try to compensate to hold the shoe in place, which is frankly exhausting.
- Heel: If the flat has a small heel in back it should be designed to absorb shock and not place a pressure point below the heel. Avoid heels that are made of hard, rigid materials like plastics and go for a heel that is firm and durable but provides some shock absorption like rubbers and leathers.
If you have a good sole and good support, the only remaining question for comfortable feet will be the upper. A good quality upper will perform several functions for you:
- Breathing: Your feet need to breathe almost as much as your lungs do. Skin, including the skin on your feet, needs air circulation and temperature control to be comfortable and healthy. Feet that do not breathe properly can develop microbial infections, itch from moisture, yeast infection, fungal infections, and other issues that you just don’t want to happen. An excellent upper is made of a material that lets air in, lets it back out again as you step and does not overheat the feet.
- Moisture in/moisture out: A good upper will deal with moisture inside from sweat and moisture outside from the elements. Leather is fantastic for this purpose and so are most canvases and mesh. Leather has a wicking effect to take moisture away from your feet and it’s solid enough to keep rain out. Mesh and canvas let air in to dry your feet and they also let rain in, but they dry quickly to deal with it. Plastics are good at preventing rain from coming in, but they also keep moisture on your foot and may even overheat the foot causing them to become sweatier.
- Protection: Your upper keeps your toes safe from stubs and dirt and debris that may collect on a foot exposed to the elements. A good flat will provide some protection from these issues though not perfect protection because they just don’t come in a steel-toe.
- Style: You are looking for a flat for comfort and ease, but you also want style. If it looks like a few rags tied to the bottom of your foot you may fit in an episode of Survivor or a Bear Gryllis program but not so much for the beach, touring the town or work. The best flat will have a versatile style that you can wear through three seasons in almost any situation. Most of the shoes on our list come in a variety of colors and patterns and there are a variety of styles so there really is something there for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are flat shoes for flat feet?
A: If you have flat feet you may think you need flat shoes. This is not the case. While flats are called that because they don’t have a heel, not all flats are created equal. For example, a flip-flop has no support or cushion, but a loafer does. With flat feet, you are going to need a shoe that helps lift your arch and keep your foot protected. The shoes you choose will also need to have some stability to keep your foot from turning inward. This can lead to springs and falls. Since an arch keeps you steady when you have flat feet you need a little extra help.
Q: Why do flat shoes hurt my feet?
A: Sometimes wearing shoes that are too flat and don’t offer any support can cause plantar fasciitis. This is a tear in the tissue of your arch and can be very painful. If you find your flat shoes hurt your feet after wearing them a few days, then you may want to look at some different ones. You also can look and see what type of arch support your shoes offer, it could be that you have the wrong kind of shoes for your arches.
Q: How do I find my shoe size?
A: The easiest way to find the correct shoe size is to measure your foot. Put a piece of paper down and trace your bare foot. Measure the length and width of your foot with a ruler. From each measurement, you’ll want to account for the space between the tracing and your foot. Subtract 3/16thof an inch. Find your measurements on a chart for shoe sizes to determine yours. Keep in mind different types of shoes may have slightly different charts you can find on their website.
Q: What are cup sole shoes?
A: A cup sole is the outsole of the shoe that has taller sidewalls; these cradle the upper shoe and provide support and protect the toe and heel.
Q: When is it time to replace my flats?
A: Excellent question! Flats wear out over time like any other shoe, but you generally won’t see creases in the midsole like you would with a pair of athletic shoes. If the upper has become too loose from stretching so that your foot travels inside the flat; the material has started to sag away from the instep of your foot; or the sole has become thin and no longer absorbs any shock; are all signs that it is time to replace your flats with a brand new, more comfortable favorite.
Q: Aren’t pointed toe shoes bad for your feet?
A: They certainly can be. The important thing in any pointy toe shoe is that your toes should have room to lie next to one another naturally and not be compressed together. When buying a pointed shoe, ensure the toe box still has room for your toes to move without compression. This means a gentler point rather than a sharp point and a top line that completely covers your toes. Think of this more as the illusion of a point without the ferocity.