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After a year of pandemic living, people have gotten used to all-day loungewear as a general lifestyle choice. Now, as we’re heading back to the office, going out to dinner again, and catching up on all those postponed weddings, we’ve had to decide which uncomfortable clothing items we’re ready to allow back into our wardrobes and which we are not.
Maybe you’ve decided to give your heels the boot for good, or maybe you’re still easing back into the stiletto habit. Either way, if you’re looking for a pair of comfortable flat shoes, the good news is that there is a style for every occasion. Yes, even weddings.
When rounding up some of our favorite flat shoe options, we looked for on-trend styles like summer espadrilles and tried-and-true classics like luxe leather loafers. We also looked for casual basics to wear every day as well as dressy slides, mules, and ballet flats appropriate for everything from the office to baby christenings.
We also wanted to make sure to choose flats that are truly comfortable. Even if they don’t have a heel, poorly designed flat shoes can result in pinched toes, blistered heels, and aching legs from standing all day with inadequate arch support.
Design elements like cushioned insoles can help with the foot support factor, and supple material helps prevent chafing. We will note that especially with styles like a ballet flat or materials like stiff genuine leather, your shoes may still need a little breaking in before they’re totally comfortable. And price tag is not necessarily an indicator of higher comfort.
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1. Birkenstock Sandals
If you don’t already know, it’s high time to learn. Birkenstocks’ well-deserved fame is due to the unique contoured footbed, which provides arch support and adapts to the exact shape of your foot the more you wear them. They never go out of style for long, and the big buckles on this pair give the classic Arizona style a chic update.
2. Trendy Soludos Espadrilles
Espadrilles are another perennially on-trend summer flat, and a stylish yet comfy alternative to sandals — just in case you’re a little behind on your pedicures. Cult brand Soludos is a go-to for espadrilles of all kinds, from the simple and preppy to the slightly whimsical, like this winking pair.
3. Chic Vince Slides
If you need a slightly dressier shoe but your toes still want to feel free, the good news is that slides are still very much a thing. Upscale basics brand Vince is a go-to for a well-made and sophisticated sandal. This pair’s neutral color and simple design are very of-the-moment.
4. Classic Tod’s Loafers
Everyone should own at least one pair of beautiful leather loafers, so why not start with an icon. There has never been a wrong place for the Tod’s Gommino driving shoe, which is set on 133 hand-applied rubber pebbles for added grip and comfort.
5. Simple The Row Ballet Flats
We think the Gossip Girl-era ballet flats that were popular in the late 2000s still look a little dated, but the ballerina shoe itself is timeless. For something a little more modern, we love the high coverage design of this suede pair from The Row — a favored brand of Upper East Siders.
6. Comfortable Clarks Mules
Comfort is the Clarks brand’s whole reason for being, but orthopedic doesn’t have to mean hideous. These elegant mules are made with an OrthoLite footbed and PU foam to cushion your foot all day long, with a smooth interior that feels nice even on bare feet.
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