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After over a year of pandemic living, people have gotten used to all-day loungewear as a general lifestyle choice. Now, as some are cautiously heading back to the office, hopping back on planes, 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 the best comfortable flat shoes, the good news is that there is a style for every occasion.
When rounding up some of our favorite flat footwear, 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 that’ll take you from the office to happy hour (sans the blisters).
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 tags aren’t necessarily an indicator of higher comfort).
Ahead, check out some of the best women’s flat shoes, from classic Gucci mules and Birks to sandals that’ll pair perfectly with your favorite nap dress.
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.
1. Rothy’s The Point Flats
HRH Meghan Markle, Mandy Moore and Gal Gadot are just a few stars who’ve been spotted in these sustainable and machine-washable pointy-toed flats by Rothy’s, which uses plastic water bottles to create its eco-conscious knitted material. The brand is equally known for its foot-hugging silhouettes that require no break-in periods, so you can step right into this pair and enjoy all-day comfort.
2. Gucci Princetown Mules
Label lovers have no shortage of comfortable designer shoes, such as Gucci’s iconic Princetown mules — seen on everyone from Jennifer Aniston and Gigi Hadid to Kris Jenner and Katie Holmes. The luxury Italian fashion house’s beloved backless flats feature its signature red and green webstrap detailing and horsebit hardware on a comfortable silhouette.
3. Allbirds Tree Breezers Flats
If you’re looking to walk your eco-conscious talk, your feet will fit right into Allbirds’ Tree Breezer flats, which are made of responsibly sourced eucalyptus fibers. The shoes are designed to minimize odors and conform to your feet, thanks to the carbon-negative foam outsole made from Brazilian sugarcane and an insole made from castor bean oil and ZQ Merino wool.
4. Aerosoles Aware x Laura Ashley Olivia Sandals
Aerosoles is no longer just the shoe brand worn by your comfort-minded aunt or grandma (and there’s nothing wrong with that, either). The orthopedic footwear label has gotten a stylish makeover in recent years, and it recently teamed with cult-favorite British brand Laura Ashley on floral-print sandals, clogs and boots to go with its capsule collection of cottagecore dresses. This playful pair from Aerosoles’ Aware line features eco-conscious and cruelty-free materials (such as vegan leather and plush faux fur), a comfortable platform sole, a memory foam footbed and padded insoles, all with Laura Ashley’s signature botanical pattern.
5. Birdies The Swan Flats
Like Allbirds and Rothy’s, yet another direct-to-consumer brand that makes some of the best comfortable flats for women is Birdies, which expanded beyond cozy indoor slippers after shoppers demanded comfy styles for outside of the house. The brand touts its seven-layer cushion technology that “combines the support of a sneaker, the softness of a slipper and the style of a designer flat,” which you’ll find in these stylish women’s slides that feature a 15-millimeter heel and a no-slip rubber sole.
6. Naturalizer Vivienne Ballet Flats
Sometimes it doesn’t get any simpler than a chic pair of neutral ballet flats, like this pair by Naturalizer. They feature the brand’s signature Contour+ design, a comfortable round toe, a plush footbed with arch support and stylish stitching.
7. Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle Slide Sandals
If you don’t already know, it’s high time to learn. Birkenstock’s 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.
8. Soludos x Jason Polan Wink 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 from its collaboration with artist Jason Polan.
9. Tod’s Gommiherno Leat 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.
10. Vince Selene Sandals
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, such as this neutral leather pair featuring a simple criss-cross design that’s very of-the-moment.
11. The Row Suede Ballet Flats
We think the Gossip Girl 1.0-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 these suede flats (also available in brown) from The Row — a favored brand of Upper East Siders.
12. Clarks Women’s Trish Plant Clogs
Comfort is the Clarks brand’s whole reason for being, but orthopedic doesn’t have to mean hideous. These elegant mules (available in other patterns and solid colors) 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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