Sensible Shoes

24th August 2010

I just ordered some flats, because I’ve walked holes in all my everyday shoes. The ones above are Kimchi Blue Asymmetrical Skimmers. They’re cheap, so I assume they will hurt me, but I’m taking a chance because of the cuteness.

I also ordered a pair of Tieks, which were recommended to me as the ultimate travel shoe by someone on Facebook (was it you, Lisa Kohara?). Because I am a miser when it comes to clothes, this is the most I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes, but they look perfect for traveling. If they last, I may decide to always own a pair forever and ever amen. If they don’t last, I’m going to be pissed. *(Update: My Tieks arrived, and they are genius. Very solid, and compact, and great quality. Highly recommended. I could not be more excited to have found them.)

Have any sensible shoe favorites I should know about? Spill.

64 thoughts on “Sensible Shoes

  1. Rebecca

    I would love to see a picture of the Tieks on your feet when you get them. So many travel shoes look really flimsy (more like slippers), but I love ballet flats. I like that the heels aren’t elasticized, too. Very intriguing.

    My go-to shoes this summer have been Gap ballet flats. Supremely comfy and super-inexpensive.

  2. Heather

    Would love to know what you think of the Tieks. I have a pair and although I think they are adorable, I don’t think they are holding up well and I actually find them incredible unsupportive and uncomfortable in the heel area.

  3. Elizabeth

    Michael Kors Olympia flats are the most perfect black leather flats ever made:

    so much so, that even though I’m totally cheap, I’m contemplating ordering a second pair for backup because I know I’m going to wear them to death. I looked for over a year for the perfect simple black leather flats before finding these.

    I also recently got a pair of these Stella McCartney for Adidas flats, and I love them so far but haven’t worn them enough yet to vouch for long term comfortableness:

  4. Jamie

    Straight from the deep, dark recesses of my mind – my first thought was to jokingly suggest you purchase Crocs, but then I had a flash in my mind of the three of you, clad in the most obnoxious pairs of Crocs ever procured, on the front of your 2010 holiday card…only you’re all making screamy, horror, bride-of-frankenstein faces and pointing at each other ugly croslite shoes. Hank may (in my imagination) have the Home Alone double cheek slap going on in the photo. The tag line inside the card says something like “Step out in style (or not) in 2011 – Happy New Year from the Masons!”

    This is what I imagine all stylish families do around the holidays, no?

  5. Stephanie

    I have my eye on these:

    Besides being super padded and comfortably bend-y, they also have some sparkle (and really, who doesn’t love that?). Full disclosure: I work for Banana Republic, but I really am planning to purchase these specifically for all of that standing on my feet retail time.

    I also own and love these:,target_com_shoe_size-bin,lifestyle-bin,target_com_primary_color-bin,price,target_com_brand-bin&searchRank=pmrank&frombrowse=1

    which are definitely not as comfortable, but they are very cute.

  6. Jennifer

    I know they are not at ALL sexy, but by God, they comfortable and oh-so-practical when flying — Birkenstock suede clogs.

    I’m always chilly when flying, especially on long trips, so I’m always packing/wearing a pair of socks… which fits comfortably into a pair. They are also ideal for dealing with the security line at the airport because they easily slip off, leaving you in your socks (bare feet in the airport is a huge no-no to me — gross).

    I end up (pathetically) wearing these clogs from fall through spring on errands to the store, etc. Of course, I do wear NICE shoes/boots when going out socially, but the comfort level in these clogs cannot be beat.

  7. Gogo

    Seconding the Lands End ballet flats. They are awesome. So awesome. I have walked a ton in them all summer and they still look great. And so comfortable.

  8. Sarah

    +1 to Camper…though, I’ve had some Campers that have been incredibly comfortable, and others I can’t stand to wear for more than an hour. They seem to have a small set of “base” styles, which the different shoes are built on, so if you find a base you like it’s easy to decide which other models will fit.

    I’ve recently discovered Not cheap, but so far the best intersection of style & comfort I’ve found. And wide/narrow sizes for those of us that squeeze into or float in regular widths. Nordstrom & Zappos both carry a good selection.

  9. Leigh

    They’re possibly the most un-sexy shoes in the universe, but I’ve worn holes in one pair of white canvas Keds slip-ons (yes, Keds. I’m sorry, Fashion Gods) and am well on my way to doing the same to my second.

    I’ve got a myriad of medical issues that make comfort not just a priority, but a safety issue: lupus, fibromyalgia, vertigo, arthritis, etc.. I’m a walking disaster, basically.

    I’ve got a pair of Frye Billy boots that totally turned around my hatred of cowboy boots with their awesome-ness (my favorite second-hand score to date) and a totally awesome splurge pair of Cole Haan black ballet flats with the Nike Air technology built into the soles. I, like you, am a total miser, but I made the exception (and, um, I had money from a car accident settlement) and they’re astoundingly good.

    On the rare occasions that I end up wearing heels, I always shove an anicent pair of cloth Bloch ballet slippers into my bag. They fit into even the tiniest of clutches (even if they end up a bit smooshed) and have saved me from falling over more times that I can count.

    On a side note, I am now coveting those gold-sequined Toms. I have a red pair that I never wear, but I would make an exception for those.

  10. Sioux

    Maggie, I have had wonderful experiences with Kimchi Blue as a maker of cheap flats. I walked all over Tokyo in a pair of patent t-strap skimmers with minimal blisters and heel pain. Unless you have a weird foot shape or other problems, I think the black skimmers should be fine.

    Works cited:,+product.marketingPriority&navCount=161&navAction=poppushpush&color=&pushId=SALE_W_SHOES&popId=SALE_W&prepushId=&selectedProductSize=

  11. Nina

    I second the Cole Haan flats with Nike Air technology. I’ve walked holes in mine. They feel like sneaks, look like real shoes. They were pricey, but they’ve often had them on Gilt… and besides, I’ve worn them often enough that it’s probably evened out to a few pennies per use. Sixteen months of heavy wear later, and mine still look great.

  12. Ashley

    I second the TOMS suggestion. They are THE most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. They have so many different styles and colors to chose from. I also find that they’re very versatile.

    It also doesn’t hurt that they’re a great cause to support and not terribly expensive.

  13. Jan

    Leigh bared her Birkenstock sole (har har) so I guess I can fess up to my Rykas ( Pretty much all I wear anymore — mules, slides, sneakers, walking shoes. Their size is right and straight out of the box they feel like they were made for me. They’re not sleek like other flats, but they look fine for work, shopping, etc., have great support and last YEARS with minimal care.

    I have a pretty wide foot, so finding flats that are comfortable AND cute AND somewhat affordable is difficult. I’ve looked at the ones recommended here but most don’t come in wides. :( I shall persevere!

  14. Mandy

    Indigo by Clarks.

    Way more funky than the main Clarks line. I’ve walked miles and miles in their *heels*, which is unheard of in any other shoes I’ve owned (presumably thanks to the Clarks traditional emphasis on comfort/quality?). It’s like wearing slippers at work.

  15. Janet

    I have a pair of Tieks and I LOVE them. I am awaiting a pewter pair that I ordered when they were sold out and cannot wait to get them in the mail.

    Also, I met the owners of Tieks a few months ago and they are lovely. I think you would like them.

  16. Maren

    I bought a pair of grey TOMS to take to Europe this month and was not disappointed. They chafed a little without socks in hot weather back home, but wore like champs with socks while tromping all over creation. I have weird feet that will not stay in ballet flats (ironically, they’re *shaped* like ballerina feet with near-bunions and narrow heels), so it was exciting to find slip-on shoes that were cute and yet came down far enough on my arch to stay on and not need straps.

  17. simone

    I second the Gap City flats. I don’t know why they are so cheap–they’re so comfy! I bought one pair, wore them everyday and ran back to buy another pair because I knew I was going to ruin them.

  18. Melanie

    Now I want a pair of Camper boots SO BAD, these are adorable:
    I have a couple of pairs of flats from Sears & Avenue that are fine but not really walking all day type shoes, so these recommendations are great. I want a pair of squish-up-able ballet flats but I’m so afraid of lack of support in them because I have wide, flat feet – I can’t wait to hear how the Tieks work out for you.

  19. ems

    I have the kimchi flats in gold–they have no support, but have kept me blister-free thru many a hoof-a-thon up and down the streets of Manhattan.

  20. Sarah

    I second the J-41 recommendation. I sprained my ankle terribly on the third day of my two week New Zealand trip. I wore these shoes: for the rest of the trip. After wearing them daily for about six months, some of the rubber started to separate from the side of the shoe around the ball of the foot, but I called the company and they FedExed me a new pair for free.

  21. emily

    Bensimons! I love Tom’s but they are not durable (I have had 4 pairs and five months is the longest I have been able to wear a pair…). But Bensimons are fabulous and are still made in France. The ballet style is amazing and they are cheap and honestly look good with everything.

  22. robyn

    i second, third, fourth the nod to Toms – you even have their ads on your site, so you MUST try a pair. i rock my red ones all fall when we head to Husker games (college football) and if i’d planned ahead would have adorned every single member of our bridal party in them for our wedding last year.

    i’ve worn black pairs to work, and the cause can’t be beat!

  23. Sarah Brown

    I can never find flats I like that don’t cost $70 or fall apart. I tried on the Gap City flats last month, liked them, and thought, “Eh, I’ll come back when they’re on sale,” and now I can’t find them anywhere in my size. BUT, I did buy a £4 pair of flats at Primark in June and they’re the best things I’ve ever worn. What the hell, universe? I need to go back and buy them in ever color they carry.

  24. Megan

    The intersection of cute and comfortable in a shoe is my unending quest. Since it is so difficult to find a good pair, I have taken to getting shoes with removable insoles, then replace them with a pair of Superfeet (I have a single pair and swap out among shoes). I’ve even used them with shoes that don’t have a removable insole, but that can yield a too-snug fit. Clearly can’t be used with heels, but it’s not like I haven’t given it a lot of thought.

    Four years ago, I bought the only cute heels Aerosoles ever made and ran them into the ground over the next two. I always go back to look for more, but the sad truth is that those shoes were their one hit wonder.

  25. Megan

    But wait! Superfeet does have insoles for shoes with non-removable insoles (it’s the blue one – I have the green ones). I have wasted so much time in uncomfortable shoes!

  26. Jaime

    I’ve never tried Toms, but I’ll give them a shot.

    For sandals, I’ll second birks:
    The Gizeh is a huge summer hit in Amsterdam, though here, there’s a lot more availability on colors. Mine are patent red.

    For sneakers, I’m swore to life to New Balance 574. If you go to Shoe Biz in SF, sometimes they have a hipper color set for the same shoe model.

    I’ve also always kept track of:
    Never been able to get the sizing right for Vivobarefoot, but worth a try. Terraplana, its parent brand, makes rad shoes as well.

  27. Lindsey

    @Mary – I just ordered those exact shoes at for about 1/2 the price! Another Keen lover here but I am also pretty much a jeans and tshirt girl.

  28. Elizabeth

    I believe I have finally found the perfect simple leather ballet flat in Michael Kors Olympia flats. I looked for well over a year for the right black leather flats before finding them (meanwhile my old pair actually got holes in them,) and despite both my cheapness and their cost, ordered a second pair for backup because the first pair are already so heavy in my shoe rotation I know I’m going to eventually wear them out.

  29. Chels

    I’m going to fess up and admit that I live in my Rainbow sandals ( the summer months. I love flip flops.

    I have a pair of patent Rocket Dog flats that I have been wearing for nearly 2 years. They are my go-to flats. That said, I just bought my first pair of Toms, and absolutely adore them. Waaay more comfy than I ever imagined, and that’s coming from a girl who lives in flip-flops.

  30. Alanna

    The Merrell Brio – Comfortable – Excellent tread – can be worn with or without socks/hose and work well with both skirts and pants. I LOVE these shoes.

  31. Lisa K.

    Yes, twas I! I hope you love your Tieks when you get them (I would feel horrible if you didn’t!). I have only had mine for a little over a week, and I can’t stop wearing them. They are like little pillows on my feet! What color did you get?
    Hopefully the promo they were running helped take the edge off the big pricetag!

  32. Kfir

    Hello Ladies! My sister, Dikla, and I are the founders of Tieks. Thanks for the post Maggie, and Lisa for posting this to our FB wall. Hi Janet! Heather, I’d love to know more about any comfort or durability issues you might be having. Since our soft launch, we’ve done a thorough redesign of the shoe to make it very durable and comfy for all-day wear, while still portable. On the durability front, we’ve made major changes to the construction of the shoe. In terms of comfort, our cushioning now is much better than before. The new shoe has 2 layers of cushioning – EVA on the bottom to provide a permanent high density support and a space foam layer on top to mold to the shape of your heel. Aside from that we’ve made a ton of improvements to the shoe and have been getting great feedback so far. Hope you all get to try a pair.

  33. Kate

    I LOVE my Tieks. I’ve never had a more comfortable pair of shoes, and want to get many more pairs of them! Mine are from the most recent launch, and the quality is amazing. Every little detail is perfect, even the cute box they come in. They’re so cute. I don’t really use them as “fold-up” flats because they aren’t my backup shoes, they’re my everywhere shoes. They’re the only shoes I ever want to wear. Hope you love them, too!

  34. Allie

    I second the woman above who works for Arche. Their Laius ballet flats are pricey but well worth the expense– my previous pair lasted eight years, and I’ve been rocking my current pair for another two. They don’t quite double over like the Tieks, but are compact and perfect for travel. You can walk a mile in them.

    I am the kind of girl who buys absolutely everything on super-sale, but I have two investment pieces: my Arches and my Frye boots. Both were well worth the cost.

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