Flats are a stylish alternative to heels that are far more comfortable to wear and much easier to walk in. Some brands of flats are so comfy right out of the box that they barely need any breaking-in period.
Podiatrists don’t recommend wearing flats for extended periods or when you have to walk long distances as they have little to no arch support, which can lead to foot, ankle, and even lower back pain as well as other issues. Flats are fine to wear for some activities but look for styles that have extra cushioning or arch support if possible.
If finding comfortable styles has been a problem for you in the past, check out some of the most popular options that have excellent cushioning and will keep your feet blister and pain-free. Scroll down to see all of the most comfortable flats on the market right now.
Tory Burch Minnie Travel Ballet Flat
A cute little shoe that works well for travel or commuting is the Tory Burch Minnie Travel Ballet Flat. They are designed to be folded up and placed into a small bag you take out when you need them. It could mean switching them out for heels during your workday or while at a wedding if your heels start to hurt.
If you are a fan of Tory Burch, you will love this style, as it has the logo medallion that makes it instantly recognizable as a Tory Burch product. The leather is soft and supple, and it has an elasticized back topline to stop the shoe from sliding off. There isn’t much arch support in the insole, but it does have a good amount of cushion on the bottom.
Available from Nordstrom
Amazon Essentials Women’s Ballet Flat
The Amazon Essentials Women’s Ballet Flat is an excellent option if you are looking for something inexpensive that looks great. Like many other styles on this list, they have a bit of padding on the footbed while not having the best arch support.
This Amazon Essentials style may need a short amount of time to break them in, but once broken in, they should be pretty comfy. These shoes are quite casual but are versatile enough for most outfits.
Available from Amazon
Rothys have had an enormous surge in popularity over the last few years, in part due to Megan Markle being a big fan of the brand. They look fantastic, are super versatile, and are beyond comfortable to wear.
This shoe comes in a vast array of colors and a few different options for patterns. The best thing about Rothy’s shoes is they are made from recycled water bottles that had been bound to clog up landfills, so you can feel great about wearing them.
Available from Rothy.com
Born Julianne shoes have a reputation as being one of the most comfortable flats on the market. They fit in such a way around the heel that they don’t rub and cause discomfort. There aren’t many colors to choose from for the Julianne, but they have the basic colors you would expect.
The Julianne fits most women well right out of the box, with very little or no break-in needed. The leather is very soft and pliable, so it easily molds to the shape of your foot. This shoe provides pretty good cushioning and arch support for this type of shoe. They are a little pricey, but many women feel they are worth the money for the comfort and quality you are getting.
Available from Zappos.com
Everlane The Day Glove
Everyone loves these Day Glove flats from Everlane. As the name suggests, a lot of women find this style fits them like a glove right out of the box. They can be worn all day and look very chic and stylish. They come in beautiful colors, and the leather is sturdy but supple and buttery.
The vamp is quite high on the shoe, so it is a different look than the traditional ballet style, but it does give quite a modern look to it. The only issue seems to be that the sole isn’t the most durable and may wear out quickly.
Available from Everlane
Sam Edelman Women’s Felicia
The ubiquitous Felicia from Sam Edelman is the go-to flats for a lot of women. They are adorable with a pretty bow and charm detail, and you can get them in a vast range of colors and finishes. As far as comfort goes, they have a reasonably well-padded footbed, require very little break-in time, and most women should be able to wear this style for long stretches without any discomfort.
Despite the well-padded footbed, there is very little arch support, so if you need a lot of support, this isn’t the style for you. They come in wide widths, which can sometimes be hard to find with flats. The toe area is roomy and doesn’t pinch your toe in the same way a more pointed style might.
Available from Nordstrom
Dexflex Claire Scrunch Flat
If you are looking for a casual, inexpensive option, check out the DexFlex Comfort Women’s Claire Scrunch Flat. As you can probably tell from the name, the shoe is very flexible instead of stiff, hard shoes that can cause your skin to rub and create blisters.
The Claire is nicely padded inside, which makes it very comfortable and easy to wear. There have been some complaints lately from loyal customers who have been wearing this style for years that the quality has changed, so if you are interested in this shoe, you will want to check it out in person if possible before buying.
Find on Amazon
Lucky Brand Women’s Emmie
One of the most popular flats, if you are looking for comfort, is the Lucky Brand Women’s Emmie. They are very well padded, and many women go back to this style year after year because they are one of the best styles going if you want to avoid rubbing and chafing on your feet. They come in something like 50 different colors/patterns, are reasonably priced, and can be casual or dressed up depending on the fabric pattern you choose.
They are available in many soft fabrics, including velvet, smooth canvas, and leather. Since they come in half sizes, you should be able to get a good fit with this style. The heel and the outsole are rubber, which can help with shock absorption when you are walking. By most reports, they are very durable and should last quite a long time if properly cared for.
They aren’t the best option if you need proper arch support, but they are an excellent cushioned, inexpensive style that will work well for most women.
Available from Zappos.com
If you are looking for a d’Orsay style, have a look at the Samantha d’Orsay flat from Naturalizer. Naturalizer is a brand that has a strong focus on comfort, and this design is an excellent alternative to a regular ballet style. The upper part of the shoe is made from either super-soft suede, leather, or a mix of the two that will stretch to fit your foot. You can also get it in patterned fabric.
The d’Orsay design means that this shoe is pretty easy to get on and off. They may stretch out a little bit, so if you are interested, make sure you are careful with sizing, especially with regards to width, as sometimes this style can run a bit narrow or a little wide because of the cut. There isn’t any arch support, but it does have padding under the ball of the foot. There is a small piece of elastic on the inside to allow stretch while walking and give it a little more support to stay on the foot.
Available from Naturalizer
Comfortiva Posie from Soft Spots
The Comfortiva Posie from Soft Spots may not be considered a true flat by some because of the small 1-inch heel, but if you are looking for a comfy style that looks like a flat but has a durable, solid rubber sole, this is probably the style for you. Rubber soles are great if you have to do a lot of walking while still looking professional for work, as they can help absorb the pressure when you are walking.
The Posie has a beautiful buckle detailing over the toe that makes them a little more interesting than your basic ballet style. It is an excellent stable shoe that will last a long time and are comfortable to wear right out of the box with minimal break-in time required.
Available from Zappos
Rockport Total Motion Adelyn Ballet
Rockport often comes up as one of the best footwear brands if you need comfort while having to move around a lot. The Total Motion® Adelyn Ballet is a very light and flexible design that can hold up well to reasonably heavy-duty wear. Since it is Rockport, this style has very strong cushioning, including a foam backed heel. The sole has all kinds of features that make the footbed super supportive and easy to wear.
If you have issues with your feet overheating and sweating, you may want to check this style out as the lining and the footbed was designed to be breathable, and it has also been treated with NZYM to help improve odor control and moisture-wicking. It is a pretty dressy shoe that you can comfortably wear with a suit or slacks.
Available from Zappos.com
Hush Puppies Women’s Chaste Ballet Flat
Those who are familiar with the Hush Puppies brand will know that they make their shoes with comfort being their number one priority. Their Chaste Ballet style contains all kinds of trademarked comfort technology that make the footbed super-cushioned and allow it to conform to the way you walk. This style is made from full-grain leather with a genuine leather sock lining.
The rubber outsole is slip-resistant and is reportedly very durable for walking. They are a classic ballet style, so there isn’t much arch support other than the cushioning, so if you need arch support, this isn’t going to be the style for you.
Available from Hush Puppies
Cole Haan Tali Bow Ballet
Cole Haan is usually a reliable source for high quality, comfortable, stylish shoes. The Cole Haan Tali Bow Ballet is an elegant design that is a good alternative if you find heels too painful to wear but need something for formal events.
They have a very slight wedge heel that will give you a small amount of lift, and the bow elevates the shoe into a more formal style if needed. Or you can wear them for casual situations since they work equally well for both. Since they are Cole Haan, they are a little pricey, but they are pretty good quality and should last a long time. It is a solid, well-padded design made from thick, supple leather that will keep you comfy all day.
Available from Zappos
ECCO Anine Ballerina
Ecco footwear is generally very comfortable, one of the flat styles that they offer is the Anine Ballerina. This simple design is versatile enough to look casual or dressy, depending on what you wear it with. It has a reasonably cushioned insole that is comfortable for walking.
Find at Zappos.com
Another much-loved option is the Frye Carson. The sole on the Carson is padded (although a little thin), and the structure on the upper part of the shoe is substantial. The leather is supple and takes to the shape of your foot over time.
Frye products are known for their fantastic quality; if you get something from this brand, there is a pretty good chance that it is going to last for years. Frye’s designs are also somehow able to always look stylish even after you have had them for a long time. The Carson has a classic design, is super comfortable right out of the box, and they go with everything. What more can you ask for in a shoe?
Available from The Frye Company
Clarks ‘Blanche Nora’
Another style that may work well for you if you need a good amount of support that will go with most outfits is Clarks ‘Blanche Nora’ flat. What is interesting about this design is that it has an elastic border that goes around the opening, so you don’t get any rubbing or digging into your skin on that part. The soft cushion insoles are excellent to help prevent pain, and they have a slight heel that helps makes it comfortable to walk in.
Available from Amazon
MICHAEL Michael Kors Lillie Moccasin Flats
For those Micheal Kors fans out there, an attractive option is the MICHAEL Michael Kors Lillie Moccasin Flats. They are a fun little shoe with the MK logo that is made from durable leather.
They don’t have much in the way of arch support, but they do have some padding, and the outsole has a durable rubber grip on the bottom that makes the shoe pleasant to walk in. Overall it is a cute shoe that goes with practically everything.
Available from Macy’s
People have incredibly positive or negative reactions to Tieks. I’m not sure exactly why this shoe riles people up so much, but maybe the blue sole has something to do with it. Regardless of how you feel about Tieks, most of the brand’s fans say that nothing compares as far as comfort goes.
They won’t dig into your heel or be painful to wear because cushioned back and the heavy cushioning on the sole. They cost $175, and people who own them do seem to like them and find them comfortable.
Find at Tieks
How to Find Comfortable Flats
Sizing– Podiatrists will tell you that the most important thing when shopping for any shoe is to get the right size for your foot type. This seems like it shouldn’t be a big problem, but many people get their feet sized when they are in their teens and use this size for years even if their foot size has changed through pregnancy or weight fluctuations. Next time you are shopping for shoes, have the person in the shoe store measure your foot with the Brannock Device just to confirm your size is what you think it is; you may be surprised. Also, be aware that there is a huge variation between sizing in different brands and even from style to style in the same brand.
Fit- In addition to size, fit can play a crucial role in getting shoes that you enjoy wearing. It is a good idea to get a good fit in the toe box by making sure your toes aren’t squished together but are laying flat. Not only will this feel better, but it will help to prevent a variety of foot issues down the line.
Support– For the most part, you aren’t going to find a lot of styles with excellent arch support if you are shopping for flats. If you cannot give up flats, but you need designs that have the support you can look for products with the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance. There aren’t many ballet styles that have received this seal, but one that you can try is the FitFlop Allegro Ballet Flat.
Material– Foot experts generally recommend leather as being the best material to look for in terms of comfort when shoe shopping. If you are interested in sustainable options, brands like Rothy are doing great things with recycled plastic that is comfy enough to wear and is very durable so that you can get a lot of wear out of them.