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I used to be a firm proponent of wearing heels. In pre-Covid times, I let Carrie Bradshaw’s on-screen style guide my footwear choices — opting to bear the pain of wearing gorgeous stilettos (or some version of an elevated style) for nearly every occasion. Now, after over a year of living in slippers and cushy slides, I’m not so easily able to sacrifice my comfort for the extra height and confidence boost heels once offered me.
While flats have often gotten a bad rap for being less sophisticated than their loftier counterparts, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that many brands have stepped up their game in the flat shoe department — both before and as a result of the pandemic. Emerging label Birdies has redefined the slipper category with indoor-outdoor flats and mules that expertly marry comfort and luxurious style. Meanwhile, Tory Burch’s spring ’21 loafers look anything but matronly, done with chic pointed toe silhouettes, vibrant leathers and modern hardware details. What’s more, a handful of buzzy labels like The Row and Khaite have offered clever takes on the once “basic” ballet flat, inspiring a reemergence of the category for current seasons.
And that’s just for everyday wear. For more formal events on the calendar, there are also plenty of chic flats available — think rhinestone-embellished mules and sandals — that are appropriate for black tie dress codes and fancy dinner outings.
From versatile ballet flats to glittering slides, ahead, 14 flat shoes that are just as chic as heels.
Franco Sarto Ailee Flat
Polished yet still laidback, Franco Sarto’s Ailee Flat can effortlessly transition from work to the weekend. Details like a trendy square toe, asymmetrical topline and muted snakeskin finish make the style far from boring.
Birdies the Songbird
Call it a house shoe or mule you wear to elevate jeans and tee combos — Birdies the Songbird does it all. The adorable pom-pom-adorned style is also made to feel just as good as it looks, featuring seven layers of cushioning and a quilted satin footbed.
Rag and Bone Elly Flat
Scrunchie-style flats are everywhere these days. I’m currently obsessed with Rag and Bone’s Elly Flat, done in supple Italian leather with a memory foam footbed for comfort.
Ash Petra Studded Sandal
Spring ’21 runways also offered up edgy studded looks, which promise to be statement pieces. Throw on a simple frock or distressed denim with Ash’s Petra Studded Sandals, a strappy take on the trend, and your look will instantly be made.
Rothy’s The Mary Jane
Rothy’s gained major visibility after Meghan Markle wore one of its pairs in 2018, and since then, the label’s offerings only keep getting better. The eco-friendly flats brand debuted its of-the-moment Mary Jane silhouette last winter, done with a signature recycled knit upper and in-step strap. Available in nine stunning colorways, this one is perfect to wear to the office, for getting groceries and everything in between.
Badgley Mischka Reed Sandals
Rhinestone-embellished straps add glamour to Badgley Mischka’s minimalist Reed sandals, which are perfect for date night or wedding season without looking too over-the-top.
Matisse XOXO Pointed Toe Mule
A metallic finish makes Matisse XOXO’s woven Pointed Toe Mules look luxe. The warm champagne hue is also slightly more unexpected than classic gold and silver alternatives.
BCBGmaxazria Remi Braided Slide Sandal
Braided woven details are also set to be huge this season, with countless designers making a case for them in non-heeled silhouettes. These BCBGmaxazria Remi Braided Slide Sandals are at the top of my wishlist, as I can easily imagine wearing them for summer barbecues and brunch with friends.
Tory Burch Jessa Pointy Toe Loafer
An untraditional take on the classic loafer style, Tory Burch’s Jessa Pointy Toe Loafer features a cool tapered toe and deconstructed leather upper made to mold to the shape of the foot. Plus, it’s offered in a range of fresh yet versatile hues, including canary yellow, olive and a lovely lavender option.
Loeffler Randal Daphne Gold Bow Slide
Done in gold lamé with a pleated knot detail, Loeffler Randal’s Daphne Gold Bow Slide will easily complement a polished maxi or crisp tea-length dress.
Vince Camuto Latenla Anklet Ballet Flat
Another way flats are being dressed up is with chain link details. In addition to dainty hardware, Vince Camuto’s Latenla Anklet Ballet Flat features a sleek, form-fitting upper and on-trend square toe.
Marc Fisher Rosely Flat
Speaking of chain link accents, these breezy Marc Fisher Rosely Flat slides featuring the accessory will go with just about any outfit.
Kurt Geiger London Princely
Kurt Geiger London’s Princely flats are equal parts elegant and modern. They instantly catch the eye with three tiers of rhinestone embellishments across the vamp, and thanks to a silhouette that’s a mule but almost appears to be a full flat.