Style + Work

The Work Edit: Flats I’m Buying for Work

Back at work just six days and I’m already realizing that my work wardrobe is not working for me.  Some of my dresses are too small.  Others fit, but aren’t suited to this much stair-climbing (top floor offices, woof). And going back to high heels, when I need to be able to cover a lot of ground quickly, not great.

So what do I need?  I decided to start where my heart is, in my feet.

That may not be anatomically correct, but when your toes are screaming in pain, thinking about anything else is a challenge.  So back to flats I go, with a pair of heels in my drawer, just in case.

My black Rothy’s will be getting quite a workout.  I like the pointed pair because, from a distance, you can’t tell that they’re not leather unless you’re really looking.

I’m also considering these leopard flats and a red pair.  Because a girl needs options.

I still have some decisions to make on leather flats, but this champagne colored pair from Bella Vita ($92, also in wide) caught my eye.   The almond toe is nice, but I’m worried they might be more an around my office shoe than a wear on the floor of the chamber shoe.  I also spotted these Marc Fisher heels in gold.

If I decide against metallics, black is probably the way I will go.  The Sam Edelman Rodney d’Orsay flats are a great mid-price shoe at $100.  If I decide to splurge, LK Bennett makes a nice flat.

Can’t escape the heels?  PreHeels is for you.  It’s a spray that helps protect your skin from chafing and blistering.  I spray my feet with it, and I get all-day relief from pinched toes and rubbed heels.

Price a little rich for your blood?  Try Monistat Anti-Chef gel, not as convenient as the spray, but effective.

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  1. Betsy says:

    Oof. If I wear heels at all these days, I can only do block heels. Fortunately, I work in an office to which I wear flats or slip-on sneakers every day. (And I get some side eye for my metallic flats – so fancy!)

    That spray looks amazing. Totally buying it to have on hand next time I have a long day/night ahead in heels.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
    • Jessica says:

      Second this. I have one pair of stiletto heels left that I just can’t part with because they are “such a staple,” but I can’t even begin to tell you the last time I wore them.

      January 10, 2019/Reply
      • B says:

        This exactly. If a $15 spray can help me get more wears out of the Prada pumps I look at longingly but avoid unless I know I’m mostly going to be sitting, I’m all in.

        January 10, 2019/Reply
        • LAURA says:

          I’m not a huge fan of PreHeels but I think I kind of suck at applying it. I spray it on and it comes out very aggressively. And then I try to add more layers and it ends up just dripping down my foot and making a mess. Not saying it’s not user error but….

          January 10, 2019/Reply
  2. Denise says:

    I have switched to primarily flats recently, as I’m running more and heels can lead to tight calves and issues with plantar bands in runner’s feet (If you run – ditch the heels for at least a month before your races!). I love Cole Haan ‘Tali’ bow flats with slacks, It takes a while to break them in but then they last forever, provided you stick with leather and don’t get metallic, which can scuff badly. I also have a pair of pointed toe ‘Grand OS’ flats that are sort of a snake print with a bit of pink in them – perfect with black and navy.

    If anyone has tried their new ‘sport’ line – i’d love to hear an opinion! If i’m out and about I wear nikes for the arch support but wondering if I should up my game!

    January 10, 2019/Reply
    • Beth says:

      I have a wedge pair similar to this one with the sport padding, and they’re perfect for long work days with a lot of walking or standing (I used them as my go-to shoes for professional musician work that involved standing for hours on hard floors). The wedge is low enough to be comfortable while still being dressy enough for performances.

      January 11, 2019/Reply
  3. HW says:

    Another option is a nice wedge that looks like a heel but offers much more support and comfort. My current version is the Franco Sarto Fleur wedge that I got from DSW (in both a pinkish nude and black), with the Franco Sarto Frankie version being a nice runner up.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
  4. L says:

    I only wear heels at work for special occasions/meetings. I noticed that my knee pain was significantly worse from wearing heels – even low 2 inchers – all day, and I’d rather save my knees for workouts and wearing heels outside of work.

    As for the Rothys… I just couldn’t. Not comfortable for me even after the break-in period, and MUCH worse after washing the first time. Plus so spendy for non-leather.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
  5. Kathryn says:

    If you want something in a neutral leather, I highly recommend the Fortuna from M. Gemi. I’ve never paid that much for a flat, but they hold their shape and look really sleek.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
    • Megan says:

      I second this recommendation! Also, the Natalie by Sarah Flint if you’re looking for a splurge.

      January 10, 2019/Reply
  6. Christine says:

    These penny loafers are my go-to flat alternative lately. I have them in two colors and are insanely comfortable after the first wear, they start to mold to your foot. I find them to be more structured-looking than Rothy’s. I have wider feet and I felt like the Rothy’s points looked disheveled when they stretched for my foot.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
  7. Reed says:

    I’m sure you’ve answered this a thousand times, but how do you (or any of your readers) like your Rothy’s? I am so tired of buying flats only for them to wear out after less than a year of use. How do they hold up on city streets? For long days of walking? Thanks in advance!

    January 10, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I like them. I don’t wear them for touristing because they don’t have much support. On a previous post, readers said they had removed the insoles and installed orthopedic inserts to fix that, but I haven’s tried it myself. I’ve been wearing the same pair for a year, not as much walking as in DC, but they’re holding up well.

      January 10, 2019/Reply
    • Anna says:

      I wore mine for a 34k step day in Paris, and my feet felt totally fine. My back did hurt though, probably a combo of no support and awkwardly carrying heavy bags all day, but my feet weren’t the least bit sore. I think the round toe (and probably loafer too) are slightly more comfortable than the point, but I’ve also done quite a bit of touristing in the point without problems. It feels like walking barefoot, because they aren’t restrictive and allow your toes to spread. I have one acquaintance whose Rothy’s didn’t last for more than a few months of heavy DC commuting (I think she wore them everyday for a mostly walking commute), but I’ve had one pair of 9 months and another for six and they both look great. I wear them multiple times a week, mostly around the office and to and from the bus (about two blocks each way).

      January 10, 2019/Reply
      • Reed Dudley says:

        Thanks, Anna and Abra. Both of your comments were really helpful. Looks like a pair may be in my future!

        January 10, 2019/Reply
        • s-p-c says:

          Adding that I have had a round-toe black pair that is still the one I primarily wear (have now added others) going strong after 2 years – commuting in DC. They’re showing some wear, but have held up much better than other commuting flats. And also wore mine all over France with no issues!

          January 10, 2019/Reply
          • Jenny says:

            Do they stretch at all? I got a pair for Christmas and they’re a little tight. Is there a break-in period?

            January 10, 2019/Reply
            • christine says:

              Mine didn’t. They pretty much stayed the same for me as far as size, which meant the points I ordered in my regular size had to go up on eBay.

              January 11, 2019/Reply
            • Anna says:

              I’d exchange them for a bigger size. They might get a little more comfortable with wear, but that could just be you getting used to them. One of the pluses for me is that they kind of still stay molded to your foot, whereas most of my other flats would stretch and I’d end up with platypus feet. Both pairs I purchased I exchanged for larger sizes to get just the right fit (I hate seeing the outline of my toes), and both times the new pair was sent before I’d even put the old ones in the mail.

              January 11, 2019/Reply
              • JenNy says:

                Thanks for the replies! At 6’1” I wear a size 12 and so I’m at the top of their size range unfortunately.

                January 20, 2019/Reply
  8. Rachel says:

    This is a timely post. I was coming to your blog to submit a question about black ballet flats for work.

    First, you mention Rothys. Are they really nice enough for work? I’ve not seen them in person, so I wasn’t certain.

    Second, I know you aren’t a big fan of rounded toe flats, but in my business casual office, they fit in without a problem. That being said, what are your (and readers) thoughts on Tieks?

    I wear black flats 3/4 days a week, so I’m ready to invest more than my $40 Jcrew Factory standard.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
    • Emily says:

      Hi Rachel – Yes, the black flats are really nice enough for work. I’m generally anti-flats at work because I’m fairly short and feel more professional in heels. However, the Rothys are literally the first pair of flats that I’ve felt comfortable wearing to work with my “professional” clothes. For what it’s worth, I think any of the solid points that are really a solid color (some of them look solid, but are kind of pixalated) look professional enough for work (I also have the red and a hot pink).

      And to answer the question above about them lasting, I’ve had the black ones for well over a year, used them as a main shoe for two touristy trips to European cities and plenty of other walking, and the’ve held up well. I usually drive to work and don’t ride the Metro so it doesn’t get the daily commuting use thought.

      January 10, 2019/Reply
  9. Bon says:

    These inserts are amazing and have made all of my flats more comfortable.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
  10. Strin012 says:

    I really like Cole Haan flats for work (but not the ones with elastic – those are painful). Looks like DSW and Nordy Rack have some good options and deals. Good luck on your search!

    January 10, 2019/Reply
  11. Heather says:

    I’ve had good luck with the Linea Paola brand. I get them at Nordstrom. I have a couple pair of flats and the Toledo pump which is not technically flat but I consider it to be in the same category.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
  12. T says:

    For me, shoes with a little bit of a chunky heel (around 2″)are much more comfortable than flats. I just purchased the Everlane Day Heel and love them.

    P.S. I think of you often because I’m going through a very similar experience with a new job and new city (with all the same emotions) and am facing a lot of the same challenges with finding an appropriate yet comfortable work wardrobe based on a new body size. I appreciate your realness. I’m rooting for you and grateful for your blog.

    January 10, 2019/Reply
  13. Mercedes says:

    Word of warning, I have those same Sam Edelman flats in gold and they are the most uncomfortable flats I have ever worn. I literally had to walk around my office barefoot one day because they scraped up the back of my heels so bad my feet were bleeding.

    January 11, 2019/Reply
  14. Anne says:

    May I suggest the day heel from Everlane? I can’t wear flats – they hurt as much as high heels and these have enough of a heel to be both comfortable and courtroom appropriate. I do have to size up but otherwise they are perfect.

    January 11, 2019/Reply
    • NEENS says:

      I really like the look of these…except those pull-tabs in the back! Why?!

      January 15, 2019/Reply
  15. Annie says:

    I have the Bella Vita flats in multiple colors, and I love them. I have wide feet, and flats that both fit my feet, and aren’t frumpy can be hard. But these have held up for me well. The one thing I will say is that I’ve noticed a pretty big size variation between different colors of the flat, so if they don’t fit, you might just want to try a different pair.

    January 11, 2019/Reply