Thursday, May 23, 2013

Colorful Shoe Showdown: Which Comfy Yet Cute Flats to Buy?

Sadly, reviewers say these adorable Miz Mooz chartreuse ballet flats smell so bad they cannot be worn.

Readers, can you help me? I have no colorful flat shoes and I'm really struggling to find some good ones. Please help my feet find their own happy comfortable rainbow... Why must I choose between comfort and color?

I realized this while trying to put together outfits for Me Made May. I've got one pair of flats in black, and two in brown, and they're all pretty much falling apart and a bit on the chunky side.

Mostly because I have some pretty strict criteria for shoes. I once broke the same foot twice in one year (the first time while pulling on boots... I lost my balance, fell over onto my foot and CRACK!), and I used to have to wear orthotics every day. Anyway: Here's a typical conversation in a shoe shop:

Mikhaela: Hi, I'm looking for some cute, comfortable well-made sturdy flats with really good arch support that can be walked in for long distances but don't make my size 10/11 feet look like boats.

Helpful salesperson: [searches store up and down, finally emerges with several promising pairs of black and brown shoes] We have these, our customers swear by them!

Mikhaela: Do they come in any other colors?

Helpful salesperson: Nope.

Mikhaela: [sighs deeply, leaves shop empty-handed, buys boring black shoes or buys colorful heels instead].

Most ballet flat styles don't work for me at all—I find the flat inside way more uncomfortable than even a low heel.

Anyway, my mom got me a gift certificate to Amazon for Mother's Day, and I was hoping to punch up my wardrobe with some eye-searing (or at least vaguely colorful) shoes and I am really struggling here. Readers, can you help?

Here are my current top contenders, but I'd also love suggestions if there are some brands of shoes that might fill in this gap. BUT ONLY IF THEY ARE COLORFUL, please. Red, blue, or chartreuse would be especially nice... Vintage-inspired is good, too.:

#1: Arcopedico Flower Flats in green leather.

  • Pros: I know they are really, really comfortable... because I own them in black.
  • Cons: On the pricey side, hard to say what shade of green they are (on some sites they look chartreuse, hurrah, but above they look puke-colored) and they are rather Frankenstein chunky.

#2: Clarks Aldea Tribe flats in Fuschia (or the Palm in Coral)

  • Pros: I trust Clarks to make comfortable shoes that I can wear into the ground over the years. And the flower detail is great.
  • Cons: Come on, is that REALLY fuschia? Seems kinda bland from the website image... My eyes aren't bleeding yet. Skeptical of the arch support with such a flat heel.

#3: Miz Mooz Delma ballet flats in a bright shade like aqua or chartreuse.

  • Pros: LOVE the color, and I have a pair of Miz Mooz heels that are on the walkable side.
  • Cons: May be too flat inside, and some reviewers have returned them complaining of an unbearable odor.

#4: Patagonia Women's Advocate Mary Jane flats in pink

  • Pros: Super bright, super cute. AND Patagonia is serious about workers' rights and environmental responsibility.
  • Cons: Some reviewers complain of poor support.

#5: Arcopedico Scala Mary Janes in red leather

  • Pros: Red! Comfortable? Less chunky than the Flowers?
  • Cons: Still kinda boat-like... my feet may float out to sea, and not sure if they're delicate enough to wear with a frilly dress.

#6: Keen Women's Sienna Mary Janes in various colorful fabrics

  • Pros: Colorful and presumably comfortable.
  • Cons: I know they put that big toe there to protect your feet, but... why couldn't it be a coordinating color with the shoe fabric? It's like a rubber duck is eating your toes.

#7: Ahnu Karma Flats in various not-very-bright colors

  • Pros: They look super comfortable and rather cute—I like the crossed straps.
  • Cons: The colors are all a bit faded, dark or granola-earthy, not BRIGHT BRIGHT BRIGHT.

Oh, wait! Lookee here... available in citron and orange (and recommended in a blog post on Already Pretty by Kirsten of barkingdogshoes.):

#8: Softwaves Wave Mary Janes in orange or citron. Had never heard of this company, but they seem ergonomically focused (and they make cute bright heels, too).

  • Pros: I'm seeing spots they're so bright. The ruching is cute, too! Plus: comfort?
  • Cons: Or is it cute (the ruching)?

I know it probably seems like I'm over-agonizing, but I walk EVERYWHERE, I need to chase after my toddler when necessary and I take the wishes of my poor, delicate twice-broken feet very seriously! And I'm on a super-tight budget, so I generally buy only one or two pairs of shoes per year (as my old shoes wear out).

Which would you buy, if you were me? OR do you have the inside track on something better?

Update... and now I just found these two Clarks styles I missed somehow... And you all have some great ideas in the comments for brands I had never even heard of ... My despair has now turned to indecision!

Clarks Poem Journal Flats in red—great reviews, too.

Clarks Artisan Aldea in cobalt bue

Final Update: What I actually bought! So I may later get one or two of the other styles pictured above or in the comments, but what I actually ended up buying was a bit random. I was trying to decide between the different options, when these Tsubo Aftenia fashion sneaker Mary Janes popped up as a suggested item... in red! For just $69:

I happen to have the exact same shoes in brown, and know they are comfortable as all get-out. There was one pair left in red, and it was my size (10) so ... done! For now, anyway. Amazon only has black or brown ones now, but you can still find them on eBay.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for (and quite likely spent on yarn or fabric).


  1. I don't have a specfic recommendation, but have you ever looked at You may already know about it, but it's all about comfortable shoes and if you browse through past posts you will probably find stuff you like. I wear size 11 myself, but I like those basic or muted colors so I haven't been keeping an eye out for brights. Anyway, good luck!

    1. Funny you should mention that! I just updated the above blog post to specify the blog post on Already Pretty that I mentioned was by the author of that website...

  2. Totally feeling your pain here! I have personally been looking for about 2 years (still unsuccessfully) for the perfect pair of nude pumps. But since for me "perfect" involves heels no more than 2-1/2" high, it's practically impossible. I'm 53, I have bunions, I have no use for hooker heels. But when I narrow search results to "mid-height heels," my possibilities go from 10,000 to 12!

    Like you, I would be all over cute, colorful flats with arch support. I have to believe there are many, many other women who feel the same. So why, with so many shoe manufacturers providing so many choices, why are our (entirely reasonable) shoe desires/needs unmet?

    1. Yeah, seriously! I do have some nude pumps that are Tsubos but I think they might be 2 1/2", not 2". WHY IS IT SO HARD?!

  3. These are all super cute! Except for the Keens. Agree with you about the rubber bit looking weird. The Miz Mooz are probably my favorite.

    Personally I'm a big fan of El Naturalista for this kind of thing, or Dansko (my last pair of red Dansko mary janes lasted, no joke, 9 years). I've also heard great things about Naot. Those all fall in the "pricey but good arch support and indestructible" category. You can find them cheaper on ebay occasionally. Merrell can also be nice (and cheaper), though their flats have been trending to the "barefoot" style and thus you might have to hunt for a style with arch support.

    ALSO, I've had good luck using leather dyes to change the color of shoes. So if you find cheap and otherwise perfect white or beige shoes, don't rule out changing the color yourself. I recently did this with a pair of boots and it came out great.

    1. Oooh, I'd never heard of El Naturalista, some of them are SO cute (although the bright colors seem to be out of stock in my big size, BOO).

      Dansko shoes tend to exagerate the size of my feet although many of my friends swear by them.

      I love Merrell (my favorite boots are Merrells) but all their styles now seem to be "barefoot" as you say, and I really need support.

      I hope I don't need to resort to dying... it's hard for me to do in my little apartment without much ventilation!

  4. I love the Clarks you posted! I always seem to end up with pink shoes, and I can say from experience that that particular pink would be really versatile, even if not terribly bright. I almost always buy comfortable flats too, even though I'm lucky to have no foot problems at all. I want to keep it that way! Good luck finding the perfect, or at least pretty good, shoe!

    1. Pink is a great color, goes with everything! But I am still looking for BRIGHT.

  5. I love el naturalista as well, although some of their styles are on the boat side. A brand I recently discovered is Brako, another Spanish company. They do lovely shoes, even ones you can put orthotics in and this season's pretty bright :-)

    1. WHOA those Brako shoes are GORGEOUS!!!! But they seem hard to find online... looks like they sell them at a vintage store in NYC called DUSTY BUTTONS, though.

      I am loving these blue anatomic ones, the Well!

  6. Replies
    1. I love Camper heels (have two pairs) and sandals (1 pair) but their flats, while colorful, seem rather flat and not arch-supporty, am I wrong? Please tell me I am wrong...

      Pikolinos is totally new to me! They are super cute though seem to mostly be in brown or black... but they have these bright blue ones in my size... hmm...

      I am so glad I put this post out there, because I was feeling my search was in vain and now my problem is just picking the perfect pair!

  7. Miz Mooz is the wrong shape for my foot, sadly. But lately I've been liking Chelsea Crew, BC and b.o.c. for comfy/cute shoes.

    1. Those are all cute! I had only seen B.O.C. before... they have some cute red flats on sale but not in my big size.

  8. I have a pair of Freemood flats (apparently, that's an Italian brand,; I've been wearing them around the home all the time for more than a year, jumping around in them, and I can swear by their comfort. They have sturdy soles. I'm not so sure about the arch support, but they're cenrtainly not a flat flat kind of flats...
    Just to widen your horizons. :-) If you can find some that you like, I think they should be good.

    1. Where did you get them? They seem really cute but the site is all in Italian...

    2. Well, that's the thing - clothes exchange, so I have no idea where they originally came from - it's quite possible that someone bought them in Italy and then did not get enough wear out of them, so they decided to pass them on...
      I had no idea they were Italian myself, until I searched for them for you. I kind of took them for granted...

  9. I am a little color shy myself when it comes to shoes, but I have better luck with taking the plunge with sandals. Is there a reason why you're only considering flats and not sandals? I've found loads of cute, colorful sandals. Some of them have decent support (like Borns, Clarks, the Worishofer German sandals, etc.) I am generally not in need of much support, though.

    1. It's just because I have several pairs of colorful sandals already (CLarks, Worishofer and Camper ones) ... the hole I'm trying to fill is cute closed-toe flats for all year-round wear.

  10. Born Paulette is a cute shoe. I've had pretty good success with the Born brand (but not the spin-off b.o.c. variety).

  11. Two brands with flats I love - un tour en ville and fidji. Both are pricey but they are colourful. The first brand eye searingly bright. I just bought an orange pair. Ridiculously comfortable with great arch support. And wearable in hot weather with no smell. I have about five pairs of Miz Mooz boots and heels but I hate the flats. They aren't comfy on me for some reason. Un tour en ville are awesome, comfy and very streamlined. But I think hard to buy on line.


    1. Wow! I couldn't find those un tour en ville online, but the Fidji's are amazing... these low-heeled yellow ones are out of control, and I don't even wear yellow very often.

  12. What about Fluevog? -- Annie, Flat with arch support in a very very bright orange
    Pro: they last forever, have really good customer service, are made by small manufacturers, ethical focus, designed in Canada
    Con: some of them are for narrow feet (but the customer service team is really helpful with fitting)

    -- Johanne, Vancouver

    1. I used to have a pair of Fluevog boots I wore into the ground! The only reason I didn't have them in the mix here is the high price range (much more than my gift certificate) and because the styles I found in a quick search were mostly black or brown.

      But I would so buy these lilac heels if I were looking for heels or had the budget...

  13. I don't have any advice, just commiseration. I walk a lot, refuse to wear uncomfy shoes, and have narrow feet. Shoes that fit are so hard to find! I do have a pair of Mary Janes that fit, but now they rub my arthritic toe so don't get as much wear.

    The last couple times I bought shoes I just bit the bullet and went to Nordstrom, and they hooked me up. I have some Timberland low boots and they're my go-to shoes half the year, waterproof and all. Add Converse All-Stars and sandals in the summer, and that's pretty much my shoes. I'd love to find some cute bright flats, yoga shoe-types, but hate shoe shopping with a vengeance.

  14. Have you checked Aerosoles? They are usually padded, and carry up to size 12. Lately their designs are a bit frumpy, but some are not bad, like this blue one?

    Would buying cheap flats and inserting better insoles work? I have done that before, but it does really depend on the height of your instep, so it's not ideal.

    In some ways finding supportive and pretty shoes just about if not more difficult than finding supportive pretty bras in larger sizes.


    1. Yeah, really. When I was nursing and a 32I size, all my bras were black or "nude." UGH. Now that I am a 32E I can find pretty supportive bras (Freya, Panache, Chantelle) but they are PRICEY. That is worthy of another blog post someday).

      I've tried Aeresoles but they haven't worked for my feet, unfortunately. (Except for one pair of sandals I had for a while).

  15. I have similar foot issues and shoe preferences, so I appreciate the resources in this post and comments! I like the Clarks at the bottom of the page the best, though they look a little flimsy and less supportive than the others. Keens feeel amazing-- they have really firm arch support that I love, so I'm able to get over the clunky toe styling. Plus, that toe makes them more durable. Recently I've been happy with my Crocs ballet flats. There's also Privo, which I think hasn't been mentioned.

    1. Privo flats (made by Clarks, I think?) are actually my favorite for comfort—I have them in black and brown and dark purple ... the problem is that they mostly are in dull colors. I did find these bright coral ones, though!

      My mom swears by the Crocs ballet flats, and they are also cheap. Hmm... I guess these yellow ones are pretty cute (and fluorescent bright).

  16. I hiiiiiighly recommend these

    1. Wow, those are SUPER cute! And cheap, too...

      I think I am now giving myself a shoe problem. But I do have a few scuffed old pairs that I probably need to just give up on to make room for some new ones.

  17. Totally forgot to leave a comment on this post! I have size 10/11 as well, so I hear ya!I also have arthritis in my feet,so I need something comfy/supportive. I'd go for Clarks, they're always good.If they come in your size ;).

    I thought Aerosoles had quite a good reputation, but when I tried almost the entire collecting last October, most really didn't provide much support. I also tried Naturalizer for the first time, good support, but not comfortable, just too tight right above the toes :( I was on a city trip in NYC though when I tried those shoes on, so in general it was hard to judge after so much walking.

    The most upsetting thing however has been the fact that Clarks doesn't produce size 10.5. I need a 10.5 in 80% of cases and Clarks does half sizes except for 10.5. AAHHHHH *BANGS HEAD* I ended up buying a pair of Clarks that fit in size 10, and were 'okay' looking. I hate not being able to buy what I like :( I've had this size since I was 12 yrs old and have been able to wear fashion shoes (still hard to find in size big), but that time is over now as well.

    Oh I LOVE Camper, but I tried a pair of their flats 3times,but I kept walking off the front part of the sole.It came lose everytime, like with many other brands, according to the Sales person, who gave me new pairs 2x, it's my way of walking that doesn't go well with this low front sole and it's impossible to glue it for a 2nd time. I now try to buy flats that have stitched soles only, adding even more problems to my flats hunt ;)

    I found this website in my shoe journey;, but haven't ordered from them yet!

    1. Oh I tried Geox as well, really liked their designs and very comfortable as well, but they were slightly too big in the size I tried on, and they were $120+, so I wasn't too sure about it as the Clarks were half prize.

    2. I'm an airhead, 1 more thing :) if you do decide on the Clarks, please know they almost always provide 20% coupons! Either google or sign up for the newsletter (I think)


I'd love to hear from you! But no ads please--I'll just have to delete them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...