Ballet flats for delicate feet
July 18, 2018 6:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in getting some ballet flats for walking around my office job. The issue is that the skin on my feet is very thin & delicate and most flats just rip it to shreds. Is there such a thing as shoes that WON'T rip giant holes in my feet?

I'm asking because it's summer and I'm driving to work now and I have a pair of sandals that I love but are not work appropriate. Right now I'm changing into sneakers when I get there but I think it would be easier to change into some little ballet flats. They would also look classier with my work clothes.

The style of flats I like is like real ballet style, like Tieks. Not like, clunky-toe mary janes or big thick platforms. I also avoid ones that have a really sharp, stiff or narrow back.

When I used to wear flats & dressier work shoes more often, I'd get whatever random flats looked cute at DSW, and then I'd get all kinds of problems with my feet, and big bleeding holes would just be opening up everywhere. But I was also using those shoes in a more heavy-duty way like doing long multi-modal public transit commutes with lots of walking. Now I'm just going to be walking around carpeted offices for a few hours so I think it should be do-able if the shoes have been vetted by fellow thin-foot-skin havers.

What do you think?
posted by bleep to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know that I have delicate feet, but my Me Too flats are the only shoes I can wear without socks without getting blisters or broken skin. Me Too, Nordstrom, Zappos.
posted by crush at 6:48 PM on July 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I look for flats with elastic all around (me too flats are great) to deal with this issue. No hard back on any flats. It has to be flexible or my poor feet.

For me my issue is that I walk on my toes.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:00 PM on July 18, 2018

I haven’t tried their round toe flats, just the point toe, but my Rothy’s are so comfy. I have picky feet too, and these were comfy from the start. It’s like wearing slippers. They’re made from woven recycled plastic, but look super cute. (Memail me if you want a $20 off coupon!)
posted by bluloo at 7:02 PM on July 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

Was also coming in here to say Rothy's. I have four pairs and am also happy to share a referral coupon.

I sold shoes for a long time and price points don't always correspond with shoes that won't maul your feet. I think you want real leather for sure if you aren't going to go with a stretchy fabric, and also found that putting Body Glide on my feet can help break shoes in without blisters or cuts.
posted by notjustthefish at 7:06 PM on July 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I LOVE my Rothy's. I resisted buying them for ages as I didn't want to make the investment, but they're the only flats that don't eat my feet (elastic topped flats cut into the back of my ankle so don't work well for me). They really do feel almost sneaker-like, and pass for business casual at my workplace.
posted by assenav at 7:08 PM on July 18, 2018

As a fellow thin foot skinned person, I’d like to recommend moleskin to put on your existing shoes. You just cut it into whatever shape you need and stick it to the part of your shoe that hurts you. It provides a softer, smoother surface that doesn’t rub.
posted by Weeping_angel at 8:13 PM on July 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Are no-show socks under your shoes not an option?
posted by matildaben at 10:18 PM on July 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

My feet get hot spots and blisters in nearly any shoes, and I have a similar work walking situation.

Try a few pairs of Rocket Dog flats if they have some at DSW. They are very cheap and thin, but many styles are flexible fabric, causing many fewer foot issues than plastic or even leather materials. (Rothys are out of my budget right now but look very similar in styling.)

I also like Born flats, but get an all leather pair, check the backs to see how stiff they are, and anticipate a breaking in period. For breaking in I wear them around the house for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, before the soles get dirty from going outside. For any hot spots that develop while breaking in, massage and bend the leather in that spot on the shoe to start stretching and breaking it in. Moleskin may work for you as well.

Please don’t ask me about finding heels for thin skinned feet... it’s a never ending quest with lots of blisters along the way.
posted by Red Desk at 10:35 PM on July 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sheepskin liners made a pair of shoes insanely comfortable when I had wounded feet.

Thanks btw for posting this, I thought I just had weird soles.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 2:20 AM on July 19, 2018

What about actual leather ballet flats? Leather molds to your feet and they are super comfy. You should be able to get them in black.
posted by jrobin276 at 2:30 AM on July 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I dream of owning a pair of Rothy's (just SO out of my budget range right now, but someday!), but have enjoyed my pair of Skechers Bewitch Flats so far. They have a nicely evened elasticized texture and fit right in for my business casual office. Good luck on the shoe hunt!
posted by thirteenthletter at 5:38 AM on July 19, 2018

I get blisters and broken skin on the back part of my ankle pretty frequently. I've found that moleskin helps, as well as breaking in flats by walking around for 10-20 minutes in a thin pair of socks. I have a pair of Dr. Scholls patent flats that I broke in this way and they're now a perfect fit. Crocs are also pretty comfortable but sometimes rub a bit before they're broken in.

ETA: I'm referring to the cute Crocs that look like regular flats, not the less attractive clogs.
posted by junques at 5:41 AM on July 19, 2018

My Rothy's actually did tear up my feet at one edge, but I'm between sizes and sized down and I think I should have sized up.

These Sam Edelman flats are the softest flats I have ever known. The leather is supple and feels broken in from day one. I highly, highly recommend them.

These Cole Haan loafers are also super comfy but for me required a brief breaking in period (during which I wore moleskin to protect my heels, as suggested above). They come in a bunch of different colors; I think they release different colors every season/year. They're also really accommodating of no-show socks, which I frequently wear.
posted by misskaz at 6:38 AM on July 19, 2018

My heels are stupidly thin skinned, so I know your pain. My Bloch flats are the most comfortable flats I own (I call them my work slippers, have had them for 7yrs, and actually resoled them last year to be able to get more wear out of them. I have no idea of the current quality, but they've lasted 7yrs. the ones that have the cord/bow, are adjustable via the cord like real ballet shoes, which is a bonus for those of us with weird feet.

They're $$, and I remember that some styles fit nicer than others, so if you can try them in store I would.

For more casual days I wear topsiders at work; I have black ones that I wear in my business formal office. I have about a week of breaking them in- I just loosen them and wear them with socks for few days, and then they are usually fine. I get about 2 years of regular wear out of these, and make sure to get the full leather ones, since they conform to my feet better- I alternate pairs though.
posted by larthegreat at 7:12 AM on July 19, 2018

Yosi Samra are a liiiiiittle bit more affordable than Tieks. Mine have lasted better than I thought they would, too, and were comfy right out of the box. I can't take ballet flats that cut into my feet either. If you aren't picky about color you can get some at reasonable prices.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:16 AM on July 19, 2018

Bloch (mentioned by larthegreat) makes actual ballet and dance shoes so I'm not surprised they make good ballet flats that last.

I love my tieks (I have 3 pairs now) but they DEFINITELY take some breaking in and the patent ones take longer than the normal leather ones. The first 2-3 times I wore them I thought I had made a horrible mistake, now I basically live in them.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:54 AM on July 19, 2018

ROTHY'S are exactly what you are looking for. I have very sensitive feet and they are comfortable from the first moment. I love them. I have two pair and will buy more if they ever go on sale.
posted by mmf at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2018

Socks/ tights act as a dry lubricant between your foot and the shoe. Try some glide spray; haven't used it but I think it would help. I use cornstarch sometimes, with god results.
posted by theora55 at 10:46 AM on July 19, 2018

I haven't tried rothy's or the other ones listed here, but so far bernie mev shoes are the only flats that don't make my feet bleed even after breaking them in. And I have tried so, so many. I have the catwalk style (ballet flat shaped) and I think they look much better in person than in online photos (I hate chunky/quirky shoes... my black ones are very non-attention-grabbing, although to me they look a bit weird without a foot in them).They are very thin, flexible soles, almost like walking around in socks, which is mostly a big positive and probably why they don't rub my skin to shreds, but can be annoying if walking long distances or on gravel etc.
posted by randomnity at 4:44 PM on July 20, 2018

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