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Make Room for Fashion: Flats – Finding the Perfect Pair

The week before my son was born I had some time on my hands. The baby’s room was ready, my stash of miniature diapers was well stocked, my hospital bag sat at the front door and the doctors told me to do lots of walking, eat spicy food, get reflexology and have lots of sex (ha!) all on the off chance that it would induce labor. When all of that failed, I found myself in the shoe department at Bergdorf Goodman in the frenzy of a sale.

I think the salesman was so afraid that I would go into labor right there and then that every time I leaned forward to pick up a shoe, he’d immediately reach for it, bring it to me in my size and place it on my foot. Next thing you know I was walking out of there with Chanel flats and outrageous four-inch-strappy-zippered-black-suede-platform Louboutin heels. One pair for the life I was about to begin, the other for the life I was scared would be gone forever.

It was a moment of extreme extravagance. But I have worn those Chanel flats a thousand times over. I have walked all over town in those shoes and, now that my son is in preschool, I usually wear them for the 15 minute walk to and from pick-up and drop-off. I have had them resoled twice and they still look and feel fabulous. With this kind of track record, why would I ever buy any other pair of flats? Um, because they are expensive and my husband, who might have been somewhat sympathetic to my pre-labor splurge, would probably divorce me if I put a new pair of Chanel flats on my shopping list each fall. So I’m always on the lookout for other equally comfy and stylish flats that can live up to, or at least come close to, my Chanels.

What I found was Bloch, a surprisingly less expensive option that are very comfortable and have a similar look and feel to my favs. Bloch originally only made ballet shoes—I remember them from 15 years of ballet classes. I bought a pair a few seasons back and they're still going strong. The leather sole has held up well and the drawstring offers a snug fit.

Stuart Weitzman and Sam Eldelman also offer stylish flats with comfortable, padded insoles as well as a rubber outer sole, which is good if you plan on walking around a lot. Tory Burch has an amazing rubber sole shoe that fits so snugly that it really does feel like a ballet slipper. But it’s so soft and supple that is doesn’t offer quite enough protection from the concrete if you plan on walking far.

This season, an alternative to the usual round toe ballet flat is the pointy toe flat, often with a metal toe cap. I’ve seen quite a few options out there from designers such as Brian Atwood and Sigerson Morrison. And of course there’s the smoking loafer, or the smoking flat, as some call it, which seems to be everywhere, but I’m running out of time here and that deserves a post of its own.

So I’ve done my homework and I’ve found some viable options for when those Chanels kick the dust, but until then I plan on wearing them into the ground. Oh and the four inch Louboutins? I’ve worn them twice.

Will anything ever live up to the classic Chanel ballet flat? Probably not, but one can try.

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