The Best Comfortable Flats for All-Day Support, According to Podiatrists
Long walks require shoes you can wear comfortably for hours at a time. You probably wouldn't reach for a pair of heels when you know you're going to be on your feet for a while, but, as it turns out, flat shoes may not be doing you any favors either—especially if they don't have the support necessary to help you maintain good foot health.
These are the best pairs of comfortable flats, according to podiatrist guidelines:
- Best for the Office: Clarks Women's Ashland Bubble Loafer
- Best Quilted: Vionic Women's Spark Desiree Ballet Flat
- Best Knit: Skechers Women's Cleo Bewitch Ballet Flat
- Best Leather: Vionic Women's Spark Caroll Ballet Flat
- Best Classic Design: Naturalizer Women's Flexy Ballet Flat
- Best Loafer: Naturalizer Women's Lorna Loafer
- Most Stylish: Clarks Women's Danelly Sky Loafer
- Best for Summer: Vionic Women's Spark Robyn Perf Ballet Flat
- Best Sneaker: Dr. Scholl's Shoes Madison Fashion Sneaker
- Best Foam: Crocs Women's Kadee Flats Ballet
Opting for shoes with adequate support and cushioning can not only help relieve the pain associated with issues like plantar fasciitis, bunions, and neuroma, but also prevent those conditions from developing in the first place. And good-for-you footwear doesn't have to clash with your sense of style, either—there are plenty of options for every taste that still fall in line with expert guidance.
We got in touch with top podiatrists to learn which features they look for when selecting the best flats for walking, and their advice included non-slip soles, built-in arch support, wide toe boxes, and flexible materials that prevent uncomfortable squeezing. Here, 10 pairs that meet the experts' foot-friendly standards.
Best for the Office: Clarks Women's Ashland Bubble Loafer
"We generally feel the ground a lot more when we wear flats," says Washington, DC-based podiatrist Howard Osterman, DPM. "Choose a pair with rubber soles, which are better for shock absorption." One great option? These loafers from Clarks, which come in both neutral colors and a playful leopard design, have soles made out of thermoplastic elastomer, a type of synthetic rubber. The cushioned flats have nearly 6,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, with numerous shoppers remarking on how comfortable they are. "They have a cushy instep, wide toe box, and arch support," one wrote. "I am happy as a clam with this purchase."
Best Quilted: Vionic Women's Spark Desiree Ballet Flat
"You never want to be able to bend your shoe in half like a burrito, or–even worse–touch the toe bed all the way back to the heel," says Dr. Brenner. These flats from Vionic are soft thanks to their cushioned footbed, but not too soft—in fact, they provide enough support that they've earned a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. Amazon reviewers say they're "comfortable straight out of the box" and feel like "walking on cloud nine."
Best Knit: Skechers Women's Cleo Bewitch Ballet Flat
Tapered forefronts are allowed if your foot is super narrow, but round-toe shoes are almost always a better option. As New York City-based podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, explains, "If the shoe is pointy and flat, you can get ingrown toenails or pinched nerves." The toe on this neutral flat has a subtle pointed look, but not so much as to make it uncomfortable, and theknit material has plenty of give so feet can breathe. Wearers say these are great for people with bunions and feel like a "hug on your foot."
Best Leather: Vionic Women's Spark Caroll Ballet Flat
According to Dr. Osterman, the more flexible the shoe, the more the foot musculature is forced to work: "A less supportive shoe is going to make you much more fatigued," he explains. Opt for flats with contoured insoles and added arch support, like this pair from Vionic, which Amazon shoppers particularly recommend for people with wide feet and chronic pain. "It is important to know that I've had two bunion surgeries, have hammer toes, and also have enlarged nerves that cause a burning pain in the balls of my feet, among other problems," said one reviewer. "If you're looking for a ballet flat that will keep your feet happy for hours of walking, then I'd recommend this shoe to anyone."
Best Classic Design: Naturalizer Women's Flexy Ballet Flat
With built-in arch support, a non-slip sole, and a rounded toe, these classic flats from Naturalizer fit podiatrists' recommendations—and they're loved by over 1,600 Amazon shoppers, too. Even a flight attendant gave their stamp of approval: "These fit true to size and are comfortable right out of the box. No breaking in period. It's like walking on clouds while I'm working in the clouds."
Best Loafer: Naturalizer Women's Lorna Loafer
When it comes to flats, Dr. Brenner advises shoppers to choose options made from materials that have some give: "I like flats made of suede or foam, so they don't rub along bony prominences on the foot." These loafers by Naturalizer come in both leather and suede, and they're designed to contour to the foot for all-day comfort—even on active days. "Love this shoe," wrote one Amazon reviewer. "I bought these for a trip to Europe, knowing I'd be doing lots of walking. They held up beautifully with only a few scuffs. Buttery soft leather and they go with a variety of outfits."
Most Stylish: Clarks Women's Danelly Sky Loafer
"Sneakers are always the best choice for a full day of walking," says Dr. Sutera. "But good flats can be worn for a long day at work." One of Dr. Sutera's favorite brands is Clarks, which makes sensible (and still cute) shoes, like these flats that have signature foam in the footbeds. The espadrille-inspired loafers are a stylish choice—especially for warmer weather—and shoppers say they're "extremely comfortable."
Best for Summer: Vionic Women's Spark Robyn Perf Ballet Flat
Dr. Brenner is also a fan of another brand: "I love Vionic because it was created by a podiatrist who took arch support, shock absorption, wide toe boxes, and cushioning into consideration when making the shoes." These flats, which customers call "flattering and supportive," have arch support and a rubber sole, and the fully perforated material makes them extra breathable for summer.
Best Sneaker: Dr. Scholl's Shoes Madison Fashion Sneaker
These slip-on shoes look a little fancier than a typical sneaker, but offer more coverage than a typical flat. They also feature memory foam insoles that make them comfortable enough for all-day wear—so it's no wonder why more than 8,600 Amazon reviewers rated them five stars. Even shoppers with a myriad of foot issues find them perfectly comfortable. "I'm a former dancer and have dancer bunions and wider foot pads from years of pounding...and aging," one wrote. "However, these slip-ons are just the right size across the toe-box and do not slip or cause blistering at the heel. I wore them for hours of walking about."
Best Foam: Crocs Women's Kadee Flats Ballet
These ballet flats from Crocs are made of the brand's trademark cushy foam material, and they provide plenty of arch support and comfort for long days on your feet. The rounded shape of the toe box is yet another podiatrist-approved feature. Customers who say they typically have a hard time finding comfortable shoes have even voiced their approval. "Totally satisfied with the immediate and continued comfort," a five-star reviewer said. "The lightweight material and design does not pinch my foot, toes, or rub my heel. They stay on, not too loose. I am amazed at the spongey, padded portion on the bottom of my heel that provides extra comfort as I walk."
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