The 12 Best Flats for Work, Tested by Real People

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best-flats-for-work-test

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

We all know it’s fun to shop for colorful, unique, or daring shoes—the pairs you wear to special events, vacations, or fun date nights. But spending your energy on the everyday shoes you’re wearing to work is important, too. When choosing the best flats for work, it can be difficult to know where to start. But work flats don’t have to be boring (even if work might be). To help you find your perfect pair of work shoes, Byrdie editors reviewed and ranked dozens of the best work flats out there.

First, though, it’s good to consider some general shopping wisdom. As Annelie Hofstrom, the VP of Design at JustFab and ShoeDazzle, shared with Byrdie, finding a flat shoe that’s going to last all comes down to “materials and construction of the flat itself.” There is another big question that Hofstrom said you should consider.

“Ask yourself: How often will I wear this shoe?" she explained. "If you intend to have this flat be a key style in your wardrobe, then I suggest you get something that has a more substantial outer sole, preferably with a rubber bottom. These will last all season.”

Ahead— discover the best flats for work, and read more about how we tested.

Meet the Expert

Annelie Hofstrom is the VP of Design at JustFab and ShoeDazzle. Hofstrom began her 24-year career in the footwear industry at Manolo Blahnik, and also worked as Executive Vice President of Footwear at Oscar de la Renta.

Best Overall: Margaux The Demi

4.8
Margaux The Demi

Amazon

What We Like
  • Buttery soft texture

  • Keeps feet cool

  • Chic design

What We Don’t Like
  • Runs slightly large

Who else recommends it? Insider, Cosmopolitan, and PopSugar all picked Margaux's The Demi.

What do buyers say? 500+ Margaux reviewers rated this product 4.8 stars or above.

After wearing these flats for an entire workday, Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm said the flats were comfortable and “buttery soft,” noting the “plushy footbed” of the shoe. While Gemperlein-Schirm did note that the shoe minorly rubbed against the back of her foot, she also mentioned that the flats were still more comfortable than others she tried. “By the second day of wear, they started to mold to my foot nicely,” she added. 

With an incredibly inclusive size range and great customer reviews, these classic flats provide a great value while being stylish, classic, and comfortable, as well, putting them at the top of this list.

Material: Italian Nappa leather upper | Size Range: 3-14 | Colors: Black, Saddle, Ballet Pink, Scarlet +more | Toe Style: Rounded

Margaux The Demi Flat

Byrdie / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Best Splurge: Gucci Leather Princetown Loafer Mule

4.3
Gucci Leather Princetown Leather Slipper

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • No heel blisters

  • Super comfortable

  • Good for wide feet

What We Don’t Like
  • Not cold-weather appropriate

  • Runs small

Gucci isn’t necessarily in everyone’s budget, but if you’re looking to invest in a pair of flats and you have an eye for luxury, you can’t go wrong with this easy-to-wear pair of Gucci Loafer Mules. As Commerce Editorial Director Jessica Mahgerefteh writes, “They are super comfortable. No blisters on the back of my ankles because it's a mule, and the front of my feet are not bothered by these either. I'm always hesitant to buy mules because there's less stability, but these hold my feet in place, even if they get a little sweaty. The leather may feel a bit stiff when first worn, but they start to give in fairly quickly with continued wear.”

While the quality and craftsmanship are top-notch when it comes to these shoes, it is worth noting that the sizing is a bit off, according to Mahgerefteh. She suggestedex sizing up by one full size when shopping for the perfect pair. As a bonus, though, Mahgerefteh also notes that they are still good options for those with wide feet.

Material: Leather upper | Size Range: 4-12 | Colors: Black, White | Toe Style: Rounded

Best Value: Sam Edelman Lorraine Bit Loafer

4.8
sam-edelman-lorraine-bit-loafers

Verishop

Scoring high at 4.8/5, these Sam Edelman Lorraine Bit Loafers were a favorite of Byrdie's Associate Commerce Editor Erika Reals. 

“The flats were super comfortable and fit well with socks," she said. "I probably should have sized down a half size because they are a bit loose without socks or when I'm wearing thinner socks. I didn't experience any blisters or signs of discomfort at any point in the workday. They have some extra cushioning on where the bottom of your heel sits for added comfort.”

The best part of Reals’ review, however, is that she can vouch for the longevity and durability of the flats. “I've had these flats for three years and they are still in amazing shape. The leather is soft and supple and forms to the shape of your foot,” Reals said.

Material: Leather upper | Size Range: 4-12 | Colors: Saddle, Black, White, Soft Jade, Butter Yellow, Cedarwood +more | Toe Style: Almond

What Our Tester Says

“Since they're so affordable compared to other high-quality leather loafers, I want to buy more in other colors.“ —Erika Reals, Associate Fashion Editor, Commerce

Best Loafers: G.H. Bass & Co. Whitney Weejuns

4.5
G.H. Bass & Co. Whitney Weejuns

G.H. Bass & Co.

What We Like
  • No blisters

  • Good cushion

  • Easy to clean

What We Don’t Like
  • Difficult to wear without socks

If you’re shopping for your first-ever pair of loafers, you can’t help to consider the most classic option and style. These penny loafers are versatile and stylish, while still being comfortable, Reals explained.

“Overall, they were comfortable to wear throughout the entire workday,” she said. “I did not get any blisters despite them being a bit snug. They have a good amount of cushion, as well, and with someone with very arched feet, my feet and back didn't experience any pain while in these loafers.” 

Another plus to these loafers is that they should last a very, very long time given the material and construction. “I can't imagine an instance where these would permanently stain or be hard to clean," she said. I can see these lasting a long time in my wardrobe and I think they're great quality considering the price point."

One important note before hitting “add to cart,” though: Size up if you’re in between sizes.

Material: Genuine leather upper | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Black, Cognac, Cordovan, Navy | Toe Style: Rounded

Best Mary Janes: Sam Edelman Michaela Mary Jane Flat

4.5
Sam Edelman Michaela Mary Jane Flat

Bloomingdales

What We Like
  • Stylish silhouette

  • Multiple color choices

  • Comfortable and secure to wear

What We Don’t Like
  • Minimal cushioning

Tester Julia Fields found the strap on these Mary Jane-style flats to be a detail that helped them stay secure and comfortable while working at home and walking around. 

“I wore these on the streets of New York for a few walks and they held up great. There were no changes in the color or shape of the shoe,” Fields said. “The bottoms of the shoe did begin to scuff up but nothing that changed the shoe in its entirety. For wearing to work, I think these would last a while and the style is so complementary and transitional to different times of day and occasions that I do believe these are worth the price.” 

Material: Velvet or leather | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Rust Velvet, Gold Leaf, Eggshell Leather, Modern Ivory +more | Toe Style: Square

What Our Tester Says

“This was my normal size (9) and they fit just as expected. Some shoes can be too narrow for me, but I did not have that problem with them. The adjustable strap helps with having high arches as I do.” —Julia Fields, Commerce Editor

Sam Edelman Michaela Mary Jane Flat

Byrdie / Julia Fields

Best Ballet Flats: FitFlop Allegro Soft Leather Ballet Flats

4.8
fitflop-allegro-soft-leather-ballet-flats

FitFlop

What We Like
  • Comfortable

  • Great for everyday wear

  • Easy to slip on and off

What We Don’t Like
  • No arch support

While reviewer Shanon Maglente does say that this shoe had less arch support and cushion than she was expecting, she still notes that the shoe was comfortable for everyday, all-day wear.

“The leather is soft and not too constricting. My fiance is actually a physical therapist and said he likes to recommend this brand to his patients because of the comfort, and I could see why,” Maglente said, noting that she usually has a hard time finding shoes in her size (5.5) and were pleased to see that FitFlop had options for her.

While she also noted that the price point might be slightly higher than some expect to pay for flats, she said that the comfort is worth the cost. And as an added bonus, “they look better than the pictures and seem to hold up well.”

Material: Leather upper | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Black, Blush, Stone, Sunshine Yellow, Dark Blue, Rose +more | Toe Style: Rounded

fitflop-allegro-ballet-flats

Byrdie / Shanon Maglente

Best Chunky Loafer: Reformation Agathea Chunky Loafer

4.3
Reformation Agatha Chunky Loafer

Reformation

What We Like
  • Trendy

  • More sustainable option

  • Durable sole

What We Don’t Like
  • Loud and squeaky at first

  • Short break-in period

Of all the flats I tested, these were the pair that I was most excited to style and wear with outfits (here is one way I styled them for winter). They provide an on-trend, street style feel with the chunkiness but the classic penny loafer details make them feel timeless, too. 

Though they do feel snug initially, they very, very quickly start to stretch out and mold to your foot. The material feels high quality, and though they do make a very loud squeaking noise when you first break them in, it goes away after an hour or so of wear. Even with the short breaking-in period, though, I think these chunky loafers would be worth it for anyone looking for a trendy pair of work flats for spring.

Material: Bovine leather upper | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Black, Dark Forest, Lime Snake Emboss, Russet Croc-Effect, Serenade | Toe Style: Rounded

Best Sandals: Aerosole Jasper Sandal

4.5
Aerosole Jasper Sandal

DSW

What We Like
  • Cloud-like cushioned sole

  • Casual yet elevated feel

What We Don’t Like
  • On the warmer/sweatier side

  • Runs a bit narrow

These are the ultimate work-appropriate sandal for summer—I can’t imagine a more comfortable, cushioned, cloud-like flat. The bright colors offer some options for experimenting with different looks in the warmer months, and the classic black pair would be great to transition between seasons. 

While I did find the sandal a bit narrow, I imagine it may stretch out a bit over time, and the cushioned sole makes any initial snugness worth it. Plus, the construction of these sandals is solid. These aren’t your regular pair of beach flip-flops.

Material: Faux leather upper | Size Range: 5-12 | Colors: Black Vegan, Bone, Lemon Ice, Berry Vegan | Toe Style: Rounded open-toe

aerosoles-jasper-sandals-pink

Byrdie / Olivia Muenter

If you’re in between sizes, opt for the larger size.

Best for Wide Feet: Birdies The Starling

4.8
Birdies The Strarling

Birdies

What We Like
  • Cushioned yet supportive

  • True-to-size fit

  • Warm but not sweaty

What We Don’t Like
  • May not be super breathable for warmer months

Though she was unsure at first, VP of Commerce Dwyer Frame had a hard time finding a flaw when it came to these ultra-soft, warm loafers. “I was skeptical because I always have to break a pair of flats in. At first, they were very cushy and felt more like slippers, but my foot got adjusted and they felt supportive after time. I did not get any blisters after a day of walking 10,000 steps in urban terrain.”

In addition to a lack of blisters, Frame noted that these flats would be great for those who live in colder climates. “I typically have sweaty feet (even in the cold!),” Dwyer wrote. “These kept my feet dry but also provided some warmth when I was outside in 40-degree weather.”

With tons of helpful (and positive) customer reviews and a fairly inclusive size range that includes wide-fit options, Birdies would be a good place to start if you’re looking for an affordable, ultra-comfortable flat in wider sizes.

Material: Vegan velvet | Size Range: 5-13 (with wide options) | Colors: Black Velvet, Ocean, Taupe, Antique Rose Faux Fur +more | Toe Style: Rounded

Best for High Arches: Everlane The Italian Leather Day Glove

4.8
Everlane, The Italian Leather Day Glove

Everlane

One flat that did have a sky-high rating was Everlane’s Day Glove, which scored 4.8/5 by reviewer Danielle Ransom

Ransom said that, “true to their name,” these flats “fit like a glove” snugly against their heels and that the Italian leather material was soft and supple.

“The shoes even fit while wearing stockings and thin, low-cut plain socks so you could wear either as a buffer while breaking in the flats," she said. "The footbed was solid and the cushioning was modestly thick. Usually, the arches of my feet are sore after wearing flats all day due to the lack of support but I didn’t experience that with this pair. I will say there were slight indents on top of my feet when I took the flats off, which could easily be remedied by going up a size. But I didn’t experience any rubbing or blistering, nor did my heels slide up or down.” 

While loving almost all aspects of these flats, Ransom did note that there is a break-in period with these shoes before they’re completely comfortable. 

Material: Italian leather | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Black, Caramel, Cream, Toasted Almond +more | Toe Style: Round

Best Pointed Toe: Sarah Flint Natalie Flat

4.8
Sarah Flint Natalie Flat

Sarah Flint

What We Like
  • Comfortable fit

  • No heel chafing

  • Versatile style

What We Don’t Like
  • Firm footbed without much cushion

For tester Danielle Ransom, these versatile flats are worth the investment. “Unlike other pairs of flats that fit tighter, this pair struck a decent balance of not being too tight to the point my feet felt like they’re stuffed," she said. "They fit snug but not uncomfortably so. My toes did not feel pinched and I could still wiggle them around.” She also noted that the fats do have a pointed toe that ends in a triangle tip, which could be uncomfortable for people with wider feet. “Another thing to note is that the material is fairly rigid and stiff. The heel fits comfortably without chafing. The body of the shoe didn’t contour to the shape of my feet or have much give, though that could change with time.”

Material: Vegetable-tanned calf leather upper | Size Range: 4-13 | Colors: Black Vachetta, Chocolate Leopard Haircalf, Sand Calf, +more | Toe Style: Pointed

Best Derby Style: Vagabond Shoemakers Eyra Derby

4.8
Vagabond Eyra Derby Shoe

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Good temperature control

  • Comfortable footbed

What We Don’t Like
  • Initially a little stiff

If you’re looking for a flat that’s, well... not flat, check out these Derby Shoes, reviewed by Gemperlein-Schirm. Though she was initially a bit iffy on the fit of the shoe, she quickly changed her mind. 

“Initially, these felt pretty stiff...and I would say they remained that way for a half-ish day,” Gemperlein-Schirm wrote. “However, they did soften and I felt like they were very comfortable at the end of day one. Since I wore socks with them, they didn't cause blisters or rub my foot uncomfortably.  I also liked the fit: They felt very form-fitting and had adjustable ties. I wouldn't say they had arch support, but they did have a comfortable footbed.”

Though these shoes may look heavy and not-so-breathable, they did a pretty good job at keeping the feet cool and dry, said Gemperlein-Schirm. “No feet sweating whatsoever.”

Material: Leather upper | Size Range: 6-11 | Colors: Black | Toe Style: Square

Vagabond Eyra Derby Shoe

Byrdie / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

How We Tested

Byrdie recruited eight editors and writers to test a total of 19 pairs of flat shoes for this testing roundup. Reviewers evaluated the comfortability, temperature, fit, and durability of the flats throughout a full workday, noting any pros, cons, discrepancies from how the flats were advertised, and more. Testers were encouraged to wear the flats multiple times to note wear and tear and to walk in the flats for prolonged periods to see how they stood up to repetitive movements outside of an office environment (mimicking a commute).

After compiling and submitting detailed reviews of each of the above factors, Byrdie Commerce Writer Olivia Muenter reviewed and ranked each pair of the 19 flats. Size range, customer reviews, and style were also taken into account.

How We Tested Flats for Work

Byrdie / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Other Options We Tested

Amazon Essentials Belice Ballet Flat

Though reviewer Shanon Maglente usually expects discomfort from this type of flat, she found these affordable Amazon Essentials Belice Ballet Flats surprisingly comfortable when she first put them on. 

“I use a standing desk, so I'm on my feet a lot. While sneakers might've been a much more comfortable choice, this wasn't bad for flats. I didn't need a breaking-in period,” Maglente said. “Compared to other flats, there is slight cushioning on the bottom and isn't flat/stiff as a board. I could see why they're popular on Amazon.”

Unfortunately, though, the flats did cause quite a bit of feet sweating, said Maglente.

“My feet sweat quite easily, and that happened when wearing these flats,” Maglente wrote. “Though it wasn't super noticeable nor uncomfortable, I noticed it! Tested these in the winter in late January. My home is more chilly during the day.”

However, overall, these affordable, versatile flats still received a rather high rating from Maglente, coming in at 4.25/5 stars. 

Amazon Essentials Belice Ballet Flat

Byrdie / Shanon Maglente

Vionic Lena Pointed Toe Flat

Also rated at 4.25/5, the Vionic Lena Pointed Toe Flat was another positively reviewed flat by Byrdie editors. 

“These flats are extremely stylish and...they have a ton of support," Fields said. "The arch support in these is great and makes them much more comfortable than traditional flats that can feel like you are wearing nothing on your feet at all. However, as with many pointed-toe shoes, they can often feel a bit tight in the toes. While they are cushioned and were comfortable all day, they still felt a bit tight at the top. The product is exactly as advertised. They also feel a bit rough on the heel in the beginning, but this is rectified after one day's wear.”

Vionic Lena Pointed Toe Flat

Byrdie / Julia Fields

Madewell Jeanne Slingback

With a final rating of 3.25/5 stars, the Madewell Jeanne Slingback flats didn’t quite work for reviewer Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, but they did have some redeeming qualities. 

“I went into wearing these flats with high expectations, as I've had Madewell flats before and liked them, and was incredibly disappointed,” she said. “While these flats are soft and I liked the adjustable strap, there is something odd going on with the construction. There is a large and very awkward gap between my toes and the top of the shoe. When I walked around, the heel strap of the shoe slid down and I had to constantly readjust it. Because of the odd gap and the strap slippage, it never felt like my foot was truly ‘in place’ in the shoe.”

She did note that the shoes held up well with wear and that the quality is good for the price point but ultimately concluded that the fit and construction issues were hard to ignore.

Madewell Jeanne Slingback

Byrdie / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Aerosoles Hour Penny Loafer

Coming in with a solid score of 4/5, Aerosoles Hour Penny Loafer was a fairly good fit for reviewer Shanon Maglente, but not perfect. 

“They were comfortable to an extent," she explained. "I felt like my feet were caving inwards slightly (probably due to the narrow sole of these shoes). These don't need a breaking-in period—just slip them in and wear them. They almost feel like slippers, which makes me feel like they wouldn't last long if I were to commute in them every day for several months to a year.” 

Aerosoles Hour Penny Loafer

Byrdie / Shanon Maglente

Rothy’s The Loafer

At 4.25/5 stars, these were also a well-reviewed flat by the Byrdie team. Editor Erika Reals noted that the loafers were comfortable (even for warm weather), and also have the bonus of being machine washable. 

Rothy's has made the perfect non-winter loafer, especially for those commuters or busy moms who appreciate a machine-washable shoe option,” Reals said. “They fit exactly as expected and while I don't know how great they would hold up in the snow or rain, they're breathable enough for a warm day at the office.”

What to Look for When Buying Work Flats

Material and construction

As Hofstrom noted, it’s important to consider both material and construction when shopping for flats. A more structured, rubberized sole might be better for a long commute or being on your feet all day while a leather, lace-up flat might be a more practical option if you work in a cold office.

When in doubt, though, try investing in the classics, suggested Hofstrom. 

“I think it’s important to invest in a black almond toe ballerina flat or a simple black loafer of any kind as it can be worn every day,” Hofstrom said. “My heart and my wallet always gravitate towards a penny loafer. They never go out of style.”

FAQ
  • How do you know if a flat shoe will give with time?

    Think about how your feet adjust to different types of shoes and materials. This will give you an idea of what type of flats may give with time. Leather, for example, tends to soften and stretch over time.

    “I love a shoe that is comfortable, durable, and chic, so I am always looking for materials that look soft and breathable," Hofstrom said. "I really love the look of patent leather, but they can be a bit stiff, so I gravitate towards softer leather materials, suede, or something with lining. Those softer materials are more comfortable from the get-go and continue to get more comfortable over time with each wear.”

  • How do you know if a flat show will last more than a season?

    As Hofstrom noted, the longevity of any shoe (including flats) comes down to construction, materials, and how often you’re wearing the shoe. The cheapest pair of flats in the world will likely last a long time if you only wear them once. On the other hand, an expensive pair of flats that you wear every day may only last for a year or two—but if they’re comfortable, then they’re totally worth the price.

  • How do you know what flat shoe to invest in?

    It all comes down to personal taste and assessing your wardrobe—look at other styles of shoes you have in rotation. Also, think about what flat shoe style often pops up in your head when you are deliberating over outfits day-to-day. These are good indicators as to whether the flat shoe purchase will be loved and worn in your wardrobe.

  • What types of flat shoes are easiest to style?

    Hofstrom said ballerina (or ballet) flats are definitely the easiest, most classic type of flat to style. They’re timeless and “go with everything,” she said.

Why Trust Byrdie

Olivia Muenter is a fashion commerce contributor for Byrdie, and she has been published in Refinery29, Bustle, Fashionista, Glamour, and Woman’s Day, among others. Her search for this piece covered retailers of all types. For this roundup's criteria, she evaluated and compiled Byrdie editors’ reviews of flat shoes, while also considering customer reviews and size range.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find work flats from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP. 

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. The best flats for women, based on years of testing them ourselves. Insider. https://www.insider.com/guides/style/best-flats

  2. 18 of the most comfortable flats that’ll feel absolutely heavenly on your feet. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/fashion/g27046714/most-comfortable-flats

  3. 15 comfortable flats you can wear all day long. PopSugar. https://www.popsugar.com/fashion/photo-gallery/45636768/image/48113214/Best-Everyday-Flats-Margaux-Demi-Flats

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