Monday, June 9, 2014

Battle of the Ballet Flats - Finding the Perfect Travel Flat

The search for the perfect travel flat. These ballet flats battle it out for a place in my suitcase.



I have been searching literally for years to find the perfect travel shoe.

I am a little too old to rough it in heels, but way too young to strap on Velcro orthopedics, and too vain to sport white sneakers while traipsing through Paris. So what’s a girl to do?


Over the years I have purchased countless shoes to try to fit my needs but I have yet to find a pair I love. Most of these were inexpensive flats and some were pricier, but there were so many that I finally got to the point that I didn’t care how much they cost or who made them,  I just wanted something that looked decent and didn’t kill my feet.


One problem that I identified, in addition to purchasing poorly constructed shoes, was that I would make hasty purchase decisions. I’d order a pair of shoes and bring them with me on an trip only to discover that they weren't at all comfortable. And of course, at that point, it was too late to return them and I was stuck.


One example of such a mistake was when I bought a pair of Cole Haan Air Bacara ballet flats. They had Nike Air technology! They were cute! And there were hundreds of positives reviews online touting their comfort! How could they be a mistake? Oh, but they were.


I ordered a pair, flew to Paris with them, and within 20 minutes the backs were digging into my heels so badly that I had to go back to my flat to change. Well, there went a hundred and fifty bucks down the drain.  I was so angry but I guess that’s what I get for not doing my homework.


So with no immediate travel plans in my future I decided to go on a proper hunt for the perfect travel shoes.


I will start off by saying that I have a pair of acceptably sporty sneakers that I love for more causal travel. The Sketcher GOWalk 2.


Here I am in London trying to look cute and not too touristy in my Sketchers GoWalks2

These slip on sneakers are crazy comfy. The upper is made of a stretchy mesh material which ensures no uncomfortable rubbing or pinching. And the soles are so cushy it’s like walking on a cloud.  I brought these with me on a trip to London and loved them.  In fact, I loved them so much that didn't wear any of the other shoes I packed.  In the evenings, instead of changing into my nicer flats for dinner, I kept these on. By comparison, my other flats felt like torture devices.  They get an A+ for comfort but they are not the cutest in the world.  I hate looking like a tourist when I travel so I tried my best to “cute them up” with the rest of my outfits but at the end of the day, they are still sneakers.

What I really want is a pair of flats that I can wear with jeans, shorts, a summer dress, or even a dressier dress.  So let the hunt begin!

I started off with 4 pairs of shoes. I selected these based on reviews and style:

1. Tieks by Gavrieli

 
 

2. Cole Haan Manhattan Ballet



3. Patagonia Maha Breath


4. Cole Haan Air Monica



I ranked them AGAINST EACHOTHER, not against my Sketchers. A ranking of 1 meant that they performed the best in that category. In some cases there was no clear winner so I assigned the same ranking to multiple shoes.


At the end, the shoes with the LEAST amount of points wins!


For each shoe, I walked in them on my treadmill for about 20 minutes with surgical booties on so as not to damage them.  I would wear a different shoe on each foot and try each shoe on with my gel heel insert.  This went on for a couple days and I mixed up the order so one shoe wouldn’t seem deceivingly comfortable or uncomfortable when compared to the previous shoe. Got it?


But even though there has to be a loser, all 4 performed well and it's up to you to decide which shoe fits your foot, personal style, and budget.

 


Here are my ultra scientific findings and detailed reviews for the 4 shoes.


 
Heel rubbing
1
Since the heel portion is not elastic, there wasn’t too much rubbing, but a small dent remains in your heel after removing the shoe.
1
The heel portion is not elastic but it’s very high. I inserted a gel heel which helped alleviate some of the rubbing.
1
The heel is not elastic but it is also very high, so it rubbed a bit, but again, the gel insert helped.
1
The heel portion is not elastic but it is a little high so there is some rubbing. The gel heel inserts help.
Toe Rubbing
1
The classic leather is very stretchy so there was no rubbing on my pinkies or big toes.
3
The patent leather is not very forgiving and rubbed my pinkies after my first trial around the house. A footie sock helped.
2
There was a little pinkie toe rubbing even though the upper is mesh. My pinkie hit right in between where the leather and mesh met.
1
Very little toe rubbing in these even though the toe area is patent leather.
Top of foot rubbing
3
They leave a slight intention on the top of my foot but it didn’t hurt.
2
These do not really leave much of a mark on the top of my foot.
1
These leave behind almost no mark on the top of my foot.
1
Pretty much no top of foot rubbing here.
Cushiness
3
This flat feels very delicate and definitely needs the gel heel insole, without it my heels hurts even after a short time.
1
Although this shoe does not feature the Nike Air sole, it’s very cushy and feels very sturdy.
2
For a sporty flat, the soles feel a little thin and not as cushy as you’d expect.
1
These feature Nike Air technology so the soles are very cushy, but honestly, they feel similar to the Manhattans.
Style
3
Very cute flat but note that because the leather is so soft you can see the outline of your toes – which I know bugs a lot of people. Also, the teal bottoms are very obvious which you may not like.
2
The nude color is great and will literally go with everything. The bow on the back is tiny and cute.
4
Just ok for me, it’s a little sportier then I would like and I don’t love the colors they come in. I probably wouldn’t wear these with a dressier outfit.
1
These are my favorite. The bow is cute but not over powering and the nude is perfect, the color  will go with anything.
Durability
3
These are well made but delicate. I would worry about longevity.
1
These feel very sturdy and well made. Also, they are water proof which is big bonus for me.
1
They are light but not delicate making me think they would hold up nicely.
2
These feel pretty durable but I would worry about the light leather getting dirty.
Portability
1
These fold up nicely so they take up almost no room in your suitcase.
2
They do not fold but they do not take up a lot of room either.
2
They do not fold but they do not take up a lot of room either.
2
They do not fold but they do not take up a lot of room either.
Price
4
They start at $175
2
On sale they are about $116.
1
Full price they are $90.
3
On sale for $118
Other
I have to admit, there is a cool factor with these and they come in so many cute color. If they were less expensive I would probably splurge on a pair to do some light traveling with.
I really like that these are waterproof. I plan to keep an eye on them and if they go on sale, buy a black pair for fall travel.
These were just too sporty for me, but I wanted to give them a shot. I would rather pay a little more and get a cuter pair.
I really love these but dang, they are pricey. Cole Haans tend to go on sale so I plan on keeping an eye on them.
Total
19
14
14
12

And the winner is:
 
Cole Haan Air Monica is the winner!

Where ever my travels take me next, my new Cole Haan Air Monica’s will be coming with me. I will report back then and let you know if I made another terrible, pricy decision, or if these were the best purchase ever!

Stay tuned….

Do you have a favorite pair of travel shoes that I need to try? Let me know!


 

28 comments:

  1. This was very helpful! Thank you :) I just purchased some air Monicas after much debate.

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    1. thank you for comparing the brands . It has been a big help

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  2. Hi! I'm so glad you found this piece helpful! That was definitely my goal =) Here's another tip, Cole Haan colors are made to match so if your shoes are "Sandstone" then any bag or belt in the color "sandstone" will match!

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  3. I usually go with Toms for travel. They're super comfy and can be dressed up when need be. (especially the black ones.) One problem though... they stink when you wear them for awhile. :( These Cole Haans are super cute. Might have to give em a try! :)

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  4. Hilarious, this article was made for me as I also had to return my Cole Haans (even with Nike Air technology), and now swear by the Tieks. They're so cute! I'll definitely have to try those other Cole Haans next time I come across some...

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  5. I always need a good pair of flats when traveling :) Thanks for doing all of this comparison work~

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  6. The Patagonia Maha Breath is gorgeous. I think the structure of the shoe is good and it is stylish as well. I enjoy comfortable shoes that provide god support in the heel and don't get dirty too quickly, especially when you're in a new city.

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  7. Needed to read this! Torn between the Cole Haan and Tieks. I guess I'll go try on the Cole Haans in the store...

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  8. I have two pairs of Tieks that I wear nearly every day when it's no longer freezing outside (spring through fall). They are >1 and >2 years old and still look great! I've walked the world in them - from European cobblestone streets to the Manhattan pavement to formal events. Even though they seem very thin, they are the most comfortable shoes I own. After a visit to NYC were we walked ~8 miles, my feet were less tired than my husband's (who wore walking shoes). Yes, they are expensive, but occasionally they have sales... my last pair I got for 30% off. I'm waiting for another sale so I can get another color. I adore these shoes for travelling! I did notice that when I got my very first pair, I did not find it comfortable at all. I am a size 8.5, and they say to order down a size (they only have full sizes), so I ordered the 8. After paying so much for the shoes, I was expecting heaven, and wasn't feeling it. Since they have free return shipping (for exchanges or returns), I thought I might as well return it for the 9 and give it a shot -- so glad I did. The 9 was perfect, and I've been a Tiek believer ever since.

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  9. I like Sketcher GOWalk 2 the most. I want these shoes on my next birthday.

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  10. This is a great review! Thank you for this. I think Cole Haan are better for longevity than Tieks, less expensive to start with, and easier to find on sale. :)

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  11. Hi - Thanks so much for this wonderful review. Just checking in to see if you could update us on whether you made the correct decision? Thanks so much!!

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  12. all the pics are really great an this is the great review

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  13. I like the Cole Haan Manhattan Ballet pairs very much. I would like to purchase the shoes. How much they will cost? Although they are not foldable but I like the color. Simple and flexible.

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  14. Your review was just I looking for.

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  15. When it comes to ballet flat shoes, there are really two choices - leather and canvas. You could also choose imitation leather shoes, but these won't usually work well, and they wear out quickly. So really, your two choices are leather or canvas ballet flat shoes.

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  16. Our feet are often neglected until they are in pain or causing pain elsewhere in our bodies. Learn how taking care of our feet and the shoes can prevent us future pain literally and monetary.I find this website for Best Dress Shoes for Walking.

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  17. Actually, I cherished them so much that didn't wear any of alternate shoes I pressed. In the nighttimes, rather than changing into my more pleasant pads for supper, I kept these on. By correlation, my different pads felt like torment gadgets.

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  18. Your web page is very chatty. It will be useful for all of us. You have done a perform. golf watch reviews

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  19. This article was exactly what I needed. I am travelling in a couple of weeks and I am debating what shoes to bring. I will give your list a try.
    Thanks

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  20. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for
    the useful info.

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  21. These shoess look great, i guess all of us will fit on it well, personally i love these cream ballet shoes, i will follow your blog and see more anything new, hope you're doing well and give us more amazing shoes.

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  22. Really good looking shoes. It's for travelling? Because I need new travel shoes . I also following your blog and its always give me new ideas. Its amazing. Thank you, buddy.

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  23. Hi - Thanks so much for this wonderful review.
    I like Sketcher GOWalk 2 the most they are the most comfortable flats for walking

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  24. When it comes to ballet flat shoes, there are really two choices - leather and canvas. You could also choose imitation leather shoes, but these won't usually work well, and they wear out quickly. So really, your two choices are leather or canvas ballet flat shoes. If you want to know more information about Best Hiking Shoes for Women visit our site.

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  25. Nice article.
    Many nurses love flats outside work. I will show this page to my wife and her friends.
    ShoeBounty

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  26. I would agree with some of your points but I think the above goods are not 100% necessary for a successful travel there are many other things which you need to take care while traveling.

    ReplyDelete