NBD, Just Some Ballet Flats That Won't Make Your Arches Ache (2024)

NBD, Just Some Ballet Flats That Won't Make Your Arches Ache (1)

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Love it or hate it, the

ballet flat’s big comeback is still very much underway. But for my fellow millennials that spent the aughts abusing our feet running around in paper-thin ballerinas (ah, youth), their triumphant return is…complicated. With age comes wisdom—and a lower threshold for painful shoes–so I’m happy to report ballet flats with arch support do exist, and deserve some space in your closet.

Ballet flats are traditionally “a very flexible, soft, lightweight, flat shoe with minimal padding or support,” according to podiatrist Dr. Najwa Javed of Silicon Valley Podiatry Group and founder of E'MAR Italy, a chic comfort shoe brand. Besides short-term discomfort, ballet flats can spur bigger issues big-picture like “soft tissue pain such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and arch pain,” Dr. Javed explains.

Additionally, get this: the pain potential also depends on your foot's shape. “People with high arches can usually tolerate ballet flats, but over time they can develop pain in high-pressure areas due to the lack of cushioning,” Dr. Javed says. Apparently, for flat or low arches, “prolonged wear [of ballet flats] causes pain due to the lack of support; this pain can be isolated to the foot but can also involve the ankle and lower back,” explains Dr. Javed. She commonly sees ballet flat wearers with flatter feet and “increased back pain, due to the inherent instability of the low or flat arch foot type.”

Luckily, there are a few key features that can, indeed, make for a supportive ballerina style. According to Dr. Javed, these are: “a rigid sole with a slight heel and some arch padding." This helps reduce friction and pressure on the arch and lower back! Now that we've got that sorted, I'm here to help you discover all that and in the name of fashun!

Our top picks for the best ballet flats with arch support of 2024:

Plus, don't miss more cute and comfy flats, our fave work sneakers, and these stylish slip-ons. But first, read on for 11 pairs of stylish and supportive ballet flats that you won’t wanna take off.

these elegant gold ones

Birdies The Crane

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these elegant gold ones

Birdies The Crane

Now 40% Off

Love the slightly squared toe and elongating shape of these soft leather beauts. Inside, they've got plush, supportive quilted insoles that Birdies are known for, containing layered high density and memory foam, a shock absorption pad, and arch and heel cookie. BTW, if you're between sizes or have wide feet, consider going up half a size.

Rave review
: "Beautiful leather is used in the construction of these amazingly comfortable flats. I love Birdies quilted comfort and I own several pairs. They are perfect for special occasions, as well as, everyday wear. Birdies are a joy for your feet and overall well-being."

Details:

Colors:Antique Gold, Copper, Port, and more.
Sizing:5-12
Materials:Leather or Suede Uppers

these all-weather wonders

Vivaia Aria 5° Pointed-Toe Water Repellent Ballet Flats

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these all-weather wonders

Vivaia Aria 5° Pointed-Toe Water Repellent Ballet Flats

These cute flats come in tons of colors and patterns, and are made of chafe-free knit material that's machine washable and water repellent so you can wear them on drizzly days without stressing. And that's just the exteriors—inside, you'll find soft foam insoles with arch support and a heel cushion. Many styles come in wide widths, too.

Details:

Colors:Cream Ivory, Lavender, Denim Blue, and more.
Sizing:36-42
Material:Recycled knit uppers, Rubber outsole

this saucy snake-print pair

ABEO Cadence Bow

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this saucy snake-print pair

ABEO Cadence Bow

Now 32% Off

Undetectable to the eye, these cleverly designed cuties have a hidden 1" wedge heel for a ton of arch and heel support, both things sorely lacking in most fully flat and thin-soled ballet flats. The brand's BIOsystem® orthotic footbed helps with alignment from toe to head. And get this: there's a deep heel cup for shock absorption and to prevent the foot from sliding out of place. Also awesome? These have a spacious, squish-free toe box and blister-evading buttery leather uppers.

Details:

Colors:Snake Print, Light Gold, Black, and more.
Sizing:5-11 (neutral and metatarsal footbed options)
Materials:Leather or suede uppers, leather lining, and TPR (thermoplastic rubber) outsoles

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these shiny patent ones

Aerosoles Homebet Ballet Flat

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these shiny patent ones

Aerosoles Homebet Ballet Flat

Now 42% Off

Aerosoles is known for comfort-centric kicks and this classic ballet style is no exception. Reviewers rave about how this well-priced pair with a sturdy sole offers great support for flatter arches—no break-in period needed—and they are gentle on calluses and bunions.

Rave Review:
“A perfect pair for not-so-perfect feet. Many people make the assumption that all ballet flats are basically the same. After spending more money than I care to admit, I have to disagree from experience. The Homebet Aerosoles ballet flat I finally purchased has been my go-to since I slipped my bunioned and collapsible-arch feet into them. I do not have perfect feet but I still want style, elegance and durable craftsmanship in my shoes. I am most satisfied by this purchase. It is comfortable from the get-go without having to 'break them in.' The quality is worth the price.”

Details:

Colors:Black Snake, Racing Red, Soft Gold, and more.
Sizing:5-12
Material:Patent faux leather

these hybrid mary jane ballet flats

Cole Haan Women's Bridge Maryjane Ballet

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these hybrid mary jane ballet flats

Cole Haan Women's Bridge Maryjane Ballet

Now 40% Off

While Dr. Javed says ballet flats with ankle straps don't actually add further support for those fatigued arches than classic slip-on styles... a MaryJane-ballet flat hybrid is cute as hell and will add further stylishness to your closet. These square-toed bbs are lightweight with ample arch support, a polished vibe, and endless styling possibilities.

Rave Review:
“These are extremely comfortable and chic! I use them for work, where I am on my feet 5+ hours at a time."

Details:

Colors:Bloodstone, Black, Black Patent
Sizing:5-11
Material:Synthetic, Polyurethane

these crisscrossed cuties

Hopp X Ballet - Navy / Black Stretch

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these crisscrossed cuties

Hopp X Ballet - Navy / Black Stretch

With strapless flats, ballet style or otherwise, keeping them on your feet and avoiding heels slipping out with each step can be an uphill battle. No need to stress over that with these stretchy satin-like ones that stay put when they're on, but are also easy to slide on or off because of the stretchy, buckle-free crisscrossed straps. The softly square toe box won't pinch toes and the padded, supportive insoles are lined in sweat-free supple leather that'll mold to your foot's shape like a glove.

Details:

Colors:Navy/Black, Cherry, Cacao, and more!
Sizing:36-42
Materials:Stretch fabric uppers and straps, leather lining, and rubber soles

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these sheer, strappy stunners

E'Mar Everyday Ankle Strap Pump

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these sheer, strappy stunners

E'Mar Everyday Ankle Strap Pump

Now 50% Off

For a creative riff on the classic style, check out this pair that screams (uh, whispers) quiet luxury. Love the elegant squared-toe shape, dainty wraparound ankle strap, and low block heel. And do you see that gorge latticed, double-layered mesh design (extra breathable in hot weather, BTW)?! Inside, the insoles are insanely supportive with discreet cushioning and extra arch padding because these beauts were designed by a foot surgeon.

Rave Review: "I have had a hard time with flats due to my flat feet and when I saw these, I knew that I had to give them a try. E'mar Italy has delivered again. These feel so comfortable when walking and standing and the look is stylish. Olive green is not a common color for shoes which is a plus. I also love how unique yet comfortable this brand's shoes are—I highly recommend them!"

Details:

Colors:Olive, Almond
Sizing:35-41
Material:Almond: Napa leather lining and sole Olive: Vegan microfiber upper and interlaced mesh

these versatile bestsellers

Camper Right Leather Ballerinas

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these versatile bestsellers

Camper Right Leather Ballerinas

Now 30% Off

Available in a rainbow of hues of soft, high-quality leather, these bbs with a stretchy, wide elastic strap have been a Camper bestseller for nearly 20 (!!) years and for v good reason. The sturdy rubber soles are way more durable and shock-absorbing than your typical ballerina, while the removable insoles have plush cushioning to pamper those arches. P.S. Per multiple reviews, size up a half or whole size for max comfort.

Rave Review: "Love these classic, versatile and comfortable shoes! I can't live without them. I want them in every color."

Details:

Colors:Blue, Burgundy, Deep Red, and more.
Sizing:5-11
Materials:Leather or suede uppers, fabric and leather interior lining, elastic straps

this polished pair

Vionic Arielle Pointed Toe Flat

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this polished pair

Vionic Arielle Pointed Toe Flat

Now 40% Off

From slippers to boots to heels, Vionic is a go-to for truly supportive kicks. However, they really excel at work-ready flats that won't kill your feet on your commute, like this posh point-toed pair jazzed up with chain-link detail in soft leather. The secret? Insoles with the brand's signature Orthaheel technology, which promises cushioning, arch support, flexibility and stability (not to mention posture correction and full-body alignment) with each step. JFYI, these require a bit of breaking in for max comfort, according to reviews.

Rave Review: "Not only is this shoe cute but it’s comfortable. If you are looking for a shoe that can dress up jeans and be worn all day, this is it. It is supportive and stylish. I highly recommend."

Details:

Colors:Black, Camel
Sizing:5-11
Materials:Leather upper, synthetic lining and sole

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this bunion-friendly pair

Calla Charlotte Wide Fit

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this bunion-friendly pair

Calla Charlotte Wide Fit

If you've got wider feet and/or bunions, finding comfy flats can be a real pain. Enter: UK-based brand Calla, which specializes in kicks expressly designed to fit up to WW-width feet. These classic buttery leather flats have cushioned insoles with arch support and a discreet heel for shock absorption. Plus, there's a hidden stretch panel in the toe box to accommodate and conceal bunions (and to avoid squashed toes in general).

Details:

Colors:Navy, Black, Brown, and more.
Sizing:6-10
Materials:Suede or leather uppers

these slick ones

Marion Parke Ballet Flats

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these slick ones

Marion Parke Ballet Flats

Yes, they're a splurge, but these sleek square-toed flats with an adjustable buckle on the vamp's dainty strap don't mess around on the support front. Foot surgeon-turned-designer Marion Parke's signature, twice-patented insoles are designed to pamper and support arches, increase stability (when walking and standing), and reduce fatigue and pressure on the ball of the foot. Dreamy!

Details:

Colors:Black Patent, Silver Metallic, Stone, and more.
Sizing:36-41
Materials:Patent or metallic leather uppers, leather lining

FAQ:

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Do any ballet flats have arch support?

Yes, as these cute picks prove! But generally speaking, ballet flats with arch support have “a rigid sole, medial arch padding, and .5” to 1” of heel thickness," Dr. Javed says of the three factors that “can help and support your foot much better” than most ballet styles can.

How do you get arch support in ballet flats?

While most arch-pampering happens inside shoes, the materials of the upper and outsole materials matter, too. Leather is the gold standard upper material per Dr. Javed, for “enough stretchability without compromising support” and be cautious with rigid materials like pleather (“too restrictive and can cause friction blisters”) and materials with too much give, like canvas or too-stretchy knits, which can “cause increased collapse of the arch.” Outsoles made of “supportive thermoplastic rubber with intrinsic stability can help with reduced arch collapse,” she says. “The more rigid the sole, the better the support, and flexible soles will cause pain and damage long term.”

Are flats good for high arches?

"People with high arches can usually tolerate ballet flats” because it’s an “inherently stable foot type,” Dr. Javed says, so though flats aren't exactly 'good' for any foot shape, they're less problematic if you have high versus low arches. That said, frequent use can lead to pain in high-pressure areas due to the lack of cushioning!

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Why trust Cosmo:

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Cosmo’s team of fashion experts—which includes fashion director Cassie Anderson and fashion features director Rachel Torgerson, senior accessories editor Andrea Zendejas, and fashion editors Tarah-Lynn Saint-Elien and Danielle Flum—have decades of experience in the industry. They spot relevant trends on the runway before they even hit your TikTok FYP or Insta Explore Page and conduct research across retailers of all kinds to bring you the best clothing and accessory picks for every season. Basically, we've curated a chic little corner of the internet for you like it’s our job (because it is, heh).

We have pretty high standards when it comes to clothing and accessory recommendations. Each of our shopping articles adheres to the 15 Percent Pledge and includes products for all sizes. And you better believe we read those product reviews (and test many of the brands IRL) so you don't have to. You're welcome!

NBD, Just Some Ballet Flats That Won't Make Your Arches Ache (25)

Alexandra Ilyashov

Alexandra Ilyashov is the former interim Fashion Features Director at Cosmopolitan and a longtime freelance editor and writer, covering the fashion, food, lifestyle, cannabis, and wellness industries for over a dozen years for outlets like New York Magazine, Glamour, InStyle, Fashionista, Eater, WSJ. Magazine, The Knot, and Saveur. The native New Yorker and alum of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism was previously an editor at Refinery29 and The Daily Front Row, and has also held contributing editor roles at V Magazine, Paper, and Well+Good. Her work ranges from expert-vetted shopping guides to reported features about topics like retail’s size inclusivity issues or eczema’s impact on mental health, plus buzzy chef profiles, dining guides, and (much!) more.

NBD, Just Some Ballet Flats That Won't Make Your Arches Ache (2024)

FAQs

Do ballet flats hurt your feet? ›

Unfortunately, ballet flats typically don't fit the bill, as they're often flimsy and lacking in structural support. What's worse is, while short-term side effects might include sore soles, wearing ballet flats all the time can also lead to longer-term issues.

Are ballet flats out of fashion? ›

Modern Ballet Flats

After reviewing the ballet flat's long-winded history, it seems safe to say that they have never truly gone out of style.

Do ballet flats go with everything? ›

Whether you're heading out to run errands or heading to the office, flats can make almost any outfit look polished. In fact, we've been seeing a resurgence of ballet flats this season.

Why do podiatrists hate ballet flats? ›

“They traditionally don't offer any arch support,” explains podiatrist Saylee Tulpule. “This lack of support can lead to common foot issues such as plantar fasciitis” — inflammation of the lower foot and heel tissue — “and can aggravate flat feet or joints in the midfoot,” she tells Yahoo Life.

How do you stop ballet flats from hurting? ›

If you experience pain, you can loosen your flats in one of two ways:
  1. If they are made of faux leather, apply some shoe conditioner to soften it a bit and wear them around your home.
  2. If they are not made of faux leather, pop on your thickest socks and wear your ballet flats around your house.

Are ballet flats uncomfortable? ›

Many flats feature a shallow and narrow toe box (the part of the shoe where the toes go). A too-small toe box often doesn't align with the shape of a foot and ends up squishing the toes. It can also increase pressure on top of and under the foot, and restrict the movement of the forefoot during walking.

Are ballet flats back in style 2024? ›

The rise in popularity ushers in a new era for ballet flats, which once brought only images of the girlhood aesthetic trend to mind. In short, they've grown up for 2024 with sleek neutrals, minimalist silhouette iterations, and a something-for-everyone mentality. There are also no signs of them slowing down.

Should ballet flats be tight or loose? ›

Ballet shoes should feel snug on the foot without compromising comfort.

How can I make my ballet flats more comfortable? ›

Make sure you moisturize your feet and use a pumice stone to remove any calluses. Soft, supple skin will feel better in ballet flats. Wear no-show liner socks to protecting your feet. These socks will give your foot some protection against the shoe, preventing blistering or rubbing.

Should you size up or down in ballet flats? ›

If you are between sizes, order the half size larger. If you sometimes take a size 8 or 8.5 or one foot is larger than the other, it is better to go with the larger size and use a heel insert for the smaller foot – available from Foot and Shoe Section of Groceries Stores, Chemists and Shoe shops.

How do you break in new ballet flats? ›

The first rule for breaking in your ballet shoes is to wear them frequently. Once you have learned how to wear your shoes properly, then you want to wear them all the time. You want to walk around your house on demi-pointe, practicing getting the shoe to feel comfortable around your feet.

What are the cons of ballet flats? ›

Flat shoes that are the culprits here are ballet flats, thongs/flip flops or any flat shoes with a thin sole and no support. The problem with flat shoes is that they strain your sole, Achilles tendon and calf muscles, they have no shock absorption and your toes often do all the work to keep the shoe on.

What are the side effects of ballet flats? ›

It can also increase pressure on top of and under the foot, and restrict the movement of the forefoot during walking. But a too-big toe box is also a problem. Too much foot movement within the shoe can cause pressure and friction on the skin, which can also lead to calluses, corns, blisters, and wounds.

Are ballet flats bad for you? ›

But besides foot injuries, wearing ballet flats can sometimes cause hip, knee and back problems due to the lack of support they offer, according to WebMD.

Is wearing flats bad for your feet? ›

Not quite. Genuinely flat shoes, like flip-flops, are also not the best type of shoes to wear every day. Since they lack any kind of heel or ball support, wearing them daily can lead to all sorts of foot problems, including a collapsed foot arch, a precursor to flat feet.

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