Flat shoes and sandals guide


Flat black patent pumpsOur flat shoe and sandals guide. Because not everyone is Sarah Jessica Parker, nor would we wish to be.

Ballerina pumps

If you're looking for practical and pretty flats, ballerina pumps are the obvious starting point - elegant, timeless (why, Dame Audrey of Hepburn herself wore them) - but recently brogues and even loafers have been creeping back into the public's consciousness.

Why? Because they are so damn comfortable, that's why, and they last a bit longer than a glorified slipper. Inevitably, the MN Style & Beauty board being what it is, there is some debate as to where to buy one's ballet flats from (ie upmarket, mid-market or down the market).

"My French Sole flatties have lasted for ages, well worth the extra dosh" thefunkypea

"I usually get mine in New Look or Office." bluebump


Brogues are the perfect autumn shoe (or summer, if recent years have been anything to go by). The Frank brogue, by Office, has been a runaway success, and Office is revitalising its colours every season.

Beware, though: anything less than a perfectly turned ankle disappearing into a solid flat and you will look like a middle-aged fell-walker.

Loafers and moccasins

There are plenty of styles to choose from right now, from the traditional shiny penny loafer to the more relaxed (ie knackered-looking) tasselled loafers or moccasins. Young people (ahem) look nice in these, with very skinny jeans or leggings.

"I hanker, but had them the last time round so it's against the law for me." ADifferentMe

"No, no, no, it's a baaaad law! Buy them and wear them with a 'been there' attitude!" stillfrazzled

Gladiator sandals

No-one would have predicted that the gladiator sandal would outlast Sienna Miller's career as a tabloidista, but for the past five years or so they have been absolutely essential for summer. Is five years long enough, though?

"I think they are past their peak and on their way out. They are pretty demanding shoes, as you need to be perfectly tanned, tall and lithe to look even half-decent in them. Mediterranean and Latin American women can wear them with flair, but I think they should be banned in Northern Europe." DonaAna

"I think the era of the gladiator might be over. But if you really like them, I'd say you'd get away with another year or so." FrancesFarmer

And it's bad news on the flip-flop front, as well, if DonaAna is to be believed: "The same is true for flipflops. I love them, have several treasured pairs of customised Havaianas from Brazil, but fewer and fewer people are wearing them out and about. Even their manufacturer branched out into tennis shoes. Doesn't that say something?"


You know you shouldn't, but they are so comfortable and warm, and anyway, the Mary-Janes are cute.

The MN Style & Beauty posse has relaxed the ruling somewhat on the issue of the fugly rubber clog, and it is now acceptable to wear them for a) camping b) the school run (but only if your alarm hasn't gone off) and c) whenever you bloomin' well want, you're not the type of person who cares about what mad women on the internet tell you.

"I wear mine with pride. They are comfy, I don't care what they look like." KurriKurri

"Mine are for in the house/garden only, I have plantar faciitis and they are a godsend. But out in public, definitely wrong." schroeder

Fit Flops and MBTs

If you've ever wondered why women seem to be wearing clown shoes on the street, the answer is that they are in fact exercising their buttocks as they walk. Sometimes, it seems, you have to choose between your dignity and your backside.

Technically, they are the opposite of a 'flat' shoe, because they feature curved soles, the idea being that your gluteus maximus will need to work harder to prevent you falling over in a heap. Honestly, like women don't have enough to do in the day...

"I have both Fit Flops and MBT (old and ugly style). The MBT you can definitely feel working. The Fit Flops for me are a flop, can't feel any difference whatsoever but they are comfortable." needahand

"Be careful on them, that's all I'd say. My osteopath is not at all keen on Fit Flops or MBTs for people recovering from ankle fractures." GloriaSmut

"In my experience, Birkenstocks are much better after a broken ankle." valiumredhead


Ah yes, Birkenstocks. Almost as much of a love/hate story on Mumsnet as Crocs, but any woman worth her salt knows that the shaped corked footbed is a thing of true beauty, even after it bears the indelible marks of five grubby toes.

They are, when the chips are down and the nursery run just has to be done, the only flats worth having. (Apart from the patent ones, obviously, as they are hell on wheels to break in.)

What? You don't agree? Well, hie thee hither to the Mumsnet Style & Beauty board and have your say.

Last updated: almost 2 years ago