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How to Make Flat Shoes Comfortable 6 Ways

Dear Budget Fashionista,

Please tell me how to make flat shoes comfortable. Here is my dilemma: I love flats, they are so cute and versatile, but it is so hard for me to find a style and brand that does not torture my feet. Almost all of the flats that I’ve tried rub my ankle raw or dig into the top of my toes. I’ve tried the more expensive brands, but they were not any better than some of the cheaper brands. Are there any solutions?

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There are a few tactics you can try to make your flat shoes more comfortable. You’ve already done some work to diagnose the cause. Since you’ve tried on multiple brands and price points, you know the rubbing is not related to the design of one shoe or brand.

Close up of woman's feet wearing flat shoes in grass.

1. Try different sizes

For whatever reason, your foot and ankle don’t fit the “mold.” If you haven’t already, experiment with different sizes to see if the rubbing gets better or worse. A flat shoe that’s too big could rub because it’s moving. A flat shoe that’s too small could rub because, well, it’s too small.

You can also try a wider size.

If a different size doesn’t help, you’ll have to alter the shoe itself or use temporary measures to improve the fit.

2. Arch supports

Product shot of arch supports to make shoes more comfortable.
These inserts have orthotic gel insoles to relieve various types of foot pain. You can buy them at Walmart for $15.

Arch inserts will add cushion and support for your arch. That may address the rubbing and it will keep your feet from getting sore.

3. Heel pads

Another drugstore strategy is the heel pad. You can stick them on the inside of your uncomfortable flat shoe. The goal would be to keep your foot and shoe stable, to minimize the rubbing.

4. Work with a cobbler

With leather shoes, you can also ask a shoe cobbler or repair person to stretch the shoe box. This will make more room for your feet.

5. Buy shoes with memory foam footbeds

A memory foam footbed can cradle your fit and help reduce the rubbing. You can also try memory foam inserts.

6. Try other flat styles

If you haven’t already, try other styles of flat-soled shoes. Ballet flats may not work for you, but flat mules, for example, might. Since shoes are rubbing you on the ankle and toes, experiment with a design that doesn’t make contact in those areas.

A slide with an elastic strap across the top of your foot might be what you need. It doesn’t have the same look as a ballet flat, but the ease and convenience is there.

Fellow fashionistas — share your strategies for how to make flat shoes comfortable!

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Wednesday 4th of April 2012

I have alway thought that born made really comfy shoes, but I recently bought a pair of born flats that really hurt my feet. It's the part between the heel and ankle, but I'm not getting blisters. It's just super tender and sensitive and even hurts when I wear my other shoes now. Does anyone have a solution reason that would happen?


Tuesday 5th of July 2011

I have some foot problems because i stand up at work all day. I use padded inserts and they help quite a bit.

FIDM Fashion Club

Monday 20th of June 2011

Flats can be so hard to make comfortable but I love your tips and I'll be trying them out on my flats. Thanks so much!


Saturday 18th of June 2011

Börn makes some flats that have some padding and arch support. And they're cute. I've found that "comfy" usually doesn't mean fun and fashionable. But these are. I have to wear flats so I'm always looking for a way to make them more comfy.


Sunday 19th of June 2011

Born is great as well as Indigo by Clarks...

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