The 11 Best Dressy Flats of 2023

The Scarosso Cloe Nera Ballerina flat is our top pick.

In This Article

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Best Dressy Flats

Shows like Sex and the City made heels look perfectly appropriate for urban life. Hopping around Manhattan in Manolos? Exploring the streets of Paris in sky-high Louboutins? Glamorous in theory, but not exactly practical.

City denizen or not, there are numerous occasions that call for formal footwear, from the office to evening events. And, if you’re weighing options that are more elevated than sneakers, yet more comfortable than heels, there is one obvious choice: the flat. Thankfully, there are a variety of styles that don’t compromise on sophistication either.

Our absolute favorite is Scarosso’s Cloe Nera Ballerina flat since it’s equally as comfy as it is stylish and sturdy. But there are other dressy flat-shoe options that adapt to any wardrobe; just peruse Amazon and you’ll find a variety of modern Mary Janes, mules, loafers, and embellished sandals that are sure to complement your ensemble.

Whatever your tastes, these are the best flats we’ve assessed to suit any dress code:

Best Overall

Scarosso Cloe Nera Ballerina

scarosso-cloe-nera-ballerina

Scarosso

Why We Love Them: They are elegant, timeless, and supremely comfortable.

What to Consider: They tend to scratch and scuff easily.

Many of the finer things in life can be found in Italy, including beautiful leather shoes. One such example is these Scarosso ballerinas, which have multiple marks of brilliance: Supremely soft leather? Check. A refined aesthetic? Check. Versatility? Check. Created by skilled artisans in the Marche region, the brand prides itself on providing a luxury designer standard. It offers a variety of sophisticated flat-shoe options, but the Cloe Nera is our top pick for its timelessly elegant style. The bow adds a touch of formality and femininity while the 1.5-centimeter heel provides a subtle elevation that is flattering on the ankle.

Another highlight? They fit like a glove and won’t need to be broken in to be wearable; you can take them right out of the box and go. I first discovered Scarosso this summer and was amazed by how comfortable they were (these were heels that I could have worn for a day out in Paris). It’s all down to the failproof formula of traditional Italian craftsmanship, modern technology, and first-class materials. Bellissima!

Price at time of publish: $285

Sizes: 5-12 | Materials: Patent leather, calf leather, vibram

Best Customizable Flats

Margaux The Demi

4.8
margaux-the-demi-at-amazon

Amazon

Why We Love Them: You can add monogram initials or hand-painted daisy detailing, so they can be unique and sentimental.

What to Consider: They tend to slip off your heels.

New York-based brand Margaux has garnered a cult following for versatile flats, and its top seller is The Demi, which is available in 18 different colorways and can be customized to include monogram initials or a playful daisy pattern. The size can also be customized so you can ensure that you’re getting the perfect fit; half sizes are available from a US 3-14, there are three different width options, and, if you want something extra bespoke, made-to-order is also offered.

Like all of Margaux’s shoes, each Demi is handmade in Spain, crafted with Italian nappa leather, a grosgrain trim, and an adjustable bow cord. It has almost 500 five-star reviews, many of which praise the smart design and French-girl flair.

Price at time of publish: $198

Sizes: 33-54 | Materials: Italian Nappa leather

Best Pointed-Toe

Coach Vae Skimmer at Amazon

coach-vae-skimmer-at-amazon

Amazon

Why We Love Them: The beadchain trim adds subtle allure without being too overbearing.

What to Consider: They are flat flats — something to keep in mind if you’re wearing long pants or a floor-skimming maxi dress, or if you need more arch support.

Since 1941, Coach has been making beautiful and practical things from leather, so it’s no surprise that it has perfected women’s flats. One of the brand’s top-selling styles is these pointed-toe slingbacks, crafted with cushioned memory foam and non-skid rubber soles that prove invaluable in inclement weather. They are trendy and timeless, with a gold beadchain trim that adds just enough glamour for evening events.

Three colorways are available: black, pink, and a neutral shade that would pair beautifully with a floral dress. They’re perfect for wearing to a wedding hosted at a vineyard or a garden where heels can prove problematic.

Price at time of publish: $150

Sizes: 5-11 | Materials: Leather, man-made leather, rubber

Best Loafers

Cos Leather Moccasin Loafers

cos-leather-moccasin-loafers

Cos

Why We Love Them: They’re a refined take on the chunky-loafer trend.

What to Consider: They’re more for function than style.

If you’re seeking timeless, well-made staples that won’t break the bank, Cos should be your first port of call. And if you’re looking for a pair of sophisticated loafers that you can wear anywhere from the boardroom to the bar, these are an excellent option.

Made with Portuguese leather, these Moccasin-style loafers are comfortable and adaptable to any outfit. Pair with tailored chinos and a crisp white shirt for the office, or for an edgy day-to-night look, simply add a black knit dress and a bag with a shoulder chain (like this Gucci GG Marmont bag at Net-a-Porter).

Price at time of publish: $225

Sizes: 5-11 | Materials: Leather, thermoplastic rubber

Best Affordable

Asos Lively Slingback Ballet Flats in Tie Dye

asos-lively-slingback-ballet-flats-in-tie-dye

Asos

Why We Love Them: They cost less than a round of martinis but would look right at home in Saks or Neiman Marcus.

What to Consider: They are indeed fast fashion, made to last a season, not a lifetime.

Could these be mistaken for Chanel? Not quite, but then again, they are a fraction of the price, which is the beauty of shopping at Asos. The classic almond-toed slingback is available in 15 different colors and textures (raffia, houndstooth, glitter, eyelet, etc.), but our favorite is the pink, faux-suede version, which look a lot more expensive than they are. Inject a rosy hit of color into your ensemble and pair with cropped denim and a sweater for a chic weekend look.

Price at time of publish: $30

Sizes: 4-11 | Materials: Textile

Best Vegan

Melissa Aura Chain at Amazon

melissa-aura-chain-at-amazon

Amazon

Why We Love Them: They are waterproof, easy to clean, and don’t retain odor.

What to Consider: The PVC finish isn’t for everyone.

Brazilian shoe brand, Melissa, is renowned for its jelly-like shoes, and these ballerinas are some of the brand’s most sophisticated flats. They have a slightly square toe and are adorned with interlinking, two-toned chain detailing, made from its signature rubber. If you’re heading out in the rain, these are a great alternative to a Welly boot, since they are waterproof (a chic commuter shoe option).

Beyond the practical features, Melissa’s shoes are all vegan and have impressive sustainability credentials. The company has been collaborating with the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index since 2020 and is committed to recycling its materials.

Price at time of publish: $79

Sizes: 5-10 | Material: PVC rubber

Best Embellished

Birdies The Swan Snow Crystal Bracelet

birdies-the-swan-black-crystal-bracelet

Birdies

Why We Love Them: They are like jewelry for your feet and are perfect for gatherings hosted at home.

What to Consider: The crystals can be difficult to keep shiny and clean.

Velvet and crystals are an undeniably luxe combination; add to that seven layers of plush cushioning and you have a shoe that is as comfortable as it is dazzling. The slip-on style makes them effortless to glide into, whether you’re popping out for a morning coffee run or dressing them up with an LBD for aperitivo hour. And if you’re invited to someone’s home for a dinner party or for Thanksgiving, these are appropriate for wearing indoors. They look sleeker than slippers and will keep floors unscathed due to the flat rubber sole.

Price at time of publish: $165

Sizes: 5-12 | Materials: Vegan velvet, rubber, faux crystals

Most Timeless

ATP Andrano Black Nappa Loafers

atp-andrano-black-nappa-loafers

ATP Atelier

Why We Love Them: They are the ultimate in Scandinavian minimalism.

What to Consider: The sole is made from untreated leather, so if you’re going to be wearing them in the rain, it’s advised to add a 1- or 2-millimeter rubber sole to keep them protected.

These loafers have a vintage aesthetic, like they have been passed on from grandma’s closet (in the best possible way). There are no features that could make you cringe in years to come, like many of the overly chunky loafers that are trending right now. And given the high-quality materials and craftsmanship, there’s a good chance that you’ll still have them in your closet in a decade.

Made from supremely soft leather sourced from Tuscany, these simple loafers have a ladylike silhouette, free of any unsightly seams, embellishments, or buckles that could clash with other accessories (matching different shades of gold can be a conundrum). All in all, they’re an excellent example of Scandinavian sensibility.

Price at time of publish: $390

Sizes: EU 35-41 | Materials: Nappa leather, lamb leather

Best Printed

Sabah By Day Baba

sabah-by-day-baba

Sabah

Why We Love Them: The print is bright and playful.

What to Consider: They look a bit slipper-ish.

A fun festival shoe? A colorful accent to make your weekend attire pop? Whatever the occasion, these slides are great daytime shoes that are sure to inject some vibrance into your step. The slip-on style features hand-illustrated designs that are said to be “inspired by breezy days lounging by the sea.” Just picture them with a crisp white linen shirtdress and a raffia tote and you have an elevated resort look. Like slippers, they tend to become more comfortable the more they are worn.

Price at time of publish: $205

Sizes: 35-43 | Materials: Polyester, leather

Best Textured

Sandro Woven Leather Slingbacks

sandro-woven-leather-slingbacks

Why We Love Them: They’re a unique and artistic take on the classic flat slingback.

What to Consider: They don’t provide full foot coverage so are best worn in warmer climates.

Rendered in black and gold, these woven slingbacks are the perfect day-to-night flat. The elastic strap is comfortable to walk in and, unlike many textured shoes, the leather is soft enough to wear if you’re going to be on your feet all day. They add interest to simple, go-to outfits, like jeans and a fresh T-shirt, or if you want to jazz up your office look, style them with classic black suiting, ideally with a cropped hem to show off the details.

Price at time of publish: $180

Sizes: 5.5-9.5 | Materials: Leather, sheepskin

Best Leather

Bougeotte Calfskin Flat Penny Loafers

bougeotte-calfskin-flat-penny-loafers

Bergdorf Goodman

Why We Love Them: Bougeotte’s shoes take around 50 hours to make, and the handmade craftsmanship shines through.

What to Consider: They are an investment.

Those who know beautiful loafers know Bougeotte, which are undoubtedly some of the world’s most luxurious flats. The brand’s signature design was honed over 18 months, and today, it’s available in a variety of colorways and fabrics (tweed, embroidered, dance-floor-ready metallics, suede, etc). We love the apricot-colored pair that are currently on sale at Bergdorf Goodman; because if you’re going to invest in shoes that you’ll have for years to come, why not add a unique shade to your collection?

Price at time of publish: $397

Sizes: 5-12 | Materials: Calfskin leather

Tips for Buying Dressy Flats

Consider the occasion

Are you seeking something for the office? A particular event? Or simply something to make your weekend outfits look more polished? This will dictate the styles that you should consider. There are, of course, dress codes that need to be respected, and what might suit an agenda of gallery-hopping and brunch may not be appropriate for the office. Likewise, weddings require a certain degree of formality, so go for dressier styles with embellishments or a pointed-toe.

Comfort and fit are key

The material can make a world of difference and could mean bliss or blisters. Look for leather where possible, as it is always the softest, most wearable option. And if you’re in between sizes or have wider feet, look for brands with an extended size offering, like Margaux (there are so many beautiful styles available to suit any occasion).

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What should I look for in a flat shoe?

    According to Beth Kanfer, Nordstrom Fashion Director for Shoes and Accessories, it’s all about comfort. “A cushioned footbed that supports the alignment of the foot coupled with soft materials and flexible soles are key considerations when shopping for a flat — or any shoe!”

  • How can flat shoes be styled?

    “Flats are versatile – offering comfort while pulling together or dressing down looks for any occasion,” says Kanfer. “Loafers and ballerinas pair perfectly with jeans and a relaxed jacket for a day in the office or brunch with friends. They also look great with a variety of skirt lengths from mini to maxi. Fun color and embellishments are key and can take you from day to night.”

  • Where are the best places to purchase flats?

    Amazon has an impressive selection of contemporary designers on offer along with more accessible options that won’t break the bank. Key department stores are always a good place to look (Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, Saks, Neiman Marcus), and curated e-commerce destinations like Moda Operandi, MatchesFashion, and Net-a-Porter.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, Travel + Leisure contributor Amy Louise Bailey drew on her decade-plus career in the fashion and luxury industry to curate an inspiring edit to suit various occasions. She also spoke with designers, leading multi-brand retailers, and personal shoppers to obtain insights on the most popular flat-shoe styles and the trends they’re seeing currently.

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