Heels or Flats? Dealing with the Shoe Dilemma


I don’t know about you, but I love the look of high heels.  And I’m more than happy to wear them when I know I’ll get to do some serious sitting down.  But if I know I’ll be walking anywhere, then I tend to opt for either a kitten heel or flat.  Often when I’m going out, I’ll throw a pair of flats in the car so that if I need to pop into the supermarket on my way home I can change my shoes so that I don’t have to traipse through the store in uncomfortable heels.

We are all well aware that sneakers with a suit do not mix, but if you have to take public transport to work, or want to walk in style, but without discomfort, and don’t want to bring an enormous bag to lug all your shoes in what are your options?

Well, it turns out that I’m not the only one with this problem, in fact a few manufacturers have popped up with solutions to this dilemma.

Scarlettos Shoes have heels with a latex innersole which makes them a more comfortable heel option (I’m wearing a pair in the picture below), they also make ballet flats too!

Scarlettos Shoes with latex innersole
If you want a  flat shoeshoe that you can carry easily in your handbag after changing your shoes – why not try some fold up ballet flats (or light travelling flats)

Shop for Travelling Ballet Flats

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  • This is my dilema too. I walk to my bus stop each day and it takes me about 20 mins. All up i think i walk about 50 mins a day. But i do wear the sneakers with the suit as ballet flats are not comfortable enough for that amount of exercise. Often when you wear these flat shoes for long distances you can feel the hard ground underneath you. I stuffed up my ankle months ago and so i try to look after my feet. Plus i feel really stupid if my feet are hurting and its all for the sake of looking good. Do you know of any comfortable but a bit more practical shoe. I think those ones listed are good if your doing less walking than what i do.

  • I really like the idea of the alterable height shoes, but I don't much like the look of them (v. conservative). And the price is really quite high.

  • I am a bit suspicious about the removable heels, are they safe to wear, what if you loose the other..? Carrying the high heel shoes in my large bag is no problem, and if I drive a car, I´d also change my shoes to ones with a lower heel firstly for safety matters and secondly to not ruin the heels of my pumps.

  • For summer shoes I would highly recommend fitflops – you can walk for hours in them and they would look better than runners with a summer dress/skirt or pants worn to work too.

    I used to do a lot of walking to work too – I left my heels at work and changed into hush puppies for the hike too and from home. The only downside too was that if you wore trousers that were cut for high heels they would drag and look silly when worn with flats.

  • Fascinating shoe ideas: this is a problem that plagues me. (Actually, comfort in general plagues me, but that's another story!).

  • Those rollup and minimal ballet flats are insufficient for our Canadian weather at least 6 months of the year: rain, ice, slush. We usually carry shoes or if working in an office, stash several pairs at work. (That's what's in the bottom drawer of every woman's desk.)

    I wore senakers with as suit in the '80s for a year or so, it was weird but everyone did it. Now you can find flats, stacked low heels or good flat-heeled boots.

  • I love high heels too! Personally, I find that ballet flats do not offer my feet enough support (barring one pair) so I actually prefer my heels or sandals in the summer. But in the winter I wear boots- almost always.

  • i had heard about the disposable "slippers" being sold in nightclubs for tired girls in stilettos… in vending machines, i believe?? with the condoms… great idea. sometimes it won't work but if it's really that bad out you should carry your good shoes and resort to boots.

  • like the others, I don't think those fold-up shoes would offer enough support for a decent-length walk. I'm considering taking a pair of light walking shoes with me whenever a wear heels to work, so I can walk home in comfort. But I'll still get the problem of how to wear full-length trousers that suit both heels and flats.

  • Imogen, I know yours is a style blog (and very much appreciate it!) not an environmental blog, but I bristled at the expression "have to take public transport". Where available, it (or cycling, or walking) is the earth-friendly choice. Parisiennes take it every day and walk for countless kilometres – and now they cycle a lot too – and nobody can claim they don't look chic.

    Katherine, my favourite walking shoes are Mary Janes with a a thick, not very high heel. You will find shoes very similar in déjà pseu (une femme d'un certain âge) style report on Paris this week. There are many good European brands. I have arthritis and couldn't walk that far in ballerina shoes, but I do easily walk that much.

    Duchesse, we found the sneakers with suit look very "Torontonian". And that was not a compliment. True, I also kept a dressy pair at work. My work environment was usually pretty casual but sometimes we had to meet foreign delegations that were big on protocol!

    There are not-really-ballerina-flats that have a tiny bit of a heel and more of a sole and internal support. Guess they are geezer ballerinas. Teenagers can wear the real ones.

  • I always find that I end up wearing boots or mary janes with a low wedge heel–or sometimes men's-wear style oxfords. It rains so much here that no shoe that doesn't get me at least a little bit up off the ground will do, so despite the busing and walking I do every day, I can't wear ballet flats. Thank goodness more rainboots are being made in pretty styles these days…

  • Lagatta – I didn't mean taking public transport was bad or the unfavourable option – I think public transport is fantastic (if you have a good system where you live, which unfortunately we don't). Many cities in the world are public transport cities and there is no or very little need for a car.

  • I would love to hear your solution on the problem another commenter mentioned: the long pants for heels and then pant legs dragging on the ground when you switch to flats. That is my problem. ALL. THE. TIME.

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