Keeping It Casual: 7 Low-Key Shoe Styles I'm Wearing Instead of Heels


(Image credit: @smythsisters)

I'm a heel person through and through. No matter how many days I've tortured my feet in a row, I'll still slide them into pumps or even platforms and be on my way. But lately, I've been noticing that flatter, more casual shoe styles have begun to pique my interest, something that almost never happens. Perhaps it's my mind playing tricks on me in an attempt to give my feet a break, or more likely, it's that footwear designers are stepping up their flat-shoe game. Either way, this season's comfortable and casual shoe styles have me storing away my heels for the first time in forever. 

Not just any flat shoes will do, though. For me to give up my beloved heels, even temporarily, the alternative must be good. Luckily, all seven of the casual styles ahead are just that—I might even call them great. From classic loafers and riding boots to trendy ballet flats and retro sneakers, check out all the low-key shoe styles that are worth ditching your heels for in 2023. Trust me—your feet will thank you. 



(Image credit: @champagnemani)

Loafers have resided in the sartorial spotlight for a while now, perhaps even being *the* top shoe style of the past few years. But until recently, the styles that ruled were chunky and statement making rather than classic. This season, however, we're finally seeing a timeless style reign supreme, which, in addition to being easier to style, is also a lot more comfortable. Goodbye, shin splints. Hello, 10,000 steps.

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(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

If you're looking for shoes to slip on and go that won't dress down your outfit, this season's selection of mules is where it's at. Personally, I'm biased toward Wandler's Rosa mules (pictured above), which I own in two colors because they're just that good. But you really can't go wrong with any of the below styles, from the platform Uggs that Gigi Hadid loves to wear when she's off duty to the classic Birkenstock Boston clogs that will forever be in style. 

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Ballet Flats


(Image credit: @emilisindlev)

Ever since Miu Miu showed its F/W 22 collection in Paris, I've been hooked on ballet flats, specifically when paired with socks or tights or just plain with a pair of jeans or a miniskirt. I thought the lack of a true heel would bother me, but this dainty style has me completely enthralled. 

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Retro Sneakers


(Image credit: @camillecharriere)

Truth be told, the shoe style that really convinced me to hang up my heels, for the time being, was my Adidas Samba, sneakers I wore for indoor soccer practice in middle school and repurchased this winter. They're beyond comfortable, and as the photo above shows, they can be styled in countless ways. But it's not just Sambas: All retro sneakers are on the rise, from old-school Chuck Taylors to New Balance and Aimé Leon Dore's always-sold-out 550s

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Slide Sandals


(Image credit: @kristenmarienichols)

My co-worker Kristen is wholly responsible for my newfound interest in flatform slides, which I'm planning to wear on repeat all summer long. From the beach to the office, these ultra-comfy and easy-to-style shoes are good for any occasion. My tip: If you're ready to invest in a pair of slide sandals, go with something by Gia Borghini. As documented above, they're incredible. 

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Platform Flip-Flops


(Image credit: @kendalljenner)

Now that Kendall Jenner has officially endorsed the Y2K-inspired platform-flip-flop trend, it is destined for long-term success on the fashion circuit. Whether you go the designer route with the influencer-favorite Ginza sandals from The Row or save a few bucks with a pair from Zara or Charles & Keith, it doesn't much matter. Either way, you'll look and feel good with next to no effort. (Goals.)

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Riding Boots


(Image credit: @aidabadji_)

In my opinion, adding a pair of riding boots will automatically take almost any outfit up a notch (or three), especially if what you're wearing involves a skirt, a dress, or even tailored shorts. You get all the chic factor of heeled knee-high boots with none of the discomfort. Win-win. 

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Coming up next: We're Trading Our Heels for These 4 Flat Shoes This Spring

Senior Fashion Editor

Eliza Huber is a New York City–based fashion editor who specializes in trend reporting, brand discovery, and celebrity style. She joined Who What Wear in 2021 after almost four years on the fashion editorial team at Refinery29, the job she took after graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Iowa. She has since launched two monthly columns, Let's Get a Room and Ways to Wear; profiled the likes of Dakota Fanning, Diane Kruger, Katie Holmes, and Sabrina Carpenter for WWW's monthly cover features; and reported on everything from the relationship between Formula One and fashion to the top trends from fashion month, season after season. Eliza now lives on the Upper West Side and spends her free time researching F1 fashion imagery for her side Instagram accounts @thepinnacleoffashion and @f1paddockfits, running in Central Park, and scouring eBay for '90s Prada and '80s Yves Saint Laurent.