When kitten heels made their resurgence earlier this year, I made no complaint. I’m not quite sure myself what it was about them that inspired such deep-seated, instinctual revulsion among so many for so long—or what brought about their definite return. In any case, after seasons and seasons of sky-high stilettos (never my thing), sneakers so chunky and vertiginous that they barely qualify as sneakers, and flatform sandals I can’t look at without imagining twisting an ankle (I’ve had a few close calls), the style felt like a breath of fresh air.
Hot on the tiny heels of this (literally) down-to-earth trend comes the re-emergence of flats. And not just boring old basic flats—I’m talking seriously fun, seriously stylish iterations even a dyed-in-the-wool maximalist like myself can appreciate. I might be the only person who walks in L.A., but I know my NYC friends will appreciate the four fashionable yet functional flat-shoe trends I’ve rounded up below. Think “ugly” sandals that aren’t ugly at all as well as directional ballet flats that won’t remind you of sophomore year.
I don’t actually think these are ugly at all (feel free to disagree, as long as you don't mind being wrong), but they’re definitely related to the whole “ugly” (or “dad”) sneaker phenomenon. But whatever you want to call them, these retro-looking, potentially orthopedic-inspired sandals remind me a lot of the sandals I wore just about everywhere growing up, and I’m currently deciding which of the following pairs to buy…
I’ve sworn by Dr. Martens for years, thanks to how long each pair lasts (hello, cost per wear), and I’m pretty sure I’m ready to pull the trigger on this super on-trend vegan-leather snakeskin-print pair.
One of the delightfully OTT designer options I’ve seen floating around Instagram.
In case your winter wardrobe could use some brightening up…
This is the investment piece I’ve been eyeing for a while now.
“Ugly” sandals meet the logo-print trend. Stylish mayhem ensues.
NOT-SO-BASIC BALLET FLATS
Whatever your thoughts on ballet flats, you’ve got to admit that for a while, they had gotten a bit boring. Another practical elasticized pair with a bow near the toe? Yawn. Which is why the emergence of luxe options with incredible details has us breathing a sigh of relief (and reaching for our credit cards).
Basic black, yes, but look at that deep-V vamp and that intricate stitching. (As if you’d expect anything less from Acne Studios.)
Metallic, glittery, Mary Jane–style ballet flats are about as fun as they come.
Textured, ’70s-floral ballet flats with an attached metal anklet? It shouldn’t work, but it definitely does.
Cow print is easily my favorite of all the animal prints on offer this season.
Not sure I can adequately explain my love for these crocheted flats.
BUCKLED MULES AND LOAFERS
Loafers and mules with hardware aren’t anything new, but this season, said hardware is bigger, better, and beyond anything we’ve seen in seasons past. Hello, giant geometrical buckles and adornments—pleased to make your acquaintance.
I’m about to wear these cherry-red beauties into the ground.
Hi, we made these just for you.
Millennial Pink has clearly been rightfully replaced by cerise.
Another affordable way to get in on the trend.
I grew up wearing Vans slip-ons (one particular checkered cherry style), and I’m glad my high school shoe style of choice is finally considered “fashion.” What I’ve always liked about Vans is its commitment to bold colors and patterns. You could grab plain white ones, but why would you when flame-print checked high-tops are calling your name?
Will it match with everything I own? Probably not. And that’s kind of the point.
Vans gets the logomania trend.
Because I know y’all love astrology. And the desert.
Pared-back animal prints are fine by me.
Busy but not too busy, you know?
Still looking for new-season shoe trends? See six more big ones we’ve been eyeing.