Flat feet, also known as “fallen or collapsed arches” or “Pes Planus” is a common condition that affects 30% of the US population, with 1 in 10 people experiencing symptoms.
There is a whole range of reasons why an individual may suffer from flat feet; sometimes it’s simply a case of aging or genetics, whilst it can also be a result of pregnancy, obesity, arthritis, or even a long-term injury.
People with neurological or muscular conditions such as Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy are also more likely to have fallen arches.
If you have flat feet, you’ll know that finding a comfortable pair of shoes - let alone a dress shoe - can be challenging.
Whilst there are thousands of sneakers out there that have been specially designed for those with a flatter foot, finding something that little bit smarter and fancier isn’t so easy.
However, there are in fact a myriad of great dress shoes out there for flat feet, and the good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort and support.
We’ve put together a list of the best dress shoes for flat feet, along with a handy Buyer's Guide containing all of the information you need to make an informed decision on the best pair of dress shoes for you.
First, though, how do you know if you have flat feet, and what kind of shoes do you need if you do?
What are flat feet?
Flat feet are also known as “fallen arches.” You can tell if you have flat feet by looking at your feet from the sides: if they lie flat on the ground and there’s no arch or space in between, then you probably have flat feet.
Flat feet don’t usually need to be treated, but it’s important to buy the right kind of shoes for your feet, the same way that those with high arches need a shoe with additional cushioning and shock absorption in the mid-sole.
What kind of shoes do flat feet need?
The ideal shoe for flat feet will have a reinforced heel to reduce pressure, as well as sturdy arch support for improved stability.
Women with flat feet will usually find high heels uncomfortable, so it’s best to stick to a heel no higher than 2-3 inches.
Keen to find out more? Check out our top picks below…
OUR TOP PICK
If you struggle to wear a heel due to your flat feet, don’t despair.
A simple ballet flat can look just as smart and stylish as a pair of pumps, and, with the right arch support they can be super comfortable, too.
These flats from Vionic feature a leather upper, contrast toe cap, and bow accent for added detail, making them perfect for work, or play.
The slip-on style is easy and convenient, while the concealed EVA orthotic inserts cushion your feet for a luxurious, plush feel.
The Minna ballet flat has been biomechanically designed to hug the arches of the feet, and the Vio-Motion Technology helps support natural alignment from the ground up so you feel supported with every step.
- Contrast toe cap and bow accent
- Slip-on style
- Concealed EVA orthotic insert
- Arch support
- Vio-motion technology
- Range of colors and patterns
- Narrow heels may benefit from a shoe with a strap
If you prefer a more casual dress shoe that is still smart enough to wear to work or important meetings, a loafer may be the best option, particularly when it comes to comfort.
Clarks is a well-established British brand known for its comfortable, stylish footwear, and the Juliet is a prime example of this.
These shoes are constructed from soft, high-quality leather and feature a simple yet sleek loafer design that looks great with a pantsuit.
These shoes are comfortable enough for all-day wear thanks to their low heel (1.02 inches) and Clarks’ famous OrthoLite footbed, for cushion-soft padding.
The Juliet also features a soft, textile lining for increased comfort and breathability, as well as a durable rubber outsole for maximum grip.
We also love that these come in a range of colors, so you can have different pairs for different occasions.
- Genuine Leather
- Clarks quality
- Rubber sole for traction
- 1.02” heel
- OrthoLite footbed for comfort and support
- A soft textile lining allows feet to breath
- Durable rubber outsole for grip
- Different colors
- These shoes run small
Having flat feet doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon the heel, these classy pumps from Vionic have a 2.5” heel and a sleek leather design that comes in a range of bold colors and patterns as well as a classic black version for work or formal events.
You’ll forget you’re wearing heels thanks to the flawless construction of the heel and the podiatrist-designed footbed, which hugs your arches so you can walk and stand in comfort all night long.
Despite the cushioned insole of these pumps, the orthotic support is completely concealed within a breathable microfibre sock footbed, so you get the appearance of a sophisticated dress shoe with the support and comfort of an orthotic shoe - what’s not to love?
- Concealed orthotic support
- Specially designed by podiatrists
- Leather upper
- Breathable, microfiber sock footbed
- 2.5” heel
- Rubber sole for added traction
- Sleek, sophisticated design
- Tiny “V” detail
The toe box is a little narrow
If you prefer a dress shoe that works as a smart-casual alternative and is ultra-convenient, then the loafer is your best friend.
This shoe from Deer Stags features a low stacked heel, bicycle toe, and dual-sided elastic goring at the opening for combined style and comfort. The lightweight outsole and lightly padded insole provide support and cushioning without stifling your feet.
While these are constructed from simulated leather, the good news is that they don’t take much breaking-in and will feel comfortable from your first wear. These are a great-value dress shoe perfect for any age, plus they’re extremely easy to slip on and off.
- Classic loafer style
- Lightly padded insole
- Low stacked heel for stability
- Ultra comfortable
- Slip-on style
- Great value for money
- Synthetic leather is less durable than genuine leather
Rockport is a quality footwear brand developed for comfort and designed for style. When it comes to dress shoes, you can’t go wrong with the classic Oxford style, in our opinion.
The Apron Toe Oxford is crafted from premium leather and features a smart lace-up design for a contoured fit and concealed gore side panels for extra structure.
The plush, EVA footbed provides cushioning and shock-absorption for all-day wear, while the DEWIX antimicrobial lining wicks moisture away from the skin to allow feet to breathe.
The chunky synthetic sole of these Oxfords provides stability and grip while keeping the overall weight of the shoe light and comfortable. Rockport also makes these shoes in a ‘wide’ or ‘extra wide’ fit.
- Classic Oxford style
- 100% leather
- EVA footbed for shock absorption
- Antimicrobial lining for breathability
- Chunky synthetic sole for added traction
- Lightweight feel
- Multiple width options
- Slightly dated style
For more formal occasions, a wingtip Oxford is the perfect dress shoe, and this pair from Frasoicus is sophisticated and modern.
The upper is constructed of a smooth, full-grain, and breathable leather, while the sole is rubber for added traction and durability.
Despite the slim look of these Oxfords, they’re fitted with a fully-cushioned footbed to provide comfort, support, and shock-absorption, while the lightweight sole gives you that extra spring in your step.
These come in an extra-wide fitting option to accommodate a range of sizes and the leather lining promotes moisture-wicking and allows your feet to breathe.
- Classic Oxford wingtip style
- Genuine, smooth leather upper
- Leather lining
- Rubber sole for flexibility and traction
- Fully-cushioned footbed
- Extra-wide option
- Insole is non-removable
Best Dress Shoes for Flat Feet Buying Guide
The best shoes for flat feet will cup the heel closely and will provide sturdy arch support.
Whilst you don’t want too much cushioning or flexibility, it’s a good idea to select a shoe that has a lightly cushioned or orthotic footbed to provide that extra layer of support to the foot.
Flat feet also need extra stability to prevent the ankles from rolling inwards, which is why your shoes must fit well on the heel and provide targeted support in areas such as the heel and balls of the feet for pressure relief and shock absorption.
For many women, the mention of a 'dress' shoe often conjures up images of a high heel, but let’s face it, if you’ve got flat feet, it’s going to be incredibly uncomfortable to squeeze your foot into a stiletto, as high heels do not fit the natural shape of your feet.
That said, this doesn’t mean you have to go for a completely flat shoe, just look for one with a heel that is no more than 3 inches tall, and remember that a chunky or stacked heel will offer better stability than a thin one.
Alternatively, dress shoes don’t have to be heeled, they just need to be smart and classy. If you’re not into high heels, why not opt for a modern loafer or a sleek pair of flats instead? There’s a range of patterns, styles, and colors out there to choose from, and flat doesn’t have to equal boring.
For men, a classic loafer or Oxford style shoe will work well, and thankfully there are a variety of these on the market that have cushioned footbeds for that little bit of extra support.
Look for shoes with slightly wider styles and a chunkier sole, as these will provide more comfort and shock absorption for flat feet.
Fit is also really important; the comfort level of a pair of shoes largely depends on how well they fit the shape of your feet. That’s why a shoe designed for a high arch is going to feel completely uncomfortable on a flat foot, and vice versa.
When you try your shoes on for the first time, ensure you have ample room around the toe box and check there is no gaping at the heel.
While it’s important to get a fit that isn’t too tight, you also want a shoe that will provide structure and stability to your flat feet, and a shoe that is slacking at the heel simply won’t do this.
If you have wide feet, it’s also really important to shop for a shoe that comes in a wide version.
Buying a size up won’t necessarily be helpful, as while it may provide you with more room, you may have too much space around the toe box and heel, which won’t be comfortable or helpful for your flat feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it bad to have flat feet?
Having flat feet isn’t a cause for concern unless you’re experiencing significant pain and discomfort - in which case it’s time to visit your doctor, as it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.
Flat feet aren’t bad, it’s just a matter of finding the right shoes for your foot shape, as without the right level of cushioning and arch support, flat feet can lead to pain or stress in other parts of the body.
Can flat feet be corrected?
There’s no natural way to correct flat feet, aside from cosmetic surgery.
However, as we mentioned above, you don’t need to correct your feet unless the flatness is bringing you pain or significant discomfort, in which case you’ll need to seek medical assistance.
Arch supports can reduce some of the symptoms of flat feet, while if your pain is particularly bad, custom-designed arch supports, which are molded to the contours of your feet, may be recommended by your doctor.
Other ways to relieve symptoms include practicing regular stretching exercises and of course wearing the right kind of shoes.