A few weeks ago, I was asking around in the Capsule Wardrobe Facebook group for recommendations for flats, and someone asked whether I’d tried out Tieks. She said they’re expensive, but people rave that they are the most comfortable and durable flats they’ve ever owned.
I had never heard of Tieks, but I’m always on the search for the perfect flat. I love wearing flats, but most that I’ve had have come up short. I checked out the site, and immediately fell in love with all of the gorgeous, saturated colors and was intrigued by the materials and design. I could tell that these had the potential to be as awesome as their reputation.
I read a lot of online reviews as well, uniformly glowing about how amazing these shoes are. Since I loved the colors and have been searching for perfect flats for years, I decided to give them a try. And since I love to opine on all these sewing and fashion, I will share my experience with you lovely folks!
**For anyone wondering, I paid full price for these shoes and received absolutely no kickbacks or freebies. I’m not being compensated in any way for reviewing these shoes and providing my thoughts. I didn’t even get a discount.
So let’s start with the elephant in the room — the price. These shoes are not cheap. The price ranges from $175 for the classic Tieks (which is what I got) up to $295 for the fancier snakeskin ones, with one pair at the very rich price of $345.
Expensive? Yes. The most expensive pair of shoes I own? Actually no. Believe it or not, $175 would be on the low end for designer shoes, and really not that much more than your middle-of-the-road Nine West or Steve Madden type of shoes. So if the quality and comfort ends up being what everyone says it is, this is a price I can easily swallow.
The packaging on these shoes is beautiful. They come folded up in this beautiful teal-colored box (very similar to Tiffany blue — coincidence?) with a big ol’ daisy on the top. The box is heavy duty and really well constructed. Not your typical shoe box.
The shoes themselves are folded up to show how compact they are. Also included is a small storage bag for the Tieks (always good to store shoes of this quality in a bag) and a larger bag for carrying around uncomfortable heels.
I know a lot of people may pooh-pooh this type pf presentation, but I love it. When I’m paying this price for a pair of ballet flats, the experience is important. This attention to detail and beautiful presentation make buying a pair of Tieks an experience, not just another pair of shoes.
You can read all about the construction of these shoes on the Tieks website, so I won’t go into the details. I will just say that these shoes feel nice. I’ve tried a lot of flats in my day, from super cheapo ones at Target or Payless to relatively expensive ones from places like Joyfolie. These Tieks are in a whole other ballpark than any ballet flats I’ve ever owned previously.
I got to experience the famed Tieks customer service right off the bat. When my Tieks arrived, they were too big However, I went back onto the web site, and clicked exchange. I exchanged them for the smaller size, and they immediately shipped off to me — no having to return the other ones first.
I got to have both pairs for side-by-side comparison in my own home so long as I returned the pair that I wasn’t keeping within 2 weeks! Shipping was free both ways, and the way that the shoes are boxed made it really easy to just slap on the return label and stick them in the mail.
Now here’s where the rubber hits the road (literally and figuratively).
August 2016: All reports are that Tieks need some breaking in to reach their full comfort level. They’re made with full-grain Italian leather, so that does not shock me. While I’m reporting here about their initial comfort level, I will updated this post periodically as the shoes break in and I continue to wear them.
When I first ordered my first pair of Tieks, I ordered size 7, which is my typical size. I knew that sizing might be an issue for me because while I typically wear a 7, my feet are actually 6.5 in a lot of shoes, particularly higher-quality shoes made with real leather that will break in. Tieks should be pretty snug at first because the leather will loosen and stretch to shape to your foot. Not surprisingly, the 7s were too big. Luckily, I was easily able to exchange them for a smaller size, and even got to keep both pairs for a short period so I could compare!
The 6s were where it’s at for me. They’re a little snug right now, maybe bordering on tight. My feet didn’t grown in size with pregnancy, but they did get a little wider. But even tight, these shoes are very comfortable. Are they the most comfortable shoes in my wardrobe right now? Probably not. That honor would probably go to my Sperry sneakers, but as you can see, those have certainly seen better days (and I’ve only had them about 8 months!).
One thing that I immediately note about these shoes, though, as compared to other ballet flats I’ve owned, is the heel part of the upper. Unlike most ballet flats, Tieks have extra padding at the back. That, combined with the snug fit, means that these ballet flats do not rub my heel at all. That’s my biggest gripe about most flats — I tend to get blisters on my heels because of the rubbing.
Since these shoes are 1/2 size too small, they will require some breaking in, which I expected. If you are one of those lucky people whose feet fit comfortably into a full size, you may not need as much breaking in as I do, but these are definitely not shoes that are super comfortable for me without a breaking in period.
These arrived on a Thursday, and I wore them all day long on Friday. The elastic was tight around the knuckle of my big toe and my big toe felt kind of scrunched. By the end of the day, they definitely weren’t comfortable — in fact, I had the thought that if they always felt like this, I certainly wouldn’t pay $175 for them!
On Saturday, I wore them around the house in the morning with big, thick winter socks. J actually commented that I must really love my new shoes because I was even wearing them as slippers! That afternoon when I wore them to the park, they were noticeably more comfortable.
It’s now almost 6 days since they arrived, and while they still need a little more breaking in (stretching shoes out a whole half size takes some time), they are definitely getting comfortable. My big toe is no longer squished, but the elastic around my big toe knuckle is still a tad tight. That should continue to loosen as I continue to wear them. I still have had absolutely no rubbing on my heel or any other part of my foot, which is a huge thumbs up for me.
I’m sure someone will ask about arch support, so I’ll just answer that question now. And the answer is these are ballet flats — they don’t have any. If you are someone who is used to strong arch support, that may be a turnoff for you. I have high arches (as you can see in the photo below), but I actually don’t like a lot of arch support as I prefer shoes that allow my feet to move naturally. So for me that’s a non-issue.
I will continue to update this as I continue to wear them!
The Bottom Line:
There are a lot of people out there who rave about Tieks as if they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, and then there are also a lot of people who think they are the most horrible thing they’ve ever put on their feet. I don’t fall in either one of those camps.
Do I like my Tieks? Yes.
Will I buy another pair? Most definitely. Probably several more.
Will they change your life? No. They’re shoes, let’s not be silly.
Do I recommend them? Yes. I’ve had many ballet flats, and these are definitely at the top as far as comfort and quality of materials for me.
Are they worth the money? I think yes. The materials are great quality, they’re handmade, I had excellent customer service, and as they are breaking in, they’re quite comfortable. I expect to pay a decent amount of money for a nice shoe, and I don’t regret the amount I spent on these.