All the fuss about Tieks lately makes me shake my head. There’s a slight chance I’m missing out on miracle flats, but I’m going to hold to my theory that flat flats hurt in the long run. I’ll stick with more structured “flats” like the sleek Essen by Earthies.
The Earthies Essen looks like a flat, but it actually features a slight hidden wedge of maybe 3/4 inch. The contoured footbed provides the best arch support of any flat I own but doesn’t skimp on cushioning. Currently I’m trying to kick a painful bout of plantar fasciitis in my left heel, so while I can’t wear the Essen all day, it’s my go-to when I need to dress up a little.
Most ghillie-lace shoes must be tied to secure, but the Essen features one figure-8 stretch band to accomplish the same look. This feature allows for minimal adjustability, so if you have high volume feet (I like this explanation of high and low volume feet from The Alaska Hunting forum–don’t smirk), the laces might feel too tight after a while. But if you have narrow, low volume feet, this may be the perfect flat as the stretch band will keep your feet from slipping out!
I typically steer away from ballet-style flats as often the vamp crosses the bunion area. I’ve got the double whammy of moderate bunions and a bone spur at the base of my big toe. While the Earthies Essen doesn’t really bother the bunions, it does cross on top of the bone spur causing some irritation. I’ll add some moleskin padding to see if that helps. But I’ve got messed up feet due the rheumatoid arthritis. If you have relatively normal feet, you’ll love the feel of this shoe. Honestly, the footbed is amazing.
The Earthies Essen is available in black, navy and prune suede in whole and half sizes 5-10, 11, 12. I ordered a 10 for my 9.5-10 medium width feet. $139.99 at EarthBrands.com, free shipping and returns; #139.95 at Zappos, $139.95 at Nordstrom, free shipping and returns; $139.90 at Amazon, Prime shipping and free returns on some color/size combos.