Culture

Rothy's: My New Favorite Ballet Flats

Image via Rothy's

Over the last ten or so years I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect go-to ballet flats. It hasn’t been easy and I’d almost given up until I decided to try those cute little shoes I kept seeing in my Facebook feed. Rothy’s claims their shoes have “the ease of a sneaker but with the polish of a dress shoe,” so I was intrigued enough to take them for a test drive.

I should back up and explain the reason I’ve been on this ten-year quest. I inherited my grandma’s wide feet (I never remember her wearing anything other than hideous orthopedic shoes) so I’ve always found it difficult to find comfortable shoes that are fashionable. More often than not, shoes made for wide widths look like something a middle-aged man should be wearing. I found a pair of comfortable flats at a department store several years ago and I’ve literally worn holes in them. At a conference I attended last year that required a lot of walking, I wore those ratty old silver flats for four days straight because they were the only comfortable non-sneakers I owned. Obviously, I was in desperate need of new shoes, so I decided to give Rothy’s a try.

I ordered a pair of flats in “Grey Birdseye” because I wanted something neutral that would match anything in my wardrobe. They arrived (free shipping!) in a plain box that contained a blue Rothy’s bag with the shoes inside. Along with instructions for how to reuse the box, there was a note tucked inside thanking me for my purchase and explaining how to return the shoes if I wasn’t completely satisfied (return shipping is also free).

According to their website, Rothy’s are made out of yarn fiber made from recycled “certified PET plastic water bottles.” After the bottles are cleaned and sterilized, they are chipped into flakes and fused into filament fiber that is knitted three dimensionally. The shoes are hand assembled and treated with a moisture wicking agent to help keep your feet dry and cool.

If shoes made out of recycled pop bottles sound really uncomfortable, think again. Rothy’s are incredibly soft. They actually feel more like slippers than traditional flats, thanks to the stretchy knit fabric. They felt comfortable the minute I put them on because they stretched to accommodate my wide width feet. Unfortunately, I found that the heels were slipping. I normally wear either a 7.5 or an 8, so I ordered up to be safe. They were snug enough in the toes that I wouldn’t have wanted to go down a half size, so I solved the slipping problem by adding gel heel liners. Once I did that, the fit was perfect for me. I have noticed a slight discomfort in my left big toe when I’ve been walking in them a lot. It’s not terrible, but it’s enough to keep me from saying these are a perfect fit for me. But unlike a lot of other ballet flats I own, they don’t give me blisters on my heels or toes, so I’m optimistic that these are as close to perfect as I’m going to get.

I’ve been able to put them through the paces, wearing them on a day trip with a lot of walking and even on an impromptu romp in the park with my dog. I didn’t realize how muddy it was that day until I looked down at my $125 Rothy’s and realized that they were splattered with mud!

Rothy’s claims that their shoes are machine washable, but I was skeptical that they’d come out of the wash in good condition. After removing the insoles (per the instructions on the website) I threw them in the washer and hoped for the best. They came out clean and free of mud stains, but it wasn’t until the next day, after they had air dried overnight, that I was able to confirm that washing hadn’t changed the fit. I was pleased to find that the shoes were as good as new! (I did have to replace my gel heel liners after washing.)

After running them through the wash.

Because the insoles aren’t machine washable, it would be nice if the company sold replacements for them so that you don’t end up with old, worn out insoles inside your flats that still look like new.

One other nice feature of these shoes is that they have rubber soles. Often ballet flats inexplicably have smooth soles that have little or no traction, which makes them impractical for everyday wear. The day I wore my Rothy’s to the park I trekked down a metal dock next to the lake. The dock was still wet from a recent rain and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Rothy’s had great traction—almost like wearing dock shoes.

Obviously, the price point is pretty hefty for these shoes. I’m not in the habit of spending $125 for shoes—especially not flats! But when I think about the pile of shoes I own that I never wear (and the money I’ve spent on them!) I feel like it’s worth investing in something that’s not going to end up on the reject pile in the back of my closet. Considering that these have become my everyday run around shoes, the chances of that are slim to none.