During my search for a brand new pair of flats, I did considerable reading and reviews on labels that are known for making good flats. However, at the end of the day, different people have different threshold of pain and expectations of comfort. Reading reviews may give an idea of might work, but to truly know whether the shoes are right for you, you need to try them on your own. So instead of getting a pair of flats online solely based on reviews, I decided to try out the shoes that are readily available in the city.
Then came the French Sole invitation.
French Sole is a label which hails from London and according to the blogosphere, it is one of the recommended names when it comes to ballerina flats. The founder, Jane Winkworth, is an avid lover of ballerina flats. From creating bespoke flats for clients in the beginning, to forming her own mail order business and later French Sole, she has successfully made a name for herself in the industry – she’s called the ‘Queen of Ballerina Flats’. Fans include the late Princess of Wales, Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate.
I picked out the best-looking basic black flats they had in store, in the Henrietta cut. Instead of explaining the shoes in words, I came up with a diagram below:
[heading h=”h3″ font=””]The good[/heading]
The flats slip on very easily, like slipping on bedroom slippers! The leather upper and fabric lining is very soft, I don’t think they need any breaking in. Even though they’re made of soft leather, it doesn’t look as flimsy as most of the mid-range shoes I’ve seen in the market. The cut is very flattering. Ribbon ties add a feminine touch. Patent cap toe makes the front side of the shoe more durable. By the look of it, the flats are quite well-made.
Ooh! Activists should be happy, since French Sole shoes are made in European factories in an ethical and legal environment. They openly oppose the use of cheap labor, child labor or any unethical practices. This is the first thing I saw when I opened up the box:
[heading h=”h3″ font=””]The not so good[/heading]
Firstly, though I have no problem with the sides and the back side of the shoes, the toe can hurt after some wear, mainly due to the patent cap toe. Since patent leather is relatively harder, they can’t expand easily. Not very forgiving of bunions and hammertoes! Second, the sole can be a bit on the thin side (although reportedly slightly thicker than similar labels like Repetto and Bloch). Finally, there’s no arch support.
[heading h=”h3″ font=””]Solutions[/heading]
As for the patent cap toe, I expanded and broke in the patent leather using this guide, which has helped. Like what I’ve done with my other shoes, I made the sole thicker by sending the shoes to a cobbler, so that they will last longer. It’s not very easy to find chic shoes with arch support these days, so I think I’ll just get gel arch supports by Scholl in the future.
Overall, I’m happy with my new flats. They look good, are well-made and comfortable (except for the toes for now, they will require further breaking in). They’re not very cheap, but from experience, spending a bit more on shoes makes a difference on how long they will last. This is my first and hopefully the last shoe for the year!