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Sole Searching: My Review of Tieks

It seems like I’m always on the hunt for the perfect shoes for various purposes, and my curiosity was piqued at the discovery of Tieks ballet flats. They sounded like the perfect marriage of comfort and style with a bonus fold-able feature for travel. I found out about them over a year ago, but it took me this long to take the plunge due to their hefty price tag. Thanks to the generous return policy and the excuse of buying a birthday present from me to me, I decided to give Tieks a try knowing I could return them (unworn) for free and I wouldn’t even have to pay for return shipping.

As a disclaimer, I’m not one of the bloggers who had the opportunity to try a pair of Tieks complimentary or even at a discount. I purchased a pair at full price and I do factor the cost into my review. I also have to admit I’m really picky about shoes, especially past a certain price point, so I had extremely high hopes for these flats.

Tieks come in a fun rainbow of colors and patterns I’d be happy to have, but since I planned on getting as much wear out of them as possible, I selected one of the Classics in a good neutral color (Chestnut) that I could wear with a lot of outfits.

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Shipping was pretty fast – I ordered the shoes on a Sunday and received them on a Wednesday. Upon receipt, I took notice of the super cute and fun-to-open packaging that included a personalized hand-written note. The shoes also come with a few other extras: a tote bag for your heels if you’re swapping shoes on-the-go, and a pouch for the Tieks themselves. I pondered the expense of the packaging though, and wondered how much of the total cost of the shoes is allocated for the fancy box, tissue paper, and floral embellishment. I love good branding as much as the next girl, but I’d much rather have more money in my pocket instead of fun packaging that inevitably gets thrown away/recycled.

And speaking of branding, please don’t throw rocks at me, but I’m actually not crazy about the bright blue soles and how much the blue shows from the sides. I get it, but I would have appreciated a more neutral way to mark these as Tieks.
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Let’s get to the positives. I tried the shoes on and was delighted to find that the size worked. I’m a size 8, but every once in a while I need an 8.5 depending on the brand/designer. Tieks only come in whole sizes, so I went with the 8 and hoped for the best. The craftsmanship and quality are impressive. I loved the soft leather in the beautiful Chestnut color. The shoes fit comfortably with no rubbing as I walked around, and I definitely noticed a difference in the padding beneath the soles compared to my other ballet flats.

Here’s the sad part though. The way the leather upper sat across the top of my foot felt just a little funny, and it showed the outline of my toes making the shoe look a bit lumpy. I noticed the same affect in photos of other women wearing Tieks, so I think it’s just the way the flats are structured (and thankfully not a weird trait of my own feet). I don’t think it looks terrible, and in fact I think everyone in the photos on the Tieks site looks really cute in the flats. But I don’t love the bumpy look on me, and mostly it made me wonder if the leather would wear badly in those spots. Maybe the shoes would somehow break-in evenly, but I suspect they would actually take the shape of my toes and look permanently lumpy. Even worse, maybe those spots would eventually suffer a hole. Unfortunately at that price point, I wasn’t willing to find out.

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My initial research for Tieks opinions online pointed me to several favorable reviews, although I noticed that many of those reviewers tried the shoes at a discount of 40% off or more. I think if I had paid less for the shoes, I would have kept them and worn them for a few months to see how the shoes feel and look after they are broken in. I’m willing to pay that price for the perfect pair of shoes and I probably would buy them in a few colors, but Tieks are a tad too expensive (for me) to gamble on, so I sadly put them back in their cute blue box for the return trip and sent them on their way. The sole search continues!

Update 9/24/15:

Okay, so I just might be a fan! I ended up buying another pair (full price) and just decided to take the plunge and wear them to see how they feel. I brought a Clover Green pair with me to Ireland and Scotland, and after wearing them around on the trip I realized how much I like them. Amazingly they didn’t rub or cause blisters, even on days where I walked in them for miles. Of course, the flats aren’t as comfortable as my favorite hiking shoes that I also brought with me on the trip, but I’m impressed. These are one of the most comfortable pairs of flats I’ve owned. I still think they look a tiny bit lumpy, but only if you stare and study. The overall look is cute, plus I love the color. And I admit…I’m already trying to decide what color to try next!

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Update 11/3/15:

My Clover Green Tieks are holding up well and I enjoy wearing them, so I decided on a second color! I bought a cute Rose Gold pair to take with me on a recent weekend trip to Toronto where I wore them all over the city. There is one small area on the inside/top where the shoe feels a bit scratchy. I think the difference between these and the green pair is the metallic finish on the leather, so they’re not as soft. I’ll keep wearing them to see if the issue goes away, and if not, I bet I could soften that part on the inside by rubbing it lightly with a fine sandpaper. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with a third pair at some point…I put several colors on my wish list!

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8 comments
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  • Julie - Man that is such cute packaging! Don’t you love it when items are all adorable when they arrive at your house? Maybe I’m more swayed by that kind of thing than most people but good on you for holding your ground. I could definitely see the value of these shoes for long term travelers (who need their shoes to fold?!?!) but I love a good value as well!ReplyCancel

    • Susan - Julie, yes! I was mesmerized by the packaging. I really wanted these to be my new go-to for flats! If they ever go on sale, I’ll be pretty tempted to try them for the long-haul. (If I do that, I’ll post an update.)

  • Anna - How did the lumps from your toes work out? Did the leather take shape or did it stretch out?ReplyCancel

    • Susan - Anna, so far so good! I’ve only worn them about a dozen times so far, but one of those times was for a couple of miles. No lumpy shape yet!

  • Gwen - Hi, I’m dying to know if your metallic rose gold Tieks ever became as supple as the classic leather pair. I have the fuschia and black which all broke in and became soft within days. I just purchased the rose gold and the leather feels much stiffer to me. I can feel it beginning to soften wearing them around the house, but the band across my foot feels scratchy exactly as you described. Several months later, have they softened? I’m trying to decide if I should exchange them for the taupe.ReplyCancel

    • Susan - Hi Gwen! I haven’t worn them more than a few times so that one part is still a bit scratchy, but it’s getting a little better. I guess it’s the way the leather is treated? They definitely aren’t as soft as the green ones or my new Tangerine pair, but the color is so pretty isn’t it?

  • Gwen - They are gorgeous! I love the color, but unfortunately after wearing them around the house a bit I decided they are just tighter/stiffer than my classic leathers so I’m swapping them out for the taupe. Not as sparkly, but if I’m going to shell out on a pair of shoes they need to be optimally comfortable. No complaints about my black and fuchsia ones, though!ReplyCancel

    • Susan - I totally agree! I will probably stick to the non-sparkly soft leathers if (when) another pair makes its way into my closet.

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