Review: Tieks Ballet Flats (Updated)

I have now been wearing Tieks ballet flats for three years now and I thought it would be worthwhile to update my review.

I was initially skeptical about Tieks, mainly because of the price. However, after three years of fairly constant wear and developing a collection of nine pair I have to say that I am obsessed with these shoes. Getting your Tieks is an experience in itself and opening the shipping box to find a sturdy blue box with a flower on top makes it just like Christmas or your birthday. Inside you find your Tieks in a little black pouch with an accessory bag and what appears to be a handwritten note. I have to wonder how much of this is part of the $175 minimum price? Lets take a closer look at these extremely popular shoes.

Quality

From the moment the shoes are pulled from their blue box and little black pouch, the quality of construction of these shoes is readily apparent. The blue split soles are made of a relatively thick blue rubber that has good flexibility while still being solid and thick enough to protect your feet, and demonstrates an excellent non-slip grip under a number of conditions. You can see the hand stitching of the blue soles to the leather midsole and midsole to insole when looking at the bottom and inside of the shoe, although I understand this stitching is mostly cosmetic. The midsole is made from a thick piece of leather that also protects the bottom of the foot and holds the shoe upper while allowing the shoe to be folded in half to fit in the pouch for easy packing. The insole is also made of quality leather that molds to the feet over time. Together, these three components provide a relatively thin sole that still has a nice a little bit of cushioning. The uppers of the flats are made of an incredibly soft Italian leather that I have only ever seen comparable softness in fine leather gloves. The padded and reinforced heel round out the quality construction of this shoe and is probably one reason I have never had a blister on the back of my heel, unlike most other flats I have owned. 

Comfort

When I put on my first new pair of Tieks, my immediate reaction was how comfortable these shoes were. However, after some time wearing them around the house (so as to maintain the option to return them) they began to feel uncomfortable, particularly around my toes. The discomfort was bearable and I was not quite ready to give up on these shoes, so I continued to wear them around for a few more days and ultimately decided that I could tolerate the discomfort for a while more and I was relatively certain at that point that these shoes would eventually “break in.” I am glad I did because, as I wore them more and more, they became even more comfortable. The leather upper and insole eventually molded to my feet, adding to the comfort of the shoes. Like most flats though, Tieks have very little arch support, but I have not yet found that to be a significant issue.

As my collection grew, I learned that each pair is a little bit different in terms of initial comfort and sizing. In almost all cases though I found them to be more comfortable than my first pair right out of the box. Ironically, it is my first pair that is most comfortable right now, but that just may be because I have worn them more than others. While I have not returned a pair for sizing, I have heard of many people who do and often for the same size to see if the variation will be more to their liking, and Tieks’ return policy makes that a very easy process.

Sizing

Many people complain about Tieks only being sold in whole sizes, but I did not find that to be a problem. For us guys, you need to add one whole size to your men’s street shoe size to get your Tieks size. If you are a half size, you may need to round up and I would also recommend rounding up if you have wide feet. I am lucky and simply adding one to my men’s street shoe size worked perfectly (10+1=11). As I mentioned before, Tieks has an excellent return policy so you can try several variations until you find the perfect fit.

Durability

Now that I have had my Tieks for three years now, I can honestly say that the durability of the shoe is making that price tag seem not so bad anymore. My Tieks get worn all the time and have taken me across three continents and the Hawaiian Islands. I own mostly classics and the main issue I have is scuffing around the edges of the shoe. A simple application of polish will fix the problem easily. Tarrago has a wide variety of colors that will match just about any of the Tieks colors and the company website even has a page dedicated to taking care of Tieks HERE, and another Tieks fan and blogger has published a pretty comprehensive color-match list for Tieks and Tarrago HERE.

Appearance

Tieks certainly make a statement. I love the smooth clean lines of my Tieks; they are simple but provide a “classy casual” look that I think can pass for a unisex look for guys who wear flats. The blue soles and blue stripe up the heel are very distinctive and easily recognizable, but that look also makes them look more like a casual shoe than something one would wear if you are dressing up a bit. I exclusively wear my Tieks for casual wear, but some of the fancier designs, such as the metallic, “strucks” or prints may have a “classier” look with nicer outfits.

I never thought that I would wear bolder colors in ballet flats, but the variety of colors that Tieks come in are just too hard to resist and are so fun to wear. While black, navy or chestnut may be a good neutral for a guy, I now find myself wearing burgundy, cobalt, olive or midnight blue (metallic) just as often. Some of the other guys that I know from Facebook are even bolder with their choice of colors!

Issues

While I really love my Tieks, there are a few issues that one needs to keep in mind. All of these are minor and do not detract from the overall quality and comfort of the shoe.

  • Initial break-in period. While I really like my Tieks now, it took at least three weeks of fairly regular wear to make my first pair truly comfortable. Subsequent pairs were more comfortable out of the box. Also, others have recommended stuffing socks in the shoes, wearing them with thick socks or using shoe stretchers to speed the break in. I have not had to do this, but the option is there. Eventually though, the Tieks mold to your feet.
  • Fits low on the heel. One of the first things I noticed when I put my Tieks on was that the shoe rides lower on my heel than any other shoe I own. Initially, I thought the show would slip off my foot, but that has yet to happen. The elastic around the shoe opening and the padded heel seem to hold the foot very securely. I don’t even notice this issue anymore.
  • Leather almost too soft. Don’t get me wrong, the incredibly soft leather is one of the clear pluses for these flats. However, the soft leather does have some downsides: 1) the soft leather means that there is very little lateral support in the shoe particularly around the heel and my foot tends to slide around a little bit; and 2) it results in the big toe protruding up through the front of the shoe. The first issue continues to be a problem, especially if I am wearing liners with the shoes and the second problem is fixable by reinforcing the toe area with moleskin.

Conclusion

My experience tells me that Tieks are very well made and comfortable ballet flats that are worth the price (although I could forgo some of the trappings for say $20 bucks off the price). Unfortunately, these shoes (like just about every other shoe on the market) appear to at least be partly made in China, but they are clearly of higher quality than most and it at least appears that at least some of the material is sourced from Italy.

I have to wear dress shoes to work, but everyday I can’t wait to get home and slip these great ballet flats on. A great pair of casual flats for guys or girls! Yes, I think I am probably obsessed and these are absolutely my favorite flats. You can take the test below and see if you too are obsessed with Tieks (you don’t even have to own a pair).

Tieks Obsession Test

See how many of the below conditions apply to you:

You might be obsessed with Tieks ballet flats if…

1)  …you are constantly taking photographs of your feet in Tieks and posting them on Instagram, Facebook or other social media;

2) …you have at least three pair of Tieks in your closet, but still want more;

3) …you have written at least one review of Tieks or about your travels wearing Tieks on your blog site and you check it regularly to see how many likes you have;

4) …you have purchased at least one pair of Tieks costing over $250;

5) …you saved your Tieks box and flower and use them to decorate your house or you use the flower as a fashion accessory;

The following can also apply to those of you who do not currently own a pair of Tieks:

6) …you have a savings account set aside to save for your next (or first) pair of Tieks;

7) …you waste time at least once a week looking at other peoples’ posts on Instagram, Facebook or other social media about their Tieks, and liking or commenting on those posts;

8) …you check the Tieks website at least once a week and fantasize about the next (or first) pair of Tieks you are going to buy;

9) …you stop perfect strangers you see wearing Tieks specifically to strike up a conversation about their shoes;

10) …you purchased a pair of Tieks for a friend or family member for Christmas or a birthday and secretly hope they reciprocate;

Bonus question:

11) …you actually took the time to come up with a list of things that would indicate you are obsessed with Tieks.

Scoring. Count the number of above that apply to you and the total will tell you how obsessed you are with Tieks ballet flats:

  • 1-2 Mildly obsessed
  • 3-4 Moderately obsessed
  • 5-6 Obsessed
  • 7-8 Significantly obsessed
  • 9-10 You should probably look into getting a job working for the company

Full disclosure: I scored a 7 (significantly obsessed) on the above scale. Confess your obsession level in the comments or suggest other reasons for a Tieks obsession–if they are really good, I may edit this post and add your reason to the test.

My Tieks

13 thoughts on “Review: Tieks Ballet Flats (Updated)

  1. Great post Brenn. Between you, our friend Ivan and my friend Danni (PinkPanther) you are the Three male Tieketeers (musketeers). I’m sure there other guys that also wear them 😊
    I hope your love for Tieks reaches 10 and your collection grows as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the update on your new passion for Tieks. They are certainly popular. I love it when I’m walking behind a women or man wearing a pair. They are very easily identified cuz of those super cute teal coloured soles.

    Can’t wait to see which color you get next.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have one pair of Tory’s with a teal colored sole. The color is actually called “Chicory blue” but they sorta look teal. They really “pop” cuz not only is the sole blue, the entire shoes is bright patent blue. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha, yes Tory made a pair of flats in a similar color as the soles on Tieks. Your black Tieks with the blue soles are a casual classy unisex looking shoe that any guy could wear. Any guy can also wear these eye popping Chicory blue Tory’s but they are a “bit” less unisex looking. They scream feminine and certainly don’t go unnoticed. πŸ‘ΌπŸ»πŸ‘ΌπŸ»

        Liked by 2 people

  4. UPDATE – In April 2018 I took the plunge and bought my first pair of Tieks. All the stars aligned and I treated myself to a pair of sapphire blue patent Tieks. This was a popular color that sold out quick so when it was
    re-released I couldn’t hit the “Add to Cart” button quick enough. I quickly learned what all the hype was about. Women are fanatical about Tieks and I proud to say I’m one of the guys that is fanatical about them too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent review! I agree with it entirely. I also tried Born “Julienne” flats, but I could not wear them. I bought them in the largest size available, a 12, and they were very snug. But worse, the arch caused plantar fascitis that was very painful. I gave them to a thrift store. Tieks are fabulous shoes. Yes, they’re relatively pricey, but once you try them, you’ll agree they’re worth it. BUT, you do have to break them in. They may not have an instant “wow” factor like some shoes do. You will find the leather insole and mid-sole stiff at first, but as you wear them and your footprint impresses the leather insole, it will be like molding a custom pair for your specific feet. The soft Italian leather is like a comfortable glove for your toes. The outer sole is not only non-skid, but it also insulates thermally. I can wear Tieks to below freezing and the pavement doesn’t feel cold. Tieks are all I wear these days. I have several so that I can rotate them and not wear the same pair several days in a row.

    Thanks for providing this website. I hope it encourages other men to try wearing ballet flats.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Bravo to men who wear Ballet flats ! They are a must have fashion staple . I wish we as men can have the fashion choices as women , And not be Judged .

    Liked by 3 people

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