Having worn Tieks ballet flats for a couple of months now, they have mostly lived up to all the hype, but are not quite my favorite flats (yet) [UPDATE 2/4/2018: I think I have to admit that Tieks are at least equal to my Born Julianne flats in terms of being my favorite–they are different in many ways with each having advantages depending on the occasion]. That said, I can clearly understand the obsession by many wearers and I am probably moderately obsessed myself. 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 (this actually looks to me more like a printed note in handwriting font, but the sentiment is appreciated). 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.
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. 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 still relatively thin sole that 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. These shoes and also made in the USA, not in China, and this is clearly reflected in the the quality of construction.
When I first put my new Tieks on, my immediate reaction was on 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 are beginning to mold 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.
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 matte black Tieks for casual wear, but some of the fancier designs, such as the metallic or prints may have a “classier” look with nicer outfits.
While I really love my Tieks, I do still have a few issues that keep these from rising to be my favorite flats (for the time being).
- Initial break-in period. While I really like my Tieks now, it took at least three weeks of fairly regular wear to make them truly comfortable. With my next pair I may try some of the suggestions by other reviewers to speed up the break-in period.
- 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.
- 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.
My experience thus far 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). I really like the fact that they are handmade in the USA, so I can be fairly confident I’m not supporting some sweatshop in China with my purchase. 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 it won’t be long before these do become 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;
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 4 (moderately 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.