Women's Style Inspiration  / Shoes & Accessories  / A Women's Guide to Different Types of Flat Shoes

A Women's Guide to Different Types of Flat Shoes

New takes on the versatile flat you need now.

Women's flat shoe collection
Find your new favorite must-haves with personal styling.

What do Meghan Markle, Charlize Theron, and Priyanka Chopra all have in common? Yes, they're all philanthropists who advocate for women's empowerment, but that's a (great) conversation for another day. These three sartorial muses have also proven time and time again that flats are inherently chic and timeless. Donning them in exciting ways everywhere from the red carpet to the beach, they inspire us to rethink the sartorial possibilities of different types of flat shoes.

Flats have it all: everyday comfort, ease, and enduring style. So it comes as no surprise that they've been a wardrobe essential for decades. (We can partly thank Brigitte Bardot and her signature Cendrillon ballerina flats for that). Ahead, we explore the different types of flat shoes and how to style them.

Warm-weather styles

Striking the right balance between carefree and on-trend, no capsule wardrobe is complete without these go-to flats for sunshine-filled days.

Espardrilles for women

Espadrilles

Preferred long ago by artistic geniuses such as Picasso and Dalí, espadrilles are types of flats that make a breezier alternative to sneakers in the spring and summer months. Transport yourself to the mosaic walkways of Alicante in a lace-up pair with a fit-and-flare frock and Panama hat, or wear them with an off-the-shoulder blouse to capture an air of romanticism in your favorite jeans.

Brands to try: 

Vince Camuto, SARTO by Franco Sarto, and Sam Edelman

women's slide sandals in different colors

Slide sandals

Once reserved for the pool, slides have officially earned their position as the overarching sandal of summer. Pairing them with a co-ord in airy linen says "I just landed in Monaco," while culottes, a knotted tee, and belt bag make the ultimate off-duty weekend outfit. And if you thought slides were only for summer, it's time to rethink—the new fashion rules permit patterned socks and sandals for a clever fall transition.

Brands to try: 

Birkenstock, Seychelles, and Dolce Vita

Gladiator sandals

Gladiator sandals

It's hard to strap into glads and not feel like a goddess. The decidedly utilitarian sandals emerged as a high-fashion accessory following Paco Rabanne's 1968 Vogue spread inspired by Greek mythology. Honor your inner Athena in a flowy maxi dress with side slits, topped with layers of bohemian jewelry. For a progressive spin, try out a monochromatic look with a bodysuit and flared mini skirt.

Brands to try: 

Ash, Dr. Martens, and Free People

Colorful flip flops

Flip-flop sandals

One thing's for sure: Flip-flops are an effortlessly cool way to show off your well-earned pedi. Contemporary iterations deliver laid-back sophistication when worn with dressy high-waisted shorts and an oversized white shirt. On the flip side, style a set of bright, flatform flip-flops with a bikini halter top and wide-leg trousers in a vibrant print.


Brands to try: 

Sigerson Morrison, Havaianas, and Melissa

Work-ready styles

No matter what your workplace's definition of "office-appropriate" might be, these are time-honored staples that get the job done.

Derby shoes in black, navy, brown and off-white

Derby shoes

Rooted in European sportswear, these types of flats are a prime candidate for dressing preppy in the fall. Shake up the aesthetic's usual formula in track pants, a striped V-neck sweater, and button-down, or use the gentlemanly shoe to amp up a crewneck sweatshirt and tailored joggers for an of-the-moment interpretation of athleisure.

Brands to try: 

The Office of Angela Scott, Freda Salvador, and Stella McCartney

Loafers for women

Loafers

Sure, they're a safe choice for the office, but these types of flat shoes also offer endless sartorial applications beyond your usual work attire. Perk them up with anything-but-ordinary ankle socks, then opt for a bib blouse and pleated shorts to complete the sweet combination. Consider yourself more of a wallflower? A long-sleeve boatneck top worn underneath boyish overalls and accented with tiered necklaces achieves a quirky, casual feel for the weekend.

Brands to try: 

Cole Haan, Jeffrey Campbell, and Gucci

Cream ballet flats

Ballet flats

In the '70s, Jane Birkin taught us the secret of French women's laissez-faire approach to fashion through her straight-leg jeans et slouchy T-shirt ensembles. The forever-iconic blueprint she created still works today with the classic ballerina flat. Flared jeans, a short-sleeved polo, and wayfarer sunglasses make for a not-so-basic update to the style. Or follow in the steps of it-girl Emili Sindlev and experiment with head-to-toe color-blocking.

Brands to try: 

Salvatore Ferragamo, Chloé, and Tory Burch

Ready-for-anything styles

Essential to building your foundational wardrobe, these must-have flats go from your desk to dinner (or whatever else you have going on) without skipping a beat.

Mules in black, white, cream and silver

Mules

On board with the minimalist trend? Slip into the mule—it's a loafer at heart but with a carefree attitude. Understated mules ground a tweed blazer, silk cami, and cigarette trousers. At the other end of the spectrum, crystal-embellished renditions live up to the same level of elegance as heels under a little black jumpsuit for the next special occasion on your calendar.

Brands to try: 

Madewell, Naturalizer, and Malone Souliers

Canvas sneakers for women

Canvas sneakers

Canvas sneakers are invariably at the center of street style and pop culture, from the rise of ballers as sartorial superstars to the underground influence of skaters in the '90s. Dial up the sporty vibe in a baseball cap, bomber jacket, and black leggings. If you want a down-to-earth accompaniment to a cashmere sweater and satin midi skirt, lace up a low-top pair.

Brands to try: 

Converse, Superga, and Vans

Black Mary Jane flats

Mary Jane flats

Curiously enough, these types of flat shoes owe their moniker to the eponymous character in the vintage Buster Brown comic strip. But for the sake of not looking too young, give Mary Jane flats a grown-up twist in the mode of Leandra Medine Cohen with a jacquard pencil skirt and merino wool pullover. Or up the ante by merging aesthetics in distressed jeans and a biker jacket.

Brands to try: 

Bella Vita, Jimmy Choo, and Valentino Garavani

Find your new favorite must-haves with personal styling.