A Guide To Flats | the concept wardrobe (2024)

Types of Flats

Ballerina Flats

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Originating in the 18th century when ballet dancers started wearing them, ballerina flats are a chic and practical choice for everyday footwear.

They are flat heel, closed toe, typically low-cut shoes,exposingthe top of the foot and are usually made out of soft leather or satin. Ballerinas are a very versatile shoe that now comes in every print, colour and pattern imaginable. Classic ballerina flats have a little bow at the tip of the shoe.

Ballerina flats work well with jeans, skirts and dresses, making your outfit instantly chicand elegant. Avoid pairing them with super skinny jeans and skirts though if you have thick legs.

Usually, ballerina flats are worn either without socks or with very low-cut socks that finish at the edge of the shoe.

D'Orsay Flats

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This is a type of shoe where the side (called the vamp) of the shoe which is normally covered is cut out, revealing the arch of the foot.This unique style exposes that rare skin because of which these shoes are extremely flattering.

The high-heeled version of this shoe was created by the Count d’Orsay and originally intended for men.Socks are a big no-no with these shoes! You want to show off your skin.

Flat Mules

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Another flat shoe that is also available as a high-heeled version, mules are a type of backless shoe and often closed-toed.

Mules show off a lot of skin at the back of your foot, so they must be worn without socks to be flattering.


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Slip-ons are typically low-cut, lace-less shoes. Very similar to loafers, they are a casual shoe and are often associated with the shoe brand Vans.Since they don't have any laces, buttons, straps, zippers etc., they are easy and quick to put on.

Slip-ons are great alternatives to ballerina flats, but they do have an athletic touch that makes them look sporty and smart-casual; which is why they work best with casual and semi-formal outfits.

If you are going for a cool look and want a comfortable shoe, this is the one for you.


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Loafers are low-cut, lace-less shoes that were originally worn around the house by gentry and the royal family during the Summer time.They are similar in shape to moccasins but have a broad, flat and low heel. The shoes have elasticated panels on both sides that eliminate the need for any shoe fastenings or laces and are generally made of leather.

Loafer shoes are generally thought of as casual shoes. They can be worn at any time of the year but are best worn during Spring and Summer due to their open nature. Loafers can quickly add a vintage and glamorous touch to your outfit.

If you wear loafers without socks, keep your trousers fitted around the ankle to really maximise the look. Skinny jeans, chinos and cigarette pants will all give you the desired effect. Teaming a sun dress with no socks is also a great option.


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Moccasins look similar to loafers but they have heel-less soles and sides, tacked with a vamp. They can be made from suede, soft leather or deerskin, stitched together at the top.Originally worn by Native Americans, they are also known as driving shoes. Sometimes they are also referred to as ‘Gucci loafers’ thanks to the iconic Gucci version of this shoe.

Moccasins come with decorative laces and prominent but super-soft soles, often embellished with beads and other embroidery. They are designed to be sturdy, snug, and comfortable.

This shoe is practical and comfortable and great for creating a (semi-)casual, laid-back look. Like loafers, they are best worn during the Spring and Summer months, work better with ankle-length or above bottoms and without socks.

When choosing leather moccasins make sure they have a snug fit since the leather will stretch as you break them in. Your big toe should come right against the front of the shoe; the sides should also feel tight, but comfortable.

Boat Shoes

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Also known as docksides, boat shoes were originally created in the 1930s for sailors to prevent them from slipping on the decks.They are similar to moccasins, and are typically made from canvas, suede or leather with non-marking rubber soles, providing maximum grip on wet floor.

They have intricately hand-sewn upper and non-slip rubber soles. With pretty laces, they’re perfect for both formal and casual looks.They can go with any style and any staple. For a casual look pair them with jeans, leggings or chinos.

Canvas Shoes

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Canvas shoes, or gumshoes, received their name from the material they are made of. Canvas is a sturdy fabric which is treated to make the shoes even more resistant. The sole is made of rubber or gum.

Often associated with sports such as softball, they have quickly found their way into the fashion world with their unique styled laces, bright colours and patterns.

Due to their origin, canvas shoes are slightly sportier looking, but they are a great choice for casual wear since they are comfy and practical. The most iconic canvas shoe is produced by Converse.


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Training shoes are often confused with running shoes. Trainers are primarily made for multi-directional movements like jumping, breaking, and changing directions quickly. They have a flatter sole to allow more agility and flexibility.

Trainers are comfy workout shoes because they are well-cushioned, stretchy and have a sock-like fitting. Made from high-quality materials, they can be worn both with and without laces.Although they are intended for working out, trainers are now acceptable towearfor casual, day-to-day activities.


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Oxfords are traditional British dress shoes with closed lacing - i.e. the shoelaces are attached beneath the vamp. Originally a man's shoe, they can also be worn by women.

Traditionally made out of leather, they are now made from a variety of materials, including calf leather, faux and genuine patent leather, suede, and canvas. In addition to black or brown, these shoes are available in many colours, but are usually plain.

Oxfords lend an elegant academy look and while they used to be plain, formal shoes, they have evolved into a range of styles suitable for formal or casual wear.


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Also originally a man's shoe, monks can be worn by women too. They date back to the time when monks were searching for an alternative to sandals.

Monks are low shoes fastened by straps passing over the instep and buckled at the side instead of laces. They are mostly available in suede and sometimes brogue.

Single monk strap shoes are more timeless and chic and are more common, whereas double monk strap shoes have a military touch to them.

These are semi-formal shoes that are less formal than oxfords and a jaunty alternative to lace-ups.


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Although originally a man's shoe, the brogue has in recent years have become fashionable for women.

Brogues sit comfortably between Oxford and Monk shoes. Despite this, brogue is a shoe in its own right that has decorative and perforated patterns on the toe. They are also known as cap toes and wing tip shoes.Brogues for women usually have a chunky sole and stylish laces and are traditionally made out of leather. They are available in various colours and patterns, as well as classic black or brown leather.

Brogues are as versatile as any flat shoe but they look more formal and masculine.

Derby Shoes

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Derby, or Gibson, shoes are another example of men's footwear that has crossed over to the women side.

Appearing similar to Oxford shoes, they are actually their opposite. While on Oxfords the shoe laces are attached beneath the vamp (closed-lacing), on Derby shoes they can be found on top of the vamp - open-lacing.

The back of the shoe is stitched on top of the front thereby creating a big opening where the laces are. Traditionally made out of leather, the classic colours are black and brown. To cater for a more casual look, these shoes are now available in various colours and different materials.

A Derby is less formal than an Oxford and can be worn with both formal and casual outfits depending on the shoe style.

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A Guide To Flats | the concept wardrobe (2024)
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