First Impressions Review: Tory Burch Caroline Black Patent Leather Ballet Flats

 This year, I'm embarking on a new fashion philosophy - one of buying and wearing fewer, nicer items and curating a wardrobe that's small but truly tailored to me, my body and my style. It's called building a "capsule wardrobe" and it's something I plan to talk about more on Beauty Babble in the coming weeks. So far, it's been a great learning experience, but not an easy journey since I'm a total deal seeker and have trained myself over a number of years that anything more than $30 is too expensive. Slowly, but surely, I'm exploring higher end brands, but being as value-conscious as I am, I'm still focusing on getting those items at a discount, when possible. More on this soon, as today's story is about flats. Specifically ballet flats.

For the last year and a half or so, I've worn my trusty spiked ballet flats from Target on a nearly daily basis when the weather allowed. They were so broken in and comfortable, and I always got compliments on them, but after such long wear, they really started to fall apart, and I knew I couldn't ignore the fact that they needed to be replaced. As such, I started on the hunt for a new pair for the upcoming spring/summer season, and the first thing that came to my mind was those gorgeous Tory Burch flats that I see everyone wearing and that I've been eyeing for years. I always thought they were way out of my price range at $225, especially considering my Target flats cost just 10% of that.

I have to admit that I'm struggling a little bit in my new philosophy in terms of being a "brand whore." I think ultimately, I'll narrow in on the brands that I actually feel suit me and fit me well, but when you're just starting out with buying nice things it can be hard not to give in to the hype of trendy brands you've been drooling over. So even though I had heard terrible things about Tory Burch flats - that they were gorgeous, but incredibly uncomfortable - I still wanted them. (Is that stupid?) At minimum, I decided that I'd be a smart consumer and do my research before making any impulse purchases.

As I read the reviews, it seemed that everyone was complaining about the Reva flat - apparently its scrunched up back was a killer that rubbed your heel to no end and didn't seem to have a realistic "break in" point (some people said theirs still weren't broken in after a year). I started to get discouraged until I stumbled upon the Caroline flat, which was praised in reviews as being the exact opposite of the Reva thanks to the elastic ribbing that surrounded the shoe and the straight, flat fabric that went across the heel.

My excitement soared! I grabbed my coupon codes (10% off and one for free shipping) and placed an order for two sizes, so I could figure out what would fit best in the comfort of my own home.

When I got the shoes, I immediately tried on the 9.5 (I fluctuate between an 8.5-9.5 in shoes) and knew the size 10 I had ordered would be way too big, as these felt comfortable, if bordering on a little wide across my foot (the site recommended ordering a half size up so I thought these two sizes would be a safe bet). I did some initial walking around my apartment and they felt comfortable enough - my toes had sufficient room to breathe, the insole felt padded and I didn't feel like my foot was slipping out. Plus, they were just as gorgeous as I had expected.

The next day, I excitedly decided to give the shoes a go and wear them to work. Even just slipping them on in the morning made me feel special and like I was doing something luxurious for myself. That is, until I made the 1/4 mile walk from my apartment to my car and things started to go downhill. While my right foot still felt totally comfortable, I noticed that the left foot was starting to rub against the back of my heel. Bothersome, but nothing terrible at this point. However, another 1/4 mile walk, this time from my parking garage at work to my office, and now my left heel was raw, red and totally in pain.

I work a desk job, so normally I'm sitting throughout the day or walking short distances to the kitchen, bathroom or meeting rooms, but on this particular day, I needed to walk to another building (about 1/2 mile each way) for a special meeting. It was torture. By the time I made it to the building, both my right and left feet were in terrible pain. My left heel was rubbed so raw that I physically couldn't put the shoe on the back of my foot and on my right foot, I could feel the start of a small blister.

By the time I got home from work, the pain had spread beyond my heels to my toes too - a few of them felt rubbed and were red, but nothing compared to the poor state of my left heel which I had to put neosporin on and cover with a band-aid. Two days later, the wound is still healing.

In fairness, I fully recognize that almost all shoes require some breaking in period before they feel comfortable, so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that this is the case with these, especially because they really are one of the most gorgeous pairs of shoes I've owned. Unfortunately I'm skeptical, especially since the shoe is one in which the elastic is designed for a snug fit, so it doesn't seem like the rubbing will ever really stop. I guess time will tell, as I'm likely stuck with the shoes now that I've worn them outside!

At this point, I don't think I know enough about the breaking in period and long-term comfort of the shoe to warn anyone against buying them. Rather, I'd say to go into your purchase knowing that for some people, even this style isn't immediately comfortable and you may have a few days of pain before the pleasure kicks in!

Do you have a pair of Caroline flats? If so, were they comfortable for you? Are there any other high quality ballet flats you've purchased that were crazy comfortable, right from the start? Let me know in the comments section below.


  1. Sorry to hear your Carolines hurt. I have several pairs and they are fit fine and are super comfy. (That's likely not what you wanted to here. Have you tried wearing thick sock with them around the house? Sometimes that works. I also like the TB Reva flats but they certainly need breaking in. This is a picture of my Caroline flats that I posted on my blog if you are interested;
    My most recent pair are the same ones as yours.

    Thanks for sharing your TB experience.


    1. Hi Bri! Thanks so much for the comment! I'm glad that the shoes work for you, because they really are beautiful! I think I just have difficult feet. :)



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