So here we are – after more than a year of blogging, it’s my first proper product review. Not a service, not a restaurant, not an app. This is a physical thing that I’ve bought and that deserves to be talked about. And while it’s a #notsponsored post, damn would it be amazing if I could have this product free. But first – some history!
Nearly exactly five years ago I took a trip to France with my mother. It was a terrific trip – we started off in the Normandy area, driving around and seeing all kinds of interesting things including my favorite – Mont Saint-Michel, which was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited. My sister joined us in Paris for a few days in the apartment we rented, and we had a terrific time and beautiful weather. One of the places I’d read about ahead of time that I was eager to visit was a shop – unusual for me in general – that sold iconic ballet flats. Repetto. I walked in and was entranced – so many colors. I tried on a pair. It was so beautiful. It was €195 per pair, which at the time was more like $250. My sister and mom talked me out of it, saying I could buy some other nice pair of ballet flats for half the price in the US. I never did. I sort of regret it.
Fast forward a couple years and my sister was getting married, and she decided out of necessity that she would be wearing flats on her wedding day. And so she bought a pair in a nude color that are recommended to her. She ended up loving them and wearing them all the time. She recommended those flats to me, and then I started seeing them everywhere, particularly on a couple ladies at church that I admired who also recommended them. And since they weren’t cheap ($175) I put them on my Christmas list. In cardinal red. You know – go big or go home.
And there, under the tree, in a box to me from the Boy who I had been dating for a few months – were those shoes. It was glorious. They were so beautiful. It was like in that moment he got me. He didn’t wuss out and buy the shoes in black or nude or some other boring color. He bought me brightly colored shoes that I would wear like neutrals. Because I don’t own any regular colored work shoes. All my work shoes are brightly colored or patterned because I am some kind of crazy person. And now I had lovely lush red ballet flats.
So, Tieks. I’ve had my red pair for more than two years now. And I love them. I wear them all the time, for all occasions. Probably the only ones that I don’t wear them for are those where I would need a very specific kind of support – like for running or hiking. But these are the shoes that I bring with me as my versatile “after activity” shoe. When I did my Hadrian’s Wall walk – these are what I would wear in the evening when we went out. Last year after the Reilly’s Red Run? I wore my Tieks.
They’re made with a split sole, so your foot can actually bend and move naturally as you walk. I have some flats that are all one piece on the bottom, and there’s often a feeling of having to grip the shoe with my foot in order to move around – even if it is only an subconscious gripping. Yes, they are a little tight the first few days that you wear them (and I found myself with a ring around the top of my foot where the edge met), but after a few days of really wearing them, that tightness goes away, and they just feel natural – like a part of your foot. They are comfortable all day – sturdy support for my feet without feeling ponderous in the later hours. I wear them to work, for casual events, and for fancy events. They are foldable, and come with a little bag to put them in your purse without smudging the sole over all your things, but I’ve never really folded mine. I find that they’re generally compact enough as is to lie flat on the bottom of a suitcase. But for those of you who worry about being able to put your shoes in your purse, you can.
They’re all made with leather (except for the vegan ones – which are not, obvs), and the leather generally wears pretty well, unless you are me and wear them all the time and sometimes without socks. But – this is good information for you right? Do they really hold up? How beat up are they? Well, last year I added an odor-eating insole (No wait…come back! I promise never to use that phrase again!!!) to the inside of the shoe because they were starting to look a little…”loved”. The leather on the insole had been stained by the sweat in my feet, and the inside smelled less than floral. The shoes themselves have stretched out permanently to fit my feet, but they still grip – I don’t have to worry about them dangling off my toe when my legs are crossed.
There are two significant areas of wear. The first is on toes, where some of the richest-colored leather has worn through to the base layer on the underside. It’s only just visible from the top. My girlfriend H suggests I could hide the wear and tear with a red sharpie, but I’m hesitant. The worn places are loved. It’s like the Velveteen Rabbit! The other related area of “wear” that you can see here is my big toe – which sort of sticks out. I know I’m not the only person on the internet who has had the problem of their big toe being visible through the leather in these shoes, but eventually you get used to it. If you have flatter toenails, a smaller big toe, or get a dark color or a pattern, this particular aspect wouldn’t be as noticeable.
The other wear and tear is on the heel – more loss of color on the very underside base near where the heel meets the sole. The backs themselves are a little crunched from constantly being slipped on, because they have reached the point where I can slip them on without using my hands – a feat when you think about the fact that they used to be so tight they left marks.
I’ve had maybe a half-dozen strangers walk up to me at various times when I’m wearing mine – despite their busted up look – and ask, “Are those Tieks? Do you like them? Would you recommend them? I’m thinking of buying a pair – are they worth it?” Because again – $175 for a non-sparkly color. It’s an investment, and I’m not the only one out there doing research. So, yes. They’re Tieks, and you can tell by their turquoise sole. I do like them. I like them so much I wear them all the time. I would definitely recommend them for someone looking for a versatile, wear-anywhere-do-anything-fancy-or-casual kind of shoe. I’ve worn mine weekly, if not more, for more than two years, and they’re still holding up pretty well, and I still want to cuddle them. I bought a second pair for myself in shiny gold ($20 more) for my wedding, and will probably buy a pair in green sometime soon (because my other green flats died last fall).
So yes they’re worth it. And I’d buy them again. Any other questions? Or other Tieks lovers out there and reading?