A couple of years ago, my cheap black flats gave out on me because the faux leather started flaking off.
This was after I’d already extended their life a bit with some shoe goo for the soles.
Apparently this was before skinny jeans happened at my house.
I was shopping for a pair that would last better, and while I was in the midst of researching them, Bali Elf offered to send me a pair of their handmade leather flats. Yay!
The shoes right after I got them.
You can read all about that here.
Since my hope was that they’d have better longevity than my initial pair, I thought an update would be helpful to you guys.
So, 2.5 years in, I’m still very impressed with my flats.
The more I wear them, the more comfy they get, which I find to be true for real leather shoes. Plus, this rather unstructured style is really soft from the get-go, and I have not found that to be true with a lot of cheap flats, which tend to be really hard in the back-of-the-heel area.
The leather is still soft and supple, and it’s not showing much in the way of wear at all.
One of my favorite features is the soles of these shoes. They’re fairly minimalist, but they’re also really grippy! My old flats had kind of a smooth bottom and were consequently rather slippery.
But my Bali Elf flats have a great texture bottom which means that even when it’s wet outside, they’re not prone to slipping.
These shoes don’t have arch support, which is no biggie to me. I have ridiculously high arches, so arch supports never ever reach the bottoms of my feet. You could certainly insert some arch supports if you wanted, though.
I’ve read about Tieks as a great, high-quality flat, but the Bali Elf flats are $65 less expensive ($110 vs. $175).
And based on my experience with them, it seems like they last just as long as the Tieks.
Plus, the Tieks all have the turquoise stripe up the back plus a turquoise sole, which is a little unappealing to me. I like that my Bali Elf shoes are all neutral-colored.
I haven’t had problems with these getting smelly, but I always wear cotton liners with them…you know, the kind that are meant to be invisible with flats?
If I wore them without socks, I definitely would have sweaty feet issues. But I feel like that’s the case with any flats I’ve ever owned.
I wear my flats a few days a week during the fall, winter, and spring, and not much in the summer. Flip flops are my jam in the summer! So if you wear flats every day, yours will probably look more worn in 2.5 years than mine do.
Those cheap flats I had? I only wore them occasionally on Sundays, and they still wore out in pretty short order.
That makes me feel like these Bali Elf shoes are worth the price. Plus, if you buy these, you have the satisfaction of supporting a small company that makes quality products by hand, and that’s worth something too.
So, I give a really big thumbs up to my Bali Elf shoes and I’d definitely recommend them if you’ve been wanting something sort of like Tieks but have felt like $175 is just too much to pay.
P.S. I have the Aise flat but Bali Elf also has a bunch of other styles of flats you can choose from. And they come in a variety of colors.
P.P.S. If you’re new here, you might be wondering why on earth a frugal person is talking about $100+ shoes. I’m frugal, yes, but I am ALL about saving up and buying something that lasts vs. buying something cheap that won’t last. In the long run, that ends up being a frugal and earth-friendly choice.
Bali Elf sent me a complimentary pair of shoes back in 2014, but they did not ask me to do a follow-up and they haven’t sponsored my posts in any way. And I don’t gain anything if you buy a pair.
Wednesday 6th of January 2021
Thank you for this! I'm considering buying a pair. I TOTALLY agree with you that it's actually more frugal (and sustainable!) to buy better-quality things that will last longer than a bunch of cheap stuff. Thanks for stressing this point.
Wednesday 25th of July 2018
ELFs are the best. They don't need a break in period because the leather is truly supple. They are well designed. No slipping on a wet floor. I have a dress shoe pair for work and a sandal for running around at home. I normally purchase Mephistos which are serious money. Then again it is not often as I still use my first pair purchased 20 years ago. Day or night, I always feel grounded in the ELF shoe. It's almost so close to being barefoot and free.
Friday 8th of June 2018
Can you fit a custom orthotic in them? (Not anything clunky but a full-length insert)
Friday 8th of June 2018
Yes, I think that should work.
Friday 26th of May 2017
I adore BaliElf worth every penny and the customer service is amazing!!! So worth it!
Thursday 12th of January 2017
I have such a hard time with shoes and have endured foot pain my whole life. I had bunion surgery years ago and learned a lot of stuff from Katy Bowman about preventing and treating it, which has certainly helped - but I have such a difficult time finding shoes that don't hurt!
I only wear minimalist flats, no heel of any kind. They have to be very flexible and wide enough so my toes don't feel pinched (this is what causes bunions, in part).
I bought a pair of Tieks knockoffs, they're Gap and super cute - and they would be comfy but the toe part doesn't have enough room and they literally make my toenails hurt. I feel as if someone is stepping on my toes all day. Sigh.
Do you think these shoes would leave more room for my poor aching toes? I will buy them if yes.