When kitten heels made their resurgence earlier this year, I made no complaint. I’m not quite sure myself what it was about them that inspired such deep-seated, instinctual revulsion among so many for so long—or what brought about their definite return. In any case, after seasons and seasons of sky-high stilettos (never my thing), sneakers so chunky and vertiginous that they barely qualify as sneakers, and flatform sandals I can’t look at without imagining twisting an ankle (I’ve had a few close calls), the style felt like a breath of fresh air.
Hot on the tiny heels of this (literally) down-to-earth trend comes the re-emergence of flats. And not just boring old basic flats—I’m talking seriously fun, seriously stylish iterations even a dyed-in-the-wool maximalist like myself can appreciate. I might be the only person who walks in L.A., but I know my NYC friends will appreciate the four fashionable yet functional flat-shoe trends I’ve rounded up below. Think “ugly” sandals that aren’t ugly at all as well as directional ballet flats that won’t remind you of sophomore year.