Note: If you have no idea what Tieks are, you may want to skip this post. Ditto if you’re someone who does not (and will never) wear ballet flats. Notice that I did not make that comment gender-specific. Apparently, there are men who wear ballet flats. I support everyone’s right to wear whatever makes them feel beautiful :-)
For those not in the know, Tieks by Gavrelli are ballet flats that have attained cult status—probably because Oprah loves them and has them on her list of Favorite Things. They’re pretty darn cute, too, even if they do have a crazy teal stripe up the back. (I guess that’s a status symbol, but I don’t really care for it.)
Tieks are foldable, so you can pack them in your bag for when your feet start hurting from your ridiculously high heels and decide to switch to more sensible (but equally chic) footwear. Folded Tieks (which, incidentally, come with cute little pouches to store them in) are also compact enough that you can bring four pairs of them on vacation without your S.O. complaining about your chronic overpacking. They sport springy teal soles that make them supportive enough for long walks through the airport or being on your feet all day. They come in about a million colors and are hand stitched from Italian leather, although the manufacturer also makes “vegan leather” versions. (Vegan leather. Hmph. I guess that’s like vegan chicken. Whatever.) They’re also obscenely expensive. (Mom, if you’re reading this, please do NOT research the price!)
These shoes don’t come in half sizes. The company recommends sizing down (they do soften and stretch), unless you have wide feet. Mine are a bit wide, so I opted for the size 8 (I’m usually a 7.5). They were perfect.
You may have to wear your Tieks a few times before they mold to your feet. The company will take the shoes back if they haven’t been worn outside, so I recommend wearing them around the house with thick socks for a few nights to ensure they’ll work for you. I did this for about four nights before accepting my bronze Tieks into my heart forever. (They have great customer service and an excellent return policy, so it’s hassle-free to send them back for return or exchange.)
While many people report that their Tieks fit perfectly from the first moment they put them on, others encounter minor challenges when they first don them. If you fall into the latter camp, I’m happy to report that I’ve found some solutions:
- A few (not many) people have encountered an interesting issue with their Tieks: they squeak. In most cases (an outlier mentioned later), shoes squeak because two parts of the shoe are rubbing together. In shoes with removable insoles, sprinkling baby powder between the insole and the permanent sole can often fix the problem. While Tieks do not have removable insoles, the squeak may be due to rubbing between the teal sole and the leather it is affixed to. So—easy fix: hold your Tieks over the sink and sprinkle baby powder around the sides of the teal sole (trying to get the powder between the sole of the shoe and the leather). You’ll have to wipe the powder off the rest of the shoe, because it’s impossible to avoid drenching them in a shower of white. But a damp cloth will easily remove it. Just be careful not to remove the powder you’ve applied between the sole of the shoe and the leather. The baby powder helps the two materials slip past each other more easily. Voila—no more squeak! You may have to repeat this a few times before the squeak is permanently eradicated. By the time your new Tieks are broken in a bit, they will probably be forever silent. This really helps when you’re trying to sneak up on someone. Nothing like a squeak to betray a Tiek sneak. (Sorry—I had to!)
- There is another type of Tieks squeak (the aforementioned outlier). This one is caused by a freshly pedicured big toenail rubbing against the leather inside of the shoe. This happened to me, and it was maddening. But again, there’s an easy fix, and you’ll probably only have to do it once. Generously apply Vaseline to your big toenail before putting on your Tieks. Not only will it stop the squeaking while you’ve got the Vaseline on, but it also seems to soak into the leather a bit, permanently squelching that squeak. Yay!
- Another issue I had was that the stretchy elastic around the front part of the shoe felt a little tight at first. So here’s a (literally) hot tip: apply heat. You can do this in one of two ways. The first method is to hold a blow dryer on high heat to the elastic for a minute or two, then put the shoes back on with socks and wear them around the house a little more. If you find this insufficient, try balling up a pair of socks and shoving them into the toes of the shoes. Then stand them straight up (I did this by wedging the heels into my hiking boots) in front of a space heater. Leave the heater on for about 20 minutes, then leave the socks in overnight. I know it’s an odd tip, but it’s effective. It fixed the problem in one night with my last three pairs of Tieks. (OMG, I have four pairs now! I have to stop. “Hello, my name is Brianna and I am a Tiek-a-holic.”)
- Because these shoes are foldable (you fold them so that the soles are on the outside), they might feel like they’re closing up like a clamshell the first few times you wear them, causing arch pain. I read a great tip that worked really well for me: When you take them off after your first few break-in sessions, bend them the other way (so the two parts of the sole touch and the leather is on the outside). Place a rubber band around them to hold them in this position and leave them until morning. Repeat this for another night or two, and the problem should be solved.
So there you go! With the help of the above tips, you’ll soon understand why Ms. O raves about these cute flats. Let me know how they work for you. And if you’ve got a tip I haven’t mentioned, please share it in the comments below.