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An honest review of the Frye Carson Ballet Flat (after a year and a half)

I bought 2 pairs of Frye Carson Ballet flats in two different colours about a year ago, and now it’s a year and a half later, so I figured I’d do an honest review on them.

I dropped about $300 in total for these flats, having bought them in-person at their Frye location in NYC.

This is what they pretty much looked like new:

Frye-Carson-Ballet-Flats-Review-Honest-After-A-Year

I BOUGHT THEM HALF A SIZE SMALLER

As suggested by their salespeople, I bought them half a size smaller at 6.5. I’m normally a 7.

HOW I WEAR MY SHOES

I wear them TO DEATH. As long as it’s warm enough, I like to just slip on these ballet flats and go.

I wore them pretty much every day, 7 days a week for about 3-8 hours a day. I went EVERYWHERE in them, so trust me, when I say I wear these to death.. I WEAR THEM TO DEATH.

It’s the reason why I bought 2 pairs to begin with, because I wanted to alternate them so that they wouldn’t stink from my constant use of them (you need to let your shoes air out in between wearings).

THE FIRST FEW MONTHS WERE GOLDEN

The first few months were great. Super soft, super comfortable, great right out of the box.

They were a teensy bit tight because I bought them in a 6.5 but they stretched to a 7 pretty easily after 2 weeks or so.


I had to add on Dr. Scholl’s padding in the back because my heels tend to always chafe in ballet flats and never stay in them, but otherwise, they were fantastic.

..THEN THEY STARTED TO STRETCH EVEN MORE AFTER 3 MONTHS

Even though they were at 6.5, they started to stretch beyond a 7. I had to add ANOTHER Dr. Scholl’s padding at the back to keep them on my feet.

They were still wearable, but now my feet were starting to get pushed to the front, and the toe area started to stretch out even more than before.

They simply wouldn’t stay on my feet.

AFTER ABOUT A YEAR I HAD TO TAKE THEM IN TO BE RE-SOLED

Apparently, the heel on these things are a “base” heel, meaning there is a very THIN veneer of rubber on them, which wears out very quickly.

So when I took them into my favourite cobbler (Sole Survivor) in Kensington Market, they told me I should have come in months ago, because the heel had worn down so much that they had to rebuild the entire heel and put another rubber pad on there.

I kind of scratched my head because I hadn’t really worn them THAT long to need to have them resoled, but it kind of made sense now why they were slipping on my feet — there was NO rubber traction so my foot was compensating by pushing forward even more to try and dig my toes into the shoe to keep them on my feet.

You can kind of see that little tiny, THIN black piece of rubber in the top picture at the back. That wore out within a month or less.

Frye-Carson-Ballet-Flats-Review-Honest-After-A-Year-Thin-Rubber

…THEN IT JUST GOT RIDICULOUSLY LARGE

Even after I had them resoled, they were too stretched out to be comfortable any more. They would have fit a size 8, I’m sure.

I started putting Foot Petals on the front to try and get them to grip on my foot to stop sliding forward.

I was walking with a distinctive CLOP CLOP CLOP sound, and my mom remarked: Your shoes don’t even stay on your feet or look comfortable. Your heel comes out like it’s a slipper.

I added a THIRD layer of Dr. Scholl’s padding at the heel.

… but it just got to be too much.

Now the shoes are just going to be shoes I use to quickly run outside or around the building and back in.

I won’t be wearing them to walk outside at all.

You can see the indents of my toes pushing forward at the front, and the 3 layers of heel padding at the back.

Frye-Carson-Ballet-Flat-Honest-Review-After-A-Year

The sole was not rubberized at the front, so you can see how much I wore it down after a year and a half.

The heel was pretty much done just 3 months ago, so it looks almost brand new. I regret wasting money on repairing them.

Frye-Carson-Ballet-Flat-Honest-Review-After-A-Year-Soles

WHAT I THINK IS THE PROBLEM WITH THESE FRYE CARSON BALLET FLATS

  • Vamp is not high enough — the toe area is not high enough to cover and really hold on to your foot
  • Leather is way too soft — soft leather is great, but not in a ballet flat. You need a balance between hard/soft.
  • The sole itself isn’t done well — I know they’re handmade, but a thin rubber veneer doesn’t do jack squat, you have to take them in to be properly soled by a cobbler right out of the box

VERDICT? I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THEIR CARSON BALLET FLATS.

However their boots rock.

That said, I REALLY like their Frye Melissa Back Zip Back Button boots.

 

I find the sole VERY comfortable (I don’t even need my Birkenstock supports), and they haven’t stretched out at the ankles, and still look and feel great.

I did however, take the boots in to be re-soled by my cobbler immediately after buying them because if I drop $300 on a pair of boots, I want them to last.

So far, they’re pretty awesome for the most part.

A few cons:

  • The button flaps are a bit annoying sometimes (especially at the heel), but they snap on after a few tries.
  • The back zipper is also slightly annoying on the right side to zip up, but the left side is perfectly easy to zip.

 

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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42 Comments

  1. Sheryl

    Love the Carson ballet flats. I have 5 colors and am always checking for sales online. I wear size 8.5 and have small fine bones. I buy my regular shoe size and love the stretching as it makes the shoes even more comfortable. I don’t wear hose with them and love how there is no stinky feet smell with real leather. I love the cut, the round toe…these shoes are the best!!

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      For me, not a great buy πŸ™ I preferred the Banana Republic pointed flats that really cling to my feet.

      Reply
  2. Teresa Mourad

    Is the Carson Ballet blocked or goodyear welted? (I never saw them personally, I live in Brasil).
    But, they look like stitched.
    Are they? Or it is just a detail of design, and the shoes are cemented? (very common)
    There is a way to shrink leather with water! I did it accidentally with a sneaker. Take a look about it on Google!

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I think they were blocked and cemented with a stitching, there was no double stitching from what I saw!

      Yes, I know I also shrunk leather once but then it looked terrible.

      Reply
      1. Teresa Mourad

        Maybe depends of the leather.
        My sneaker looks like very nice, like 95% in appearance and texture (it is normal leather with nubuck details). And I didn’t apply leather conditioner.
        Thank you!

        Reply
  3. DRUM CHARLES

    Thank you for sharing your experience with FRYE CARSON BALLET FLATS. Oddly, I haven’t had the same experience with the pairs I have of these shoes. They are some of my favorite ballet flats for their style, variety of colors and finishes, quality workmanship and for their all leather – leather upper, lining and soles. One thing that might make the difference is what I learned from my brothers (taught to them by our dad), which is how they make their expensive, leather shoes last for-almost-ever. For starters, they never wear the same shoes for two days in a row. Although they might not look it, shoes hold onto a small amount of moisture and need to dry between wearing. This way they are less likely to stretch out or form to the shape of wearer’s toes. To maintain the shape of my shoes, I invested in cedar shoe trees and even travel with them to place in my shoes immediately after wearing. Another thing is to regularly clean and polish my shoes with saddle soap and shoe cream, rather than waxy shoe polish. I own some very soft and perishable shoes, like Bally, and have managed to keep them looking new for several years. I currently own Frye Carson Ballet Flats is black, tan, cement, red as well as in “Blue Denim” suede, which have held up very well. I love Frye boots and shoes; and now that pointed toes are in fashion, I have purchased two pairs of the Frye Regina Ballet Flat for their toe and Frye quality. Some of the shoes mentioned by others have man made lining and/or soles, which are sure to make feet hot, sweaty and puffy. Maybe it’s because I started out life in orthopedic shoes and night time leg braces, I am finicky about my shoes, borderline neurotic. Wear yours in good health.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I think what I need is a higher vamp on these flats. They keep slipping off… Or my foot needs flats that are elastic and really bendy.

      Reply
  4. Bill Becker

    Hi There: I would like to purchase your Frye Carson Ballet flats exactly in their present condition and knowing about your problems with them, please. Simply, I like the way they look. Please let me know what you’d consider a fair price and the shipping cost. Thanks.
    WITH APPRECIATION,
    Bill Becker
    Kewaunee, Wisconsin

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hi Bill

      They’ve been long tossed. Sorry! I had no idea there was a market. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. Cathy

        Omg. Creepy. ^^^ Loved your thorough review.

        Reply
  5. Ivan

    Hi there,
    I got a pair of Frye carson flats as a gift, I worn them for 3 months and I placed a zip sole (half sole) and in that way this flats still last more time , then when the rubber part of the heel started to be worn out, I replaced with a mild soft rubber here after talking with my neirghbourhood’s cobbler. It is true that they stretch a lot and the sole is to thin to last despite of the quality of the materials and how comfy they are so I only keep them cause it was a gift and I love how they look but I still prefer more my Sam Edelman Felicia and Vince Camuto Ellen that last much more time despite they also have thin soles and those brands don’t stretch to much.Hope my review helps someone else. Regards

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I will look at Sam Edelman or Vince Camuto. Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Ivan

    My name is Ivan and as a result of an accident on one of my feet (I hurt the top of my feet and broke the arch) I am unable to wear close shoes, so I started trying with sandals and flip flops but sometimes they don’t protect alot the feet. So one day my sister lent me a pair of her flats (we wear equivalent shoe size). I wore them for 2 weeks and I discovered that flats were comfortable for my feet. After that as you, I’ve been wearing flats for the past 8 years, hope you don’t mind a guy wear flats for comfort and health reason πŸ˜‰
    I tried Sam Edelman Felicias and I like the cause they are comfortable and never got a blister but I had to add a fabric insole to ad cushion for long walkings, I also have puma karlie flats this ones are really comfortable with good arch support and heel padded but the look is really sporty, Gianni bernini cillian flats are really comfortable and look great and not expensive, Michael Kors Fulton I found the comfortable made of leather but they scratch easily taking in count the price, ballet flats from Hirica are not so bad the leather is soft but the sole is thin better than Repetto and less expensive, Pretty Ballerinas are quite expensive and more less comfortable thin insole not padding at all so maybe think twice before purchasing. Camper nina right are really good comfortable maryjanes flats soft leather but not too soft and good pading and support from thick soles, great for long walkings. London sole are expensive not cushion at all thin soles and low vamp(shows a lot of toe cleavage) good quality leather sizing is weird. Finally Banana Republic Ashley is a good flat looks cute are quite comfortable but need some weeks to break in a considerable cushion at the insoles, Hope it helps to get a pair of comfortable flats. And thanks a lot for the review I was about to order a pair of Frye Flats now I will thing twice my decision

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Thanks for the overview!! I will need to check out the brands you are mentioning

      Reply
  7. Meems

    I’ve had great luck with the Born Julianna flats. Love them.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I will look into those thanks!!

      Reply
    2. Cathy

      Omg. Creepy. ^^^ Loved your thorough review.

      Reply
  8. Tania

    My favorite ballet flats are the Reva by Tory Burch. However, I am not sure where they are manufactured now (used to be Brazil in the beginning). Long lasting and flattering. The leather ones (matte or metallic) are more comfy than the other materials (the animal print ones were kind of too stiff in my opinion).

    Frye boots will last a lifetime for sure! Too bad the flats stretch out so quick. I would never expect flats to last as long as a boot but that is too short for that price.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I paid a lot and expected more out of them than regular crap but this was not the case.

      Reply
      1. Emily

        I bought a pair after eyeballing them for over a year. I’ve worn them maybe 4 times in two months and mostly in grass. My soles are separating at the front of both shoes, like they forgot to glue them down. Hopefully that counts as a manufacturing defect. Either way my first pair of frye flats will be my last.

        Reply
        1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

          I really do not love their flats, but I will say their BOOTs are great. Their Melissa back button and zip boots are my favourite casual go-tos. Their flats are not great.

          Reply
        2. Samantha Whitson

          Definitely get your money back~ that’s ridiculous! I do understand that human error happens, yet these well known companies- w/high retail prices- need to be held to standards that match! I was truly disappointed to read Sherry’s review, along w/others’, and am fairly certain that the company could benefit from some honest critique. Otherwise they may end up at WalMart, which would be sad. *Nothing against WalMart, just not an ideal shoe option, in general.

          Reply
          1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

            Agreed, isn’t that crazy?

  9. The Asian Pear

    Oh wow. I can totally see how the leather is totally worn. I mean, sure comfy but like you said… It’s a slipper-like comfy. Not appropriate for walking outdoors. And no supports. I want a good pair of ballets… All the cheap ones hurt my feet. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find a good pair that fits my wide feet yet. =/

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      The leather is way too soft for a shoe. It has to be tougher and the vamp had to be higher.

      Reply
  10. Jennifer Roberts

    Well, that’s a disappointment. I’ll be crossing those off my splurge list. I still haven’t found the perfect ballet flat: durable, cute, comfortable, not made in China. Too many brands are designing for people who don’t keep things for long.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      *nods* I’m trying out Etsy now.

      Reply
  11. Tracy

    I am also on the hunt for a good quality ballet flat. I’ve been hearing about this brand “London Sole” .. have you thought about checking them out? The Daily Connoisseur really swears by them, she has a few pairs in her wardrobe and they always look SO CHIC!

    http://dailyconnoisseur.blogspot.ca/

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I haven’t checked them out yet. I just placed an order for flats from Etsy so we’ll see…

      Reply
    2. Jennifer Roberts

      @Tracy: Just a heads up, I was checking out the Daily Connoisseur’s site and her family owns French Sole/London Sole. Which isn’t to say they’re not great shoes, just that she’s probably a wee bit biased πŸ™‚ I’m certainly intrigued, though — I’ve read great reviews elsewhere, and it seems that they’re manufactured in France, Spain or Italy, which is a huge plus in my book.

      Reply
      1. save. spend. splurge.

        Well that makes more sense. I haven’t tried the brand though.. but I’d like to if they’re good. I’m going with Etsy for now.

        Reply
  12. SarahN

    I also wear my shoes to death – I’ve got almost every pair re soled or heeled! I just bought a great paid of ballet flat (no brand) with a rubbery nib like sole, I’m so tempted to drop another $100 on another pair of the Made in China, cause no horrid wearing in period my feet so often suffer… I have some super soft leather campers too, but the second pair, more recently bought, suffer on one foot the clip clop you mention, so they now live at work to ‘slip into’ rather than the walking to and fro from work. Since the new black ballet flats, tho, I have one shoe do all πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      What brand is this one??

      Reply
      1. SarahN

        @save. spend. splurge.: I got them from a place call ‘Wanted’ which specialise in ridic high heels, so I’m surprised I found these, and they’ve proved good so far – one week! They aren’t any known brand though :s

        Reply
  13. rosee

    WOW!!!
    I bought a pair of Frye Carson flats in bronze back in early June and have worn them often over the summer. I usually wear an 8 (Euro 39) but was told to get an 8.5 (the size I wear in Frye boots – I have 2 pairs). Yes, they have stretched and yes, my toes are outlined in the soft leather, but luckily after 4 months wear, they still fit well. I also bought a back-up pair for when these are trashed. I hope I don’t experience what you did with yours, because that would just be frustrating. I don’t look forward to additional stretching because they are stretched just enough right now. I also found a pair of patent grey Carsons on ebay, but I have worn these less often.
    I read your post on recommended ballet flats, which I found good. Maybe I will look into the Sam Edelman’s next. Repetto’s will probably have a lot of the same issues as the Frye’s but at a higher price tag. Please keep us informed….

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      It was really frustrating for me but perhaps with your feet it is not as picky as mine.

      Sam Edelman used to be good, but Repetto I find has NO support and cuts into my feet at the top. So far, no luck. I’ll have to try Etsy.

      Reply
      1. rosee

        @save. spend. splurge.:

        Thanks for your response. Actually, I have very fussy feet: high arches and instep, slightly wide, some issues with plantar fasciatis. Luckily this has not been an issue thus far (though the Fryes are comfortable, they are not supportive for PF). Maybe the metallic leather and patent leather don’t stretch as much as the regular leather ?!?

        You say Sam Edelsen “used to be good” – what issues have you noted with them? I was hoping to pick up a pair of plum or burgundy flats from either them or Frye (or another brand)?

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Perhaps? I have no idea but it was a terrible experience for me.

          Sam Edelman is just uncomfortable now. No support in the style I tried, the top ballet flat cut into my vamp… I just hated it.

          Reply
  14. Gia T.

    Oh wow, I’ve heard their leather was soft but that is something else. In the second to the last photo it’s like someone invisible is standing in your shoes due to the indentations! :p

    Reply

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