AFTER A YEAR of isolating in plush slippers and cushy sneakers, you might be excited to finally take those 4-inch heels out of storage. But your feet probably aren’t ready to rescale such heights. According to shoe designer and podiatric surgeon Marion Parke, heel loyalists should take it slow and ease back into their pumps, “in the same way every aspect of re-entry is going to be gradual.” Instead of immediately teetering in stilettos, first try slipping on a pair of pretty ballerina flats. Their daintiness is sure to scratch the “dress-up” itch, but they’re more than capable of hiding your Dr. Scholl’s insoles.
Look for ballet flats that prioritize comfort, like those pictured above by brands Yuni Buffa and Emme Parsons. Their pairs boast elastic, gathered backs that hold the shoe securely in place, preventing slippage. After watching a clip of a bona-fide ballerina breaking in her pointe shoes—hammering them, scraping the leather for friction and adjusting the elastic—Ms. Buffa was inspired to give her newly launched ballet flats some added stretch. “There is extra elastic in the shoe so you can cinch it. It’s customizable,” Ms. Buffa said. The shoe also has an extra layer of support along the back that pads the heels and stops the edges from cutting into tender tootsies.