A Review of Carets’ Minimalist Dress Shoes

I just bought my second pair of Carets’ minimalist dress shoes. Here’s why these shoes became an essential part of my wardrobe.

Saving My Feet

For the past several years, I have made a concerted effort to take better care of my feet.

In high school, I suffered through my first bout of plantar fasciitis. The pain was so deep in my foot that I thought I had suffered a stress fracture. My parents bought me new shoes, I rolled a frozen tennis ball tube under my foot and went through physical therapy. Eventually, the inflammation and pain subsided.

One of the best purchases I ever made was an electric foot massager that I placed under my desk at college. It was especially helpful following a baseball doubleheader, after I had spent all day with my feet resting on metal spikes. Since then, I have found Yoga Tune-Up balls to be an excellent alternative to relieve tight, aching feet.

Hands massaging a foot

But in addition to taking care of my feet when they do get sore, I wanted to take better care of them before they got sore in the first place. Consequently, I began to look for certain features when I bought new shoes.

1. I want my shoes to be flat (“minimalist” or “zero drop”).

In bare feet, our heels rest on the same plane as our toes. It is only when we put on most shoes that our heels get elevated above our toes. This heel elevation is not unique to high heels; it exists to a lesser degree in most running shoes and men’s dress shoes.

As someone who is not particularly flexible, it makes no sense to further reduce my ankle range of motion by elevating my heel. When I’m barefoot or wearing zero drop shoes, my ankles are flexed to ninety degrees. With my heels elevated, the angle between my foot and the ground decreases. The more I wear those higher-heeled shoes, the more time I spend in a decreased range of motion.

2. I want my shoes to have enough room for my toes.

If you look at the shape of your feet, you’ll notice that they get slightly wider from heel to forefoot. You may also notice that this widening stops where your little toe extends out of your foot. Some people’s littles toes may actually be bent inwards, towards their big toes.

I don’t need to tell the women reading this that fancy shoes are rarely comfortable. But the same is true of most men’s dress shoes (again, to a lesser degree). Most dress shoes actually get narrower at the front of the shoe. Some of them even end in a point.

But nobody’s foot is shaped like that! You have to cram your toes together to fit into those shoes. No wonder your little toes bend inward.

Finding footwear that fits these criteria is not that hard when it comes to athletic shoes. I’ve worn Vibram, Inov-8 and Vivobarefoot shoes, and enjoyed all three.

The Search for Minimalist Dress Shoes

But it’s a little harder when it comes to dress shoes. Vivobarefoot makes some casual Oxford-style shoes, but they don’t quite work with a nice suit. Eventually, I discovered Carets.

Side-by-side image of one of Carets' minimalist dress shoes and a shoe by Allen Edmonds
A comparison of wingtip-style shoes by Carets (left) and Allen Edmonds (right)

Carets makes fashionable, minimalist dress shoes for men that look similar to those made by any major shoe manufacturer. The leather is high-quality and the stitching is excellent. They even appear to have a raised heel and pointed toe. But these shoes hide a couple of secrets:

  1. That raised heel is actually hollow, meaning that your foot is flat inside the shoe.
  2. The toe area is wide enough to accommodate the full width of your foot, meaning no more smashed toes.

Carets’ shoes look great, and they feel just as good. When I tried on my first pair, it was a relief to not have a clunky heel or crushed toes. Without the extra heel weight, Carets’ shoes feel lighter and sleeker than the conventional dress shoe. But they look just as shiny and solid from the outside.

Interior of Carets' minimalist dress shoes
The interior of Carets shoes

Additional Features

Another nice feature is the elastic laces. Double-knot the laces once when you first put on your shoes and never tie or untie them again. The laces stretch to accommodate your feet as you put the shoes on and take them off but never feel loose while you have the shoes on.

Like most nice dress shoes, Carets are a little stiff at first and require some breaking in. But it’s easier to deal with a bit of tightness around your ankles when your toes have plenty of room to spread out.

The only downside—and it is a minor one—is that Carets’ shoes feel a little longer than a conventional dress shoe in the same shoe size. I suspect that providing enough toe room and offering a tapered tip required the Carets designers to add a centimeter or two of length to the front of the shoe. So maybe don’t do a lot of running in these shoes if you easily trip over your own feet.

Other than that, Carets are the ideal dress shoe for any man looking to take care of his feet while maintaining a professional appearance. I bought a second pair earlier this year and was thrilled to replace my old, black, high-heeled, toe-crushing loafers.

Visit carets.com to try Carets’ minimalist dress shoes for yourself.