Are you looking for a minimalist shoe you can wear to work or on formal occasions? This shoe may be just what you need.
Watch the video to learn more or read the transcript below.
Do you remember this book?
Based on the title you wouldn’t guess it, but it started a shoe revolution in 2011. Looking back I’d say most people tried barefoot shoes because of the health claims, but they stayed for another reason:
Walking in minimalist shoes just feels better in every way and once you’ve gotten used to them regular shoes will feel like wearing a cast on your foot.
But if you want to buy a pair of barefoot shoes you will face two problems:
The first problem is that most of these shoes have very low production quality and will literally fall apart in less than a year. Just look at online reviews of popular brands and you’ll know what I mean.
One example is the pair of Merrell shoes I tested last year. They looked amazing and felt great, but after just 6 months of normal use I had to throw them away because the fabric on the top tore apart to the point where my two-year old could reach his hand through.
The second problem you’ll face if you want to buy a pair of minimalist shoes is that most of them look horrible. Let’s call a spade a spade. In a way these design choices are amazing, because that’s exactly what I’d imagine Steve Urkel would wear if the show “Family Matters” were to make a comeback on modern TV.
So if you love barefoot shoes and want to wear them to work or on formal occasions, you’re left with very few choices. In this video we’re going to take a closer look at one of those choices: the Carets Minimalist dress shoe.
Let’s see how they do in terms of design and feel first and then I’ll give you my take on the health benefits of wearing this type of shoe.
I have tested a number of minimalist shoes over the years and one thing I’ve learned in that time is that the product photography in online shops almost always makes these shoes look better than they do once you’re holding them in your hands.
Sometimes the difference is small. Other times a shoe that looked stylish and high quality online looks like a cheap knock-off once you take it out of the box and that’s disappointing in so many ways. Fortunately that’s not the case at all with the Carets, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Because the first detail that caught my eye was that shoe box looked completely ordinary and maybe even a bit too ordinary considering the price tag on these shoes.
Once you open it up you’ll notice that both shoes come in individual dust bags and with shoe trees.
The shoe trees help shoes maintain their shape and also aid in getting rid of moisture from the inside of the shoe.
The shoes themselves are made of full-grain leather, which is the strongest and most durable type of leather, and they come with elastic laces to help slip the shoes on and off quickly. I have to say that I’m not a fan of the stretchy laces though because they seem much too long for the shoe.
As for the overall aesthetic of the shoe, I’ll let you be the judge of that since everyone’s taste is different after all.
Originally my idea for this video was to record this test in Berlin. You know, walk around, enjoy the city, visit the Dussmann on Friedrichstraße or maybe watch a movie in the Sony Center, but since that’s not an option right now I thought I’d do what everyone else does and work from home.
So I wore the shoes for several days to simulate a week at the office and to make up for the lack of beautiful scenery I thought I’d show you some of my favorite Berlin shots, you know, photographs that I took myself, at the end of this video. Close enough, right?
Here’s what I learned in the test.
The first thing I noticed when putting the shoes on was that they’re much bigger than the size suggests. I actually had to order them in size 46 to get them to fit even though my regular size is 48.
The point of the elastic laces was to allow you slip the shoe on and off without having to undo the laces and this works well even though I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a dress shoe.
The shoes feel pretty much weightless on your foot, almost like they’re not even there and that’s great.
One problem I’ve had with other minimalist shoes in the past was that the topline of the shoe was cutting into my ankle and Achilles tendon and the same thing happened with the Carets as well, but only on the left ankle, curiously enough.
In spite of the tight fit around the ankle the shoes were still too wide for my feet, causing them to slide from side to side a fair bit. I made the same remark about the Merrell shoes I tested last year and it’s likely just because I have somewhat narrow feet. In other words, if your feet are regular width this won’t be an issue for you.
Another small issue is that the sole can leave markings on the ground.
My final verdict is that overall the shoe is very comfortable and the leather seems to adapt to your foot quickly. I could see myself wearing them all day if it weren’t for my narrow feet.
My background obviously isn’t in fashion, but in health and fitness, so I don’t know anything about what other brands of dress shoes there are and which ones are more prestigious. It’s just not something I care about.
But I do care about how comfortable a shoe is and how it will influence my body.
The two main problems with regular dress shoes are the elevated heel and the narrow toe box. As long as you’re only wearing a shoe for, say a couple of hours every week, it’s not going to change your feet and legs.
But if you wear a shoe for 8+ hours a day your feet and legs will adapt somewhat to the shoe.
The elevated heel puts your ankle into permanent plantar-flexion, which over time leads to adaptive shortening of the calf musculature. For example, people with shortened calf muscles will find it difficult to do a full range of motion barefoot squat with their heels planted on the ground. Some may even fall over backwards.
If you then combine elevated heels with a narrow toe box, like you’d find on a pointy shoe, you get a setup that’s great for permanently altering toe alignment. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my toe alignment to stay normal.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can ask Google to search for “Bunions.” Then click on images. Sure the problem is much more pronounced in women’s shoes, but pointy dress shoes for men are heading into the same direction. They’ve just not taken it as far.
The Carets dress shoes do not have these problems since they’re zero drop, meaning there’s no heel elevation, and because they have a roomy toe box. So they’re a great dress shoe for people that value fitness and health more than wearing an established brand name.
If you’re looking for a classy minimalist shoe for formal occasions you should try the Carets. Their production quality is very high and with proper care they should easily last 10 years, especially since you can have then resoled.
They’re comfortable, classy, and good for your feet. The soles of these shoes are thin enough to be minimalist without making standing for long periods painful.
A few things I didn’t like about the shoe were:
- The laces, specifically their length
- The top lining hitting the ankle and the Achilles tendon, but this may a problem specific to my foot
- The marking sole
- The grey of the inner material being visible around the ankle and between the laces. I would prefer an all-black appearance.
The good news is that these issues may be fixed in future version of the shoe.
Two other things to keep in mind if you want to try the Carets is that you may have to order them in a smaller size than what your normally wear and that the shoes may be too wide for you if you have narrow feet.