Carets Review – The Best Dressy Barefoot Shoes for Men

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Carets Barefoot Dress Shoes are zero drop, wide, and dressy enough for professional work environments and black tie events. If you want the benefits of barefoot shoes without compromising on style, you need to check these puppies out! Read on for my full review of Carets barefoot shoes, including detailed sizing and fit recommendations.

Carets Shoes Review

Carets on the left, and I’m wearing Shapen flats!

There is a disconnect in our culture between function and form. When we need to look professional and sophisticated we just take it for granted that we can’t also be comfortable. The best looking shoes hurt, right? If you’ve been around, you know we’re debunking that myth slowly but surely here at Anya’s Reviews. And the next shoe we’re taking a look at is Carets.

Carets is a small business begun by Mountain Chang, a barefoot runner and enthusiast. He, like many of you, was supremely frustrated by his uncomfortable work shoes. Once you get used to flat, flexible shoes with plenty of space for your toes, it’s just so hard to keep cramming your feet into restrictive shoes! But he had to wear something professional every single day of the week. So, why not make his own barefoot friendly work shoes?

Mountain designed Carets shoes to look as dressy as a traditional men’s dress shoe, but meet the requirements for barefoot shoes. My husband, Justin, was the tester of these shoes.

But Are They Actually Barefoot?

Carets shoes have a faux heel, but are in fact zero drop. The shoe is 9 mm thick and can be rolled up into a ball (my husband protested when I did this, but I had to show you they could roll!).

But what about the toe box?

Whenever I post about Carets I get responses that they look too narrow. But when I post pictures of ultra wide foot-shaped shoes I hear complaints that they are ugly. Carets intentionally makes their shoes extra long so that they can taper after your toes end. This means they look like a normal shoe, but fit a natural foot shape. This also means that you have to deal with more shoe than you would in other barefoot shoes, a fact that might bother some people. But for those who really need something that looks dressy, or who simply want a mainstream look, there isn’t anything else comparable to Carets on the market currently. So are Carets shoes barefoot? Not as barefoot as some, but they meet my requirements for healthy footwear.

You can see here the shoe is quite a bit longer than Justin’s foot, and it fits right where Carets is widest.

Materials & Care

Carets shoes are made entirely of calfskin leather with a polyurethane outsole. The leather is thick, sturdy, and feels somewhat stiff when they are brand new. They look just the way a true dress shoe looks, not baggy and unstructured like barefoot shoes often are. Justin could feel the edges of the shoe around his ankle and it definitely needed breaking in. This is par for the course with leather dress shoes, and after a few wears they softened and felt fine for him. Calfskin leather should keep for ages.

The shoes come with elastic laces, but you can also get cotton ones. We tried both, and while the elastic was really convenient, it caused some problems for my husband’s low volume feet. So he switched to the cotton.

Mountain has done a thorough job answering questions about how to best care for your shoes. He recommends a shoe tree so they can keep their shape, and he has product recommendations for conditioning and polishing your shoes. It’s clear he knows men’s dress shoes and fully appreciates a beautiful shoe in all its glory.

Carets Sizing & Fit

This section is based on my husband’s experience, as well as the experience of 10 other Carets owners from the barefoot community.

Click here to understand how we talk about foot type and fit in this space!

Sizing

Carets dress shoes run big for most people. There is a size chart on the Carets website, and you can e-mail in for help (which is never a bad idea!). My husband typically wears a size US 13 in men’s shoes, but Mountain advised he get the 12 based on his foot length. Even still they are quite roomy with plenty of space for all his toes and too much space around his ankle. We considered sizing down to an 11, but decided it would likely be too narrow in the toe box. That leads us to the next section; volume.

Volume

A collage of a pair of Carets dress shoes and the type of foot volume they can accomodate. The shoes are shown in the bottom photo and a medium-high volume foot is shown from the side on top.

Carets are best for medium to high volume feet. My husband has low volume feet and skinny ankles (his foot not pictured above!), and it was clear immediately that these shoes were built for someone with fuller feet (like the example). To deal with this, we swapped out the elastic laces for cotton, so they didn’t stretch when he walked, and put in a heel grip and shoe tongue pad. These are tricks I use all the time for low volume feet, and you can get all those items from Carets online shop. They did the job, but you can see in the image below that the ankle opening is just too big for Justin’s low volume ankles.

Justin in his Carets

Foot Type

Carets seem to work for all foot shapes except for Extra Wide and Square. Because Carets have an elongated toe, most foot shapes will be fine in this shoe. But if you have extra wide and/or square shaped feet you will likely find your toes running into the edges of the shoe. Despite their tapered look, Carets are quite wide and should fit most widths.

Carets Style

There isn’t really anything like Carets out there. You’ve got cap-toe, wingtip, rich brown, so many looks that are impossible to find zero drop and wide anywhere else. And they style exactly the way you would traditional men’s dress shoes. Whether that’s to a black tie event, a high stakes meeting, or a fancy date.

Wedding Crashers. Try not to be jealous.

Ordering from Carets

Carets is a US brand, with free shipping and returns within the US. The retail price for a pair of dress shoes from Carets is $250. They also have an outlet store with returned shoes at a discounted price. Currently all items are in-stock and ship right away via regular post. They can be purchased internationally with a shipping cost of $27.

Returns are accepted within 1 year (!!) of ordering, even if worn outside. There is a restocking fee if there is damage to the shoes, but you can wear them out to see if they’re the right shoe for you.

European customers can purchase from the Carets EU shop and UK customers can buy from the Carets UK shop!

Complaints

*Carets has addressed this concern – their updated models have significantly less toe spring now!*

Justin and I have one primary concern about Carets. They have toe spring. Toe spring is when the front tip of the shoe curves upward and it doesn’t flatten out when you’re standing on it. Now, the majority of the toe spring in Carets happens after your toes end inside the shoe, but there is still a little curve.

This matters because when your shoes are forcing your toes to lift up all day that does two things. It stretches out your arch beyond it’s natural capacity, limiting it’s ability to absorb shock during the gait cycle. And it also promotes extensor dominance, which is when the muscles on the top of your feet are constantly pulling upward. In other words, toe spring puts extra pressure on the bottom of your feet. I have some shoes with toe spring, and I don’t find it bothers me. That’s likely because it flattens out when I’m in the shoes, and I am usually only wearing them for a few hours at a time. Toe spring is not a top level concern for me in barefoot shoes, but it becomes an issue when it’s all day every day.

Carets has a toe spring so the shoe doesn’t clomp when you wear it, but Mountain let me know that they are significantly reducing the angle so it’s just enough to not clomp but won’t affect your toes. This will be in the next generation of Carets! For now, getting a shoe tree can prevent the toe spring from becoming more pronounced with wear, because it pushes the toe back down when you’re not wearing them.

Community Feedback

See Carets shoes on other foot and body types! I checked in with you lovely people to see how you’re styling Carets and what your experience with them was. Out of 10 participants, 8 have had a great experience with them and have been wearing them daily for years. 1 returned their Carets because they were too high volume for their foot and they didn’t like the stiffness of the leather. 1 other found that the extra length in front of the shoe was awkward and they were prone to tripping on it. 9/10 expressed that if you are looking for stylish barefoot dress shoes for men, there is nothing else that approaches the chic look of Carets.

Special thank you to Sean from @sean.fit4life, Zack from @footfriendlyfashion, and @barfuss_im_pott__cast for sharing their photos with us!

Conclusion

My husband is very comfortable in his Carets, even for a long day at work. The fact that a shoe can be that comfortable and still meet barefoot shoe requirements is a unicorn! While the high volume and extra length of the shoe makes them not perfect for everyone, Mountain has converged on something truly unique in the world of barefoot shoes.

Check out my full list of Men’s Barefoot Dress Shoes for more options!

Want to participate in future barefoot shoe reviews? The community is strong here! Subscribe to e-mails below for a weekly newsletter and the opportunity to share your experiences.

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Comments

20 thoughts on “Carets Review – The Best Dressy Barefoot Shoes for Men”

  1. I love that they still give the tapered toe – I loved my pointed shoes for formal events and would love a woman’s flat that gives you a more pointed toe with an illusion like this!

    1. Yes, they are working on a prototype for a pointed flat that is still wide! I am excited to see how it turns out. I do also love the look of a formal shoe.

      1. Thanks so much for the review! I’m new to minimalist shoes (starting with a few Vivos) and I’m very interested in these for the office. I just wish they didn’t have black rubber soles – to me that looks “off” for a dress shoe. Are you aware of any Carets (or others) that have at least a half leather sole?

  2. Do they have resoling options? I read through their website and could not find anything. I like the idea of Carets, but the lack of designs (only three basic men’s dress options; cap, plain, wingtip) at that price point makes it difficult for me to purchase what is essentially a simple looking dress shoe, especially if they do not offer any reconditioning. I really see this as a major issue for why more people are not moving away from current non-barefoot dress shoes. For the same price I can pick up a pair of Allen Edmonds who uses multiple lasts to tailor the shoe to my foot type that will last virtually forever. I have four pairs of Allen Edmonds that I have not worn in about a year after switching to flexible and more barefoot styled shoes. Thankfully, my job has changed to where I don’t need as much of a dress shoe. I’m just really disappointed there are not more options for men’s dress shoes in a more flexible and wide toe box that maintain the structure of classic dress shoes.

    1. I don’t know if they’re resoleable, but I just e-mailed Mountain to ask. I agree, for a shoe of this price the ability to resole would make a huge difference. Hopefully as barefoot shoes gain more traction there will be more options developed that have as nice of a look.

  3. Luis Fernando Laura Garzofino

    Thanks for the review Anya!
    I tried to buy a pair using your discount code but it’s not working! Any update?

    1. Hi Petra! I don’t have a pair in my possession currently, but was able to see samples at our barefoot shoe event last year. They were definitely too narrow for Samantha (who has extra wide feet), and for me they were a little too high volume – you really have to get a secure fit so they don’t flop around. But I didn’t get to spend much time with them, so I don’t have an official opinion yet.

      1. Thank you! I look forward to your review. Due to work, I an in formal wear a lot and while I love my shapen poppy shoes, there is still something missing from my wardrobe to fit with my evening wear / cocktail dresses.

  4. Hi Anya,
    First – thank you for your fantastic reviews! They’ve made all the difference in transitioning to healthier, more natural footwear!

    Just wanted to let you know that there appear to have been some material changes in Carets production/supply chain in recent months that may make you want to rethink recommending them on your site. After having purchased two pairs of Oxfords from them, I purchased a pair of boots last December that were supposed to ship in January 2023. Without notice, the target shipping date was then moved to June, then August, then September, then finally they arrived in October, but only then did they note that they had made multiple changes to the product, with a measly $20 gift card offered as compensation.

    After waiting so long, I made the mistake of accepting delivery. The boots look nothing like the advertised images, and fell far short of the quality I had experienced in past purchases. Most importantly for your readers, these boots are narrower than any boot you’d pick up from fashion-oriented brands. Getting info on making a return has only compounded this Kafkaesque nightmare.

    I understand that my experience may be singular, but I strongly implore you to consider rethinking recommending this manufacturer as it has become clear that, at best, the people behind the brand are inept at basic customer service and supply chain management. In short, their products are overpriced, poorly manufactured, and ill-suited to the needs of barefoot shoe enthusiasts.

    Warm regards,
    MK

    1. Hi Mo, Thank you for sharing this with me. We will look into the current state of things with Carets, if the boots (which I’ve never tried) are being produced differently than the oxfords and if there are others having similar issues. In any case, I am sorry to hear you had such a rough time with that purchase!

  5. This is a terrible shoe and company. Nothing wide toe about them, nothing quality about the construction. The pair I have is falling apart after two months. The return process is criminal, I had to file a dispute with the cc company in order to get a refund for properly returned items.

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Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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