Xero Shoes Phoenix Review – A Stylish Barefoot Ballet Flat!

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The Xero Shoes Phoenix is a barefoot ballet flat that looks stylish and trendy, but doesn’t squish your toes! They are zero drop, have a wide toe box, AND are affordable. Check out this in-depth review of the Xero Phoenix flat for all the deets on sizing and ordering.

Xero Phoenix Review

High heeled shoes are terrible for you. They wreck your alignment, stress your joints, and put you at risk of falling. Barefoot alternatives to the traditional women’s dress shoe (aka heels) are SO VITAL in changing the cultural belief that beauty is pain.

But not all flats are good for you either. They may not be as damaging as heels, but the vast majority of shoes you see have a tiny, pinchy toe box that makes movement difficult and can contribute to the formation of bunions.

We wear the shoes on the left and then wonder why our feet hurt…

The Xero Phoenix says to hell with these harmful cultural norms. Why not keep the principles of good style and make it work in a healthy shoe? Phoenix ballet flats are zero drop (completely flat), flexible, and have a spacious toe box.

Knit Phoenix

My favorite version of the Phoenix is the knit (vegan!). It comes in black and grey sizes US women’s 5-11 for $70 (which is pretty affordable for a barefoot ballet flat). The knit material is somewhat stretchy and soft (polyester), and there is a little textured detail on the outside. They have a total stack height of 5.5 mm without the insole, and 7.5 mm with it. The sole is flexible enough to roll into a ball, but there isn’t much ground feel.

Phoenix Sizing & Fit

Understanding your foot shape and type will go a long way to help you avoid costly shoe shopping mistakes! Check out this post for more context.


For me the Phoenix runs true to size. I typically wear a US women’s 6 (or EU 36) in flats, and that’s the size I have in both the leather and knit Phoenix. Some people are sizing up in order to get more width, but that only works if your feet are full enough to fill out the heel of the shoe. I actually had a 6.5 (EU 37) at first and sized down because my foot was slipping. That makes them a pretty close fit on my wide toes, but thankfully the stretch of the material makes them still comfortable.

Foot Shape

The Phoenix has a Greek foot shape, with space for a long 2nd toe. They should also work fine for Egyptian and (some) Roman shaped feet. Square shaped feet and some people with a long 3rd toe will likely find these too tapered.


The Phoenix (like most Xero shoes) caters to higher volume feet. This is great for people who don’t like their toes pressed down. Medium volume feet will enjoy the shoe as is, and high volume can remove the insole for more space. If you have low volume feet you might find your heel slipping or have gaping at the sides of the shoe (see my example a little later).

Same Shoe, Different Foot

Below is a comparison of the Xero Knit Phoenix on my thin, low volume foot (left) versus a fuller, medium volume foot (right).

You can see that I have some gaping around the sides of the shoe. They don’t slip off my heels unless I’m really shaking and grooving, but you can tell they look more secure on the model on the right.

You can also see that the toe box shape matches my Greek foot shape really well (left). The foot on the right has long 2nd and 3rd toes that might run into the front of the shoe, but in this case there is enough space in front of the toes that they don’t. It also helps that the knit is forgiving.

Barefoot Ballet Flat Width Comparison

See the image below for how I rank the width of several popular barefoot ballet flat styles. The Xero Phoenix is medium width in the toe box, and falls on the lower end of the options. The Softstar Ballerine and Shapen Poppy are just a smidge wider. Lisbeth Joe falls right in the middle (but only if you size up, because they run short),and both Zlatush and the Softstar Primal Merry Jane are quite a bit wider than any other options.

Keep in mind that even though the Xero Phoenix is medium in toe box width, it doesn’t taper in at the midfoot. Instead, it stays wide throughout the length of the shoe. This is good for people whose entire feet are wide, but not good for people with V-shaped feet (wide at the toes, narrow at the heel).

Please read my Barefoot Ballet Flats post for all the details on these flats!

barefoot ballet flat width comparison collage
All flats in a size 6 except for the Lisbeth Joe (size 7, they run short).


Now this is the fun part! The Phoenix is the Little Black Dress of ballet flats. I obsess over shoes that can be worn a million ways and that make it easier for people to choose healthy footwear. The detailing on the toe box help to disguise the width, and they really look like fashionable flats. Lots of people in the barefoot community who work in professional environments are so pleased with how they pair with their work wear. But you can also wear them with casually!

Liz (on the right) from the barefoot community has been wearing the Phoenix flats to her corporate job almost daily since they came out last year! She loves how mainstream they look, and she just bought the grey color to add to her collection. For reference, she has medium-high volume and medium width feet.

Leather Phoenix

The leather Phoenix ($100, US women’s 5-11) generally follows the same sizing and fit of the knit version, but is slightly looser and stiffer. The back heel is padded to stay secure, and there is some embossed detailing on the side. They are entirely lined with leather, including a removable leather insole.

A collage of 3 photos of the Xero shoes Phoenix leather barefoot ballet flat for women. One is a full body shot of a woman in a business outfit wearing the simple flats, the other two are close up images of her feet in the flats from a front and side view.

Overall, I found these to be less comfortable and less stylish than the knit version, even though the leather might be a bit dressier. The width of the heel seems more apparent in the leather, so my thin ankles were prone to slipping. For all these reasons I haven’t worn them much, hence the knit version being the main focus of the review. But don’t let that deter you! If they fit your foot type and style, they are a great choice.


Xero shoes are all in stock and ship quickly. US shipping starts at $4.99 and goes up $2.99 with each pair of shoes (this is cheap guys). US exchanges are free, and returns are accepted within 45 days with buyer paying return shipping (unworn shoes only).

Xero does ship internationally, and they have a number of retailers around the world. I played around and saw that most destinations cost about $20 shipping. Unworn shoes can be returned with buyer paying shipping costs.

Shoes have a manufacturing warranty for 1 year.

Community Feedback

I surveyed the barefoot community and got feedback from 13 other Xero Phoenix owners with a variety of foot shapes, volumes, and widths. Of the 13 respondents, 10 of them still own and love their Phoenix flats. 1 person returned their knit flats because they were too loose in the heel of the shoe and slipped. 2 people returned the leather flats because they were too loose (my experience also was that the leather ones fit looser).

Those with low volume feet were more likely to size down if between sizes for a secure fit. The opposite was true for high volume feet, who could size up 1/2 size for width and still have a good fit. This is consistent with the shape being wide throughout the length of the shoe.


Xero Shoes, PLEASE make these in leopard print, burgundy, teal, taupe, yellow, pink, basically ALL the colors! Stylish flats are the perfect way to subtly treat your feet right in a world of hurty pointy dress shoes. And speaking of foot health, combine these foot exercises with your natural footwear to really get on the right foot!

Make sure you’re following me on social media for the chance to participate in future reviews, and to be kept up to date on all things barefoot!

Fashion But Make it Barefoot xero shoes phoenix
The Phoenix was one of my first Fashion, But Make it Barefoot spotlights!

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15 thoughts on “Xero Shoes Phoenix Review – A Stylish Barefoot Ballet Flat!”

  1. I bought these shoes in size 9 (my usual size) and they were lose around the heel (so much that they were slipping off when I walked). I exchanged them for 8.5 and it was too tight at the toes 🙁 Wondering why this is happening!

    1. I experienced sizing issues in the Phoenix Knit too, but the other way around! I am usually a 6 in flats, and usually 6.5 is pleasantly loose. My toes were painfully banging the ends in a 6.5. I’m not sure I want to reorder a 7 because the heels were super wide on me too. I’m pretty bummed!

      1. Hey Allison! Goodness I thought I was the only one experiencing weird sizing AND toes touching the top!!!!! I started at size 7, then 7.5, then 8 and ALL of them were touching my toe from the top! Sooo uncomfortable! I wanted to love them so much as they’re soo cute!!! I’m heartbroken!

        1. YES!!! They had put a stiff piece inside the toe, I guess to prevent the knit material from showing the outline of your toes? At first I thought I had left a cardboard piece in there from the packaging, but nope. It was super disappointing – I don’t care if the top of my shoe looks a little bumpy or wrinkled, but I definitely care that the shoe is pressing down on my toenails!

  2. I have struggled to wear ballet flats my whole life. I have never found a pair I could truly walk natural in without concerns about them slipping off at the heel. It defeats the point of wearing barefoot shoes if you have to change your gait to keep them on!

    Is there hope for me? Is there anything I can do to keep them on and have a totally natural gait? Or am I relegated to wearing a flat with some sort of strap?

    In the same vein, can you review the Xero Cassie?

    Love your insights Anya!

    1. You can use heel grips to keep your foot secure, but it sounds like you have narrow heels. It’s hard to find flats that work for narrow heels! The Storehouse flats stay on pretty well, and the Softstar Ballerines might work with a heel cushion or moleskin. Otherwise straps would be your best bet. There are some really cute options with straps, like the Shapen Poppy, The Zlatush T Strap, and the ankle strap flat from Ela Faustus (Botky Mechovky).
      I talk about all of them in this post!

  3. Thank you Anya for all your time and testing to bring us these amazing reviews! Unfortunately the Phoenix didn’t work for me. Not sure if it’s the sizing inconsistencies or that my thumb is too thick. I’m going to look for another flat even though I think these are the CUTEST! Thanks again!

  4. Hi! Thank you for this review, I’ve ordered these in my normal barefoot shoes size but they turned out too short. I ordered a size 37 (my feet are 23cm and 23.5cm) and now I cannot find a size chart with insoles sizes or cm, only conversions from us/uk/eu sizes. Could you help me? Do you think size 38 would be enough? Thank you so much in advance and my best regards all the way from Portugal!

  5. So pleased to have discovered your site, what a lifesaving, foot-saving game changer for me! I have been eyeing off the Phoenix Knit now that xero are offering some pretty colours in the style but haven’t pulled the trigger just yet as I live in Australia. I do own some other xero shoes that are easier to get in Oz though and love them (the Vienna boot and the Prios).

    I did want to ask an off-topic (but slightly related) question – roomy and/or toe socks for ballet flats. I wear injinji toesocks with my hiking shoes and workout runners, but feel a bit strange wearing my ballet flats to work without socks haha. The traditional “no show” sockette style socks/liners seem to still squish my toes, and I figure that defeats the point of wearing healthy flats. I was wondering if you had any experience or recommendations for “no-show” socks for ballet style flats? Injinji make a low-cut toesock but it doesn’t seem low enough for ballet flats.

    Thanks so much for your site! I kept giving up on healthy shoes because they seemed to lack style, but now I have a nice range of stylish AND healthy shoes 🙂

    1. Hi!! So glad to hear from you, thanks for the taking the time. For socks, if the Injinji Hidden socks aren’t quite low enough I have seen on Amazon some super thin and low cut toe socks: https://amzn.to/3hZgFDJ
      Not sure about the quality, but if you get the beige colored ones they might work well.

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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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