Free People At Ease Review

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9.0 score
[Editors rating (9.0)] = (WalkJogRun) score (9.0)/10


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Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
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This pair of women’s loafer-mules, part of Free People’s FP collection, can only be described as simple and sweet. Its design is refreshingly uncomplicated, yet has a subtly stylish and polished look nonetheless. It is convenient to slip on, moderately-priced, and is offered in a variety of colors and upper materials. However, it also has its downsides, which leads to the conclusion that it is a potentially risky purchase and that it’s not suitable for everyone. Below, we outline the key features, as well as the pros and cons, of the Free People At Ease to help you determine if this is the right pair for you.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Simple, refreshing design
  • Color/material options
  • Subtle stacked heel
  • Slip-on
Cons
  • Size runs small
  • Not versatile
  • May cause foot fatigue
Brand

Brand

Free People first started in the 1970s, when its founder Dick Wayne opened a brick-and-mortar store in West Philadelphia. It then evolved into Urban Outfitters but relaunched in 1984 as an independent brand. Through time, it has evolved into a mature and contemporary brand. They have a bohemian vibe and often feature details like embroidery, lace, and fringes. Their clothing and footwear embody the effortless, confident, and creative spirit of those who are wild-at-heart. As Free People puts it, “that's just who we wanted to reach: a 26-year-old girl, smart, creative, confident and comfortable in all aspects of her being, free and adventurous, sweet to tough to tomboy to romantic. A girl who likes to keep busy and push life to its limits, with traveling and hanging out and everything in between. Who loves Donovan as much as she loves The Dears, and can't resist petting any dog that passes her by on the street.”
Ease of Use

Ease of Use

It’s clear that this pair scores well when it comes to convenience. Thanks to their open heel, they can be slipped right on in about a quarter of a second. It’s no hassle at all compared to laces, straps, and even zippers, so they are perfect for busy mornings when you just need to bolt out the door (still, make sure they’re appropriate first—scroll down to see our ‘Versatility’ section). The downside of this is that they’re also not adjustable in size, so if they feel a bit too tight or too loose around the toes you just have to deal with it. In addition, though they’re easy to slip on, they’re also easy to slip off. And it’s never fun to stop to chase down your fallen shoe.
Heel Height

Heel Height

There is a very subtle yet effective stacked heel. Though the heel measures only one inch, it is noticeable from the side, and it really gives this pair their loafer-mule vibe. It also makes them look a bit more formal by saying “hey, we’re not slippers!” At the same time, it’s subtle enough to keep you fairly comfortable when walking. Already, the open heel means a lack of protection, so you wouldn’t want to add more heel height to the mix and make it harder to walk.
Materials

Materials

Depending on the color you want, different upper materials are offered. For a toned-down and minimalist look, you can opt for smooth leather or suede. These ones can be paired with outfits of all different textures and patterns. You can also opt for snakeskin embossed leather, which has a fiercer look and is great for when you want to spice up a plain outfit without being too eye-catching. Aside from the uppers, the soles are synthetic and the linings are made of leather.
Protection

Protection

As we briefly touched on already, little protection is offered for the heel. The open design leaves the heels vulnerable to scuffs, pebbles, and also the weather. It also doesn’t secure the foot in place and could cause the shoes to slip off easily. With that said, if you’re just wearing them mostly inside a building, or even just in the city in general, not much protection is needed anyway. High-quality, hiking-boot level protection isn’t much use to asphalt and indoor floors. So evaluate the environments in which you’ll most likely wear this pair to determine whether lack of protection will be an issue.
Size

Size

Free People admits that this model runs small in size. In other words, if you get the size you normally get (or the standard size that matches the measurement of your foot), they will end up snugger than they should be. To avoid this, order up by a size or so. There is also a sizing chart on the Free People website that matches measurements to sizes for footwear, including both the metric and the imperial measurement systems.
Style

Style

These women’s loafer mules are simple and neutral thanks to their unadorned and solid-colored uppers. At the same time, they have a bit of a polished look thanks to their loafer-inspired silhouette. They feature a square apron toe (a piece of material covering over the vamp) and a subtle stacked heel, both of which add subtle accents to the design while also enhancing comfort. Overall, they are casual and great for street style. Pair them with trousers, jeans, or skirts and dresses for an effortlessly cute look.
Sole

Sole

There are more cons than pros when it comes to their sole. It is made from synthetics and is very thin. As a result, they are lightweight and flexible, encouraging the natural flexing motions of the foot when walking. However, their thinness also means that they are not as protective against what’s underfoot. Even if you’re walking on pavement, the occasional pebbles might bother you. On top of that, the open heel might undermine the benefits of the flexible sole; with nothing to hold the heel in place, the foot must work harder to prevent it from slipping off, easily causing foot fatigue.
Value

Value

These loafer mules seem to be of an okay price. They’re much cheaper than other loafers by Free People, and slightly cheaper than their mules. This is probably because they have a simpler design than other similar shoes. However, they are still by no means cheap. If you are often in business-casual environments or if you like to look feminine and polished on a daily basis, they’d be a great buy. But keep in mind that, due to the uniqueness of their style and the ambiguity of what they could be appropriate for, there’s a chance they’ll be stuffed to the back of your closet.
Versatility

Versatility

Though loafers and mules are both versatile styles on their own, these loafer mules are not so much. The open heel really limits the occasions in which you can wear them. Despite their polished look from the front, they would be a definite no-no for formal occasions. They might also risky for semi-formal occasions, as whether they are appropriate would depend on others’ opinions. On top of that, their lack of practicality and protection is a limitation; they would be uncomfortable and inconvenient for walking and all-day wear.
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The At Ease women’s loafer-mule is a simple and elegant model, though it doesn’t rank high in practicality. They’ve got a sleek, modern silhouette, a flexible sole, and fine leather or suede uppers. However, they are not very protective, and their ambiguous not-quite-loafer, not-quite-mule design can make it hard to determine when you should wear them. They also run small in size and are moderately priced. If you know for sure when and how you want to wear them, they would be a great addition to the wardrobe. But if you’re just experimenting or are unsure, we’d advise you to pass on this one.