Ballet flats are classics and having their fashion moment. They are closed, flat, slip-on shoes that resemble ballet shoes. Toe box shapes range from pointy, almond, and round, to square and snip toe. Vamps are generally low, but some vamps are lower than others. Some flats have a strap across the top of the foot to help secure the shoe to the foot. I’d have called those versions Mary Janes in the past, but retailers are calling them ballet flats. Some flats have embellishments like buckles, bows, rosettes and chain hardware. Ballet flats come in all sorts of colours and patterns. The collection shows some examples.
Like most footwear styles, ballet flats have their fab and not so fab qualities. They can be versatile, refined, pretty, and dressy flats that slip on and off. Their low vamps visually elongate the leg line without wearing heels. They make a good at-home-only shoe, and are easy to pack for travel. The versions with elastic heels secure the flat on the foot. They can be well-suited to a certain shape of foot, making them a comfortable and easy to fit shoe choice.
Conversely, ballet flats can be hard to fit and fall off when you have narrow heels. They can be overly snug in the toe box. The flat heel can make them painful to walk in when high arches need support, in which case you’ll do better in low heels, flatforms, or platforms. Visually they can skew too classic, dressy, or twee. Some find them unattractive and unsubstantial. The shoe feels too close to the ground as you stride.
Few of my clients wear ballet flats these days. For many it’s a comfort and fit challenge. For others, the aesthetic is not their cup of tea. That said, we’ve found that Vionic ballet flats offer relatively good arch support, and styles with elastic backs help keep ballet flats on your feet. Some flats have a hard edge to them, which makes them more appealing to some clients.
I bat for Team Dainty Shoes. Personally, I’ve worn dressy ballet flats for decades because they suit my style and foot shape. I have low arches and narrow feet, so when the fit is right, ballet flats are winners. I am very particular about their comfort though. I don’t like to feel like my feet are too close to the ground so I wear ballet flats with hard outer soles. That way they feel more substantial and supportive. I can’t wear flats like Rothy’s or Allbirds because the outer soles are too soft and flexible, if that makes sense. I need soft leather and a cushioning footbed, but hard outer soles.
I like snip-toe, almond-toe, and pointy-toe ballet flats best. At the moment I have a gold and white pair that I wear exclusively with Summer dresses, skirts, and pants. Dressier than sneakers, more covered than sandals, and a lower vamp than loafers.
Over to you. What do you think of the ballet flat trend and do you wear them?