When it comes to ballet flats, there’s something inherently young about the shoe style. Perhaps it's the easy slip-on design or maybe the tiny bow on the nose of the more traditional pairs. But with proper styling, the shoe’s star power is strong, which explains its current comeback as one of the biggest shoe trends of the season.
“The ballet flat was definitely an aughts staple,” says fashion writer and ballet flat enthusiast Tyler McCall. “I can think of so many tabloid moments, whether it was Amy Winehouse in literal ballet slippers or Alexa Chung in a pair of denim cutoffs and bright Chanel flats. We're all about mining that nostalgia at the moment.”
In the present day, Bella Hadid has been incorporating Sandy Liang’s flats into her model-off-duty wardrobe ever since the buckled pair made its debut on the brand’s Spring/Summer 2023 runway. Miu Miu became responsible for the It shoe of the season when it showed a slew of satin ballet slippers (heeled and flat). Whereas Mansur Gavriel has long understood the timelessness of flats, releasing several iterations of the ladylike shoe over the years — all with a modern twist.
But with the shoe back on the runway again, one question still remains: How can one wear ballet flats in a way that feels grown-up? Ahead, styling tips from experts.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
How To Style Ballet Flats: With Denim
McCall suggests pairing them with power pieces in your wardrobe, rather than flowy feminine silhouettes or sweet details like bows and crystals. “The best thing you can do is wear them with something tailored or structured,” the Gossip Girl historian explains. “The most classic way of doing this would be wearing jeans... It's an easy way to make denim pieces feel more feminine.”
How To Style Ballet Flats: With Socks
For US General Manager of styling service Threads Styling, Amber Schiffer, the shoe serves as a staple in her core lineup. “My personal style currently is very Rosemary's Baby-meets-‘80s horse girl,” the micro-influencer shares. “As a city girl, I wear them pretty much daily. In the colder months, I love to style them with knee[-high] or chunky socks.”
How To Style Ballet Flats: With Mini Skirt Or Dress
McCall loves the look of ballet flats with a mini skirt and tights. Add leg warmers over the tights, and it’s a foolproof way to integrate the look into your cold-weather closet. “They're also great with a simple A-line mini à la Kate Moss in the '90s,” she adds. Schiffer similarly suggests wearing the shoe "with something sexy like a sheer dress."
All that said, McCall advises shoppers to only buy into the unabashedly sweet trend if they feel it would work with their current personal style: "Imagine wearing them with at least three outfits you love and see if that works.”