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New/Old Trend Alert: Ballet Flats Are Back And Bigger Than Ever (+ 5 Ways To Style Them)

In high school, you could not convince me that my Urban Outfitters ballet flats were not the coolest shoes. I would wear them every day and quite literally wore them into the ground. I think they had zero soles by the time I was done with them. That was over 10 years ago, so I can’t say I am surprised that this shoe silhouette is returning to taunt us millennials and gen Xers. Almost everything in fashion eventually makes its way back (except really low-rise jeans–PLEASE don’t bring those back!) and this year no one can deny that the ballet flat is having a resurgence. To be honest, I am not complaining. I love an easy-to-slip-on shoe, and there is something inherently youthful about ballet flats that I find endearing. Maybe the youthfulness stems from the fact that they offer zero support so you’d have to be young and reckless to wear them for an extended period of time. In any case, I think the ballet flat is going to be HUGE this spring/summer so I decided to do some digging around to see how they might be styled in 2023:

The first look on the left consists of baggy straight-leg jeans, a white T-shirt, simple black ballet flats, and a trench coat to top it off. I love the relaxed vibe and can see myself wearing this to run errands, walk my dog, or even WFH.

Next up, the middle outfit is a bit more involved but would undoubtedly grant you the title of ‘Coolest In The Office’. The simple trousers and button-up are instantly elevated by the socks and ballet flat combo. And yes, in 2023 we are apparently pairing ankle socks with ballet flats and I am not complaining, but I can only assume that to make this work you would have to size up (flats famously need to be pretty snug so they don’t slip off).

Let’s move on to look #3. The ultra-feminine silk midi skirt paired with neutral ballet flats gives an off-duty ballerina vibe that’s both sophisticated and laid back. I am a big fan of how easy it would be to throw together this outfit. All you would need is a midi skirt, a long sleeve sweater or cardigan, and a pair of ballet flats. Bonus points for the sunglasses. It’s simple yet very pulled together and elegant.

I love an unfussy outfit and this maxi dress look meets that criterion. This is what I’d call “Gen Z meets Coastal Grandmother“. I love the double stripes in different colors and the silver flats give an added flair that’s cool and unexpected. Last but not least, I had to include another sock and ballet flat combo because it’s too good and very 2023. I really like the short skirt paired with scrunched-up socks and matching pink flats. This look is Sporty-meets-Baby-Spice and I am here for it.

If you are into this new/old trend, here are some picks we really love:

1. Anya Scrunchie Ballet Flats | 2. Leather Ballet Flat | 3. Alohas Sway Flats | 4. Zoe Ballet Flats | 5. Arissa Metallic Leather Flat | 6. The Italian Leather Day Glove | 7. ALOHAS Sway Ballet Flat | 8. Paola Ballet Flat | 9. Aurora Flats | 10. Ballet Flats | 11. Bow Leather Ballerina | 12. Corinna Ballet Flats

So, what say you? Will ballet flats be in your wardrobe rotation this year or are you opting out of this one? Sound off in the comments and have a lovely Saturday. xx

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Sahaja
1 year ago

Oh, yeah this brings me right back!

Eve
1 year ago

I’m so glad I kept mine 😁. I find ballet flats incredibly comfortable (basically like wearing just socks) and they suit my skinny ankles (vs feeling like Minnie Mouse in chunkier styles). I was really sad they went out of style. I still think they look best with skinny jeans though, so there’s a dilemma….

Cortney
1 year ago

My college-aged self would be thrilled. My current self worries about my arches!

Alexina Alonso
1 year ago
Reply to  Cortney

same 😂 but Im going to try wearing them this spring and summer anyway!

Kathy
1 year ago
Reply to  Cortney

Try Vionic flats. Great atch support

Lane
1 year ago

What, they went out of style. Yes I still wear them

Tarynkay
1 year ago
Reply to  Lane

I had no idea either! I’ve been wearing them since high school back in the 90s. Anyone remember those Sam&Libby ones with the cute little bow on the toe?

Regarding the support- I switched to flat shoes with no support. It was an adjustment at first, but ultimately this really helped my foot and back issues. It turns out that you need to develop and work all of those muscles in your feet. Super supportive shoes are sort of like wearing a knee brace all the time- it feels helpful but it’s actually deconditioning your muscles and tendons.

Anne
1 year ago
Reply to  Lane

Yep, my reaction too. They never went out of style, they’re classic. I did enjoy see the new ways of styling them though. They’ve always looked cool with worn in jeans, an off duty ballerina look.

Jeannie
1 year ago
Reply to  Lane

I was wondering if it’s the rounded toe/more true ballet slipper version that’s “back”? I have never stopped wearing some form of flat for work and have always felt like there were stylish options (Rothy’s, Everlane day glove, etc.)

tetaj
1 year ago

NICE

Sara
1 year ago

FYI, Drug store arch supports make a world of difference in mine!

Meredith
1 year ago

If anyone has high arches and janky feet (me!), I found my personal formula for no-pain flats! Have to share, in case it helps. The two criteria I need are that the soles are very flexible, and the shoe needs to stay on with no subconscious toe scrunching. I used to get horrible charley-horse spasms so often it was debilitating. Like, fell over while crossing Houston St and couldn’t get up when the light changed, debilitating. I found I can wear anything in the whole ‘barefoot’ shoe movement, but any shoe that lets my foot move naturally works. My brand is Rothy’s – they last so long but they don’t give me foot pain. I used to adore Yosi Samra, which look SO minimal chic, but I wore out the leather too fast and chewing through a pair a year got expensive. Have not tried Birdie’s. Tieks actually won’t stay on me (whyyy?), so those don’t work. And alas, brands like J Crew and Madewell have stiff soles, so they give me awful foot and shin pain. But if you’ve tried arch support and it still seems like it’s not enough, try ZERO support but lots of flex! It was,… Read more »

Stacy
1 year ago

I think anything Audrey Hepburn wore will always be chic– I own three pair❤️

Roberta Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Stacy

Agreed!

Kj
1 year ago

I remember the fun post from the top pics: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/im-wearing-favorite-fall-pieces. Rockport and Vionic make ballet flats with more support if you have fussy feet (lots of “meh” options but a few acceptable ones mixed in).

Susan
1 year ago

I wore ballet flats with my wedding dress in 1997 so I wouldn’t be taller than the groom. The trend just keeps coming and going!

Marisa
1 year ago

Until a year or so ago I wouldn’t have even known what you were talking about with the foot problems. I walked miles in flats like this in my 20’s. But now at 39 I suddenly developed some kind of plantar fasciitis type issue (except in the balls of my feet, not heels) and I can’t be barefoot for even a minute without pain. I have cushioned house shoes and pretty much just wear super cushioned sneakers anywhere else. I don’t know if this is just my life now or if it’ll ever get better because I work full time and have three little kids and don’t have time to go get my feet checked out 🙁

Sunny
1 year ago
Reply to  Marisa

ugggg, I have had PF multiple times. Maybe it is an age thing, but as Orlando says, always wear shoes all the time.
What I have found to help when it is raging is to stretch my foot against a wall. I stand facing the wall and put the toes and ball of my foot on the wall with the arch and heel on the floor and stretch as much as I am able. Doing this once or twice a day when it hurts seems to help and it is preventative the rest of the time. Hope it helps.

Tricia
1 year ago
Reply to  Marisa

I wear single strap Birkenstocks (the Madrid style) instead of flat sandals in warm weather and use Sherpa lined Birkenstocks for slippers. It healed my feet when I had plantar fasciitis from wearing ballet flats to a wedding. Target makes some decent Birkenstock knock offs too.

Marisa
1 year ago
Reply to  Tricia

I would like to be able to wear sandals, but I feel like my pain gets aggravated by wearing shoes with hard foot beds. Something cushioned feels so much better.

nic
1 year ago
Reply to  Marisa

Birkenstock has a softer type of footbed, too … still not flexible, but soft. I think, it is helpful for some … I also developed more foot issues in the last few years and found the really hard ones or flat/not flexible sandals are not working for me anymore ..

Donna
1 year ago

I’ve been wearing some form or another of ballet flats for 50 years now. They never go out of style and look good with almost anything. Dr. Scholl’s Giorgie ballet flat gives me all the support I need and still looks like a minimal slipper.

Paula
1 year ago

Wow, talk about flashbacks…and I mean flashbacks to the 60s! In high school and college I used to go to Albert’s Hosiery (the coolest shops in the world) to buy those great thick ballet tights and REAL ballet flats. They weren’t really meant for street use, but I was a kid and didn’t care. I wore out many pairs. Sigh. I need a lot better support these days.

Stacia
1 year ago

I love the look and idea of a ballet flat (and own several pair of them from various price points), but I really have landed on wearing practical shoes that can take me from various activities (living in Maine weather) without having to be too precious about my shoes. I really like ballet-flat style sneaker type shoes (i.e. Rothys – haven’t bought them yet). I have had a pair of PUMA ballet-style, slip on sneaker for a few years that I may try to find more colors in for spring/summer. Overall happy about the return as it’s a flattering and versatile style and I think goes well with a variety of pant and styles. I love the look of a slouchy, ankle-length chino (think Alex Mill pants), casual t-shirt and a light cardigan with a ballet flat.

Sara
1 year ago

I’m a little off-topic, but the comment about low-rise pants made me want to ask. I’m incredibly short waisted, so high rise pants do not work for me at all. I feel like I remember Emily saying something similar?Problem is, I need new pants and I can’t find anything that isn’t high rise. Is anybody making low- or even mid-rise anymore? I’m getting desperate, and tired of trying on pair after pair where the waistband creeps perilously close to my bra. Thanks in advance for any tips!

Angela
1 year ago
Reply to  Sara

Madewell has some midrise jeans. I think I’ve seen midrise at Old Navy too.

Jamie
1 year ago
Reply to  Sara

Ooh, yes, I’m a big fan of Old Navy mid-rise power straight jeans! https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=449947#pdp-page-content

Mary C
1 year ago
Reply to  Sara

American Eagle has midrise and Target’s Universal Thread also has midrise. I have the same problem.

Jessica
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary C

I second American Eagle, for some reason I always get the best fit there.

Inga
1 year ago
Reply to  Sara

Levi’s has a lot of classic styles, including some low(ish)-waste jeans. My favorite brand by far.

Britt
1 year ago
Reply to  Sara

Kut from the Kloth. I have found what they call “high rise” jeans to actually be mid-rise. Very good quality, lots of options, and you can always find a discount code.

Roberta Davis
1 year ago

Oh, man, I loved ballet flats and those flat canvas Chinese shoes back in the day. I think I’m too old now because I need more support! But I love them all and am glad they’re back!

Patricia
1 year ago

I wore burnt orange Capezio ballet flats in 8th grade 60 years ago. With an orange pencil skirt, I made and a matching cardigan my mom hand knit me. Pretty sure I wore orange sherbet colored lipstick to match. I was so in and didn’t even know it. Not even the shoes would fit me now.

Terri Markle
1 year ago
Reply to  Patricia

I had apple green patent leather Capezios in the 60’s best shoes ever! Adorable 🥰

Pam
1 year ago
Reply to  Patricia

Capezios in almost every color!! Love them

Mary
1 year ago

Where is the pink striped shirt from?

Jessica
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary

It’s from 2016 …

Kj
1 year ago
Reply to  Jessica

But amazingly it’s still in stock! https://www.accompanyus.com/products/huipile-pink-stripe-top?

Emma
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary

Yeah apparently I’m super out of style because that look was very cute to me and the 2023 version, not so much!

Kasia
1 year ago

O gosh, I had a hard time getting past the start of this post because I feel totally miffed that they were out of style and I had absolutely no clue! I’m curious what style had replaced them?? Well, I’m glad they’re “back” so I guess I don’t look uncool anymore!

Susi
1 year ago

“there is something inherently youthful about ballet flats that I find endearing. Maybe the youthfulness stems from the fact that they offer zero support so you’d have to be young and reckless to wear them for an extended period of time.”
Hahaha. Really? I’m 80 years old, have been wearing ballet flats since the 1950’s (Capezio’s & Pappagallo’s, started out as preppy, along with our Weejuns) just changed out of my Merrell “walking shoes” into my ballet flats for tromping around city sidewalks because the former were giving me blisters.

1 year ago

Ok, the comments to the post made me go from no-way to maybe I’ll give them a try.

Courtney
1 year ago

OMG! Those black J. Crew ones bring me back. I had the same ones in WHITE and I thought they were so cool! I have several Rothy’s now, which are an updated (sustainable!) version and I really love them. (They do run small though if you’ve never tried them before.)

Cici Haus
1 year ago

I (stupidly) wore ballet flats for a 24-hour trip to Paris in February. We walked nearly 20 miles plus the airport and it was awful. I’m still scarred and will never wear them again!
*I used to work in the airline industry and got (basically) free flights that allowed for a few fun 24-hour trips