There’s a unique pleasure in seeing a once-dismissed fashion item make a grand comeback. For many, 2023 was the year when ballet flats, previously relegated to the back of the wardrobe, elegantly pirouetted back to the forefront of fashion.
Long brushed aside as mundane by style critics, the ballet shoe underwent a major resurgence this summer. Dubbed the “enemy” by podiatrists, these dainty shoes nevertheless found favor amongst the fashionable. For those who steered clear of sandals and platforms, this resurgence was a welcome relief. In a span where dad trainers and chunky boots held the limelight, ballet flats shone the brightest this year. Hollywood’s finest, from Margaret Qualley to Zoë Kravitz, embraced this trend. Even iconic personalities like Alexa Chung and Sandra Oh opted for these stylish staples during key events.
So, what sparked this ballet renaissance?
The trend’s origins trace back to Miu Miu’s autumn/winter 2022 show, featuring silky ballet flats paired with ruffled socks. This look paved the way for designers like Alaïa and Loeffler Randall to unveil their renditions. The Gen Z crowd was soon smitten, drawing inspiration from the distinct mid-2000s ‘indie sleaze’ aesthetic, reminiscent of stars like Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss.
This renewed interest in ballet shoes introduced an unexpected twist, challenging the shoe’s previously ‘preppy’ image. The fashion realm began to explore deeper connections between dance and design, leading to the inception of the “balletcore” movement. Renowned designers expanded their offerings, integrating ballet flats as essentials. Designer Penelope Chilvers encapsulated the charm, praising the ballet pump’s minimalist elegance.
These shoes, historically a convenient switch for dancing at social events, are now worn in luxurious finishes throughout occasions. Jane Frances of the brand Dear Frances elaborated on this shift, emphasizing the allure of satin and sheer materials for formal settings. Fashion-forward women have begun to opt for ballet flats over heels for almost every event, a trend expected to persist, especially in temperate climates.
Stylist Annabel Hodin captures the appeal succinctly, “There’s an effortless grace about a woman dressed elegantly, complemented by ballet flats.” For many, the allure lies in the comfort and utility these shoes offer – attributes not typically linked with high fashion.
Founder of Pretty Ballerinas, David Bell, attests to the timeless allure of ballet shoes, highlighting their adaptability to a modern woman’s bustling lifestyle. Ballet flats exude an understated elegance, making them an ideal casual choice for the discerning woman. Their design inherently flatters, elongating the leg compared to other flat footwear.
The contemporary lean towards square-toed ballet flats exudes a Gallic charm, perfect when teamed with jeans or dresses. While almond-shaped designs by brands like Repetto remain evergreen, the allure of classics like the Chanel two-tone pumps remains unchallenged.
For many, including myself, ballet flats will be the footwear choice for seasons to come, until weather dictates otherwise.