What little girl hasn’t dreamed of pirouetting like a ballerina in a beautiful pair of ballet shoes? If you’re not a ballet dancer, you can look (a little) like one with the ballet flat. The ballet flat, of course, had its beginnings with the ballet shoe. Ever since a sturdy sole was added to it for street wear, it has become a fashion staple for style-conscious women around the world.
The Appeal of Ballet Flats
Besides becoming a fashion staple, ballet flats are a practical and comfortable option to wearing high heels or athletic footwear. Film stars, and fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Princess Diana made it very cool to wear them in everyday life. Modern celebrities like Pippa Middleton and Karlie Kloss have continued this trend.
The basic and streamlined look of the ballet flat has stayed the same though there are variations in materials, accessories and toe shape. They can transform an ordinary outfit into something stylish. With their variations in materials and colors, they can easily take you from exercise class to the office to an evening out. So if you want to be comfortable and look great (yes, we’re talking about not wearing athletic footwear all the time) you might want to try a pair (or two) of these flats right away.
What to Consider When Buying a Ballet Flat
You may have stayed away from this style of shoe in the past because you worried about not having enough support for your feet. Though this can happen with certain brands, it’s certainly not true of all of them.
When choosing a ballet flat, you should stay away from those that have soles that are too thin. You want flats that protect your feet from hard and unforgiving surfaces like city sidewalks and subway grates. So you should look for shoes that have some kind of cushioning. If they don’t, you may have to insert insoles into the shoes, which can make them too tight.
Flexibility is also an important factor when picking out a ballet flat. Flats that are flexible are more comfortable for walking. Some styles are so supple that you can fold them, which is a great option when it comes to traveling.
Man-made materials are fine, but note that often they are not as breathable as leather or fabric. As a result, your feet may perspire more. In addition, man-made materials can crack and peel through wear and tear.
Consider the shape of the toe when picking out a ballet flat. Ideally, your toes should lie flat. A rounded tip will provide more room for your toes versus a pointy one. When trying on ballet flats, remember that with a pointy toe you should go a half size up and with a rounder toe you can often (though not always) go a half size down
To help you make a selection, we’ve listed some brands of ballet flats you might want to choose.
While these loafers from Clark’s have a simple design, they can provide all-day comfort. The uppers are minimalistic, containing very few design features. You have large panels of leather to wrap the foot and provide protection. There’s also a couple of small metal details. They make up the closure system, which utilizes an elastic loop and a traditional button.
As you walk around, the Ortholite footbed will reduce tension to fight off fatigue. The footbed is naturally springy and takes some pressure off your joints and legs.
The heel is modest, measuring a little over an inch tall. The rubber sole provides enough durability for protection. But, it’s not so thick that you feel the weight with each step.
Elastic loop closure
Available in several colors
Ballet flats are a must-have for any woman. The simplistic design is great for everyday wear. Some women like to toss these shoes in their bag for last-minute relief after wearing high heels, too.
There’s not much to these shoes! A thin footbed lined with latex provides light cushioning. Thinness is the name of the game here. Without a ton of rubber to carry around, you can feel the ground for traction and naturally reduce pressure off tension points.
Up top, the shoes have a line of elastic. The stretchy material wraps around the top of the foot to create a snug fit that does away with chafing.
Suede leather lining
A stretch top line and foot bed consisting of memory foam lets this versatile ballet flat coddle your feet for all-day comfort. These are no plain-Jane flats. They feature a bow tie with a metallic disk that embellishes the top of the shoe. The dexflex Caroline ballet flat is made entirely of man-made materials, so if you are looking for a shoe made of cruelty-free materials this is it. Because it is constructed of man-made materials, it may seem less breathable. The stretchy top adapts to all widths so they won’t slip off your feet. These ballet flats are available in matte, metallic and even velvet and perforated finishes, so there are plenty of options to choose.
Dr. Scholl’s has become synonymous with foot care, and this version of the ballet flat delivers the comfort the brand promises. These ballet flats feature a fabric upper and come in a variety of classic colors. The no-skid soles are constructed of rubber. Lightweight and basic with no tassels or hardware, these “friendly” ballet flats work with casual wear as well as more dressy apparel. With their flexible lightweight feel and memory foam foot pad they are designed for long wear. Note that some consumers found the fabric upper too stiff resulting in some blistering.
Another no-frills ballet flat, Lucky Women’s Emmie ballet flat comes with a stretchy top line for a snug, but not tight or uncomfortable fit. A synthetic sole and a memory foam interior up the comfort level of this shoe. The flat is available in a variety of fabric uppers in patterns that are versatile. On the downside, they don’t offer much in the way of arch support, but if you’re looking for a brand that offers plenty of variety in color and pattern look no further. The synthetic sole on these shoes may be slippery for some.
For reliable comfort and fit, Hush Puppies has been a favorite among consumers who favor fun, casual footwear since 1958. Their Chaste ballet flat comes in a wide variety of fabric and leather finishes. The unlined uppers accommodate maximum flexibility and fit. A half-inch heel gives extra height and the arch support is perforated. The sock lining is constructed of suede so it’s soft. The sole is molded and provides extra traction on slick surfaces. The brand’s exclusive HPO2Flex technology has a foot bed with a cushioned triangle pattern to accommodate your individual stride and provide arch support. These flats are designed to keep your feet cool.
Jessica Simpson has made a name for herself in fashion accessories. Her Madian ballet flats illustrate her savvy sense of what appeals to the consumer. The Madian ballet flat has leather uppers and rubber soles. A bow detail embellishes the top of the shoe. The shoe comes in classic colors to complement any wardrobe including black, taupe, canela, red, brown and cast iron. The interior is constructed of memory foam to adapt to the soles of your feet and provide cushioning and support on all surfaces.
As with all shoe and apparel purchases, it’s best to try before you buy. When selecting ballet flats, test them out at the end of the day. Your feet expand the longer you’re on them. Shoes that feel fine in the morning may become tight by the time the sun sets. Remember that your ultimate choice of an ideal ballet flat will depend on several factors including your shoe size, any podiatric issues you may have, activity and lifestyle. We hope our suggestions above get you started on choosing the right ballet flats that will have you dancing throughout your day.