The Cases For & Against Ballet Flats
The Cases For & Against Ballet Flats

The Cases For & Against Ballet Flats

You might have noticed ballet flats are back on the fashion agenda – but their return has prompted mixed reactions from members of the SL team. Here, Editor Charlotte Collins and Fashion Assistant Amrit Mann air their opposing views…
By Amrit Mann & Charlotte Collins

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My style isn’t overly feminine – but I can definitely get on board with ballet flats. Their return follows a prolonged period of ‘chunky’ footwear in fashion – think dad trainers and Bottega Veneta’s Lug boot. However, as classic wardrobe staples become a more important part of the fashion lexicon (perhaps a result of the growing conversation around sustainability and good cost per wear) ballet flats have made their way back into almost every cool girl’s closet.

Chanel’s ballerinas are a classic, but brands like Miu Miu have also jumped on this trend, as have the likes of Kendall Jenner and Emili Sindlev. It seems there are plenty of modern ways to style these elegant and practical flats; I think I’ll be going for metallics to make the look more contemporary. Equally, wearing them with looser denim silhouettes as opposed to the skinny jean of 2007 freshens up the look. Specifically, the hem of the jean should sit over the shoe, so you only get a flash of this delicate footwear as you move.

Slouchy tailored trousers work well for occasions that call for a bit more polish. If you really love the Chanel vibe, chucking on a cropped tweed jacket feels completely timeless. Fabrics and smaller details are also worth thinking about. Be it quilted, suede, patent, bouclé – all of them can feel current when they’re styled right. Just don’t overdo the textures. Stick to simple yet classic styles, and make sure they work with the rest of the pieces in your wardrobe.


I’m not against the ballet flat per se – I think they’re pretty and they can look chic if you can pull them off. I’m just afraid not many of us can. If you have a little bit of shape – bum, hips, thighs – few things are less flattering than a flimsy, flat-to-the-floor shoe. Of all the things that can help with proportions – a towering heel, a pointy toe, a well-placed strap – a ballet flat can leave you so exposed, so vulnerable and really not getting the best out of an outfit. Trousers won’t sit properly on your body unless the shoe is right. Naturally, it’s important to wear what makes you feel good, but if you’re interested in my opinion on what will make you look good, chances are it’s not a ballet flat.

Back in the noughties when the look was having a moment – picture Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo – there weren’t many alternatives if you wanted a run-around shoe. Fast forward to 2023 and we’re years deep into the trainer revolution, chunky loafers are reigning supreme, Birkenstocks and clogs are all over the runways and there are endless more flattering twists on a classic pump out there – from velvet Mary Janes to sharply pointed slip-ons. We’re spoilt for choice, so I’m not sure why the default would ever be a ballet style. Putting aside their unforgiving shape, they’re just not cool – if your style is already classic, they’re the last thing you need, unless you want to move further into normcore dressing. And if your style is a little edgier, a little tougher, I just think they’re too much effort to try and get right. It’s certainly the case that influencers have been spotted in baggy denim, baby tees and ballerinas in recent months – but for millennials like me who already did that look the first time around, there are many cooler – more grown-up – options out there.

Finally, I’m no doctor, but I’m quite sure that a completely flat shoe is a disaster for your lower back. If I’m going to suffer for fashion, it’s going to be in some fabulous heel that elevates my shape, not an unflattering ballet flat.


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