Ballet flats are the simple, flat shoe that many of us have slipped into—whether or not we’re experts in pirouetting. Maybe you remember wearing them to a middle school choir recital or your first job interview.
Today, ballet flats are hitting the fashion world in full force.
Are ballet flats back in style? Dive into this exploration of the life and history of fashion’s most timeless shoe.
The Return of Ballet Flats: A Fashion Comeback
Ballet flats have always been known as a simple, comfortable shoe perfect for every occasion. They are versatile, blending with any sort of look from casual to business to pure elegance. If you’ve ever thought “are ballet flats out of style,” the answer right now is clear.
This season, ballet flats are making a strong comeback. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, Meghan Markle, and Jennifer Lopez have been seen adopting ballet flats into their city looks.
To understand the ballet flat’s surge in popularity, let’s take a look at the roots of this iconic shoe.
Ballet Flats Through the Ages: A Journey into Their Fashion Evolution
Ballet flats might be making their return to popularity, but as we look into their historical journey, it begs the question: were ballet flats ever out of style? Let’s take a look at ballet flats through the ages.
Middle Ages to the Renaissance
We’re going way back to the Middle Ages, but the flat shoes we are familiar with today may have existed even earlier.
During this time, the flat shoe was worn predominantly by men, but its appearance depended on status. Those of nobility, for example, often wore a shoe with a long, pointed tip, called “poulaines” or “crackows.” Sometimes, a heel would be added to further accentuate noble status.1
This is when the shoe adopted its association with ballet. For decades, ballet was performed in heels. That was until Marie Camargo, a French dancer, wore flat shoes during her performance—which no ballerina had done before.2 The flat shoes allowed a more comfortable dance and granted greater movement and flexibility for the dancers, and thus, the flat shoe was adopted in ballet.
In 1947, fashion designer Rose Repetto designed a pair of ballet flats for her son Roland, a dancer and choreographer. These shoes proved to be more comfortable and more durable than previous ballet flats. Repetto’s ballet flats quickly caught on in the ballet community.
These flats moved from the stage to street fashion when French actress Brigitte Bardot asked Rose Repetto to design her a version of the shoe that she could wear in her film And God Created Woman. The film and the shoes became a massive hit, starting the ballet flats fashion trend.3
Modern Ballet Flats
Today, ballet flats are seen as the shoe for any outfit. They pair nicely with a business look, but they can also be the comfortable shoe for a casual style. Ballet flats are thriving as modern celebrities like Taylor Swift, Nathalie Portman, and Emma Stone adopt them into their looks.
After reviewing the ballet flat’s long-winded history, it seems safe to say that they have never truly gone out of style. The question today is what kind of outfit you’d like to pair them with next.
Classic vs. Contemporary: Ballet Flats in the Modern Fashion Landscape
The appeal of ballet flats is that they pair well with many looks. Whether you prefer a more classic, timeless look, or you welcome a modern, eclectic look, ballet flats fit the bill. Let’s break it down: classic vs. contemporary ballet flats:
- Classic ballet flats – The classic ballet flat is simple, sleek, and elegant. They are flat, with little to no heel. You’ll tend to see them in black, but can range in color from cream to red. In this category is the iconic black-tipped flat as well.
- Contemporary ballet flats – In the modern fashion world, much of women’s flats and loafers have focused on the comfort of your feet with orthopedic designs. This includes flats with arch support and cushioning to alleviate foot and knee pain. While these designs may not be consistent with the flat, simple silhouette of the classic shoe, contemporary ballet flats allow for the combination of style and comfort.4
The evolution of the ballet flat offers options to fit every unique style and occasion. And because they take up little room on a shoe rack or in a closet, if you can’t decide between classic and contemporary, why not get both?
Nostalgia Meets Modernity: The Allure of Vintage Ballet Flats
So much of our style stems from nostalgia. Maybe you remember wearing a similar sort of shoe in your childhood, or maybe you enjoy the sleek look of a simpler time. Whatever the reason, there’s something so alluring about vintage shoes.
When we crave a vintage look, it’s like we’re connecting ourselves with history. We’re celebrating Audrey Hepburn or Princess Diana when they wore their ballet flats, and we’re becoming part of something bigger than ourselves.
Many modern ballet flats seek to capture that nostalgia of vintage ballet flats, so we carry the history of the shoe wherever we go.
Everyday Elegance: Why Ballet Flats Are Making a Strong Comeback
Ballet flats are making a comeback simply because they’re timeless and versatile. They add a touch of elegance to every outfit and they tend to be more comfortable than heels.
Ballet flats also appeal to every style and generation. In the time of social media, people are getting more expressive with their clothes. We’re not limiting ourselves to certain styles, so we can get creative and accept popular statement pieces.
Styling for a Fresh Twist on Ballet Flat Fashion Trends
The great thing about ballet flats is they can be worn with whatever you want. Make fashion trends your own by styling your ballet flat look:
- Pick shoes that are you! Many ballet flats feature unique details, like bows or metal on the toe, so you can add personality to your shoes.
- Ballet flats go great with an office look. Black or cream flats make great wear-to-work shoes as they are not only versatile, but will add a touch of elegance to your typical slacks, blouses, or suits.
- Ballet flats can be casual! Wear them with a pair of jeans—skinny or wide-legged, it doesn’t matter—for a simple, comfortable look.
- The color of your ballet flats can be the key to accessorizing. Match with a purse or jewelry to add pops of color to your outfit.
Vionic Flats: A Modern Twist on Timeless Comfort and Style
Orinda Square Toe Ballet Flat
Experience timeless elegance and supportive comfort with the Orinda Square Toe Ballet Flat. Crafted from premium leather or suede, this sophisticated flat seamlessly blends style with support.
Featuring a removable orthotic, it ensures comfort and balance throughout the day. Available in black leather, gold leather, and camel suede and offered in medium, wide, or narrow widths, this versatile flat complements your style while providing personalized support.
Klara Ballet Flat
Effortlessly stylish and comfort-focused, the Klara Ballet Flat reimagines everyday sophistication. Boasting a modern square toe and a bow detail, this flat perfectly combines contemporary design with comfort.
Its removable supportive orthotic ensures a cushioned and stable step. Available in various colors, the Klara Ballet Flat epitomizes Vionic’s dedication to fashion-forward footwear coupled with orthopedic support, empowering you to move through your day comfortably and confidently.
Joseline Mary Jane
If you’re looking for something simple and minimalist, our Joseline Mary Jane is perfect for you. These are your classic Mary Jane’s, complete with buttery soft leather and a thin strap to top it off.
Customize the shoe for your personal style with various color options, including black, macaroon cream, red, and even a unique, woven metallic fabric.
Our Arielle Flat is right for you if you’re looking for a bit of added elegance to your ballet flat. This shoe features a pointed toe, a modest heel, and a puff chain detail to elevate that simple flat look.
For those who are looking for added support, our Anita Flat is the shoe for you. This is a modernized ballet flat, designed for all-day wear and walkability. Anita features arch support, a microfiber-wrapped EVA footbed (translation: flexible cushion), and an elastic topline for a snug, seamless fit.
Rock your Anita flats in various shiny or metallic colors, from gold to silver to teal.
Our Amorie Flat is the statement flat for any style. It features a rounded tip topped with a bow at the toe for a bit of personality. Complete with a range of colors, including leopard print, metallic, and bold, red leather, Amorie can elevate any outfit.
Our Amorie flat is also a modernized design for maximum comfort. It includes that cushiony microfiber-wrapped EVA footbed, an elastic topline, and support at the arches.
Calling all horse lovers: our Delanie Flat pays homage to equestrian fashion with a rounded toe, neutral leather colors, and a metal hardware detail.
Delanie is an orthopedic shoe, providing support with a firm yet flexible footbed with an EVA orthotic insert.
All of our flats are designed to combine style and comfort. With a footbed designed to hug your arches, Vionic ballet flats help to support the natural alignment of your feet and legs to alleviate foot pain.
Shop the Latest Shoe Trends at Vionic
Are ballet flats still in style? In short: yes. Ballet flats are timeless shoes that have thrived since the Middle Ages, and even after this trending surge, we can expect they’ll be here to stay. Whether you like a vintage, classic look or enjoy the modern comforts of orthotic shoe designs, ballet flats are for you.
Now that you’ve got a list of the most trend-worthy ballet flats from Vionic, the next step is up to you – How will you rock your ballet flats?
- “Crackows.” TheMET. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/81228
- Perelberg, Dana. “The Evolution of the Ballet Flat.” L’OFFICIEL. 19 August, 2022 https://www.lofficielusa.com/fashion/evolution-of-ballet-flat-shoes
- Pellen, Guenola. “Iconic: Repetto Ballet Flats, From the Opera to the Sidewalk.” France-Amérique. December 8, 2016. https://france-amerique.com/iconic-repetto-ballet-flats-from-the-opera-to-the-sidewalk/
- “The Evolution of Women’s Flats: From Classic to Contemporary.” Medium. September 26, 2023. https://medium.com/@hughesvvincent095/the-evolution-of-womens-flats-from-classic-to-contemporary-def09c80cbc6.