Ballet pumps or flats were one of the most popular footwear trends in the 1990s, and the mere remark on them conjures up images of Sienna Miller or Kate Moss wearing leather flats with spray-on skinny jeans or flowy bohemian skirts. It could also remind you of the worn-out Topshop pumps you wore on evenings out at university (far after they should have been thrown away).
Although the ballerina pump was undeniably popular in the 2000s, the simple shoe’s presence in fashion stretches back much longer to the 1950s, when it initially found a new life outside of the dancing world—many people credit Rose Repetto’s designs with bringing the ballet flat into the mainstream of fashion. The simple ballet pump became an exceptionally popular shoe for women worldwide after the footwear designer developed a pair for Brigitte Bardot to wear in the film And God Created Woman.
Both men and women have worn ballet flats since the sixteenth century. When Marie Antoniette went to the guillotine in heels two centuries later, the fad for flats truly took off, forcing people to abandon their heeled shoes in favor of footwear that was not connected with execution.
Furthermore, when Audrey Hepburn wore flats and skinny jeans during a dance routine in the film Funny Face in the late 1950s, the fashion for ballet flats saw a modern resurgence. Since then, ballerina-inspired shoes have been featured on the runways and in high-street retailers. Ballet flats are now regarded as fashion classics, an important part of every woman’s footwear collection.
Our complete guide to wearing ballet flats or plumps on any occasion will help you put your best foot forward – and guarantee that your outfit takes center stage. Know how to style and wear them properly.
Different Styles of Ballet Flats
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Don’t let them cheat you into thinking that all ballet flats are created equal. Take the time to find a style that suits your personality and the items in your closet.
However, keep in mind that ballet flats are designed to be delicate: if you need a more durable shoe, avoid buying a pair with a thick or heavy sole; they aren’t truly ballet flats, and you’d be better off with a boot or loafer. When you’re out shopping, think about how to dress like a ballerina and look for shoes that make you feel as if you’re dancing in the air.
There are numerous styles to pick from, including:
This shoe type is primarily worn by dancers who prefer to wear it while practicing. Any ballet artist who isn’t on pointe will put on artful dance shoes or something similar, but the main question is whether to acquire full-soled or split-soled shoes. So, what exactly is a split-soled shoe?
In simple terms, it means that the harder cushion at the bottom of the shoe does not elongate the entire length of the shoe. It’s present on the bundle of the foot and toes and at the impact site, although there’s a gap in the curve. The shoe will be less stable as a result, but that is the idea.
A split bottom shoe allows the ballet dancer to move her foot more freely and interferes less with pointing and flexing the foot. As a result, a few ballet dancers who aren’t on pointe like this shoe design.
On the other hand, a full sole shoe has a sole that runs the entire length of the shoe. These are becoming more stable and are typically worn by less experienced artists, although it is ultimately a personal choice for each dancer. Even experienced ballet dancers prefer the additional support that a full sole shoe provides.
Another factor to consider is the shoe’s construction material. Canvas, glossy silk, or calfskin are the most popular materials for artistic dance shoes. Although silk is attractive, cowhide is the most durable. Canvas shoes are good middle ground, as they are typically less expensive than calfskin but indisputably more durable than shiny silk.
This shoe aids in the alignment of their toes. There are, of course, pointe shoes at that point.
Pointe shoes are only worn by the most experienced ballet dancers and are designed to provide extra support for the feet and lower legs. They are designed to allow ballet dancers to perform their incredible maneuvers on pointe.
How to Wear Ballet Plumps and Flats
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During the Day
Ballet flats are a terrific pair of shoes that look excellent with practically any outfit. Despite their apparent limitless mobility, there are a few golden guidelines to keep in mind:
Crop your ankle pants or jeans when wearing flats. You may exhibit the complete length of your leg without ‘cutting’ it by revealing the ankle, making you appear (and feel) taller and more elegant.
Wearing a dress or skirt with flats looks great when the weather is nice. But make sure you choose the proper style: if you’re tall, you can get away with a skirt that sits below the knee, but if you’re small, go for shorter styles that elongate the body. Never try to wear a long dress with flats; it will just make you look shorter.
Always match your outfit to the occasion. Classic ballerinas will look out of place with a minimalist ensemble, while studded or bejeweled flats will look out of place with traditional or fitted attire. Don’t expect a single pair of ballerina flats to suit all of your needs.
Wearing tights with flats is not a good idea. Ballet flats are designed to be worn barefoot and do not look nice with pleated pantyhose around the ankle.
When it comes to your casual weekend outfit, ballet flats are a must-have. With a pair of jeans and a fluffy sweater or flowy shirt, you can’t go wrong. Just remember to cuff your jeans around 7/8 of the way down your legs, and stay away from ultra-skinny styles if your calves are a little broader (opt for cigarette pants or Capri instead).
Leggings (as long as they sit high above the ankle) and an oversized knit or tunic go great with ballet flats. It’s all about balancing proportions, lengthening your look, and complementing your femininity in a subtle yet noticeable way.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t wear beautiful flats to work. They’re not only comfy, which means you’ll feel and appear more relaxed (and ready to focus on the duties at hand), but they’re also stylish and attractive. To achieve a serious, professional image, use fuss-free flats in a neutral color.
In the Summer
Cute dresses with flats are our favorite item to wear in the summer. After all, it’s better to wear ballerina flats with bare legs! Keep your dress above the knee as a rule of thumb: you need to reveal skin to keep your legs from seeming squat.
Mini-skirts or shorts with flats make a great summer statement since they lengthen your legs at the top and look gorgeous when worn with a loose shirt or colorful cami. Summer is also a fantastic time to experiment with ballet flats with ankle straps to elevate your outfit truly.
In the Winter
Despite how tempting it may be, wearing pantyhose and flats is a fashion faux pas. Why? Ankle pleats, in a nutshell, are unstylish to the extreme. Please don’t do the dresses with tights and flats thing if you want to maintain wearing your ballerina flats in the winter.
Rather, buy a pair of sheer ballet flat socks that fit inside the shoes and allow you to wear leggings and trousers. Some fashionistas recommend wearing well-fitted wool socks and flats with cut-offs if the weather isn’t too cold.
Styling Tips for Ballet Flats
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Thankfully, there aren’t many ways to go wrong with these most adaptable shoe types. Here are our top recommendations for what to wear with ballerina flats and how to wear ballet flats to their full potential.
When worn with bare legs, your nude-colored ballet flats provide a terrific leg-lengthening impression, so invest in a pair to take advantage of this simple visual illusion.
Avoid Tights & Socks
Wearing ballerina pumps with stockings, tights, or socks is risky since it can result in ugly folds and wrinkles around the ankles. If you’re courageous enough, keep an eye on this area throughout the day, but we always recommend going barefoot.
Make a Statement With Your Accessories
Your ballet flats’ simplicity might always need a little more balancing-out. To achieve this, add multiple statement accessories to your attire, such as a huge purse, thick necklaces, or a dramatic belt.
Show a Little Skin
Ballet flats are the most flattering when the lower leg or ankles are seen. Keep skirts and dresses above the knee, or wear cropped pants that display your ankles for an on-trend style. If you decide to wear below-the-knee dresses and skirts, we recommend choosing loose, flowing skirt styles to complete the appearance.
Take Note When Choosing Strap Styles
Ballet pumps with thick ankle straps might visually shorten your legs significantly. If you have short legs, we recommend avoiding ballet pumps with straps or lace-ups around the ankle and lower leg to make your legs appear longer.
Ballet Pumps: How to Care for Them
Like any other type of footwear, ballet shoes can become a little worn over time, so what should you do to keep them looking new? Your first instinct might be to toss them in the washing machine, but this is not a good idea because it could deform the shoe. Additionally, some ballerina pumps have layers of cardboard beneath the footbed, so getting them wet could permanently destroy them.
The breeziest thing to do is to remove any evident evidence of filth with a gentle brush, then clean the shoes thoroughly with a moist cloth, depending on the material they are made of.
If your ballet shoes are suede, avoid using water on them at all costs, as this will certainly stain them. Just a light brush should be enough to restore them to their former glory. Once cleansed, using a protective spray will function as a prophylactic in the future, minimizing the need for frequent brushing.
Using a protective spray to keep canvas pumps in good shape is also a good idea. If you need to clean ballet shoes before using the protection spray, make a paste with washing powder and bicarbonate of soda and work it into the shoes. Once the shoes are clean, wipe away any excess with a moderately damp cloth. After that, you should wait at least 24 hours before wearing them.
If you have patent or leather ballet shoes, you may protect them with appropriate shoe polish; make sure you obtain the right color for your shoes!
If you, like many others, prefer to wear your ballerinas without socks, it’s not uncommon for them to smell after a while. This is due to bacteria build-up produced by sweating, but you can do a few things to help. We always advocate switching up your footwear daily to avoid germs build-up and allow them to dry between wears properly. You can also use a bicarbonate mixture of soda and talcum powder to absorb moisture and deodorize your dance shoes.
If you’re caught short in damp weather, your shoes are almost certainly going to get wet. We always recommend keeping shoes away from a heat source when drying them.
Even though it may seem like the simplest solution is to place them on or near a radiator, this can cause your shoes to distort or discolor as they dry. Using scrunched-up newspapers to absorb any extra moisture is quite efficient.
Must-Have Ballet Flats and Pumps
Perhaps you have fallen in love with ballerina shoes; we feel the same way. Start or expand your collection with one or more of these lovely pairs, all of which we recommend.
The famous brand medallion sits atop the rounded toe of a comfortable leather flat that comes in various colors and designs to brighten your day.
The bow-trimmed toe of this beautiful ballet flat is adorned with a delicate logo charm.
This elegant and adaptable ballet flat features an enameled stacked-T buckle that highlights the trend-forward square-toe design.
Ted Baker Faiyte Large Bow Jelly Pumps feature a large cream bow on the toe and are made of soft black plastic. The heel and bow of these jelly sneakers are both etched with the Ted Baker logo and have rose gold hardware.
A pair of classic flats is a must-have for any wardrobe. The high-gloss finish on these Repetto flats adds a glamorous touch to this adaptable footwear.
This pair is a spin on Butterfly Twists' traditional Olivia ballerina flat with quilted linen upper and silky faux leather toe cap.
This sleek printed pair includes Ted's characteristic bow stud and is capped with a lovely structured bow, making it suitable for day and evening wear. This soft, flexible ballerina is printed with microfiber topline binding and a large signature bow on the vamp with a metal center.