Ballet Flats are Back, Baby! Here Are the 15 Best Pairs to Buy Right Now
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Ballet flats are one of those classic styles that hardly ever feel dated. However, the past few years have seen this Audrey Hepburn-approved footwear taking a back seat to other easy-to-wear shoes: loafers, Chelsea boots, backless slides, minimalist and chunky sneakers. Well, we’re here to tell you the ballet flat is officially trendy again.
According to global shopping platform Lyst, searches for flats, specifically ballet styles, have been steadily rising since summer 2020, but there’s been an even bigger uptick in recent weeks. If we had to guess, we’d credit the return of the flat to the continuing revival of early aughts wardrobe staples combined with our pandemic-era commitment to comfortable styles over arch-busting heels. Whatever the case, there are two clear front runners for 2023: classic ballet flats and Mary Janes. That said, we’ve also seen square-, rounded-, almond- and pointy-toe flats abound on Instagram and on the streets during fashion week. Basically you can’t go wrong with whatever flats you choose.
What’s The Best Way To Style Ballet Flats So They Look Modern?
Swap your skinny jeans for ankle-baring straight-leg styles, or baggy or wide-leg trousers to keep things looking fresh. (Though if you do opt for a wider leg, be sure to pay attention to your hem length so you don’t wind up with a half-inch of dirt creeping up your pants.) If you’re more of a dresses and skirts kind of person, we suggest styling your flats with slim-fit, maxi-length sweater dresses, denim midi skirts or polished, ‘60s-inspired Mod minidresses rather than raw-hem jean miniskirts or oversize tent dresses. Now, onto the good stuff—here are 15 pairs of ballet flats to shop now and wear forever.
The Best Ballet Flats at a Glance
- Why We Love It: Elastic heel is less likely to cause blisters, cushioned footbed
These scrunched leather flats have a 4.7-star rating at Nordstrom, with tons of reviewers mentioning just how comfy they are. “They are super, super comfortable. It feels like I’m walking on clouds,” writes one. They purportedly run true to size, and have the added bonus of elastic at the heel to prevent slipping, which can lead to blisters.
- Why We Love It: Cushioned footbed, available in calf hair and leather, good for wider feet
Aerosoles is all about crafting cute shoes with ample foot support, and these flats are no exception. The site suggests that they run a bit wide, which is great news for those who prefer extra room in the toe box or anyone looking to slip in their own insole for even more support. One happy shopper writes, “These are so comfortable right out of the box. The fit is good and runs true to size. Absolutely love them!”
- Why We Love It: Cushioned footbed, comes in nine “nude” hues, available in narrow and wide widths
While there are plenty of beige shoes out there, fewer brands cater to a wide variety of “nude” hues to fit every skin tone. This Naturalizer pair, however, comes in nine gorgeous shades, so that everyone can get the leg-lengthening benefits of a truly nude shoe. Beyond that, we also love them for their incredibly comfortable cushioned footbed and the fact that they come in both narrow and wide widths. And according to multiple reviews, these beauties require little to no break-in period. “I wore them right out of the box for an eight-hour workday and had no blisters on my heels,” reads one review. “I have high arches, so I was concerned about the support, but these felt great! I could have worn them all night too!”
- Why We Love It: Handcrafted in Brazil, flexible sole
Different toe styles come in and out of fashion with each new season, but this square design has a timeless appeal that will continue to look chic even as other shapes take their turn in the spotlight. The reason is the slightly narrow silhouette, which doesn’t feel quite so dated as true ‘90s styles. That said, don’t worry about any potential toe squishing—according to reviews these cuties are incredibly comfortable and fit true to size (although if you have wider feet or are between sizes you may want to go up a half size). They also come in six chic colors, including black and Barbie pink.
- Why We Love It: Flexible leather, available in multiple “nude” hues, elastic strap is more comfortable than leather
These Loeffler Randall flats are incredibly comfortable thanks to the supple leather upper and padded footbed. And the elastic strap across the top won’t rub or scratch like a leather style might. (You can also tuck it under your foot if you want to switch things up.) They come in 12 gorgeous hues, including multiple shades of nude as well as a luxe crushed velvet. “I got the crushed velvet pair awhile back and love them,” says PureWow’s executive editor Dara Katz. “They’re so comfortable and a great option for dressing up if you just can’t do heels.”
- Why We Love It: Foam padding insole, available in sizes 3 to 14 and narrow and wide widths, handmade in Spain
Marissa Wu, associate editor at PureWow, loves these pointy-toe flats so much she bought them in two colors, and has her eyes on a third. “I can walk the whole day in these and my arches won’t protest.” The designers at Margaux paid special attention to the toe box in order to achieve a sleek, pointed silhouette without pinching or crushing the toes. And they have the greatest size range of any shoe on this list, with three widths to choose from (narrow, regular and wide) and a whopping 25 sizes (US sizes 3 to 14, including half sizes). You can also have your shoes customized, either with painted on daisies or a painted monogram letter on each toe for an additional $130 or $80 respectively.
- Why We Love It: Lots of color options, more than 26,000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating, machine washable
Senior director of special projects Rachel Bowie has owned these flats for years and can attest to how well they hold up, even after multiple washes. “They come with a special wash bag and come out looking as good as they day I bought them,” she tells us. According to Bowie and other reviewers, there is a slight break-in period, but the shoes are incredibly comfortable and well worth it. “I think what always wows me about Rothy's is the quality and rich colors the shoes come in,” explains Bowie. “They are so vivid and bright (exactly how they look on the website). And the machine washable part is incredible, especially when it means your shoes look almost brand-new again.”
- Why We Love It: Adds height without stressing your arches, handmade in Italy, flexible sole
For anyone who wants a little extra lift with their “flats,” opting for a pair with a slight wedge or platform, like this M.Gemi pair, can be just the ticket. A 20 mm heel (a little over ¾ inches) is hidden under a smooth Italian leather upper to give the illusion of a true flat, just with some extra arch support. And according to one New York City-based reviewer, they are ready to go right out of the box. “I don't normally wear ballet flats as I find the heels dig in when there is elastic in the back, but this flat is so supple. The leather is excellent and the square front affords ample toe space. I was delightfully surprised at how comfortable it is. Fits true to size and no breaking in time.”
- Why We Love It: Made with super soft leather, minimal break-in period required
These square-toe flats were one of the most-wanted styles back in 2020 when ballet flats first started trending again, and their popularity has only grown since then. The combination of a higher cut front and very square toe make these instantly recognizable as Mansur Gavriel, but it’s the supple leather that’s the true designer tell. They are wonderfully soft, while still offering support (although some reviewers wished there was a tad more cushion in the insole). P.S. If you order straight from the brand you can a monogram to each shoe for $45 per letter.
- Why We Love It: Cushioned footbed, chic square-toe
These comfy leather flats have been an Everlane best-seller for years, with the brand making slight tweaks every now and then to address any pain points that may come up. The result is a nearly perfect shoe made from incredibly soft leather that only gets better with time. According to reviews, the shoe does run true to size, but if you have a wider foot you may want to consider going up a half size. “I love this shoe,” writes one buyer. “My new everyday shoe. At first it felt a bit narrow, but it stretches out after a few wears, just like any shoe. Now I'm loving it and it's my new everyday shoe in the office or at any casual event.”
- Why We Love It: Elastic heel is less likely to cause blisters, designed to fold in half for easy travel
This travel-ready flat can actually fold in half to fit into you bag for a night out to give your feet some sweet relief from sky-high heels on the trek home. PureWow readers and reviewers alike rave about the cushioned insole, which offers much more arch support than you might expect from such a flexible shoe. Lots of folks do recommend going up a half size, especially if you are between sizes or have a wider foot. Per one reviewer, “The Minnie is awesome because the leather is soft and flexible. I work on my feet in retail and have had two knee surgeries. I was tired of complaining that my feet hurt when I would come home from work so I decided to invest in the Tory Minnie. So happy I did because they're a beautiful flat, comfortable and I also receive so many compliments about them!”
- Why We Love It: Available in narrow and wide widths, comes in lots of great colors and patterns
These classic ballet flats have more than 2,500 reviews at Nordstrom and a 4.6-star rating, with many shoppers noting that these flats are ready to wear right out of the box, with little to no break-in period required. Folks also love that they come in narrow, regular and wide widths, and while some suggest adding you own insole for more arch support, more than one reviewer says these “feel like you’re walking on air.” The only downside appears to be some inconsistencies in sizing across different color options (some appear to run a little small), so you may want to consider going either a half size up or trying them on in store before buying.
- Why We Love It: Comfortable fabric upper, budget-friendly price tag
These chic pointy-toe flats are made from recycled materials with a knit upper that is every bit as comfortable as you might hope. Add to that a cushy padded footbed and a 4.7-star rating (with nearly 1,900 reviews) and you’ve got yourself a total no brainer, in our opinion. Reviews suggest these flats run true to size, but folks with narrow feet may find them a bit too wide. “These flats are so comfortable,” writes one happy buyer. “I have bunions so have a difficult time finding shoes that fit smoothly and don’t cut into my foot. These fit so well, I immediately ordered a second pair. I volunteer at a museum so I am on my feet for hours at a time and these flats make the job so much easier and more comfortable.”
- Why We Love It: Available in 48 different colors, handcrafted in Italy, cushioned footbed
Perfect for the woman whose motto is, “If I like it, I’ll just buy it in another color,” these flats come in a whopping 48 different hues, including multiple snakeskin styles, cap-toe color combos and lots of “nude” options. The site suggests that, while the shoes run true to size, anyone with a wider foot may find going up a half size to be more comfortable. Reviewers rave about the supple leather and gorgeous finish on these Italian leather flats, and lots mention owning multiple pairs (including one woman with an impressive nine pairs in her wardrobe).
- Why We Love It: Flexible sole, Italian leather upper
J.Crew’s Zeo flat is just about as classic as you can get, with an almond toe and dainty grosgrain bow. That plus the smooth Italian leather gives these flats a timeless appeal that will never go out of style. “These feel like much more expensive shoes, and have lasted me for years without falling apart,” says Emily H., an avid city walker based in NYC. “They’re comfortable and classic, and I like that J.Crew frequently offers pretty new colors with each season.” If you want more arch support, we suggest ordering a half size up to better fit your own insole addition.
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