How to wear ballet flats?

I was happy to see some winter in Paris after a month of summer in the southern hemisphere (I know I know, tough time ^^), but enough is enough, I am already bored of snow (yes snow °o°) and am looking forward to spring.

Especially for spring outfits to be honest.

I miss my trench coat and the light dresses in shops seem sooo appealing right now.

And this year, I feel like I want… ballet flats. Something I was never really into in the past, thinking it was kind of a goody-two-shoes look (do you actually say this? I do not even remember where I read this but I liked how it sounded hihi).

I was especially not so keen about the mini bow (and still think that is not the best feature of many ballet flats).

But this year (well last year) came… the laced up ballet flats! Which is the kind of style which looks appealing to me!

When I think of it, last year I purchased a great back of pointy toe sling back metallic green ballet flats (yes all that in one shoe) which look super sophisticated.

Thinking even further, I used to own a pair of openwork ballet flats that were amongst my top fav shoes. Totally killed them after wearing them 5 years…

Everything but the classic ballet flats that is.

But after some research for the purpose of this post, it turns our even the classic ones can look cool.

Let’s see how to wear the ballet flats so you can wander the streets as light as Brigitte Bardot in her glorious days.

I. Choose stylish ballerinas

Yes OF COURSE, that sounds really obvious.

But no stylist can create an outfit good enough to save a pair of sturdy ballet flats.

Most important is: ballet flats should reflect a spirit of lightness. Think “delicate” even if you are aiming for studs.

Forget about poorly executed accessories “that say heavy” or thick soles. The fabric itself shall feel soft and mobile (not like here).

Remember they come from the world of ballet.

Brigitte Bardot purchased hers from a dance items shop (the now iconic Repetto).

She picked those because she wanted to be as free as possible while walking.

Naked feet would have been her daily choice if possible.

Think of yourself as a dancer when you choose them. They have to give you the feeling that your feet are super light.

Then only they’ll be able to give you the bouncy light walk Brigitte had.

brigitte dancing

Brigitte’s swinging ballet flats

Want personalized style advices? Reach me for distance styling or personal shopping!

1. The classic

Brigitte Bardot ballet flats came from Repetto, an historic dance item maker.

Nowadays this brand built a fashion empire on the “street ballet flats”, la “ballerine” en français.

They still have an excellent range of simple ballet flats in a broad range of colors and fabrics.

They are extremely light and have a small discreet bow which is why I like them. Some say they do not last. I must say I never owned any, so I can not speak for myself. Insights in the comments are welcome.

I also cherish the ones from Anniel, an italian brand that also come from the dance world.

As well as the iconic italian Porselli ballet flats to which blogger Garance Doré declared her love to.


Instagram like the old romance

Like the old romance wearing Porselli flats in her boho urban manner.

When you buy classic flats, the most important is that they are delicate.

The bow shall not be too big (unless this is the style statement), they shall not go too high on the feet or have gathered fabric.

2. The pointy toe classic

Same as above with a pointy toe.

Louboutin pointy

Even if they have lots of embellishments this Louboutins feel very light and look delicate

2. The slingback

Some may call them sandals.

But I feel they look more like slingback ballerinas (my blog my rules ^^).

As a person who owns feets that need to “breathe” in summer, I am very happy they exist.

The fact that your toes are covered make them appropriate for work.

Justin Polder

The ones I own by Polder (if you too are into shiny green). 

Love those slingback ballet flats with a lightning.

3. The opentoe

Same as above. Even with open toes, I call them ballet flat because they have this round “dressed up” shape that make them perfect for the city.

opentoe ballet flats le mont st michel

Le Mont-Saint-Michel

4. The openwork

Or how to have naked feet that look covered.

ballerines ajourées jonak

Jonak (find them here)

Some other cool gold openwork ballet flats.

5. The open side

Same story as 2, 3 and 4.

american outfitters

American outfitters

6. The strappy 

They could have just an ankle strap or several ones.

Again, I personally only like the delicate ones.

Chunky straps on a flat shoe (esp on the ankle) really make your leg loose centimeters!

Isabel Marant

If you have short legs or thick ankles, I recommend you to stay away from this kind.

7. The lace up

My crush of the moment



Same recommendation as 7.

I also love these from Isabel.

2. How to wear them? 

A. Random tips

Once you picked cool ballet flats, you can wear them pretty much in every manner.

The only thing you should really forget about is to wear thick tights or socks which will create grandma pleats on your ankles. Anyway, ballerinas are meant for bare feet (you can use this special designed ballet flat sock).

Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind while looking at pics featuring ballet flats:

– If your style/ attitude is very classic, wearing them with skirts under the knee may create this “goody two shoes” look I was talking about at the beginning.

– If you have thick legs, they will not make your legs look their best with skirts or super skinny jeans.

– I recommend to the ones who do not like looking girly/ too feminine to try pairing them with clothes that are rock or sexy to get this Brigitte Bardot carefree attitude. Especially if you go for the classic versions.

– The ballerinas have a vintage innocent feel. Therefore I think the classic version (with the bow and stuff) does not really work with super minimalist outfits (like you know the ones you find at COS).

B. How the stylish girls wear them

Like them you could pair your ballerinas…

1. With 7/8 length pants 

They lighten the outfit compared to full length pants.

Ballerines pointues une souris dans mon dressing

Classic with cool twists. The used jeans, the loose striped shirt and the sparkly clutch are everything.

Featuring Une souris dans mon dressing

brigitte repetto le dressing de leeloo

Le dressing the Leeloo makes the best out of the fifty sexy rockabilly spirit of the ballet flats

Lolita by Garance Doré

Lolita makes this classic unisex look light and feminine with her ballet flats. Picture by Garance Doré.

tokyobanhbao laced up flats

7/8 pants are the most flattering way to wear the laced up flat for most women. Featuring TokyoBahnbao

2. With short shorts/ skirts/ dresses

Since ballet flats are… flat,  they do not add any extra leg length.

Wearing them with short clothes enables you to make your leg appear longer on the top.

laced up ballet flats jules

Sincerely Jules with a laid back outfit. Would work with classic ones too. Do you notice how she tied her laced up flats low on the ankle? This trick prevents from shortening the leg too much and making it look like a sausage.

Laced up flats prosecco and plaid

Prosecco and plaid in a classic and vintage look that brings the ballerinas to their elegant Audrey Hepburn DNA.

look sage ballerines

This sweet and elegant outfit embraces even more this Audrey Hepburn style. If this looks too “schoolgirl” for you, think of the same outfit with minimal ballet flats, no peter pan collar and no headband.

3. With midi to long length skirt/dresses

To succeed with such an outfit, think dancer again.

The dress/ skirt shall be light and fluid.

Honestly, managing a successful ballet flats/ pencil skirt mix is almost impossible for most mortals (Alexa Chung’s stick thin calves not being something you often run into in the streets).

ballet flats long skirt

And you? Are you a street ballerina? 

Cover collage: Pauline Fashion blogSincerely JulesPandora

23 Responses to “How to wear ballet flats?”
  1. Antoaneta says:

    Hi! I am petite and wonder if these shoes style is suitable for me. I also can recommend ballet wrap top and high waist geans.

  2. Antonymous says:

    Back on topic, I think that midi skirts often look better than short skirts with flats and brings up the leg lengthening effect of long skirts more than a higher heel. It can also be a kitten heel or a medium block heel.
    I call it the inverse parisian, the longer the skirt the lower the heel ; the higher the hem, the higher the heel :). I’d add the higher the belt or waistline too.

  3. Barry Watkins says:

    I’m a guy but I love to wear ballet flats. What kind would you recommend to me to wear in public . I want a flat that is comfortable and cute to wear with blue jeans . Thanks

  4. Catherine says:

    As always, I’m late to the party. My favorite pairs of ballet flats are my Repettos–and I usually treat myself to a pair when I’m in Paris. J. Crew has, surprisingly, a very comfortable and pointy-toed ballet flat, the Gemma (don’t get me started on their heels though-truly uncomfortable!).
    And I wear my ballet flats with jeans–the skinnies that come up to my ankle, and casual shifts and skirts and some shorts.
    I won’t wear them with maxi’s. Nor do I wear them with office attire. With maxi’s its sandals. Office attire, pointy toed heels that are toe cleavage-bearing and a nice stiletto heel.

    *shrugs* C’est ca!

  5. Claire says:

    Enfin un post de votre part ! J’étais en manque aussi… 😉
    Très bien cet article sur les ballerines , et je suis d’accord, les ballerines à lacets renouvellent bien le genre.
    Mais surtout devraient permettent à certaines de les porter. Car mon problème avec les ballerines basiques, c’est qu’elles ne tiennent pas à mes pieds : ils sont trop fins et je les perds en marchant. Donc je me dis que lacets et brides sont bienvenus. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

  6. I love being barefoot, but the ballet flats I have tried so far have been extremely uncomfortable. I Think BB’s were much better quality that what I have tried on so far.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      The ones I own (and used to own) were very comfortable but they were not “originals”

    • Evelyn says:

      So cool to see you commenting here! *dances* I’m a big fan of Alois’ and your own blog!

      I feel they are uncomfortable too, maybe because they are made of too sturdy material (upper part of the shoe) or too soft and too thin soles (my main source of discomfort).
      I think BB’s were made of very soft, stretchy leather (like gym shoes, the ones we had to wear as kids for gym lessons at school; I still have to wear them in my dancing classes, too)

      There are quite a few brands offering barefoot shoes, but they’re not suitable to hard underground such as tarmac and cobbled streets. I think that’s the main problem with ballet flats as well.

      The only ones I found comfortable (but not stylish, not the least!) were the classic Clark’s with the thick vertical seam at the toes.

      • *Blush* Thanks!

        It would make sense that if the top part of the shoe is stretchy, then the whole shoe would mould itself to the foot.
        So far all the ballet shoes I have tried on made me feel weird, i couldn’t figure out how to walk in them. Funnily, I can walk barefoot comfortably but with ballet flats it just feels weird.

  7. Stine Friis says:

    I haven’t had a pair since my early teens I think, but now I might consider them. I’m a huuge loafer-fan, but the ballerina is just a tad lighter. A great way to put a splash of color in an outfit, so perheps I’ll just pick up a pair of cheap ones from H&M to begin with. Love the open sided ones! Feel a bit more edgy than the romantic classic one.

  8. Evelyn says:

    I have never been a fan of this shoe, and I always find them super uncomfortable.

    Eventually, I bought a pair years ago, as I couldn’t find any other pair suitable to some of my skirts (I can’t wear heels all day long). I never wore them with thes skirts, as even my beloved skirts couldn’t make me like the look of these shoes!
    So I kept them in the closet another two years, and now only wear them for the sake of them getting worn (vs. sunk cost…) as office indoor shoes. I still dislike the look and feel… plus their sound! They sound like a waddling duck, and they’re uncomfortable, because the sole is far too thin (means it lacks cushioning and shock-absorbance) for the hard streets.

    Stylewise, they’re just too girly and/or classical for me. I prefer a sturdy rock boot, Doc Martens or similar foot gear. For my skirts, I go with high heeled booties and retro shapes.

    I do love the lace up version though, as they lose their “I’m a ballet flat”-message almost completely. I have to admit, i bought the lace-up version with a heel, too 🙂

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Big fan of the lace up here too (well was obvious in the post ^^) . But I must say that when I see the rockab style with the classics I love it too.

  9. MABdePARIS says:

    Enfin, un nouveau post.
    Pour les ballerines, n’oublions pas qu’Audrey Hepburn et Brigitte Bardot ont fait de la danse à haute dose dans leur jeunesse: les ballerines faisaient donc partie de leur ADN.
    J’aime beaucoup les ballerines lacées qui renouvellent le genre et toutes tes suggestions pour porter les ballerines plus classiques.
    A quand le post sur les couleurs???

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      J’ai fait de la gym et du cirque, je vais réfléchir à quoi porter 🙂
      Et le post sur les couleurs… ahah… je varie les plaisirs en attendant mais il arrive il arrive.

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