fashion friend

Hey, Fashion Friend: Are Ballet Flats Back?

Photo-Illustration: The Cut

In middle school, I had a pair of ballet flats from the Limited Too. They were my favorite and, from what I recall, were brown and sparkly and left a trail of glitter most places I went — a calling card of sorts. I’d pair them with a pair of Bermuda shorts and an Empire-waist baby-doll blouse. I felt like Gisele Bündchen in that outfit. Surely, this was peak fashion. No one had ever been trendier or more fashionable than my 12-year-old self in that moment, and it was all thanks to my little ballet flats that had zero arch support and made my feet sweat like Kanye West wearing winter clothes in the summer.

On some inconsequential day, I put them in the back of my closet, somewhere in my graveyard of collared shirts and capris, and forgot about their existence — at least until the discourse began.

In early 2022, Vogue asked its readers, “Are We Ready for a Ballet Flat Comeback?”

Throughout the year, trend forecasters and general fashion-adjacent consumers have been spotting the resurgence of the ballet flat as a “trendy” article of clothing (but, let the record show, some people never stopped wearing them! That’s on having a sense of personal style!). In July, influencer Matilda Djerf wore a pair of black Chanel ballet slippers. TikTok users went into a polarized frenzy. “Now that Matilda Djerf has brought them back, they’re back,” one said. Another wanted to remind us slipper veterans of the woes we experienced while wearing them: “Before you buy a pair of ballet flats, I want you to remember the feeling of a sweaty foot, your sweaty-ass heel popping out of a ballet flat in the summer.” Sarel Madzebra told her followers, “You can slap whatever label you want on it. I ain’t wearing a ballet pump. I’m not part of that narrative.” Other content creators, giddy to revive the trend, immediately began styling their flats with leg warmers and billowy pants and straight-leg jeans.

Here’s the thing: Just because you saw Djerf wearing ballet flats doesn’t mean you need to start wearing ballet flats. This isn’t Mean Girls, and Djerf certainly is not Regina George. If you don’t like these little pumps, go ahead, loathe them, hate them, hiss at them as you window-shop, if that’s what you’re called to do. However, if you see these ballet flats and think, Wow, these really fit my personal style, and I could see myself wearing them long after they’re considered trendy, we’ve got the roundup for you.

If you, like me, fall into a third, less represented category of people who wanted to be dancers growing up and never got the ballet classes they always wanted, maybe now is a chance to do that cliché thing of healing your inner child?

As with any cyclical trend, I recommend shopping secondhand and browsing what your local thrift and vintage shops have to offer. If those come up short, we’ve got some quality finds for your feet below. My main criteria for choosing were that they’re in the ballet-flat shape and would make any outfit more chic.

If You’re Into the Classics

For girlbosses on the go!

These are so versatile that it’s very hard to go wrong with them.

J.Crew is having a renaissance. Just trust me.

Senior fashion writer Emilia Petrarca recommended these, and I would trust her with my life.

I’m a sucker for a square toe and love how they’re incorporated here.

If You Want to Make a Statement

I think these speak for themselves (they’re telling me I will never be able to afford them).

If You Want an Elevated Take (Literally)

Several Cut staffers recommended these to me, and I’m pretty sure they’re the ones Lily-Rose Depp famously wore.

Fashion assistant Vivian Chuang loves these, and I love Vivian’s style, so — by the transitive property — I, too, love them.

Imagine stompin’ around in these itty-bitty heels. They’re very similar to the Repetto heels at a somewhat friendlier price.

If You’re Into Comfort

These are not quite ballet flats but they do say: “I’m meeting a friend for tennis but I’m still going to make it fashion.”

Camper is a famously very comfortable shoe and these look orthopedic in the best way.

For more from the Cut Shop team, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we share our best new finds, favorite styling tricks, and more.

Hey, Fashion Friend: Are Ballet Flats Back?