How to Wear Ballet Flats Without Looking Basic

Before there was the basic bitch, there was, plainly, the concept of looking basic. It was equally as lethal as the former term and frankly, Charlotte got her job at Man Repeller because during her interview, she exclaimed with equal parts conviction and the swagger of a Fred Astaire/Lena Dunham hybrid creature that the only thing worse than looking bad is looking basic.

You know the drill, right? A cardigan and skinny jeans. Maybe a little black dress. It’s like the unironic, unaffected version of normcore. And you know what the most emphatic totem of basic dressing is?

Ballet flats.

Always has been, always will be.

But see, there’s a caveat because in recent months, the popularly comfortable shoe is seeping right back into the fashion zeitgeist via Saint Laurent, Isabel Marant, CĂ©line and A.P.C.

The final location comes with an anecdote: last Sunday, while I was committing to a pair of white jeans and a striped shirt from the mens department at the anterior, I saw a woman walk over to the register with a pair of red ballet flats. They looked used and that made them seem maximally appealing.

I asked if I could see a pair for myself and when I did, I tried them on. First in nude, then in red, then in black patent — held up against my large white jeans and oversize t-shirt — and that’s when I settled on the shoes. For a minute, I felt like I was trying to renew my license to look basic, or “jappy,” as we Yeshiva students called it way back yonder, but then I got to thinking about what my liking the shoes implied.

I concluded that because I dress like a boy five out of seven days a week, my conceding to ballet flats meant coming to understand that I’m ready to wear them because I know how to wear them. So, without further ado, I give you: how to wear ballet flats without looking like a basic bitch who has just spent the entirety of her Sunday in the West Village, taking photos of tulips and hash-tagging #nofilter.

What you see here is a pair of enormous ripped jeans I purchased from Asos three years ago. They’re worn right below my stomach and fastened with a black belt. While you don’t have to wear a dramatic off-the-shoulder top to approximate the same concept (a t-shirt plus trench coat or jean jacket will do, I’d steer clear of a blazer unless it’s boxy and big), I figured that pairing a traditionally fancy-as-fuck top with the jeans and flats would detract even further from the wrath of that which is eleMENTAL.

The ultimate key here is: big pants, a little bit of exposed ankle and messy hair. Here’s a shopping bar to break it down:

And here are flats so you too can defeat basic bitchery.

I’m glad we had this chat.

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