How to Style Ballet Flats, Vol. 2

Leave your stilts at home


I feel like I’ve been yelling at you to take me seriously about ballet flats for like, two years. The minute I saw this one French stylist buzzing across a room on set with Club Monaco on a warm spring day in 2014 wearing black Repetto ballet flats with high waist Levi’s and a striped t-shirt that The Moment wasn’t far. It didn’t hurt that she looked something like a little boy, ear-length blonde locks and pastel blue eyes notwithstanding, but now that The Moment — heralded by Miu Miu and Valentino — has come, so has the question: how da fuq do I wear them?

Figuring it out is a simple process of elimination that starts with: how won’t I wear them? With mini skirts, with any fabric that could be described as ethereal, with shorts that are not denim. And why? Because we’re not necessarily trying to look like commuters. On the contrary, our flats exude purpose, so…

1. Start With Some Lace Ups and a Slip Dress (You Get +1 If It’s Denim):


Marni dress, Ballet Beautiful flatsGarrett Leight x Clare V. sunglasses and Aurelie Bidermann necklace

The ballet flats don’t even actually have to come with laces, by the way. Just find two strands of ribbon and tie that shit around your ankles.

This works because you essentially look like you have places to go, but also like you committed to treating yourself with respect today. You wanted to have “A Day,” so you put on your dress, jazzed it up with a necklace and then wore sensible shoes because you’re not impractical. You’re a smooth operator.

2. If a Pair of Baggy Pants Won’t Work, Maybe a Flare Will?


AG Jeans sweater, Atea Oceanie x Man Repeller shirt dress (coming soon), Rosie Assoulin flare pants (another option by Rosie Assoulin here), Chanel ballet flats and Karen Walker sunglasses

Earlier this week I wore a white suit with the photographed red ballet flats, a bit more stiff than the rest of the ones I’d recommend, and a striped shirt. I thought it looked great; Amelia told me I looked like I was commuting. I figured that if I was like, an inch shorter, I’d probably agree with her, so when I went back to the drawing board, a pair of flared pants made good sense in this context. We don’t want to look like 70s reincarnates but have in many ways committed to the trend, which means I’d guess plenty of you have some cropped flares lingering about your closet, no? See, and I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle with figuring out what kinds of shoes best compliment cropped flares. Enter the !ballet flat!

3. And If You’re Kind of Cold but Want to Wear Cut-Offs?


Rosie Assoulin jacket (another option here), Rare Market top (you can also layer this embellished top over this shirt), Levi’s shorts, Topshop socks, A.P.C. flats and Rebecca de Ravenel earrings

Ankle length socks with flats! This way, your feet are warm, you look like you’re wearing sock boots that hit your shins, your legs are cold, but who cares because you got the denim cut-offs in and the top of your body is taken care of by a wool coat (or a utility jacket! Whatever!) and a velvet top (or wool sweater?).

Maybe I’m fully off. Are you back on the ballet flats trail? Tell me now! And tell me true! (So I can say, “I’m here for you.”)

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


Get more Personal Style ?
  • love love love!


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  • I’m wearing ballet flats since forever and I was thinking about DIY the ballet beautiful navy flats !! I’ve this black look-like Repetto flats but it’s actually H&M that I wear daily with my flAAARE jeans and feel… I slay I slaae…, I win, you win with those flats, we all Win the ease.

  • Sonia

    Am I alone in thinking that because I don’t have stork legs ballet flats make my legs look stumpy? No matter how hard I try I feel like I inevitably look like a sausage bursting out of its casing. So with that I ask: any recommendations on how to wear them when you’re not a baby deer? Or am I doomed?

    • Meg

      You’re definitely not alone. I love my stumpy legs (so strong! so flexible!) but other than my “screw it wear it anyway” mentality, I generally stick to cropped jeans/trousers with flats. A strip of skin poking out always seems to help.

      • Aydan

        YES! I have a jumpsuit that hits just above my ankle and I always wear it with flats!! I’m pretty short and too don’t have the legs of a gazelle, but I think it looks awesome with short pants!!

        • Leandra Medine

          You guys are going to show us some pictures right?

    • I wouldn’t compare my legs to a baby deer’s, and have generally been my greatest insecurities. So, I will say, ballet flats do sometimes give that look, but I would recommend not wearing them with super skinny jeans, or maybe getting flats that are “nude” or have some sort of embellishment (like a tassel?) in the front. And like Meg said, also go with a “who gives a crap!” mentality while you’re at it!

    • Leandra Medine

      baggy jeans??!?!!?!?

    • Senka

      If you don’t hate the look of pointy flats they could be good for you, because they visually elongate the leg. I use that trick myself sometimes.

  • If I take nothing else away from this website at least I now have the ability to immediately identify Rosie Assoulin pieces on sight. Nice!

    • Tara Raffi

      I was just thinking the exact same thing.

  • Allie Fasanella

    LEANDRA, YOU’RE SO HOT! *whistles*

    i’m liking that ballet flats are back. i have the comfiest pairs from j.crew that i got on sale like 2 years ago and i have 3 colors.

    into what you’re bringing to the table

    • Leandra Medine

      may we seeee a fowwwtowwwww, allie fasanella?

      • Allie Fasanella


  • I really do love these looks! Especially the second one. Proportions!

  • Charlotte

    The first look!

  • Charlotte

    I do have a question! I love my ballet flats (I always wear London Sole). But they always start hurting after an hour or two. Not the soles, but the at the back. I do not pull the string too tight or anything… Any tips?

    • Sometimes they do, Try to put some bandages before wearing it in that place!

    • If they’re too loose on you, they might cause that to happen. Or the really curved ones. Those can get really tight at the back and cause pain. Definitely recommend keeping bandages with you.

    • Gabfab

      They are hitting you on the wrong spot. This happens to me with every shoe. My shoe repair guy, who is amazing and figured out the source of the blisters, adds a little bit of padding under the insole to lift up the back foot. He also stretches he shoes overnight to soften the leather. No blisters. Problem solved.

    • sdouek

      This definitely happens to me a lot with flats and I find that stretching them a bit helps a lot!! Wear your flats around your house with some gym socks — a great look for making some pancakes or binging on Netflix 😉 — it’ll help mold the flats to your feet and keep them from hurting you.

  • Wearing ballet flats today. I was feeling kind of shitty thanks to a strange allergic reaction I had to who knows what. So I went for black skinnies (which I cut the bottoms of a bit), striped shirt, and black blazer. The most put-together I have felt in months.

  • Mary Yasmine Arrouche

    You’re wearing the grey jacket of my dreams ? (Mine is Jason Wu)

  • Cute outfits! I wore my last leopard print pumps to death and would still be wearing them if I didn’t have to leave them in New Zealand when I moved back home to Scotland… Sometimes we have to make these kind of sacrifices. It’s still too cold over here for pumps buuuut I might give the sock trend a bash and see how it goes! Terri x

  • in love with that rosie assoulin jacket

  • Emily Love

    totally with you!

  • Erin

    Love this post. Serious question though: what is bad about looking like a commuter?

    • Leandra Medine

      Well, when you’re not in the process of commuting anymore, it’s more a matter of state of mind, no? Don’t you want to look and therefore feel settled/grounded and not like you’re in transit?

      • Erin

        Yes, I agree; it’s valuable to take action to feel settled. Like taking off your coat when you get home. I was only thinking of the times I’ve worn shoes out of necessity/function and surprised myself with a pleasant combo 🙂

  • Abigail

    AHHH that rosie jacket is amazing. and i wish i was this good at incorporating cutoffs into real grown up outfits

  • crazyloverblue

    I now know I need a denim dress. Love it. Can’t wait to get some fun flats for once (with a pattern maybe?).

  • Lebanese Blonde

    Some person who I do not know but I love got rid of about 5-6 pairs of cool Italian leather flats by Rangoni at my local thrift store, and one happened to be in perfect shape and exactly my size. They’re very Blair Waldorf-meets-vintage Chanel but look SO cool with baggy jeans and a big sweater (I work the night shift so I get to dress in basically-pajamas to the freezing office).

    • Lebanese Blonde


  • Shevaun

    I love all these dang flats but I feel like my feet are too long and bony to successfully pull of ballet flats. I always feel sloppy in them, and like my feet are pointily (it’s a word) poking out. Maybe I’ll try doing the ribbon ones though because they are so pretty? Decisions!

  • You look gorgeous with anything!! I look like a good teenager with ballerinas xD

  • estelle

    HOW could you not include martiniano’s flats??? It’s the ultimate modern ballet flat. Stockists:

  • Molly O

    If you’re looking to dip your *toe* in the flat shoe water without breaking the bank – experiment with these babies. Purchase tip: I can confirm they run a size small.

  • Madeline Nusser

    Best caption ever: “My camel toe needed some Vitamin D.”

  • Ali Peat

    I never left the ballet flats trail and been wearing them for about 10 years now! My favourite ones are Bloch, as they are perfect for my wide feet:)

  • Isabela Weeks

    Loooove the ballet beautiful slippers. Did you get a wearable sole put onto them??

  • Sarbonn

    Woww to how this article brought me back to my ‘the pair’ of cerulean Repetto’s—not even a month of wear in before my dog decided the heel of one flat was his new favorite toy (but I guess all’s fair in love and bark). While they were fun while they lasted, the hole in the back of my Repetto to this day lives as a grim reminder that things really are better in Paris…le sigh

  • I’ve never actually worn ballet flats in a fashion way (only a dance way) but I’m really happy that these ballet-inspired trends are making its way back into fashion these days

  • I_heart_steak

    wow. one certainly does not want to look like a commuter… meaning someone who can’t afford to live in manhattan. nice.

  • I like ribbons I like the palest blue I like the crinkly I like the tassels

  • I loooove flats. When I find a good pair I usually end up wearing them down until there’s nothing but fabric between my foot and the concrete. The problem I have is that those pairs are so few and far between that I end up reverting to converses in the middle.

    Also, does anyone else feel like they don’t want to spend as much money on flats? I don’t know why my brain does this, but I’ve spent $300 on the right pair of heels, but every time I think about getting a pair of Repettos I think “$300 for a pair of flats? Nope.”

  • Senka

    I love ballet flats and I cannot lie. I wore them stubbornly even during the rule of stan smiths and such, because I love them more. My favorite brand might be RAS, that makes some cute bejewelled babies. But I’d succumb to anything that is lovely and soft leathered and ornated. Plus if French women love’m, and weare’m who am I not to?

  • Jess

    Did you get a sole put on to the ballet beautiful flats?? SO. GOOD.

  • Ellie

    I keep coming back to this post and looking at your socks like a total weirdo. I need to go sock shopping and dance around in my ballet flats hailing the death of the sneaker!

  • Abhilasha Gaur

    I just loved this. Really stylish and looks great. I have recently done online shopping and has purchased 2-3 pairs of bellies. Gonna bookmark this for next purchase. Really thanks.


    So quirky

  • Ailsa Colbert

    Late to the ballet flat party, but as a (cool) mom I can attest to their awesomeness. You need to try Pretty Ballerinas – a gorge Spanish brand. Mine are leopard print with tassels and I will wear the sh*t out of them this fall with black Frame high-waisted skinnies, a tucked-in tee, and my long wrap Rebecca Taylor coat (the secret to not looking like an ice cream cone in flats and skinnies).

    Gosh your writing is sharp. New fan.

  • YoBabyWazUp?

    So cute! In everything!

  • Hayley Lyons

    but what if carrying around band-aids is a good thing, you never know when you’ll need them 😳

  • Fashionist World

    Cool images.
    The jacket is pretty much cool.
    Loved all outfit.

  • Ramesh Chandramowli

    hi, Thanks for the nice pic. I liked the all the flats shown.
    click on online classifieds website

  • Lea

    In French we call it “Ballerines”;) i like how you wear it with socks!

  • Julia Shna