Ballet Flats Are About To Be Cool Again
They’re ready for an encore
Meet the shoe that’s almost sold out.
When I think of ballet flats, I think of my 19 year-old self who envied Blair Waldorf’s wardrobe, replete with bows and headbands. Prior to moving to Manhattan’s Upper East Side for college, I lived in a small Michigan town and dreamt of living my best preppy life on the eastern seaboard. Ballet flats in various colors filled my closet, as did skinny jeans and polo shirts. I liked that the flats were small and dainty, which is exactly what I wanted to be at the time.
In the ten-plus years since, my relationship with ballet flats has become more ambivalent, and the fashion community seems to agree. While I used to see them as versatile, now I see them as limiting; they’re simultaneously “basic” in design yet specifically “basic” in character. I spy them often on commuting women in suit dresses who’ve happily opted out of the heels previously demanded in business formal settings, or on girls and women in skinny jeans and cardigans. They’re like spectres of my younger self, and I’ve grown up. I want a grown-up shoe, one that doesn’t fall, well, flat with dresses and skirts, one that can be worn with more than just skinny ankle pants a la Audrey Hepburn. One that can go with various looks instead of a look.
The current ubiquitous iteration of flat is less pretty and more utilitarian, eschewing a delicate bow for a clean shell my friend lovingly(?) calls a “foot condom.” Square toes and sock-like flexibility add to the contemporary feel. In some ways, they’ve become the ballet flats of Brooklyn—for those who want to be minimalist but also just-different-enough-to-be-interesting.
But then Mansur Gavriel showed their new collection and I immediately spotted the candy-colored flats with the elongated vamp—dainty bow included. For reasons I’m still trying to sort out, I knew I had to have them. While my aforementioned friend maintained she needed another five years before she could slip her toes into ballerina shoes again, I found that many other people I know felt the same as I did.
Is it just the relatively affordable price point that’s attracting me, given MG’s footwear usually sells for $100+ more? Or perhaps it’s the bold red hue that immediately reminds me of the time I dyed my pointe shoes crimson to play Snow White in an adolescent ballet production?
The high vamp feels modern in aesthetic while also being practical for the real-life dancer (and ex-dancer, and ugly-feet commisterator)—that is, it will cover my bunions. Unlike the iconic Repetto style, these feel more like chic flats made for adults instead of ones made for pre-schoolers. And based on the brand’s website, everyone seems to agree—most colors are sold out, including those on pre-order.
More evidence of the hype around these “Dream Ballerinas”: this Saturday, April 13th, the Soho store is holding a special event from 1-6pm where you can shop the new shoes and get them monogrammed. Will I be there? Yes, and probably early.
What this all means is by the time summer hits (the site says pre-order pairs ship mid-June), we’ll be seeing a lot of ballet flats taking center stage. Again.