Are you trying to balance fun and function with the shoes on your feet? Ballet flats are known for being stylish and cute. Many women have a spot for these flats in their wardrobe, since they can be worn with dressier clothing as well as more casual wear. They are often flexible enough to be rolled or folded into your bag, where you can whip them out when necessary.
This type of footwear is very similar in shape to a ballet dancer’s pointe shoe, though it doesn’t have the infrastructure for you to go twirling around on the tips of your toes! Some come with ribbons like pointe shoes do. Others have elastic straps around the ankle to mimic the look, and help keep the shoes on your feet. These flats often come with a bow on the toes as well.
Although they all look similar, underneath the different materials and styles, not all of them work with every woman’s foot. Some are better for wide feet, others for narrow feet. Since they’re flat shoes, there is little to no arch support. Some of the shoes in the guide provide a bit more cushioning in the sole. Those with foot issues (such as plantar fasciitis) may find the selection a bit more limited. It’s important to know which shoe will be best for your particular feet before you buy them, to make shopping for your ballet flats less of a guessing game.
We’ve highlighted which feet work well in that particular style for each product in the buyer’s guide. Most of the shoes highlighted are very affordable, and we’ve noted which ones are more expensive. You’ll be able to find the ballet flat most likely to work for you in this buying guide. So read on to find your new favorites!
Top Ballet Flats Comparison Chart
|Product||Material||Top Lining||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Jessica Simpson’s Women’s Mandalaye Ballet Flat||Textile||Non-elastic||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Dexflex Comfort Women’s Caroline String Tie Flat||Faux Suede||Elastic||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Vionic Women’s Surin Ballet Flat||Faux Leather||Elastic||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Alpine Swiss Peony Womens Ballet Flats Elastic Ankle Strap Shoes Slip on Loafers||Synthetic||Non-elastic||$||Check on Amazon|
|Sam Edelman Women’s Felicia Ballet Flat||Leather||Non-elastic||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Hush Puppies Women’s Chaste Ballet Flat||Leather/Textile||Non-elastic||$$||Check on Amazon|
|ANNA Dana-20 Women’s Classic Ballerina Flats Elastic Crossing Straps||Synthetic||Non-elastic||$||Check on Amazon|
|Lucky Brand Women’s Emmie Ballet Flat||Leather||Elastic||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Dream Pairs Women’s Solid Plain Walking Classic Ballet Flats||Faux Leather||Non-elastic||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Cole Haan Women’s Tali Bow Ballet Flat||Leather||Elastic||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Ollio Womens Shoe Ballet Light Faux Suede Low Heels Flat||Faux Suede||Non-elastic||$$||Check on Amazon|
Ballet Flats Buying Guide
Ballet flats are a great way to give your feet a respite from heels, if nothing else. Short of sneakers, they’re among the best alternatives for having to run to catch a plane without looking like you’re wearing orthopedics. They’re also great for women who want a stylish alternative and can’t or don’t want to wear heels.
Ballet flats have a classic look, and can be worn with almost any type of outfit. There are not many events where you wouldn’t want to be wearing these shoes. They’re also very easy to wear, since most of them are a slip-on style. Some of the products listed in our guide have ribbons or elastic at the ankles, but in general they’re still pretty simple.
Need a colorful shoe wardrobe? This style comes in all different colors and patterns, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something to match your outfit.
Flat shoes have been in and out of fashion since the 16th century. Even men wore them in medieval times. Then, when heels became popular due to Catherine de Medici in the 17th and 18th centuries, flats were out.
Marie Antoinette walked to the guillotine in heels, so after that, flats were back in. Shoes for the ballet, which previously had heels, changed to a flat style as well. They then became similar to the ones we know today.
The 19th century saw functional shoes like sandals and boots in fashion. The cobbler Salvatore Capezio (of the shoe company) had migrated to New York, across from the Metropolitan Opera. He repaired so many ballerina shoes that he designed some himself that needed fewer repairs.
Ballerinas loved Capezio’s shoes. So did the American fashion designer Claire McCardle, who asked him for an off-stage version. And the modern ballet flat was born!
The shoes rose to prominence in the ‘50s. Brigitte Bardot wore a red pair in the movie “And God Created Woman”. In addition, Audrey Hepburn wore them in “Funny Face”. The popularity of the shoes has continued since then. Due to their classic style and functionality, most women have a pair in their closet.
Definition of a Ballet Flat
What are they exactly? Often, they look similar to the ballet slippers and sometimes the pointe shoes ballet dancers wear. The style is usually a rounded toe and no or very low heel. You’ll find that the toes are often decorated with a bow. The opening for the foot often has some kind of elastic or ribbon to help the shoe fit better. In this guide, we highlight only ballet flats that conform to this definition.
Other shoes are sometimes listed as ballet flats, but they have other characteristics that don’t match. For example, a ballet flat is not usually in the d’Orsay tradition, where the sides of the shoe are cut out. Nor do they have thick soles or excessively pointy toes. We also did not include Mary Jane styles, with a strap across the instep, in the guide.
Ballet flats are not the same as ballet slippers or ballet pointe shoes, even if the resemblance is there. Slippers and pointe shoes are dedicated to ballerinas, whereas the ballet flat is for anyone, whether a dancer or not. Ballet flats are designed to be offstage, unlike slippers and pointe shoes.
There are many other varieties of flats out there. Sandals and flip-flops are often designed with no heel. But the ballet flat has a certain look all its own. It can be styled in a number of different ways to match the outfit or the occasion.
Where to Wear Ballet Flats
Due to the characteristics of these shoes, they typically look demure and classic. Especially if you choose one of the options with a bow embellishment on the toe! This makes the style well equipped for different events and situations.
You can slide on a pair for running around town, or give your tootsies a break when your high heels are hurting your feet. They also suit the bill when you’re meeting the parents or going on job interviews.
If you’re applying for a job at a more rock ‘n roll type joint (or the parents are old rock ‘n roll types), you probably don’t want to wear your classic black ballet flat. Especially one with a bow. Boots or interesting heels will be a better look for that particular circumstance. You might be able to get away with ballet flats in a loud print or bright color, however.
These shoes are also not going to be the best accompaniment to your slinky night-on-the-town dress. Unless you want a pop of innocence to contrast with the outfit, your ballet flats will look too dainty.
Paired with cropped pants though, ballet flats give you some Audrey Hepburn glamor. They make denim look a bit more sophisticated than sneakers do. So you might wear them to a PTA meeting or on a date (unless you’re wearing that slinky dress!)
These flats go with skirts and dresses too, unless you’re in some kind of situation that requires a heel. A white-tie event, which normally requires a long gown, probably needs a heel. Even if it’s a low one, you need something a little fancier than the ballet flat. Other than that, feel free to pair dresses and skirts with these shoes.
A dress plus ballet flats is a super easy way to get dressed when you’re pressed for time, like when you’re already late for work. You don’t have to worry about coordinating tops and bottoms. Just slide that one-piece dress on, slip your feet into your ballet flats, and bolt out the door.
You don’t even necessarily need to match the shoe color to the dress. As long as you have a black and a nude/beige/brown pair, you don’t really need any more colors. Although having more colors is definitely more fun! Sometimes shoes aren’t so much about “need” as “want”. If you find a style that works for you, and is affordable, you may want a number of different colors to go with your outfits.
These shoes are a surprisingly elegant solution to dressing without a lot of muss or fuss. They’re lightweight. The soles tend to be flexible, and some are even designed to fold or roll up to take up less space in your bag.
Selecting a Ballet Flat
When buying shoes online, it’s a good idea to measure your feet. Many brands have calculators or conversion charts to help you figure out your size. Don’t forget to measure with socks or peds on if you’re planning to wear them with your new flats. And do it at the end of the day. Feet swell a bit as the day goes on, so if you measure too early the shoes may end up being too tight.
The flats come in various materials, which are usually not very heavy. Leather is popular, and you may also see suede, manmade textiles, or canvas-like fabric used with these shoes. The leather versions often last longer, since it’s a higher-quality material than some of the others. They also provide more stretch.
Since leather breathes, purchasers who know they have issues with sweaty feet will probably want to stick with it. Buying a different fabric that may not provide enough airflow is not a great idea.
Different materials may be included in each brand’s various options. Make sure you’re reading the descriptions carefully to ensure you’re getting the material you prefer. Just because the black shoe is leather doesn’t mean the navy blue is too – it might be pleather, suede, or another textile entirely.
A number of manufacturers provide plenty of colors and interesting patterns. However, these more flamboyant versions tend not to come in leather.
Whichever material you choose, be aware that due to the nature of their construction, your ballet flats will probably not last very long. They tend to have very thin soles and not much cushioning, so they’re more exposed to the ground than other shoe styles. Especially if you tend to walk frequently and on rough surfaces!
Don’t feel bad about wearing them out. Professional ballerinas can go through a pair of pointe shoes in one performance.
You can often get other varieties of footwear re-soled and re-heeled, more than once, without affecting the basic construction of the shoe. Good quality leather shoes and boots can easily last a decade or more with proper care.
Ballet flats can’t be repaired as often. You might find you need to toss them, instead of taking them to the cobbler like you do with other shoes. You can extend their life a bit, by using protective spray to prevent scuffs and other marks.
It does seem to be the case that you get what you pay for with ballet flats. The higher-end versions appear to last longer than the less expensive alternatives. “Longer” relative to these particular styles, at least.
The cheaper versions might last a season. Many customers choose the more affordable options, knowing they won’t last very long either way. The shoes can be cheerfully thrown out when they’re too worn. Then you can buy another pair, which is helpful if you change your wardrobe a bit each season.
Or you can buy several colors and patterns of the less expensive versions to have on hand. When you rotate wearing the shoes, it helps them last a bit longer.
Some ballet flats can even be rolled up and stowed in your purse. This is great when you’re trying out a pair of new heels and they’re killing you! Or you’ve spent the night in your killer heels and you’re ready to change to go home. Or even to have “just in case”. You never know when the cute person standing in line ahead of you is going to spill coffee all over your feet.
Those who live in a rainy section of the country might like to have a pair with them in case the shoes they’re wearing get soaked. You’ll always have a dry pair handy.
Finding Comfortable Ballet Flats
Even though these shoes may look very much alike from one brand to another, their construction can make a big difference to how they fit your feet. If you run narrow, the shoes that run small may be a great option for you. You might also want to try a brand that fits snugly as opposed to one that stretches out easily.
Comfort is a huge factor when shopping for ballet flats. Different buyers may be sensitive to different aspects of the brands. What one person finds amazing, another might find completely intolerable!
However, a common complaint with ballet flats is that the heel is uncomfortable. Often the elastic in the back, or the back itself, digs in to your foot. This can be easily fixed with some heel liners, which you can find at the drugstore. Or, you might find that once you break them in, the heel issue goes away.
The shape of the vamp or toe box (the top of the shoe that covers your toes) can affect you as well. Some people’s feet curl up a bit, and a tight toe box could put too much pressure on them. A good ballet flat for your feet will provide about a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe.
Individual preferences make a difference too. If you feel that your ankles are too wide, you probably don’t want to go with the elastic or ribbon strap versions.
How high the sides of the shoe go up can make you feel more or less secure as you’re walking. If they’re too low, your foot might slide right on out of the shoe. The straps help with this issue, keeping the shoe on your foot.
Purchasers of a couple of brands noticed an intense chemical smell when they opened the box. Some of them thought it dissipated in a reasonable amount of time, and others didn’t. If you have a sensitive sniffer, you’ll want one of the products that doesn’t come with that disadvantage, as noted in our guide.
Some women think a bow on the toe is absolutely adorable, and others can’t stand it. Either way, you’ll find a version to suit you.
Toe “cleavage” or toe “crack” is how much of your toes are revealed by the vamp. Some women prefer to keep all of their toes hidden, and others don’t mind some cleavage showing. No HR manager will send you home for showing too much toe or toe cleavage. There’s no other reason to reveal more or less toe, so this is really just an individual preference on your part.
Make sure your little piggies have room to wiggle! The toe box should be wide enough for your feet. If your toes are too cramped, you could end up with foot problems. Tight shoes can lead to bunions, which you don’t want, as they’ll make buying shoes even more difficult later. Word to the wise! Give your toes some room.
Recently, more shoppers have discovered “minimalist” shoes. They mimic being barefoot, but provide a little bit more protection against the environment. Who wants to walk around city streets barefoot? You may have seen the running shoes where each toe has its own little “glove”. Some of the flats featured in the guide provide a more stylish way to go minimalist. The soles have no cushioning or support of any kind, so they get you pretty close to barefoot.
Ballet Flats for Different Types of Feet
If you have sensitive or flat feet, you’ll want to watch for soles that are too thin. The minimalist style won’t work very well for you. You still want some arch support and a bit more comfort against the ground.
If you find a pair that you love with very thin soles, you can look for inserts (often found at the drugstore) to slip into the shoe, to give you a bit more cushioning. Even if you don’t have any specific issues, you might still want to get some inserts that can help your foot avoid the fatigue of flats.
Cushioning, when talking about ballet flats, is relative. You’re not going to feel like you’re walking on a cloud for very long, if at all. Even with a brand that claims to cushion and support, you won’t have the same experience as you would with a different style that’s cushioned.
However, several manufacturers do have more cushioning than others. If every little bit of support you can get is going to help you, stick to those brands.
The ballet flat is not great for those with flatter feet, who need more arch support to avoid stress fractures and neuromas. However, there are some ballet flats that are made with a hidden wedge inside. They look flat from the outside, but give you some heel support. And of course, if you have orthotics or other inserts, you can switch out the insoles give your feet some more support.
Those with flat feet or feet that have other issues probably don’t want to run around in these kinds of shoes all the time. You can rotate with different styles that aren’t as problematic for your feet. It’s a good idea to rotate your footwear anyway. That allows your shoes to dry before you wear them again, which helps them smell better over time.
Women with wide feet sometimes have more difficulty with finding ballet flats that fit and look cute on their feet. Just the shape of a rounded toe can have the effect of making the foot look blockier, as opposed to a narrower toe that helps elongate it.
A few brands offer wide widths, which can be a great option for wide feet. In addition, some ballet flats are just more accommodating for wider feet, due to the design of the shoe. We’ve noted in the guide if buyers with wide feet are happy with the brand.
Women whose feet fall in the larger size categories may also find it a bit difficult to find a ballet flat that fits. Many of the brands do not come in half sizes in the larger sizes. They might not fit as well as they do for the women who are able to order the half sizes. On the other hand, sometimes a half size up to a whole size is all you need for the shoe to fit perfectly!
While some of the brands run true to size, many of them don’t. The trend seems to be that the flats run small, so buyers need to size up. Though with a few, the complaint was that they were too big!
Online shopping does have one drawback in that you can’t try the shoe on before buying. As with many other shoes, it’s pretty common to have to exchange for a different size once you’ve tried them on at home. You might have seen an online review that recommended ordering up a half size. However, you need a full size up for whatever reason.
So be prepared to send them back if they don’t fit, because there’s a good chance that will happen. Women with hard-to-fit feet are used to this process, but others might not be!
When selecting shoes for the buyer’s guide, we looked only at shoes that had hundreds of reviews, if not more, and were rated four stars or higher. Some brands had a thousand or more reviews.
You’ll see some five-star reviewed shoes when you’re shopping online, but these typically have only a few reviews. It’s hard to make a judgment on shoes when only one or two people have reviewed them.
We also ignored sponsored shoes, where the manufacturer has paid for them to be in the spotlight on Amazon.
Best Ballet Flats Reviews
1. Jessica Simpson’s Women’s Mandalaye Ballet Flat
These flirty little flats are popular and well-rated. Like actual ballet shoes, they have criss-cross ankle straps. They also have a squarish vamp that looks like the toe box on ballet pointe shoes. The style makes them great for dancers (or ex-dancers!) Many purchasers find them very comfortable and cushiony. There are plenty of colors to choose from.
They run fairly true to size for those with average or narrower feet. Those with wide feet may need to size up a half size for them to fit better. They reveal some “toe cleavage” as the shorter upper doesn’t cover the toes completely.
Women who wear these flats get a lot of compliments on their cute shoes.
- Look like ballet pointe shoes
- They’re considered comfortable and cushiony
- The flats are offered in many different colors and prints
- Some women may prefer not to show so much toe cleavage
- Tend to be better for those with narrow to average width feet
- Reviews included complaints about soles/heels wearing out too quickly
2. Dexflex Comfort Women’s Caroline String Tie Flat
These flats come with a memory foam insole and jersey lining for more comfort and breathability. Compared to some of the other brands, there aren’t as many color options available. However, you do have more than just two colors.
The soles are durable, and the shoe can be folded to tuck into a purse or tote. The bow on the toe has a little charm, which is easily removed if you’re not into that kind of thing.
The fit seems pretty true to size. The material does stretch if you have wide feet or toe issues. Several purchasers with back pain or fibromyalgia found that these flats worked really well for them. Most find this products to be very cute and reasonably comfy to wear.
- The insole is made of memory foam
- The outsole is grippy
- They fold up small for carrying
- The fit is fairly true to size
- There are not many colors to choose from
3. Vionic Women’s Surin Ballet Flat
Vionic’s Orthaheel technology is included in their ballet flats. It provides more arch support than you might otherwise get in this style, though not as much as you might find in a different variety of Vionic shoe. If you have your own inserts, you can easily change out the insole.
These shoes are more expensive than many of the other brands in the guide.
Due to the increased arch support, buyers with plantar fasciitis found they could wear these shoes. Even though flats in general aren’t great for that condition, the extra cushioning seems to have made a difference.
They’ve got elastic at the opening and leather for the uppers. Due to the elastic, the shoe fits snugly, so they’re less likely to slip off your foot. The style with a tied bow at the rounded toe. This product tends to run about a half-size small, and some buyers found they require a breaking-in period.
- Orthaheel by Vionic provides a bit more arch support than usual
- The elastic at the opening helps keep the shoe on your foot
- These flats run a bit small
- They need some breaking-in, as few found they could be worn right out of the box
4. Alpine Swiss Peony Womens Ballet Flats Elastic Ankle Strap Shoes Slip on Loafers
With manmade uppers and a rubber outsole, these flats are more durable than some other models. They come only in whole sizes (no half sizes) and do not fit wide feet. Since they run small, purchasers who normally wear half sizes are recommended to size up.
Alpine Swiss donates some of their profits to feeding hungry families around the world. They’re a pretty decent option for those concerned with social justice, who also want to look good.
The soles are soft on your feet, and the shoes are breathable too. Their elastic straps are cute, and they also help keep the shoe on the foot so there’s no slipping and sliding around.
Anyone who doesn’t like toe cleavage will like these shoes, since very little toe shows, even with the rounded toe design.
- These are more breathable than some of the other selections
- The round toe is fashionable
- Some cushioning on the soles makes them more comfortable
- They run small
- There are no half sizes
- They don’t work for wide feet
5. Sam Edelman Women’s Felicia Ballet Flat
These leather flats come with satin binding along the opening, and metallic charms on the toe bow. The material feels soft and comfortable. As with all ballet flats, there isn’t much arch support, and the soles are thin. This product comes in a wide variety of colors.
Some women with wide feet didn’t fare as well in these shoes, though others found the wide width worked for them. If you’ve got wide feet, you may want to have a backup option available. The regular width is better for those with narrow to average width feet.
Some of the velvet versions were reported to have color that rubs off on your feet. You might want to spray some color protectant on the shoes first, though the dye does come off in the shower.
- This brand provides many different colors and textures
- The flats are made of leather
- Some buyers complained about the thin leather material, as well as the sole
6. Hush Puppies Women’s Chaste Ballet Flat
This interestingly named shoe provides more comfort than some of the other ballet flat selections. It has a rubber outsole, which makes it a bit more durable as well. There is a latex elastic band around the opening, which did cause reactions for those allergic to latex.
The suede sock lining makes it comfortable and breathable. This version of the ballet flat also has a bit of arch support, making it easier to walk for long periods. The support also makes it a better bet for someone with flat feet.
Those with wide feet have been happy with their purchases. Some purchasers needed to break theirs in, though others didn’t. So be prepared to spend a little time with these shoes before you wear them to a special event or for most of the day.
There are different colors and textures, though not as many as some of the other brands listed.
- There’s more cushion on the sole than other option
- The suede sock lining provides more comfort
- The design is good for buyers with wide feet
These shoes may need an extensive break-in period
7. ANNA Dana-20 Women’s Classic Ballerina Flats Elastic Crossing Straps
These synthetic material ballet flats have a lot of give in the material and elastic, so they are a good choice for women with average to wide feet. Purchasers with narrow feet haven’t fared quite as well.
Unlike many of the other slip-on styles, this variety zips up the back. Most buyers haven’t needed to break them in. However, some found the vamp was too flat and pressed down on their toes. Like many other ballet flats there isn’t much support or cushioning. These shoes run fairly true to size.
Women who tend towards sweaty feet may want to choose another brand.
The elastic straps dress up the flat, and help the shoe from slipping. One reviewer mentioned that she hates the flapping sound you get with flip-flops, so she appreciated the straps for that as well. Most buyers found that the straps were not too restricting around their ankles.
- This version is good for average-to-wide feet
- The elastic straps help keep the shoe on and make it look a bit more elegant
- The material doesn’t breathe, so feet with a tendency to perspire probably will
- The flat toe box may not be comfortable for some
- The design isn’t good for those with narrow feet
8. Lucky Brand Women’s Emmie Ballet Flat
These flats come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Some are leather and some aren’t. The toes are rounded, and the opening around the foot is loosely elasticized.
The footbed isn’t breathable, so this is another brand where your feet can get sweaty. You might want to spray the leather with leather protectant before wearing, so the toes don’t wear down as quickly.
They need some breaking in, but afterwards many purchasers found them to be comfortable to wear. Most wouldn’t wear these all day or for long walks, as like many other ballet flats, there’s not much support.
Many shoppers find they need to size up a half or whole size. They don’t show much toe cleavage either, for those who like to keep their toes under wraps.
- If you’re looking to pair with a specific outfit, you can probably find your color here
- These shoes are comfortable once they’re broken in
- They’re not comfortable (or sturdy) enough to wear for long periods of time
- The material can lead to sweaty feet
9. Dream Pairs Women’s Solid Plain Walking Classic Ballet Flats
This shoe comes with a rubber outsole for added durability, and a latex-cushioned footbed. This makes the sole a bit more solid, so the flats are easier to wear all day. The faux-leather upper is comfortable too. Not much toe cleavage shows in this version.
With these shoes, you have the option of adding a ribbon or ankle strap if you like.
Most purchasers found they needed to size up a half size for these shoes. The natural width is fairly wide, so those with wider feet might find these work pretty well for them.
Several buyers found that the soles are slippery when you first buy them, so be careful walking in them until you get the soles scuffed up. This is one of the brands where people noticed a bad chemical smell upon opening the box.
- There is more sole cushioning
- An ankle strap or ribbon option is included, making the shoe even more versatile
- They are good for wide feet
- The shoes give off a chemical smell when the box is opened
- The soles are slippery out of the box
- They don’t fit narrow feet well
10. Cole Haan Women’s Tali Bow Ballet Flat
This brand commands a higher price point than most of the other flats in this guide. The shoes are made of leather, with rubber soles. The opening has elastic around it, and the bow on the toe has the logo in the center. They come with a padded footbed, which includes Cole-Haan’s cushioning technology.
The shoes seem to run a bit small, so many purchasers are happiest ordering a half-size up. The sides of the shoe come up a bit higher on the foot than some of the other brands, which buyers liked, as it helps keep the shoe on.
The back of the heel is padded too, so most of the reviewers found that only a little break-in is required. Some with wider feet had issues with the toe box being too narrow, though others thought the fit was fine, as long as they ordered up size-wise.
- The uppers are made from 100% leather
- More cushioning is provided by the padded footbed
- The sides come up slightly higher than with some other options
- This style works for narrower feet
- This shoe tends to run small
- It may not fit well for buyers with wide feet
11. Ollio Womens Shoe Ballet Light Faux Suede Low Heels Flat
These fabric shoes are easy to break in, if you need to. Many purchasers, though, were able to wear them right out of the box. The plastic lining can be heated up and molded to accommodate your feet. This can be done pretty easily with a hair dryer.
They come with small toe inserts, which may or may not make the shoe feel more comfortable for you. They do not run true to size. Most buyers found them too small, though a few thought they ran big. They only come in whole sizes once you get into the larger sizes.
These were reviewed as being sturdy for the price that you pay, as they’re at an affordable price point. Some shoppers found these also had a bad chemical smell, but others didn’t. So these flats may not be the right choice for someone with a nose (or immune system) that’s very sensitive.
- They are easy to break in, if necessary
- The shoes come with toe inserts included
- At this price, the shoes are sturdy
- Some buyers disliked the bad smell upon opening the box
- These do not run true to size
- There are no half-sizes in the larger shoe sizes
Conclusion and Final Ballet Flats Recommendations
Now you know all about ballet flats and which options could work for you. While this style of footwear probably isn’t the one you want to run around all week in, they’re still great shoes to have as an option in your shoe closet.
Because there are so many variations from brand to brand, you can probably find a shoe that fits well and looks good on you from our guide.
If you have relatively few foot issues and an average-sized foot, congratulations! Most of these brands will work for you, though you may need a different size than you normally wear.
If you’re not a lucky winner, don’t worry. Your selection may be a bit more limited, but there’s something here for everyone. If you do have some foot issues like plantar fasciitis or Morton’s neuroma, you might benefit from adding in an insert to give you more support and cushioning too.
Women with wide feet should look into the Dexflex, ANNA, Hush Puppies, and Dream Pairs brands. If your feet are narrower, try Jessica Simpson, Alpine Swiss, or the Cole Haan versions.
Do you have issues with back pain or plantar fasciitis? You’ll probably prefer a more cushioned shoe like the Dexflex or Vionic options.
If your feet tend to run to the sweaty side, don’t feel bad: no one has to know! Just make sure you avoid the ANNA and Lucky Brand shoes, which don’t breathe as well as the others.
Nostalgic for your previous days as a ballet dancer? The Jessica Simpson flat has a squarish vamp that looks a lot like an actual pointe shoe.
Don’t have time to break in your new shoes? With the Hush Puppies and ANNA shoes, you’ll be off and running in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ballet Flats
Where can I wear ballet flats?
Almost anywhere! Ballet flats can go anywhere and look good with all kinds of outfits. Audrey Hepburn wore hers with cigarette pants in the 1950s. They can be worn with jeans, khakis, or any kind of pants. Or even shorts. Although they don’t provide a lot of foot support, they do provide more than flip-flops do.
Ballet flats can also be worn with skirts and dresses. If the shoe material is dressy enough, you could even wear it with a cocktail dress.
The one place your ballet flat can’t really go is a very formal white-tie type of event. You’ll want a more sophisticated shoe to go with a long gown.
You can wear them to job interviews, as they’re a very classic style. As with all clothing when attending an interview, make sure there are no obvious holes or stains. If you have leather flats you might want to polish them, and suede versions can be cleaned as well.
Meet the parents in these shoes too. You’ll give them a good impression and still be comfortable.
Are ballet flats different from other kinds of flats?
Yes! These shoes are modeled on ballet slippers specifically, and sometimes even on ballet pointe shoes, which are what ballerinas wear when they’re dancing on tiptoe. They tend to have a rounded toe, elastic or ribbon binding around the opening, and no visible heel.
Often there’s a decorative bow on the toe. This is a feature in ballet slippers, so the ballerina can tighten the toe to meet her needs. The bows on a ballet flat are usually decorative as opposed to useful.
How long can I expect my ballet flats to last?
You’re probably not going to be passing your ballet flats down to your daughter, much less your granddaughter. These shoes come in very close contact with the ground, so they tend to be scuffed up and worn down fairly quickly. The soles usually don’t have much cushion, so they also tend to degrade pretty quickly after you buy them.
Since they do wear out faster, fortunately you can buy many brands fairly inexpensively.
What colors do ballet flats come in?
All the colors of the rainbow, and more, depending on which brand you buy. Some companies offer a ton of different colors and designs, while others offer only a handful. Nude or pink (like ballet slippers) and black are most common.
Be aware that purchasers mentioned colors rubbing off on their feet more often with the colorful hues and designs, than with the more standard colors of nude or black.
Some manufacturers also offer prints and patterns as well. Common prints include animal prints like snakeskin or leopard. Let your feet roar in a set of print ballet flats!
What kinds of material do ballet flats come in?
Depending on the brand, color and design, the shoes might be leather, canvas, suede, some other textile, or manmade. The leather versions tend to accommodate your foot and breathe a little better, but they also tend to come in fewer colors. If you want your leopard print or ruby red ballet flats, you’re probably not going to find them in leather.
The sweaty feet brigade (no judgment!) will probably want to stick to leather and suede as these materials are more breathable.
Are ballet flats better for your feet than high heels?
In some ways ballet flats are better than high heels, especially stilettos. The rounded toe style tends to give toes more room than the pointier vamp you normally see on high heels. So ballet flats don’t hasten bunion formation like heels do.
Also, since there’s less pressure on the ball of the foot, there’s less damage to that area when wearing ballet flats.
However, that doesn’t mean that ballet flats are actually good for your feet. Because they are so flat, there is little arch support or sole cushioning compared to other shoes (that are also not high heels.) This may lead to issues like plantar fasciitis.
Can I wear ballet flats if I have flat feet?
Yes, you can! They’re not the best option for flat feet, which just means you don’t want to wear your ballet flats 24/7. Some brands shown above have slightly more cushioning and/or arch support than other ballet flats. You could try one of those brands, bearing in mind that cushioning and support are relative in the world of ballet flats.
Alternatively you could wear thin inserts that provide the support you need. Or combine the inserts with a more cushioned version.
Do ballet flats run small?
Sizing is very particular to each brand. In general, however, more products in the guide ran small than ran large or true to size. If you’re ordering online, be prepared to make exchanges as sizing a half size up (as is often recommended) doesn’t always work, depending on your feet.
Are ballet flats the same shoes as ballet slippers?
No, ballet slippers are used by actual ballerinas in their dancing. The slippers are also not the same as a pointe shoe, which supports a ballerina dancing on her tiptoes.
A ballet flat is not designed for the dance stage. It’s to be worn offstage, and not necessarily by ballerinas. Anyone can wear this kind of shoe. So don’t bring it to your dance practice – you’ll need a slipper for that!
The slippers come in very few shades. Mostly, they’re offered in shades of pink and now brown as a nude hue for dancers with darker skin. By contrast, ballet flats not only come in these nude shades, but in every color of the rainbow. You’ll also see them in many different kinds of prints and patterns.
Can I wear my ballet flats right out of the box?
Some purchasers find that the shoe slips right on, and they’re ready to go. Others find that they need to take some time to break them in, by wearing them for short periods of time until the material has relaxed around their feet. A few of the brands have more buyers who need to break the shoe in than others.
For those with existing foot issues especially, purchasing inserts or liners to cushion and/or support the foot may be required. For example, someone with flat feet may need to slip in an insert with arch support. If the heels feel tight or like it’s digging into your skin, you might want heel liners to cushion the rear of your foot.
Will ballet flats make my feet go flat?
Flat feet are actually a genetic condition. Either you inherit them, or you don’t. However, without proper arch support, over time your foot can flatten out a bit. Not having flat feet is better for wearing ballet flats.
Fortunately you can still wear them even if your feet are flat, but you might want to look into buying an insert as discussed above.
Can I go ahead and order my ballet flats in the same size as my sneakers?
The answer to this is a resounding maybe! Or maybe not. Even though your flats and sneakers may be coming from the same manufacturer, the sizing can be different for different types of shoes.
You need to measure your feet and compare them to the size chart to have the best shot at a fitting shoe. Remember also that the size of our feet tends to grow over time, especially after a pregnancy or two. What you wore a few years ago may not be the size you are now. Of course this is true for all shoes, not just ballet flats.
What if I’m a guy and I want to wear this particular style?
Ballet flats for men are not as common as they are for women, but certainly some men have adopted the style. There are a couple of manufacturers that sell ballet flats for men, or advertise their shoes as unisex. For the most part, though, you’re probably looking to find women’s flats in large enough sizes for your foot.
Measuring your foot will help you here. If you’re buying a women’s shoe, look at the women’s shoe size conversion chart when making a purchase.