Who says dressing for comfort begins and ends with a sweatsuit and slippers? This season, designers answered the ongoing call to create fashion for a low-key lifestyle by tapping into the beauty and function of dance apparel, putting complementary accessories center stage. This idea isn't new—the first pair of ballet flats for everyday wear was created by designer Claire McCardell and Metropolitan Opera House shoemaker, Salvatore Capezio, in 1941. Then Brigitte Bardot stepped out in a pair made by Rose Repetto for the 1956 film And God Created Woman. From Dior, to Valentino, to Vivienne Westwood, and Yves Saint Laurent, ballet has inspired countless collections; and dance companies have enlisted the talent of these and other iconic fashion houses to create exquisite costumes for the stage.

Today's interpretation of ballet fashion feels much more grounded in the utility of practice wear, rather than fantastical dresses made of layers of tulle or satin ankle-wrap stilettos for an en pointe illusion. The spring runways offered subtle nods: traditional pinks were found on tweed chain strap bags and leather duffles; ballet flats sashayed amongst the footwear. By pairing these accessories with warm-up knits, catsuits, coordinating brief sets, or a vintage-feeling black-and-white graphic tee, we created a refined take on athleisure: dressed-down ballerina. We called on the Washington Ballet’s Nardia Boodoo to try out our favorite styles. The result? A standing ovation.

Take Five

ballet fashion
GLAZED NYC TOP, $57; CAPEZIO TUTU, $61, AND TIGHTS, $15; CARTIER NECKLACE, $2370.
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

Perfect Form

ballet fashion
DIOR BRA, $1,600, BRIEFS, $1,600 AND SHOES, $1,150; CAPEZIO TIGHTS, $15; LEILA + MAE JEWELRY EARRINGS AND BRACELET (FOR SIMILAR STYLES).
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

Warm Up

ballet fashion
LOUIS VUITTON TOP (FOR SIMILAR STYLES), AND SHOES, $1,140; FP MOVEMENT BRIEFS, $30; CAPEZIO TIGHTS, $15.
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

Fancy Footwork

ballet fashion
CHANEL JUMPSUIT, $3,650, AND BAG, $6,500 (FOR SIMILAR STYLES); LEILA + MAE EARRINGS (FOR SIMILAR STYLES).
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

Stretch It Out

ballet fashion
GUESS SWEATER AND SHORTS (FOR SIMILAR STYLES); MATEO NECKLACE, $495, AND EARRINGS, $750; KD NEW YORK LEG WARMERS, $42; JIMMY CHOO SHOES, $795.
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

Duffle or Nothing

ballet fashion
MAX MARA COAT (FOR SIMILAR STYLES) AND BAG, $1,850; SACAI TOP (FOR SIMILAR STYLES); KES FACE MASK, $55; ISA BOULDER STOCKINGS, $300.
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

Off Duty

ballet fashion
CELINE JACKETS (FOR SIMILAR STYLES), BRA, $490, JEANS (FOR SIMILAR STYLES), AND SHOES, $590; LEILA + MAE EARRINGS, $50.
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

Quite a Flex

ballet fashion
SALVATORE FERRAGAMO DRESS, $990 AND BAG (FOR SIMILAR STYLE); FREE PEOPLE SCRUNCHIE, $12; KD NEW YORK LEG WARMERS, $42.
COURTNEY SOFIAH YATES

MODEL: NARDIA BOODOO AT WILHELMINA MODELS. HAIR: RO MORGAN AT THE WALL GROUP FOR DESIGN ESSENTIALS. MAKEUP: MICHELA WARIEBI FOR PAT MCGRATH LABS. MANICURE: DAWN STERLING AT STATEMENT ARTISTS FOR OPI. CASTING: ARIELLE BERMAN.

This story appears in the Spring 2021 issue of Marie Claire.

subscribe here