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In middle school, all the cool girls in my grade had the same pair of black Tory Burch ballet flats, which my mom refused to buy me. My feet would grow, she said when I told her I would save up my allowance, and I would no longer wear them. Or, if my feet didn’t grow, she couldn't guarantee that I would even want them the following year. While she was right in one way—my feet did, eventually, grow—she was wrong about her other point: I never really got over my love of ballet flats. Now that they’re officially cool again—and one of the fall and winter’s biggest footwear trends—I can wax poetic about all of the very best ballet flats I cannot get enough of for 2023.
After a few seasons of squeezing my feet into heels with enough of a platform to risk breaking an ankle over a nary crack in the sidewalk, the ballet flat has finally offered me a far more comfortable (and risk-averse) option. It felt like the fashion world agreed on this fact in unison: ballet flats were all over the runways for the Fall/Winter 2023 season. Pointed-toe flats were prominent at Prada. Lace-up flats were spotted at both Bode and Wales Bonner. Mary Jane flats went viral after appearing at Sandy Liang. And they weren’t just worn in lieu of a trendy sneaker during the daytime: Ballet flats instantly became a nighttime outfit staple after being styled with an array of formal ensembles across the board. Mesh flats—which were popular a season earlier on the Spring/Summer 2023 runways—have since gained cult status amongst the streetwear set for the end of summer and early fall.
“The new footwear season is really an exercise of flowing into flatness, and we'll see that most emerging silhouettes are a huge step down from the exaggerated constructions—platforms, lug soles, and the like—that rocked the past couple of years,” says Jessica Richards, Trend Forecaster & Founder, JMR Trend + Creative. “So while we typically associate heels and height as the going-out go-to, one of the biggest shifts in the market for fall is watching flatter options take on a larger role outside of what has normally been considered ‘casual.’” Also important to mention here are brands like Khaite and Tory Burch, whose over-the-top embellished ballet flats sold out near-instantly.
Richards points to brands like Valentino as co-signers of the new flat footwear movement, who both ushered in the viral platform heel before putting models in flats for their Fall 2023 Couture runway show. Also important to mention here are brands like Khaite and Tory Burch, whose over-the-top embellished ballet flats sold out near-instantly.
"The desire for sleekness has created a new market for low-height wedges, kitten heels, but especially newness in ballet flats, a silhouette that has gained momentum through past seasons but is more important than ever,” Richards continues.
Instead of lusting over one single pair or silhouette, designers are offering a choose-your-own-adventure approach to the once-simple style. Ahead, I rounded up my personal favorite pairs of ballet flats. Shop satin options from Miu Miu and Maison Margiela—which have been co-signed by Marie Claire’s Style Editor Emma Childs—as well as leather options from brands like Loeffler Randall, Sam Edelman, and more.
- Best Overall Ballet Flats: Sam Edelman Felicia Ballet Flat
- Best Affordable Ballet Flats: Amazon Essentials Women’s Belice Ballet Flats
- Best Splurge-Worthy Ballet Flats: Miu Miu Logo Strap Satin Ballet Flats
- Best Trendy Red Ballet Flats: Tory Burch Bow Logo Cap Toe Ballet Flats
- Best Mary Jane Ballet Flats: Madewell Greta Ballet Flat
- Best Pointed-Toe Ballet Flats: Rothy's The Flat
Deals on The Best Ballet Flats
Amazon Essentials Women’s Belice Ballet Flats,
$25 $20 at Amazon
Select colorways are going for $17 right now rather than the oh-so-affordable $20 on Amazon. With nearly 40,000 five-star reviews on the site, these easy flats are certified best-sellers. Reviewers recommend sizing up a half-size for the best fit. As one reviewer put it: "I needed a pair of flats that I was going to have to do a lot of moving around in and I didn't want to spend a ton of money—these were great for my purpose and fit the bill!"
The Best Ballet Flats
Best Overall Ballet Flats
These classic ballet flats from Sam Edelman are available to shop in a whopping 38 different colors and prints, so you’re bound to find one that suits your fancy. It comes with a padded sole and is made from buttery soft leather, too. They’re available in sizes 4 through 14, so they’re great if your foot runs on the smaller side. They also come in three widths (Narrow, Medium, and Wide), so they’re one of the most customizable pairs on this list.
Customer Review: "I am obsessed with the Sam Edelman Felicia Flats. I especially love that they come in wide sizes since I have a wider foot. They are by far the most comfortable shoe that I own. The padding inside feels like you are walking on air, which is perfect for my job since I stand on my feet all day. It isn't very often when you find a shoe that is as comfortable as it is, yet still fashionable. I bought it in the black leather and they are extremely versatile. I will definitely be ordering them in every color!" — Nordstrom
Best Pale Pink Ballet Flats
This pair of flats from Loeffler Randall literally looks like it was plucked off the stage of a ballet recital, complete with an elastic band and a tiny little bow at the toe. These are available to shop in sizes 5 through 12 and the brand notes that they run true-to-size, but they don't come in half-sizes. Also, the 100 percent leather upper is softer than some of the other picks on this list, so they'll take a little bit of professional care to keep them looking their best. However, the ultra-soft leather means they'll get more comfortable as you wear them—a fair trade-off in my book.
Best Affordable Ballet Flats
Need a pair of ballet flats that cost less than $50 and will arrive in basically no time at all? Meet this simple under-$20 pair from Amazon Essentials. Available to shop in 36 colors and patterns, you may as well pick up a few pairs while you’re shopping. But don’t take my word for it: They have over 35,000 five-star reviews on the site. While reviewers give these top marks for comfort, they note that they might not work for you if you have wide feet.
Customer Review: "I needed a pair of flats that I was going to have to do a lot of moving around in and I didn't want to spend a ton of money - these were great for my purpose and fit the bill!" — Amazon
Best Mary-Jane Ballet Flats
Mary Jane-style ballet flats aren’t going anywhere this season. They appeared on the runways at fan-favorite brands like Sandy Liang and Zimmermann and have officially taken over the streetwear crowd. The traditionally sweet shoe can be edged up, of course, but I prefer to let them be their sweet selves with frilly socks or dresses. This pair from Madewell comes in a few colors including this deep chocolate brown, cost under $100, and are hailed for their comfort and buttery-soft leather.
Customer Review: "These shoes are great. The leather is buttery soft and they are stylish yet understated. The fit was big for me. I’m always a true 6 and there was a lot of room in the toe and my heel was slipping out. A half-size down was perfect. Would highly recommend but consider going down a half size." — Madewell
Best Satin Ballet Flats
Luxury brand Miu Miu is no stranger to a great pair of ballet flats, but this sweet-feeling satin pair has taken the fashion set by storm this season. They’re available in sweet shades like white, copper, and black, and will add a delicate touch to your fall and winter outfits. Plus, they’ll work just as well next summer with a pretty dress. However, they won’t be great for all-season wear due to the delicate satin fabrication, so they’re best reserved for special occasions.
The Machine Washable Flat
"My go-to ballet flats, without fail or exception, are Rothy's The Point flats. I love these shoes so much, I've written endlessly about them for this very site—including a full review at the link above—and own them in four colors, including a limited-edition white that I'll be wearing to my wedding. That isn't a joke; I literally will be wearing them under my dress when I get married this September. Never doubt my commitment to what I, a biased person, believe to be the ultimate flats." — Jenny Hollander, Director of Content Strategy
Customer Review: "The best part about this (besides recycling) is that it's washable. i like looking polished even on casual wear days and part of that is keeping shoes clean. thanks, Rothy's!" — Rothy's
Best Ballet Flats With Buckles
If you were going to pick a pair of ballet flats that are on the edgier side, choose this option from Stuart Weitzman. I personally have not been able to stop thinking about them since I saw them in-store a few weeks ago—they’re surprisingly lightweight given all of the buckles and hardware. Buckled ballet flats were seen on the runways at Wales Bonner, and these really take the trend-within-the-trend to the next level. They come in two colors—black and a pewter-gold-type color.
Best Editor-Approved Ballet Flats
"At the intersection of "horse girl who never quite grew up" and "fashion-obsessed freak," you'll find me wearing Margiela's baby pink Tabi ballet flats. These babies are a relatively new purchase for me (and quite a hefty splurge, too, at that!), but I already consider them a wear-every-week staple. They possess just enough stylish quirk to satisfy my individuality complex (the hoove toes are not for everyone, admittedly) but also a surprising versatility. Depending on my mood, I wear them with a billowy midi dress or my favorite grunge-y baggy jeans." — Emma Childs, Style Editor
Best Stylist-Approved Ballet Flats
“The ultimate chic girl meets goth girl pair is the Repetto Sophia leather ballerina in black. I love how it feels exactly like a ballet slipper; but with attitude for the street. Black is definitely the must have color to own in this styling. It's instantly adding that level of coolness, kind of a good girl gone bad, but also wearable enough that the season's extra details like an elasticated cross-strap or even tie-up laces feel chic and not costumey.” — Jessica Richards, Trend Forecaster and founder of JMR Trend + Creative.
Best Red Ballet Flats
Some things don’t ever change—I'm still obsessed with ballet flats from Tory Burch all these years later. This time around, though, I prefer these sleek red-and-brown cap-toe ones for the new season to the classic hardware-adorned ones that I was dying for in my youth. Available in this oh-so-trendy fire-engine red colorway or all-black, they’re just a bit unexpected. The brand notes that they also run true-to-size and they’re available to shop in sizes 5 through 11—including half-sizes.
Best Velvet Ballet Flats
I have long sung the praises of Larroude shoes. They’re so comfortable, for one, and have held up despite my best efforts to wear them every chance I get. This velvet embellished pair comes in three colors (maroon, black, and a denim option that’s slightly more casual) and are going to be perfect for the festive season and your never-ending slew of holiday parties. Larroude shoes have always run true to size in my personal experience and they come in half-sizes!
Best Patterned Ballet Flats
Not every pair of flats in your collection can come in a basic color—and cheetah print is everywhere for the season ahead. We saw splashes of the pattern on the runways at shows like Celine and Blumarine, but this is a great way to incorporate the look into your wardrobe in a slightly more subtle fashion. The boxier design at the toe means that they won’t get squished over the course of the day, and the flexible synthetic sole is designed to get more comfortable every wear.
Best Silver Ballet Flats
Silver shoes are one of my favorite unexpected fall trends. They popped up at both Zimmerman and Rabanne, but this pair from Vinenza via Anthropologie are perfect for the everyday. The softer structure all but guarantees a blister free experience, and the oversized bow is so sweet. Reviewers hale them as comfortable and say that they run true-to-size, with one shopper even opting to wear them to their wedding. However, some shoppers recommend buying a sole insert if you need more arch support.
I have not been able to get these Simone Rocha platform ballet flats out of my head. They’re not the most traditional pair in the world, but that’s why they’ve taken the fashion world by storm—the perfect combination of of sporty and sweet. While you can also shop them in black, I think that this white colorway really shows them off in all their glory. The rubber treaded soles equal supreme comfort, but the embellishments on top mean that they would look equally amazing with a frilly dress.
Achieve the perfect French-girl look with this pair of slingback flats from Carel. Alexa Chung has been a longtime fan of the brand, and has worn the Kina shoe, the style after which this pair was inspired. This glossy pair is a dream to wear with jeans to make them look more formal, or with a mini skirt for the perfect mod, ‘60s-inspired ensemble. They’re available to shop in sizes EU 36–roughly a US 6—through an EU 39 39.5, or a US 9.5.
I don’t know about you, but nothing sounds comfier than wearing a so-called “glove” style of shoe. This pair from Everlane has an extremely high vamp so that it covers the majority of your food, making them the perfect ballet flats if you detest any hint of toe cleavage. This pair comes in seven evergreen colors plus two seasonal shades like olive green and a sweet dusty pink. You can shop them in sizes 5 through 10, including half sizes.
Customer Review: "I blister like nobody’s business and I didn’t have a single blister, no chafing, no problem whatsoever with these shoes and I have DIFFICULT feet. Wide, flat beasts. These were great. 10/10." — Everlane
Best Two-Tone Ballet Flats
If you can’t decide between wearing brown or black (it happens!) pick this pair of flats from Mango. They’re made from satin with a leather sole and an elastic band and can be easily folded in half to keep in your bag on a weekend trip. They also come in all-black if that’s more your energy, but I’ve found that wearing brown—a perennial fall favorite—is a great way to add subtle contrast to an otherwise all-black outfit.
Best It-Girl-Appoved Ballet Flats
Everyone in fashion—and I do mean everyone–seemingly owns this pair of flats from Ganni in the original black colorway. I’ve had several fashionable friends try to convince me to buy them, and this burgundy shade might the version that pushes me to do it. They’re hailed as being supremely comfortable and durable for all-day wear all over the city. I was worried about the buckles causing pinching or rubbing, but I’ve been assured that’s not a problem in the slightest.
How to Style Ballet Flats
"The luxe ballerina will elevate casual looks like late-season shorts and skirts to denim in the fall, while also working as an option for evening event," says Richards about how to incorporate ballet flats into your fall outfits. The bottom line? Pair flats with pieces that you wouldn't normally expect them to be styled with: formal dresses. "Think about the "wrong shoe" trend; this season embraces the surprise and delight of seeing a silhouette that typically we wouldn't expect, so while a ballet flat may feel odd at first paired with something more dressed up, it is actually giving a luxe whimsy and joie de vivre to our fall fete looks. Dressed up or down, the ballet flat is the key shoe of the season."
Meet The Expert
Jessica Richards is a trend forecaster, style storyteller, and founder of JMR Trend + Creative, whose synergistic focus inspires what is now and next. With an extensive background in forecasting, concepts, and design for major North American retailers, she brings a forward-thinking yet commercially and brand-right viability to projects across the fashion and wellness
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Julia Marzovilla is the E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she covers everything from the latest beauty and fashion launches and sales to celebrity outfits and news. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and STYLECASTER. In her spare time, Julia can be found creating shopping guides for all of her friends, spending too much money on yet another pair of black boots, and cooking in her far-too-small kitchen.
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