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. When I told her I would save up my allowance, she said my feet would grow. And if my feet didn’t grow, she said I may not even want to wear them the following year. While she was right about my feet growing but wrong about her other point. Even now, I never really got over my love of ballet flats. And now that they’re officially cool again—and one of the fall-winter season's biggest footwear trends—I can wax poetic about the 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 exaggerated 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.’” We're looking at you, 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 and kitten heels, but ballet flats, especially, a silhouette that has gained momentum through past seasons but is more important than ever,” Richards continues.
Instead of lusting over one pair or silhouette, designers offer 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—co-signed by Marie Claire’s Style Editor Emma Childs—and 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 Mary Jane Ballet Flats: Madewell Greta Ballet Flat
- Best Pointed-Toe Ballet Flats: Rothy's The Flat
- Best Trendy Red Ballet Flats: Tory Burch Bow Cap-Toe Logo Ballerinas
The Best Ballet Flats
Best Overall Ballet Flats
These classic ballet flats from Sam Edelman are available in 38 different colors and prints, so you're bound to find one that suits your fancy. It comes with a padded sole and is also made from buttery soft leather. 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 shoes 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 that you find a shoe that is as comfortable as it is yet still fashionable. I bought them in the black leather, and they are extremely versatile. I will be ordering them in every color!" — Nordstrom.
Best Pale Pink Ballet Flats
This pair of flats from Loeffler Randall 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 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.
Pros: Comes in several colors; in half-sizes; Comfortable; True to size.
Cons: It doesn't come in half sizes.
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.
Pros: Affordably-priced; Comes in 36 colors; No break-in period.
Cons: Some reviewers say they run big.
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 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.
Pros: Fits true-to-size; Cult-favorite; Comes in several colors; Fast shipping; No break-in period.
Cons: No half-sizes.
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.
Pros: Comfortable; Top-selling; Comes in several colors; Leather material molds to your feet as you wear.
Cons: Doesn't come in half-sizes.
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.
Pros: Runs true-to-size; Cult-favorite; Comes in several colors.
Cons: Silk can get dirty easily.
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
Pros: Editor-reviewed; Comfortable; Top-reviewed; Runs true-to-size; Comes in several colors;
Cons: Some reviewers say the toe box is too narrow.
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 Trendy 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.
Pros: Comes in two colors; Comes in half-sizes; Runs true-to-size; Comfortable.
Cons: Some reviewers say they're narrow
Customer Review: "The cap-toe shoe was great. I purchased several pairs in different colors. I have enjoyed all of them. They are very comfortable and the fit is perfect." —
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
Pros: Editor-reviewed; Come in half-sizes; Can be dressed up or down.
Cons: Silk can get dirty quickly.
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 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.
Pros: Expert-reviewed; Comes in satin or leather finish; Comes in several colors.
Cons: Tend to sell out quickly.
This pair of slingback flats from Carel achieves the perfect French girl look. 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.
Pros: Comes in half-sizes; Can be dressed up; Cult-favorite following.
Cons: Shipping can take a while.
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 is perfect for the everyday. The softer structure guarantees a blister-free experience, and the oversized bow is sweet. Reviewers have them as comfortable and say 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.
Pros: Top-rated; Comfortable; Come in several colors; Molds to your feet as you walk;
Cons: It dDoesn't come in half-sizes.
Customer Review: "I'm beyond pleased with these cuties. They feel like buttery slippers. I would wear them constantly if I weren't afraid of wearing them out! True to size." — Anthropologie
These $60 flats from Nordstrom's brand, Open Edit, look far more expensive in real than they are, and after seeing nearly everyone I know wearing them min the office and on the street, I've decided they're worth the buy. Available in either black or silver—a trendy option for the season—they're top-rated for comfort. They run true to size and are versatile to style for either day or night. You can shop them in sizes five through 11 (including half sizes!).
Pros: Affordably priced; Comes in two colors; Comes in half sizes; Runs true to size.
Cons: The strap is thin and, therefore, can be difficult to buckle.
Customer Review: "Perfect little Mary Jane flat! The quality is good and true to size" — Nordstrom.
I don't know about you, but nothing sounds comfier than wearing a so-called "glove" shoe style. This pair from Everlane has a highly high vamp that covers most 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: olive green and a sweet dusty pink. You can shop them in sizes 5 through 10, including half sizes.
Pros: Comes in several colors; Top-rated; Comes in half-sizes;
Cons: Has a narrow fit; Some customers say they run small.
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
"As an ardent Amy Winehouse fan, I've always been tempted to indulge in the ballet flats trend, but the ultra-flatness of the style tends to hurt my feet. I’m much more comfortable in shoes with a bit of a heel, which is why I fell in love with this pair from Alterre. They retain the chic silhouette of the classic ballet flat but feature a comfy three-quarter-inch heel. I’m also obsessed with the removable velvet strap on top, which lends a girly, festive feel to any outfit." — Gabrielle Ulubay, E-Commerce Writer.
Pros: Editor-reviewed; Customizable look; Has a removable velvet strap.
Cons: Don't come in half-sizes.
Best Gold Ballet Flats
"Sézane comes out with a version of these every year, which is no surprise because they're a fan fave. All their shoes are comfy, but these woven flats contour to the shape of your foot. The fact that they come in many colors is a blessing and a curse because I got them in a few colors and have a few others on my wishlist. Not sorry." — Katherine J. Igoe, Contributing Writer
"Before having children, I practically lived at an MMA gym, a lifestyle that resulted in a few foot injuries. But I still wanted to enjoy heels and stylish flats, so I've been searching for the perfect innovative brand that combines comfort and style. Vivaia's Instagram ads kept calling me, but it wasn't until they had a pop-up in New York City that I could try on various styles, including their pointed flats. I am now a believer. The quilted-cushioned sole is heavenly. Made from plastic bottles, the shoes do not pinch at the toe or around the heels; it's a skin-friendly soft walk all-around. The brand has size options for wide feet, A-EE. Comfort aside, the ballet flats look luxurious. I'm ready to commit to their boots, heels, mules, and more." — Tanya Benedicto Klich, Senior Editor.
Pros: Editor-reviewed, Comes in several colors; Sustainably-made; Has options for wide feet; Comfortable; Has a padded insole;
Cons: Some reviewers said there was a break-in period.
Customer Review: "These shoes have barely been off my feet since I got them! They are super comfortable and go with everything. What more could I ask for?" — Vivaia
Black patent leather ballet flats like this pair from Berlin-based brand Aeyde are great because they instantly elevate a casual office outfit and add a subtle shine to a monochromatic look. From the delicate strap across the top to the subtly ‘90s-inspired square toe, they’re versatile (and comfortable) enough for daily wear. They’re available in half-sizes, and the brand notes that they run true-to-size, too. Shop the cream-colored version for a playful twist on your winter wardrobe.
Pros: Comes in two colors; Runs true-to-size; Comes in half sizes.
Cons: Tend to sell out quickly.
White ballet flats like this pair from Prada have year-round appeal because they work with either dark-toned outfits or summer dresses. They’re made from smooth leather and have a sleek pointed-toe silhouette with a dramatic flower at the front for a sweet finish that will peak out from underneath your trousers. This pair is perfect for brides who are not looking for a higher heel or for those of us who are looking to update our shoe collection with a team that isn’t black.
What to Look For In The Best Ballet Flats
There are so (so) many new ballet flat options on the market for 2023. With so many versions and silhouettes to choose from, here are a few helpful guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for your own pair.
- Fabric: Most of the ballet flats on this list are made from leather or satin. Both materials tend to mold to your feet as you wear them, giving you a more comfortable feel as you go through your day. Because ballet flats are so close-fitting to your feet, you want to go for a fabrication that won’t rub or pinch, so I recommend staying away from anything that looks too stiff. The ballet flats on this list are top-rated for blister-free comfort.
- Insole and Arch Support: Flat shoes are notorious for not providing much support for your arches. Some of the ones on this list are outfitted with precisely comfortable insoles to combat that. You can wear these flats for hours from the office to drinks and back home. When shopping for ballet flats, remember how the sole is outfitted, too—is it made from durable rubber? If so, that might be a good direction to go in.
- Fit Many of the products on this list fit true-to-size, and many come in half-sizes for easy shopping. The key to the most comfortable pair of flats is finding one that fits you perfectly without being too tight or loose on any part of your foot. If possible, you should always use the reviews for a firsthand account of the fit, but brands also tend to note how their ballet flat runs regarding sizing. We’ve made sure to mark how each pair runs below.
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 events," 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 gives 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