Why the Ballet Flat is About to Make a Big Comeback For Fall 2020

Shannon Adducci
·4 mins read

The pandemic has created an entirely new way of looking at fashion, and there are plenty of trends that have cropped up as a result, from sweatpants-as-work-attire to the onslaught of tie-dye that has circulated social media feeds.

Flat shoes are no doubt another pandemic-induced fashion trend, but one style is creeping its way to what looks like a full-on comeback this fall.

For nearly the past decade, the ballet flat has lived its life as a modest shoe, elegant in a quaint, retro way but also safe, conventional — and a little too ordinary. This has especially been true when compared to the blockbuster, must-have appeal of the fashion sneaker, or even the unisex allure of the loafer (why would anyone opt for a ballerina in 2015 when you could get a Gucci Princetown lined in fur?)

But now, in the vortex of the pandemic’s virtual offices and stay-at-home lifestyle, the ballet flat seems to be twirling back to life. And thanks to some clever new approaches from a handful of buzzy fashion brands, the style is feeling fresh again.

It may have all started with a shoe that isn’t really even a ballerina. Back in April, as lockdown orders persisted, a flat shoe from The Row began to make the rounds on the feet of fashion insiders and influencers, becoming an “It” shoe of sorts for the lockdown. Featuring a lace-effect mesh upper, The Row’s mesh slipper resembles more of weird spa sock than a ballet flat. But it was the way it hugged the feet in strange, glove-like manner that offered a glimpse of how the ballet flat could gain appeal during this stay-at-home era.

View this post on Instagram

Slipper season ☁️

A post shared by Caroline Tran (@carotran) on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:09am PDT

Since then, other brands have also begun to play around with the traditional silhouette. New York brand Khaite has a cult following for its Katie Holmes-approved knitwear, but fans — including Holmes — show the same loyalty to its footwear. Recently, it debuted the Monroe flat, a ballet silhouette in caramel suede with ties that criss-cross over the foot and wrap around the ankle. There is also its Ashland, a more traditional ballet flat done in black or white leather with a scrunchie elastic edging, a style that will make any former ballerinas feel a twinge of nostalgia.

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To buy: Khaite Monroe flat, $304 (was $760).

The success of the ballerina this time around lies on quirky innovation — and squarely on a square toe, though not exclusively.

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Summer snuggled☕️

A post shared by Pernille Teisbaek (@pernilleteisbaek) on Jul 28, 2020 at 7:52am PDT

UK brand Neous has one of the most exciting new takes, a flat whose supple leather ruches up around the ankles and has exaggerated square toes that look a bit like flippers.

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To buy: Neous Phinia leather ballet flat, $555.

“It” shoe brand Bottega Veneta also has its version, a basic-luxe flat with its new almond toe and a more covered vamp, in options that include basic soft nappa leather as its signature intrecciato leather weaving technique. What the brand has also nailed is a new “It” color: a warm, supple beige that looks and feels like gloves for the feet.

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To buy: Bottega Veneta Almond flat in woven intrecciato, $1,100.

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To buy: Bottega Veneta Almond flat, $720.

For those looking to make less of a financial commitment in a simple flat shoe, most of the direct-to-consumer brands, from Allbirds and Everlane to Mansur Gavriel, have already released versions that are a bit more traditional. Everlane has also picked up on the “gloves for the feet” idea with its

With plenty of new options, we’re betting the new ballerina could a pep in a few steps this fall — even if it’s merely a dance from the living room to kitchen.

Shop the new ballet flat for fall

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To buy: Everlane The Day Glove leather flat, $118.

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To buy: Allbirds Tree Breezers flat, $95.

 

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To buy: Mansur Gavriel Dream Ballerina flat, $375.

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To buy: Jil Sander square toe stitched ballerina shoe, $580.

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To buy: Vionic Robyn ballet flat, $120.

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To buy: Repetto Cendrillon suede flat, $350.

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To buy: The Row leather ballet flat, $760.

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To buy: Roger Vivier Gommette patent ballerina flat, $550.

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