What a strange language English is! Take the word flat, for example. In Britain, a flat is what we in North America would call an apartment. Flat can mean smooth and even, without bumps and indentations. It can be a musical note or a piece of stage scenery. We can be flat broke, lie flat on our backs, or turn someone down flat. Today is Fashion Friday, however, so once again we’re talking about shoes, ballet flats in particular.
The ballet flat, a timeless, polished, and quietly chic style of footwear, was inspired by the dance slippers worn by ballerinas in France in the mid-18th century. It was French film actress, Brigitte Bardot, who would ultimately transform the ballet slipper into it’s present day form. Once trained as a ballet dancer, Bardot asked French footwear designer, Rose Repetto, to design a pair of flats for her that were as flexible as ballet slippers, but softer and more comfortable. Bardot wore the now-iconic style in her 1956 film, And God Created Woman.
Fashion trends come and go, but the ballet flat has remained a wardrobe staple for women for nearly 70 years. Other famous fans of the tried-and-true style have included Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, and Meghan Markle.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, with spring comes lighter footwear including the ubiquitous ballet flat. Though these lightweight, flexible, and comfortable shoes are traditionally rounded at the toe, square-toed and pointy pairs can also be found. Apart from highly formal, black tie events, ballet flats are suited to almost any occasion from the office to a party. They are, of course, perfect as part of an everyday casual outfit. I would not, however, suggest wearing them when you plan to do a lot of walking as they don’t provide adequate support for that.
And now for a few styling tips:
- Avoid tights and socks. Ballet flats look best over bare feet.
- Show some skin. Ballet flats look most flattering when your ankles or lower legs are showing. They look great with dresses, skirts (especially loose, flowy styles), and cropped pants.
- Simple ballet flats also look great with skinny jeans or leggings.
- If you want to create the illusion of longer legs, choose a simple nude pair.