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The era of Y2K fashion has come, gone, returned and finally, stayed. After waiting in the wings of the fashion runways, ballet flats are ready to take center stage. Here’s how to style flats for 2024, in case you are feeling apprehensive about the return of this shoe trend.
From strappy kitten heels to sky-high platforms, low-rise jeans to almost non-existent mini skirt hemlines, and tiny shoulder bags to tinier sunglasses—it seems as if every single possible early 2000’s defining fashion piece has made a comeback. For some (specifically the Gen-Z age group), the style revival was a fresh take on fashion to lean into and redefine. For others (anyone over the age of 30), the era was soaked, and perhaps soiled, by intense nostalgia, cringe-worthy flashbacks and the existential dread that accompanies having pieces from your childhood labeled as “vintage”. Based on the likes of TikTok and Pinterest, it seemed as if the Y2K revival would never end—it would take a strong force to flatten the Y2K momentum. And flatten it did. Enter: the ballet flat trend.
For some, the return of ballet flats initially evokes a Nutcracker Ballet nightmare scene but if you’re willing to pirouette your perspective around, the trend may just become your fashion dream sequence.
Similar to the Y2K revival, ballet flats resurface outfits of years past that you may prefer to keep sealed in hidden “friends only” Facebook albums. It’s easy to associate the shoe with skinny jeans, chevron blouses, fitted blazers and circle scarves—to be fair, with that vision, I wouldn’t be eager to pull ballet flats back out of my closet either. The key to nailing the ballet flat look is to reimagine the type of outfit ensemble that will make the shoe shine.
To demonstrate the many positions ballet flats can play in your real-world wardrobe, the StyleCaster editorial team met up for an impromptu (read as: well-planned and styled) ballet class. Everyone on the StyleCaster team has incredible personal style (though I may be a bit biased). In the office, we love to share shopping recommendations and debate the latest trends—ballet flats were the most recent piece to be defended. Though not everyone walked onto the set ready to bare their soles at the ballet barre, I can confidently say that everyone left with a fresh perspective on flat footwear.
The next time you’re walking down a crowded street, try to count how many metallic outfit pieces you see—it’s guaranteed to be more than you expected. Metallics are having a major resurgence in fashion right now and while the shiny shade looks great (and very dramatic) in a head-to-toe capacity, metallics can be more realistically styled when used to accessorize. Metallic ballet flats merge the shoe’s classic silhouette with a modern colorway. While silver metallic may feel bold, the shade itself acts as a neutral—it goes with everything! Kaili’s look proves that the Y2K aesthetic and ballet flats can co-exist.
Ballet flats are considered a wardrobe basic but that doesn’t mean the pattern should be. Patterned ballet flats are slowly but surely emerging in the market and as the trend gains popularity, so will prints. Checkered ballet flats for example, give fashion maximalists an opportunity to mix and match prints. If you prefer to keep things classic, base your look off of Brittany’s and use patterned flats to give a Canadian tuxedo pop of personality.
Satin ballet slippers are for the true ballerina at heart. The soft fabric and elastic strap on this Miu Miu pair look almost identical to the classic ballerina slipper beginner dancers wear. Copy Oliva and pair them with a girly dress to achieve #balletcore status or give the shoes a modern spin by slipping them on with a sleek maxi skirt or baggy denim.
You may be familiar with first position but are you familiar with the first rule of fashion? When in doubt, add texture! Mesh was everywhere this summer and is proving its longevity as a transitional texture for fall. Chloe’s black mesh ballet flats work for formal occasions or just coffee out with friends. Plus, when cold weather hits, they look incredible over slouchy knit socks—no cold feet with this trend!
If you’re not planning on wearing ballet flats for dance class, may I suggest getting a pointed-toe pair for your potential return to the office? A pointed toe has a similar impact to wearing a heel (without the discomfort) and will instantly elevate the formality of your look. Summer’s outfit is the ultimate demonstration of an office It Girl—cargo-style slacks, an oversized blazer and a perfectly pointed toe.
Photography: Olga Ush
Design: Sasha Purdy
Styling: Olivia Marcus