Ballet flats: different types and how to wear these women’s shoes

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Ballet flats are one of the most popular styles of women’s shoes in the spring/summer season. Not surprising, given how fresh it feels to have the tops of our feet exposed. Not to mention how flexible they are and how well they adapt to our feet, making them perfect for the warmer months. In this article we will explain all there is to know about this unique style of shoe, the different types, and all the different outfits they go so well with.

The history of ballet flats

Despite its name, this type of shoe does not come directly from the world of ballet: rather, the name came from its resemblance to the actual footwear worn in dance performances at the time. However, in spite of their similarities, they are two different and easily distinguishable types of footwear, since ballerina shoes feature the unmistakable ribbons that are absent from the shoes we see today.

The ambiguity about their origin is why these shoes have been given different names. For instance, in Spain, they are often called “manoletinas” in reference to the bullfighter Manolete, who had very similar shoes made to wear for his bullfights in the 1940s.

Even the style of ballet flats with a strap across the instep, known as “merceditas” in Spain, got their name from the consort of King Alfonso XII, Queen Mercedes of Orléans, popularly known by the humorous diminutive nickname “Merceditas”. This shows that it was already a commonly worn style of shoe by the 19th century, and one that was embraced by different social classes (from the bourgeoisie to royalty).

Countless names for a single type of shoe, characterised by flexibility and comfort, as well as being versatile enough to be worn in any setting. It explains why these women’s shoes, with so much history behind them, still remain so relevant today. Below, we will take a closer look at what types of ballet flats are available.

What types of ballet flats are there?

The long history of this type of women’s shoe has bred a number of different varieties. The main styles are:

  • Classic ballet flats
  • “Manoletinas” ballet flats
  • Peep toe ballet flats
  • Ankle strap ballet flats
  • Slingback ballet flats
  • Buckled ballet flats
  • Heeled ballet shoes
  • Pointed toe ballet flats
  • Ballet pumps with instep strap (“Merceditas”)

Classic ballet shoes are open to reveal the instep, a common feature of this type of footwear. Manoletinas stand out for their great flexibility, and are often low over the instep with a rounded shape. Peep toes are characterised by having open toes, while ankle strap ballet flats have a firmer fastening at the ankle, often in the form of straps or ribbons. In fact, the shoes come in so many creative forms, with varying structural elements (the heel or the shape of the toe), embellishments, and colour schemes, all coming together to create an endless range of options.

What to wear ballet flats with and when to wear them

Versatility is the hallmark of ballet flats. You can wear them with:

  • Tight or loose trousers
  • Jeans
  • Skirts and miniskirts
  • Dresses and mini dresses
  • Blouses

What you wear them with depends on your chosen style or setting. For example, if you want to look informal yet chic, wearing your ballet flats with jeans to show off your ankles is a popular combination. For informal styles, square toe ballet flats are a common choice; depending on how formal or informal you want to look, you might choose embellishments or eye-catching colours. 

For a more formal style, a great alternative is to go for ballet flats with pointed toes for a more elegant look; this shape will help slim your figureHeeled ballet shoes can also give you a more formal edge. In this case, embellishments such as buckles or exaggerated bows at the toe are also useful for adding extra style. The same goes for colour: black and restrained tones are more suited to formal settings, although ballet flats are so versatile that you can add splashes of colour without sacrificing elegance.

In short, ballet flats offer a multitude of options. Lottusse also has several variations of this type of footwear. If you want to buy ballet flats, you will find a number of options in our catalogue: calfskin, goatskin, heeled, flat, woven, round or pointed toe, and many others.