Ballet Flats Are Bad For You! Here's What To Wear Instead - The Gloss Magazine

Ballet Flats Are Bad For You! Here’s What To Wear Instead

We keep falling in love with the wrong shoes; it’s time to break up says Sarah Halliwell… Here’s what to wear instead

Ballet shoes are back again this spring – and it’s hard to look at Miu Miu’s satin ballerinas in gleaming copper or lipstick red without an instant craving. But it’s not just the cost (€650) that gives pause for thought: it’s your feet.

The ballet aesthetic has always held such allure. From the sleek hair bun to legwarmers, the tidy elegance of the barre provides fashion with endless inspiration. I remember my daughter being desperate to join a ballet class, and then quitting as soon as she had the outfit. From Amy Winehouse, balancing her huge hair and black eyeliner with dainty (if grubby) ballet shoes (from, £14.95stg, suppliers to dance schools), to Kate Moss in black Chanels – as classic as No.5 – ballet shoes speak of daintiness, grace and chic casual dressing.

Back in the day, French company Repetto were the fashion favourite, although buying from dance stockists was always cheaper. Once I braved Freed in London, where the staff made it clear they were wary of people like myself – with clearly zero aptitude for a pirouette – determined to squeeze our feet into little pink satiny shoes for fun. Blame it on Moira Shearer (whose Red Shoes came from here; Freed now do a range of fashion ballet flats for £60stg).

We’re hearing of dedicated followers of fashion suffering not from high heels, but from flats…

Leaving in the early morning dark for a flight the other week, I threw on a pair of ballet shoes to run through the terminal in – for practical rather than fashionable purposes, thinking they were better than heels. What a mistake. Being in the flattest of flat shoes for all the travelling was a killer; by the end of the day, my soles, arches, knees and calves were aching. I should know better; I walked the pier in flipflops during lockdown, and have the physio receipts to prove it.

As Dublin physio Dr Marie-Elaine Grant warns, all that lockdown time spent in flat slippers, flipflops and bare feet has been damaging for our bodies, and we need to wear supportive footwear, especially as we get older. We’re hearing of dedicated followers of fashion suffering not from high heels, but from too-flat flats: problems can range from “pavement toe” – soreness and problems caused by wearing very thin soles – to plantar fasciitis, severe pain in your heel. That lack of arch support can cause you problems down the line. See page TK for advice on how to improve your posture and avoid injury in general.

The sad fact is that ballet flats (and indeed flipflops) are simply not designed for prolonged wear, whether the endless lengths of Terminal 1 or city pavements. Keep a pair in your bag, or wear indoors or for taxi occasions only – physio advice is to wear them for no more than an hour a day. Everything in moderation … Yes, they look lovely, but if you have to walk any distance, your overly flat flats might need to face the final curtain.


Brown Century woven leather slingback pumps, Dune, €125, at Arnotts 

Black patent leather mini kitten-heel pumps, Chanel, €890, at Brown Thomas

Beige and black two-tone kitten-heel pumps, €39.95, at Zara. 


Bergundy Love 85 leather pumps, Jimmy Choo, €575, at Brown Thomas.

Green Beatrice suede pumps, €310, at LK Bennett, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 16.

Red suede pumps, Zign €55.99;


Nude One Stud patent leather pumps, €760;

Maroon kitten-heel shoes, €59.95;

Black St Sulpice grosgrain pumps, Saint Laurant, €695, at Harvey Nichols. 


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