Ballet flats are back - but apparently you’re still wearing them wrong

The shoe’s return has been polarising to millennials and welcomed with open arms by Gen-Z

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Tuesday 10 October 2023 14:47 BST

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Louise Thomas

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Millennials have decided to give Gen-Zers tips and tricks on how to rock ballet flats in light of the shoes’ recent fashion comeback.

Julie S Lalonde (@JulieSLalonde) posted a warning to Gen-Z on X, formerly known as Twitter, that has since been viewed over 1.8 million times, saying: “Ballet flats are coming back in style but do not go down this road. They might seem cute and practical, but you will stress about going to someone’s house because the smell of your feet once you take those shoes off is KILLER.”

Millennials flooded the replies with their own experiences, with many complaining about the shoes’ lack of “arch support” and noting that the flats made their “feet stink,” especially after it was worn in the rain. One user joked that the post “triggered an intense olfactory memory,” while someone else added: “The pain is killer from flexing your foot to keep it on, which is often the opposite of what you need to support your arch. You’re better off in flip flops.”

Another person said: “I’ve begun smelling the smell on public transit... there are youths unable to resist the shoe’s siren song and we’re all suffering for it.”

But some had a much more positive spin on ballet flats’ resurgence in popularity, offering the younger generation advice on how to avoid smelly feet and make sure that their feet were properly supported.

Heidi N Moore (@moorehn) said that while she isn’t all too happy that ballet flats are making a comeback and does “not support” their return, she does have some tips for wearing the shoes. “The issue with stinky shoes is that people do not give their shoes time to breathe between wearings. So you have to rotate the ballet flats with other shoes,” she explained.

Moore continued to say that while people could wear “sockettes,” wearers must make sure that their feet are “immaculately clean AND DRY before wearing the shoe”. She also recommended not to “wear the same shoes (of any kind) three days in a row” because it wouldn’t allow the flats to breathe. On the days between wearing the flats, Moore suggested sprinkling baking soda in the shoes.

She added that given the range of ballet flats to choose from, including “pointed toes, mesh, straps (Mary Jane style)” and slingbacks, it would be wise to choose a ballet flat that allows for more “ventilation”.

As for styling, Moore said that because of the “delicate” nature of the shoe, it requires “delicate styling”. Pieces like wide-legged jeans or anything that doesn’t showcase “the narrowness of the ankle” will only overshadow the shoes. She recommended pairing ballet flats with chiffon and tulle skirts, and more controversially, skinny jeans.

“If you wear a ballet flat with something that doesn’t show the delicacy of the ankle ... just don’t wear them. They won’t look right,” she advised.

Other X users had similar words of wisdom for Gen-Zers, with user @robynasaldino writing that those who were worrried about a lack of arch support could “buy liners/socks with gel or memory foam cushioned insoles”. She added: “They’re orthopedic and meant for those with low arches, but really should just be worn by everyone if you’re wearing flats. Get those.” Like Moore, she begged people to add “some foot powder for after each wear. Please”.

Meanwhile, Angela Zhang (@angelahzhang) chimed in: “A one- to two-inch block heel, structured but flexible leather, insoles, and paired with ruffled socks are the way to go. Honestly, that’s never been out of style in my book.” But having been a former ballerina, she cautioned wearers that anything resembling “a real ballet slipper will absolutely ruin you”.

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