The 8 Best Ballet Flats of 2023 That Are Chic, Comfortable, and Far From Basic

The Everlane Italian Leather Day Flat is nothing like my high school uniform shoes.

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Ballet Flats

Joy Kim

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m wearing ballet flats again. For most of my life — kindergarten to 12th grade, to be exact — I wore a uniform. And while the plaid skirts and school crests changed over the years, one thing stayed the same: The ballet flats. Whether I was sprinting for the bus, running around the schoolyard at lunch, or anxiously tapping my foot during a math exam, the plain, dainty shoes hugged my feet everywhere I went. 

After high school graduation, I swore them off. But, sure enough, years later, they’re back in my rotation. I’m not sure if my sudden interest in them sparked because they’re trendy again (thank you, balletcore) or because I needed a casual yet elegant pair of shoes to wear to work, but either way, I’m surprisingly not mad about it.  Ballet flats have come a long way. What used to be a boring flat shoe is now updated with a bunch of modern shapes (I’m partial to the square-toe shape), fresh styles, bold colors, and unexpected textures. 

Because there’s enough choices that can easily make your head spin, I researched and tested the best ballet flats on the market. Then, I chatted with stylists to compile a list of flats that are nothing like the ones I wore in high school. With its butter-soft Italian leather, modernized shape, and reasonable price tag, Everlane’s Italian Leather Day Ballet Flat won our Best Overall spot. 

Read on for the best ballet flats.

Best Overall

Everlane Italian Leather Day Ballet Flat

Ballet Flat


What We Love: These timeless, buttery soft Italian leather ballet flats feel comfortable from the moment you put them on — no break-in time required.

What We Don’t Love: The leather stretches a bit after wear, so if you’re in between sizes, it might be better to size down to ensure a better fit.

We hold our “best overall” shoes to a pretty high standard — not only do they need to be chic and versatile, but they also must be comfortable. And these Everlane flats are just that. With the subtle square-toe, they echo a timeless and elegant vibe without looking as though they came straight from your grandmother’s closet. The shoe comes in seven shades, including a mix of gem tones and a classic pale pink ballerina color that resembles a pointe shoe. 

Thanks to a cushioned insole and the smooth, flexible leather, you can expect the shoe to hug each foot like a glove. I wore a pair (which was kindly gifted to me by the brand) to work on a 90-degree day in New York City. High humidity and scorching heat are generally a recipe for sweat — and therefore, chafing — but with these on my feet, I felt like I wasn’t wearing any shoes at all. In fact, the flats took me from the subway to the office to a fancy dinner, sans rubbing or blistering. The material moves with you (they’re leather, it’s inevitable), but not to the point where they feel like they’re going to slip right off of your feet. Whether you wear them with a trouser and a tee, a flowy dress, or a blazer with jeans, you’ll question why you didn’t purchase a pair sooner. Note: If you’re in between sizes, I recommend sizing down, just to be safe, because they do stretch.

Price at time of publish: $140

Material: Leather | Sizes: 5 to 11 | Number of Colors: 7

Best Value

Amazon Essentials Women's Pointed-Toe Ballet Flat

Amazon Essentials Women's Ballet Flat


What We Love: For a little over $20, you can get yourself a pair of rubber-soled ballet flats with lots of interior padding. 

What We Don’t Love: It’s made from faux leather, so it might not feel as luxe as the other options on this list.

This pair from Amazon Essentials proves that ballet flats don’t have to be expensive to be comfortable (or good-looking). For just over $20, you can take your pick between 20 different color ways, including staple shades like black, brown and beige, as well as poppier options like leopard print, suede and patent leather. The shoes were designed with comfort in mind — they come with “heel-pillow” technology (aka lots of interior padding) that ensures your feet feel their best, even if you’re standing for most of the day. 

Thanks to the non-abrasive faux-leather, the shoes won’t leave you covered in battle scars after your first wear. Yes, the shoes are made from faux leather and have rubber soles, so they’re not as luxurious as other pairs on this list, but when you consider the price point, they’re a steal. Some reviews say to size up, but we recommend sticking to your regular size as the material will give after wearing a few times. Most shoes only go up to a size 12, but these go up to a 15 (which is pretty rare), ensuring you’ll have no problem finding the perfect fit. 

Price at time of publish: $23

Material: Polyurethane, Rubber | Sizes: 5 to 15 | Number of Colors: 20

Best Square Toe

Mansur Gavriel Square Toe Ballerina

Square Toe Ballerina

Mansur Gavriel

What We Love: High-quality leather, intricate stitching and a thoughtful design set these designer ballet flats apart from the rest. 

What We Don’t Love: They require a little TLC to keep them looking their best.

If you’re going to splurge on a pair of ballet flats, let it be for these. Made from rich lambskin leather, the shoes (which the brand kindly gifted to me) feel supple to the touch and super breathable. You won’t have to worry about irritation or overheating while wearing them. 

The design of the shoe itself is a modern take on a timeless shoe; details like fun colors with a matching lining, unique textures to choose from like pony hair, and intricate stitching help differentiate them from ballet flats you may have worn in the past. 

I styled my sky blue pair (note: it's now sold out in the sky blue, but you can buy the color in the round toe) with an all-white ensemble and received tons of compliments — my coworkers raved about how the unexpected color and contemporary design elevated the look of an otherwise plain outfit. According to personal stylist Bee Stuart, colored ballet flats add a nice pop of color to daily outfits. “Choosing a ballerina pink feels super authentic and really leans into the trend,” she says. 

To ensure your shoes last a lifetime (as they should), the brand suggests using a leather conditioner to keep the soft material hydrated. Plus, they say, you should store the shoes in the accompanying dust bag to avoid exposure to abrasive and potentially damaging surfaces.

Price at time of publish: $395

Material: Lambskin leather or Ponyhair | Sizes: 5 to 12 | Number of Colors: 7

Best Rounded Toe

J.Crew Zoe Ballet Flats in Suede

J.Crew Zoe Ballet Flats in Suede


What We Love: These classic rounded toe ballet flats are a closet staple. 

What We Don’t Love: They don’t offer a ton of support.

For a simple pair of ballet flats, Zoe Ballet Flats from J.Crew are your best bet. The reasonably-priced shoe offers the classic design you know and love (translation: there’s no extra bells and whistles), but with a slightly modern twist. I like to think of the shoe (which the brand kindly gifted me) as the refined older sister of the ballet flats you wore in middle school — thanks to the softer sole and additional toe coverage, they look a touch more sophisticated but include the same dainty bow detail you’re used to. 

They come in leather and suede, both of which are canvas-lined to limit slipping and sliding on warmer days. The more you wear them, the more they mold to your feet in a chic I’ve-had-these-for-years type of way. They run true to size, but some say they can be snug if you have a wider foot. If that’s the case, you might want to try sizing up a half size. If you need a little extra support, skip these and go with a pair that has built-in cushioning. 

Material: Leather or Suede | Sizes: 5 to 12 | Number of Colors: 7

Best Pointed Toe

Anine Bing Delphine Flats

Anine Bing Delphine Flats

Anine Bing

What We Love: A minimalist’s dream, these sleek all-black ballet flats feel modern and cool without skimping on comfort. 

What We Don’t Love: They’re more structured than other ballet flats on this list, so they may require some breaking in.

Perfect for a minimalist or someone who appreciates sleek designs, the Anine Bing Delphine Flats offer a contemporary look with a classic, comfortable fit. The smooth black cow leather exterior paired with black grosgrain trim (a weaved, corded fabric) and a black insole, these pointed-toe flats look clean and sophisticated, even when they’re sitting in your closet. While wearing the flats (which I was kindly gifted by the brand), I was able to quickly gather that they’re more structured than other options on this list. 

The leather isn’t as malleable, so it doesn’t stretch out as much as some of the other shoes. And, in true Anine Bing fashion, the shoes feature a small gold-tone hardware monogram at the heel. I personally loved the added detail, but if you’re not into it, don’t worry — it’s barely noticeable. I love these so much (especially for dressing up casual ‘fits for the office), so I wish they came in other colors besides black. 

Price at time of publish: $350

Material: Cow leather | Sizes: 6 to 11 | Number of Colors: 1

Best Slingback

Sarah Flint Natalie Sling

Sarah Flint Natalie Sling

Sarah Flint

What We Love: Interior padding, a rubber forepart and hidden elastics are just some of the thoughtful details that make these elevated slingback flats so special. 

What We Don’t Love: You’ll need to order a half size up to ensure an ideal fit.

Whether you’re not ready to add a ballet flat back into your collection, or simply want to add another (more glamorous) style to your existing rotation, a slingback is a great option to consider. Sarah Flint offers a style that takes the classic flat up a notch: The Natalie Sling. According to Sarah Flint, the mastermind behind her eponymous brand, the Natalie Sling is a cool, vintage take on the original Natalie (one of the brand’s most beloved styles). 

“Made in the same family-owned factories as the original, the sling has an easier, more ready-to-wear fit,” she explains. “It also reaches back visually to the 40s and 50s, when exposed heels and ankles were seen as a transgressive assertion of femininity.” 

With lots of interior padding, a rubber forepart to prevent slipping, and a hidden elastic behind the functional buckle, the tasteful slingback was thoughtfully crafted with comfort top of mind. But, with details like an asymmetrical bow and stylish leather outsole, the shoes are nothing short of polished perfection. Shades like Petal (a light beige) and Espresso Croc Embossed Calf (a brown crocodile) are always available, but be sure to check back from time to time as there are often limited edition drops added to the lineup. 

Price at time of publish: $450

Material: Leather, Gold (Buckle) | Sizes: 4 to 13 | Number of Colors: 3

Best Heel

Ballarette Aventino Leather Ballet Flats with Heel

Ballarette Aventino Leather Ballet Flats with Heel


What We Love: These stylish Italian shoes are a cross between a ballet flat and a block heel pump. 

What We Don’t Love: The brand is based in Italy, so shipping can take a while.

Breaking into the US shoe scene is Ballarette, an Italian footwear brand founded by two Roman women. Similar to some other options on this list like Everlane and Sarah Flint, the Ballerette shoes are handmade in Italy.  What makes these different is that they’re sold in the brand’s nine stores, each in a major Italian city. Having recently expanded to online sales in the US, the brand gifted me a pair of their bestselling heeled ballet flats to try. Spoiler alert: You should get your hands on a pair fast

The Aventino shoe is basically a cross between a traditional ballet flat and the block heel from your favorite four inch pumps. Not only are the shoes adorable, but they’re supportive, too, thanks to a tender leather insole and adjustable front bow that can be tightened to make the shoes fit better. You also don’t have to worry about them being too high — the heel is a little over an inch and a half foot high. In my opinion, these are especially great for someone who doesn’t like wearing flats but wants to get in on the trend in their own way. Simply take your pick between 15 different colors — it’s hard, I know — and wait for the compliments to come rolling in. 

Material: Leather | Sizes: 4.5 to 11.5  | Number of Colors: 15

Best Sustainable

Rothy’s The Flat

The Flat


What We Love: These cult-favorite flats are knit from plastic bottles and are machine washable. 

What We Don’t Love: They don’t offer arch support.

There’s a reason Rothy’s has such a cult following: Their sustainable shoes don’t require breaking in and are as comfy as they come. They’re knitted from recycled plastic (11 plastic bottles to be exact) and feel soft, flexible, and aren’t blister-inducing. 

One detail I especially love about these shoes is that they’re machine washable. Life happens, so even if you spill coffee on yourself or step in something questionable, you can just pop these flats in the wash and after a few minutes on a gentle cycle, they’re good as new. 

Despite the knitted material, they don’t stretch much, so the brand recommends sizing up a half size for narrow feet and a full size for wider feet for the best possible fit.There’s upwards of 30 (yes, 30) designs and colors to choose from, so for most people, there’s something for everyone. Something to note: These don’t offer a ton of arch support, so if you need extra help in that area, you should check out a pair on this list that aren’t as flat (like the Amazon Essentials Ballet Flats). 

Price at time of publish: $129

Material: Plastic bottles | Sizes: 5 to 13 | Number of Colors: 31

What to Keep in Mind


As with most shoes, it’s important to pay attention to the sizing chart. Every pair of shoes is made differently, so even if you’re normally a certain size, you might be better off sizing up or down depending on the intended fit. It’s also key to keep in mind that when purchasing shoes made in other countries, the sizes are different. If you need help determining which size is right for you, check out an international conversion chart that breaks down the different sizes. 


Ballet flats come in a variety of styles, each with a different toe shape — rounded, pointed, and squared. A rounded toe, like the J.Crew Zoe Ballet Flats, are the quintessential style that comes to mind when you think of ballet flats. A pointed toe, like the Anine Bing Delphine Flats, are exactly how they sound; they’re ballet flats that form a triangle-shape at the foot and end in a point at the toes. And finally, square toe ballet flats, which are the most similar to an actual ballet pointe shoe, have a flat, straight edge along the tip of the shoe. 

“My favorite style is the square toe — it’s more visually interesting and effortlessly edgy,” Stuart says. Stylist and trend forecaster Kendall Becker agrees. “Opting for a square toe ballet flat in an exciting color looks elevated and fresh,” she adds. The Mansur Gavriel Square Toe Ballerina, for example, comes in a variety of colors — like sky blue or light pink. “If you’re not one to dress in a head-turning hue everyday, a pop of color through an accessory like shoes is the perfect way to add a flair to a minimalist outfit,” she says. 


According to Becker, leather is the leader here. Not only does the material look more luxe, but it makes for a comfortable fit almost immediately. The Everlane Italian Leather Day Ballet Flat, our Best Overall, is made from Italian leather that fits like a glove from the moment you put a shoe on — no breaking in required. 

On the other hand, mixed media options like satin, mesh, tweed or a textured material (like the plastic bottle material that makes up Rothy’s The Point) ground an outfit and give it an unexpected twist. If you’re not sure which to choose, Stuart recommends assessing what occasion you’ll be wearing them for. “If you’re looking for an everyday flat you can wear for work and on the weekends, your best bet is going to be leather as it’s super easy to remove dirt, grime and other stains,” she explains. “If you’re seeking a statement flat or something for special occasions, consider a satin option — the material has a natural shine and automatically makes any outfit look dressed up.”

Your Questions, Answered

How can you style ballet flats? 

Ballet flats are wardrobe staple — they’re timeless, effortless, and pair well with a lot of the clothes you probably already have in your closet. While they work well with a blazer, white t-shirt, and pair of jeans, they’re equally as stylish with classic ballet pieces like tights, leg warmers, and slip dresses. “To make a ballet flat look more edgy, pair them with black or leather shorts and ripped stockings,” says Stuart. “It’s easy to cross into ‘stuffy office attire’ territory, so stay away from pairing your ballet flats with mini skirts and head-to-toe suitin,” warns Becker.

How can you tell if ballet flats are high quality?

When searching for quality flats, it’s all about the soles of the shoes. “The sole determines how much you can actually wear the shoe,” Stuart says. “You always want to ensure that the insoles are either leather or rubber since they mold to your feet.” Leather soles are initially hard, but when worn over time, create a cushion for your foot. Rubber soles, on the other hand, are immediately comfortable and require little to no break-in time but typically get more uncomfortable as you wear them due to the synthetic lining. “For an everyday, functional ballet flat, a leather sole is your best option, but for an occasion shoe, the rubber sole is best,” she explains. 

Why are ballet flats so popular?

According to Becker, ballet flats are one of fashion’s responses to the new way we dress. “We all got used to a work-from-home wardrobe during the pandemic. And, as much as we’re ready to dress up again, we’re still craving comfort,” she explains. Flint agrees, sharing that ballet flats are perfect for those who want to dress up again without sacrificing comfort and ease. “Ballet flats combine femininity and function,” she says. “They are comfortable to walk in, but look polished, elegant, and appropriate for almost any setting.”

Why Shop With Us

Caitlyn Martyn is an experienced writer in the beauty and fashion industry. She has tested dozens of ballet flats — including most of the options on this list. Caitlyn has been a writer at InStyle since 2022, where she covers all things beauty and style. For this story, she interviewed personal stylist Bee Stuart, Stylist and trend forecaster Kendall Becker, and shoe designer Sarah Flint.

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