Ballet Flats Are Trending — But They're Actually Terrible for Your Feet

Stars like Jennifer Lopez may be bringing back this simple shoe, but podiatrists warn against wearing them.

Ballet Flats Are Bad for Your Feet
Photo: Getty Images

Ahh, the ballet flat. It's a favorite footwear trend that seemingly never goes out of style (at least not for long). You can slip them on as you're heading out the door without needing to fiddle with buckles or straps, and the shoe pairs well with virtually any ensemble, from jeans and a tee to a dress and a blazer.

But you know what they say: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately, the beloved ballet flat is no exception. According to medical professionals, ballet flats are bad for your feet, so you might want to re-think making this shoe your go-to — even as they rise in popularity for 2022.

Jennifer Lopez Wearing Ballet Flats
Getty Images

While ballet flats may be a non-sensical option, they are universally recognized as a closet staple. The lightweight footwear is inspired by ballet dancers' uniforms (as its name would suggest) and originated in the 1950s, but the style saw an uptick in popularity in the 1990s and early aughts. For the record, InStyle predicted a ballet flats comeback in 2022 back in January, when Katie Holmes hit the streets of Manhattan donning a blue Yuni Buffa pair, complete with blue jeans and a red checkered jacket. Months later, celebrities continue to keep a pair (or a few) in rotation.

Countless celebrity sightings in July alone saw A-listers stepping out in ballet flats. Jennifer Lopez, for example, was photographed walking into her honeymoon hotel in a pair of beige ballet flats, which she styled with a vibrant blue shirt dress from Alexander McQueen and Dior accessories. Paparazzi caught Julia Gardner wearing black and beige ballet flats with a subtle gold dress in LA, while Ashlee Simpson was spotted wearing a black pair with a graphic tee while on a walk with her son, Bronx Wentz.

Julia Gardner Wearing Ballet Flats
Getty Images

So where did this surge in ballet flat outfits originate? We have some theories. First, is the onset of balletcore, a barre-inspired aesthetic (not unlike regencycore or dark academia) that took off on social media. Those adhering to the look started sporting bodysuits, tulle skirts, wraps sweaters, and, of course, dancer flats. The second reason is due to collections produced by designers like Molly Goddard and Ferragamo, which included a few pairs in the mix.

Regardless of where it started, there's one thing you can be sure of, says Dr. Brad Schaeffer, a board-certified foot surgeon who currently practices at Sole Podiatry NYC. Ballet flats are, generally, not the most supportive shoes and should be worn sparingly.

When asked to define what makes a shoe "good" for your feet, Schaeffer tells InStyle that support and comfort are key, although this will ultimately depend on your foot type and any underlying issues you might have.

"I always tell my patients to get something with a wide toe box, so your toes are not squished together," Schaeffer explains. "I also recommend shoes with arch support to help with any heel pain and something that has a good cushion to make your feet feel good."

Ballet Flats Trend 2022
Getty Images

Unfortunately, ballet flats typically don't fit the bill, as they're often flimsy and lacking in structural support. What's worse is, while short-term side effects might include sore soles, wearing ballet flats all the time can also lead to longer-term issues. "The numerous muscles, tendons, and bones tend to get inflamed and, in turn, can cause us pain," Schaeffer warns.

The good news is, you can wear ballet flats without compromising your sweet feet. The trick is to wear them sparingly, like for a special event or once in a while to work. You'll also want to invest in an insert to keep your feet comfortable and supported. Schaeffer recommends the Dr. Scholl's® Stylish Step® Discreet Insoles for Flats & Sandals. "It has nice gel cushioning that provides arch support helping your feet stay more comfortable in flats."

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