Gendered shoes? That’s so last season. Refreshingly, today’s footwear brands are increasingly rebuking gender norms by extending their size range. The movement has been centered around heels in particular, thanks to labels like Syro, Roker, and Rick Owens. But now, there’s a new genderless style gaining momentum—and it’s one we should all consider putting down our sneakers for. Yes, I’m talking about ballet flats.
While classic ballet flats have been around for women since the 1940s, when Repetto brought them into the mainstream, the idea of men wearing them is still a somewhat new proposition (though, yes, ballet dancers have been wearing them for years). A few seasons ago, the trend really took off. The spring 2020 shows at Bode, Jil Sander, and Dries Van Noten all debuted sleek ballet styles for him. Paired with a dressy suit, the discreet slip-ons read minimal, yet way more interesting than a standard dress shoe or low-top kicks.
Right now Maison Margiela are selling black Tabi ballerinas, and the split-toe detail is an interesting addition to the otherwise nondescript shoe. Hereu’s pleated square-toe leather flats are also extremely elegant, especially in the olive green colorway. I envision them being worn with your favorite cozy fall knits.
In case you need even more styling inspiration, the recent spring 2022 street style scene in Europe also saw a few men showcase how to wear them. In Paris, one stylish attendee paired their black Mary Jane-style ballet flats with jeans and a statement blazer. In Milan, another guest wore woven leather ballet flats with a printed shirt and crisp white trousers. What can’t they go with?
Much like the penny loafer or Chelsea boot, consider the ballet flat a pair-with-everything silhouette. Just throw it on with your jeans, khakis, or a suit, and off you go! It's an easy way to level up your shoe game. And you don’t even have to know how to do a jeté to wear them.