How to Wear Ballet Flats: Tips & Styling

how to wear ballet flats

Once the weather starts to warm up and the winter layers gradually start to drop off it’s a clear sign that spring is around the corner. With spring comes lighter footwear and the return of everybody’s favourite flat shoe: the ballet pump.

Delicate, sophisticated and elegant, ballet pumps are the perfect investment for the milder months. But it’s common for those who haven’t yet discovered the joy of these highly versatile flats for there to be a degree of uncertainty on how best to style them. In this post we’ll talk you through how to wear ballet flats to get the most out of the style, including what to wear with ballet flats, what not to wear with ballet flats and how to style them for different occasions.

What are Ballet Flats?

Classically French and inspired by the delicate style of real ballet dancing shoes, ballet pumps are instantly recognisable as a style. Traditionally, ballet pumps are lightweight and flexible, giving the foot an almost-naked, free feel as you walk; just like ballet shoes. The design is usually rounded at the toe with low sides and a thin sole, often plain and unembellished, though sometimes decorated with a delicate bow at the front.

As they have grown in popularity, however, the traditional design has been tweaked and experimented with, thus creating a whole world of beautiful ballet-inspired styles to suit a huge range of occasions and outfit types. Alongside the traditional styles you will now find lots of exciting extra design features including platform soles, ankle straps, pointed toes, embellishments, laces, open sides, open toes and even slingback styles, giving you a whole world of options when it comes to styling your ballet flats.

How to Wear Ballet Flats: Top Tips

Let’s take a closer look at how ballet flats can be worn, where they can be worn and how to style them to look their best. Here are our top tips on how to wear ballet flats:

Which Seasons Are Ballet Flats Best Suited To?

We’ve talked a lot about spring so far in this article, but ballet pumps are not just springtime shoes. The truth is, if you style them right, you can wear ballet flats from the break of spring right through to the end of autumn; it usually comes down to the temperatures and how resilient your feet are to the cold.

We wouldn’t recommend wearing ballet pumps once the weather turns really wet and cold, as the classic open-top, low-sided design isn’t going to stand up to these strains. You may find wearing them in this type of weather will lead to the premature wearing-out of your treasured pumps, as well as two very cold, very wet feet.

What Type of Occasions Can Ballet Flats Be Worn For?

We get asked this questions a lot; are there any occasions you really shouldn’t wear ballet flats for? We believe there are very few occasions where ballet pumps wouldn’t be acceptable sartorial etiquette; the main one being highly formal, glamorous black tie events. Besides this, you really can wear ballet pumps practically anywhere.

For the Office – Simple, soft leather ballet pumps make great office shoes, with the neat and rounded design and flat sole striking the perfect balance between smartness and comfort.

For a Party – Want to look dressed up but don’t fancy wearing heels, ballet pumps are your best friend. With all the embellished, jazzed-up styles now available you don’t even need heels to look dressy. Instead can create an instant party look by pairing a glittery or studded pair of leather ballet pumps with your favourite dresses or skirts.

The Gabor Lisa Jewel Bow Ballerina Pumps

For a Wedding – Wedding outfits are about elegance and grace, two of the central elements ballet shoes are known and originally designed for. This makes ballet flats the perfect choice to complete a wedding guest outfit, particularly if you don’t fancy facing an evening of dancing in heels. Opt for pale pastel colours such as cream, pink and powder blue to keep the outfit soft, delicate and wedding-appropriate.

For an Interview – Interview outfits should always be smart and sharp, both of which can be achieved with a sturdy pair of leather ballet pumps. Stick to the plainer, rounded-toe styles with classic, minimal embellishments for these occasions, and pair them up with a smart above-the-knee skirt, workwear dress or smart trousers.

The Gabor Assist Bow Trim Ballerina Pumps

For the Everyday – Ballet pumps are, of course, perfect for the everyday casual outfits too. We love the simple, clean-lined ensemble of jeans and ballet flats, which works perfectly for everything from a trip to the shops to a lovely family day out.

Ballet Flats Styling Tips

There are, thankfully, not too many ways you can go wrong with this most versatile of shoe styles. Here are our top tips on what to wear with ballet flats and how to wear ballet flats to make them look their best.

  • Avoid Tights & Socks – Wearing tights, stockings or socks with ballet pumps is a risky business as it creates the possibility for those unsightly pleats and wrinkles around the ankles. If you’re going to brave it, keep a close eye on this area throughout the day, but we think barefoot is always best.
  • Be Careful With Strap Styles – Ballet pumps with thick ankle straps can visually take a lot of length off your legs. If you have fairly short legs, we would recommend avoiding ballet pumps with straps or lace-up around the ankle and lower leg to keep the legs looking as long as possible.
  • Go Nude – OK, so not literally of course. Nude-coloured ballet flats create a fantastic leg-lengthening effect when worn with bare legs, so invest in a pair of simple nude flats to take advantage of this simple visual illusion.

The Gabor Bunty Leather Ballet Pumps in White/Sand

  • Show Some Skin – Ballet flats look most flattering when the lower leg or ankles are showing. Try to keep dresses and skirts above the knee or wear with cropped trousers that show your ankles for a super on-trend look. If you do want to pair with below-the-knee dresses and skirts, we recommend you go for loose, flowing skirt styles to set the look off best.
  • Accessorise it Big – The simplicity of your ballet flats could always benefit from a touch of balancing-out. To achieve this, complete your outfit with several statement accessories such as chunky necklaces, a large clutch or a bold belt.


Inspired? Now you know the secrets of how to wear ballet flats, it’s time to do some shopping! Explore our latest collection of ballet pumps here at Gabor and pick the perfect style for your new outfit creations.