CE&C Renovation Experiment: Five – Capsule Wardrobe III – Ballerinas

“Ballerinas… are… the obligatory companions to trousers… Ballerinas are also charming for very young girls (until, let’s say, twelve…), as well as for young women in the summertime with full-skirted dresses. But they should never be seen on a city street…”

  • Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

I never studied ballet. Never wanted to. I have never owned a pair of ballerinas (a.k.a. flats, ballet flats, ballerines). Never really wanted them. Tried on a pair in my early 20s. They hurt. Really hurt. I first noticed women wearing them en masse as part of the urban street Parisian uniform when I was in Paris a couple of years ago… now they are all over the streets no matter where I go.

According to the charming blog French Girl In Seattle, Jean Marc Gaucher orchestrated Repetto’s renaissance from near-obscurity about a decade ago.

Then I read Ines de la Fressange‘s book Parisian Chic: A Style Guide and I began rethinking my indifference to ballerinas.  Like Audrey Hepburn and Bridget Bardot, Ines de la Fressange and others have that magic such that whatever they wear sets a fashion trend – including ballerinas. That does not mean ballerinas are for everyone.

A few weeks ago, on a practically perfect evening, I was walking on through a ritzy section of Florence, Italy, and saw a window full of a circular rainbow of ballerinas. Then I became a little intrigued.

Over the last couple of days while contemplating putting together a capsule wardrobe my thoughts keep wandering to ballerinas as they are a staple of the current iteration of the Parisian capsule wardrobe.

Since I was a child I have never particularly liked shoes… and they certainly have not liked me. I have imperfect, demanding, hysterical, prima donna feet – with serious attitude issues. They never let me forget they are there. Over the years to reduce conflict with my feet I mostly wear classic lace-up oxfords, loafers and well-supported sandals.

My qualms with ballarinas is that they do not provide adequate arch support, cushioning or shock absorption. They are linked to knee, hip and back problems, foot inflammation, tendonitis, heel pain, bunions, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis. Having spent a very painful year recovering from plantar fasciitis I am afraid to risk a recurrence.

A couple of web sites worth a visit on ouchey feet and ballerinas:

However, to move forward in life sometimes you have to experiment outside your comfort zone. Thus in an ever hopeful mood and willing to be proven wrong, I am starting with the hypothesis that perhaps I have misjudged the ballerina (and they are lovely on the right foot… it’s the left foot that’s the problem) and that chic and elegant foot-healthy ballerina options are available.

I have spent a couple of evenings making my list of top end ballerina companies to start off my quest in search of a “shiny” black patent leather, well-supported, wide width (D-E) ballerina. In addition, any ballerina that I would seriously consider must have enough room to accommodate orthotics and be able to be resoled with a healthy alternative (unless already built in).

For me, chic and elegant shoes must be comfortable, as I am always on my feet. I don’t care what I pay for shoes, as long as they don’t cause me grief, pain and upset my mid-century modern prima donnas. I have bought enough shoes that looked pretty but caused me to want to amputate my lower extremities that the only thing that really really matters is comfort.

I want to narrow down my list of what to try on when I physically go ballerina hunting. Although I am highly dubious that I will find a ballerina confection for my “special” feet, I will give it a try.

Does the blogsphere have any recommendations?

“Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

  • Coco Chanel

My list. Please note that many of these designers only feature flats seasonally, so depending on when you are looking at their site, you may have better luck finding them on sites such as Polyvore. The sites constantly change their products and as ballerines are primarily warm weather wear they are often replaced  in winter by boots… thus is the cyclical nature of fashion.

If you have any recommendations for additions, please send me a comment.


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