On flat soles through the summer

Flat is required: This is how one of the current shoe trends could be summarized in three words. Because models that come with thin soles are likely to be seen more often in spring and summer. And no: it’s not about sneakers. More stylish pieces are in demand.

One of the rising stars: the ballerinas. “As far as shoe fashion is concerned, ballerinas are really – I can’t put it any other way – making a huge comeback,” says Claudia Schulz, spokeswoman for the German Shoe Institute. For a long time, flat shoes that show a lot of the back of the foot but no toes – ideally not the base of them – virtually disappeared from the scene. Also in favor of chunkier models with thick soles. Now they’re back, the ballerinas – as they have been many times in their long history.

From dance shoes to everyday shoes

Because, as fashion historian Birgit Haase explains, it goes back to the 18th century. A time in which enthusiasm for walking and nature increased – and with it for more practical clothing styles. The previously dominant heel shoe became less important and the soles became flatter.

“Around 1800, the so-called escarpin, a light, heelless, wide-cut shoe, became popular. “Especially as a dancing shoe for both genders,” says Haase. The forerunner of today’s ballerinas.

According to Haase, the escarpin was often held with two side straps that were wrapped crosswise around the calf. “This type of shoe then entered classical ballet via this cruciate ligament shoe,” says the professor, who teaches at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. “And this is how ballerinas came back into fashion in the 20th century.”

They were particularly popular in the 1940s and 1950s, initially worn with dresses and knee-length skirts, then in the 1950s “classically combined with capri pants or petticoats,” says Haase. They experienced a revival in the 1980s – with jeans, for example, or with punky tulle skirts in the New Romantic era. And at the beginning of the noughties, now with tight skinny jeans. All of this, by the way, with a largely unchanged basic form, as Haase says.

Milan Fashion Week Street Style SS24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

And today? On the one hand, there are many classic, round models to be seen. “They can have small bows, they can have a contrasting color at the front, à la Chanel,” says shoe expert Claudia Schulz. “The classic in cream and black is also very popular.”

Classics in new splendor

But there are also shiny eye-catchers. Pieces in metallic tones, for example, ballerinas in silver or gold, in platinum or in bronzed shades. And: slimmer cut versions – right through to models with a pointed toe and small heel. A variation of the classic that goes well with the currently popular wide trousers or jeans, says Schulz. Also: square-cut ballerinas with a square toe, so-called square toe ballerinas. A suitable combination partner for a boxy jacket, for example.

And then there are the playful models: Mary Jane ballerinas with straps over the instep. A variant that, according to Claudia Schulz, you can also wear with white socks, for example with a mini skirt.

Also popular: flat loafers

According to the shoe expert, ballerina flats offer many different combination options. They go well with shorts and cropped trousers. Always a good idea: a clear view of the ankles. According to Claudia Schulz, one thing you should keep in mind: a ballerina’s leg doesn’t straighten. Especially if you wear additional pants with it, it can look a bit compressed.

The good news: If you don’t feel like wearing the classic shoe, another flat alternative should also be on trend this season: the loafer. It’s been around for a while now – and, as Claudia Schulz says, it served as a pacesetter for the ballerina’s comeback. This season, however, it’s getting a slightly different spin.

Milan Fashion Week Steetstyle SS24
Milan Fashion Week Steetstyle SS24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

“It initially came with thick soles,” says Schulz, but is now “interpreted in a more classic way again, on thin soles.” Also available in two colors, with a classic clasp in the middle or as a penny loafer – with a transverse slot in the shaft bridge into which you could put the penny.

By the way, flat loafers can be combined well with ankle-length, straight trousers or ankle-free jeans and in general with many things that make up the so-called Ivy League style, i.e. sophisticated and sporty.

No wonder: the loafer, which is a further development of the moccasin, was already popular at the elite universities on the American East Coast in the 1930s. He still exudes a “certain casualness” today, says fashion historian Birgit Haase. Casualness, which she also attests to the ballerina. (dpa)