In search of the perfect ballet flat

Every lady must own a pair of ballet flats. They strike the perfect balance between practical and delicate, lending a carefree, adventurous spirit to a pleated skirt or skinny jeans that transcends the stiletto.  In this urban jungle, I try not to judge my fellow straphanger’s Fit Flops or sparkly Toms on the ride to work.  Commuting in New York City subjects your shoes to miles of subway station, epic staircases, and dusty construction sites.   I like to keep my precious heels intact and in lieu of walking down the York Street stairs every morning in my work-appropriate pumps, I keep them ready at the office.  Whether you have 5 pairs of sensible heels under your desk or towering wedges in your purse for tonight, true street style is all about chic mobility: the perfect ballet flat that can keep you steady on these cobble stones streets.

Judging by the 3 worn out pairs in my closet, I’ve been very loyal to London Sole’s ballet flats for the last several years. The toe is the ultimate almond shape and exposes a hint of toe cleavage that meets my particular specifications. I own two pairs, the first in creamy black kidskin and the second in a shiny, textured snakeskin pattern that serve as my go-to everyday flats. When I purchased these classic flats (albeit NIB and discounted on Ebay) I was transformed into a true Parisienne. Commuting in my jaunty ballet slippers, Washington Square Park’s arch became the Arc de Triomphe and I could be as graceful as a principal dancer even as I power walked down the block in the true, harried style of a New Yorker. I soon splurged on these  black and white, quilted London Soles which have a small half inch heel that provides comfortable support and an elegance fit for the ladies who lunch and she who lunches at her desk.

Despite the plethora of flats on the market, some of which are far less expensive than London Soles which run a steep $165-$250 per pair, looking down at my feet ensconced in perfectly shaped, well constructed soft leather ballet flats every day, I feel pretty!   , The cheap look of an overly rounded, clumsy toe takes away the dignity of the ballet slipper; to accomplish the classic flair these shoes can provide it is vital to find the optimal pair.

With over 3 years worth of constant wear, my London Soles are finally ready to retire.  I’ve been on the lookout for a well made flat at a more competitive price.  Recently,  I spotted a promising $49 ballet slipper at Joe Fresh but when I tried it on, my toe cleavage looked like a frumpy mess!  I ended up settling on a pair of sparkly flats from Aldo last weekend when my feet were aching after a long walk through Brooklyn. The extra padding was well worth the $25 price tag that day and you may spot me rocking them on the F train to midtown, leaving small flecks of glitter in my wake.

Call me a ballet flat snob but I was still not satisfied and continued looking for a slightly less whimsical pair that could replace my beloved black stalwarts. After trying on a pair of Bloch ballet flats at Lord & Taylor, I was pleasantly surprised! I hadn’t seen this brand before but it turns out they know what they’re doing having been in the ballet slipper (of the stage, not street variety) business since 1932.  At around $100-$130, they are more affordable than the London Soles. But are they as comfortable and as stylish?  After doing a little price comparison online, I snagged a 25% off friends and family coupon and purchased a red patent leather pair for a more easy to swallow $86 including free shipping!

When my package arrived, I tore into a small pink shoebox with a black and white image of a ballerina en pointe, carefully unravelled a silky pink drawstring pouch, and placed my new shoes on.  The front of the slipper achieved the all important and highly coveted almond shape and the small cushy area just underneath my feet on the inside of the shoe created a lovely cradle for my aching heels.  I admired my toe cleavage for a moment and didn’t have a chance to reconsider as the Mr. rushed me out the door to walk over the Manhattan bridge in time for sunset.  The city was bathed in charcoal and blush and the water glowed.  In my smart new cherry flats, I was part Black Swan, part Dorothy, and I thought, there is no place like home.

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