A Barefoot Guide to Ballet Flats For Women

For women, minimalist ballet flats are an incredibly versatile shoe. They are classy enough to wear with a professional outfit, simple enough to wear with jeans, and somehow dressy enough to wear with a formal gown. In the world of barefoot shoes, which doesn’t usually cater to women, that’s a tough find.

But they present some problems for a person who prioritizes her foot health. The lack of straps, laces, and shoe upper give you little wiggle room (literally) for fit. They have to be just right or they will either not be secure, or the material will be so tight that it scrunches your toes. Understanding your feet and your options is more important than ever when picking out barefoot flats. Read on for my personal favorite barefoot ballet flats and the complete list of minimalist ballet flats for women.

*For more dressy barefoot shoes, see my Minimalist Dress Shoe Roundups and Barefoot Wedding Shoes List. Then subscribe below to see all my future posts!*

Table of Contents

  1. Style Tips
  2. My Picks
  3. The Full List
  4. Mary Janes
  5. Flats for Wide Feet
  6. Vegan Options

1. Style Tips

Because I want my ballet flats to be super versatile, I pay a lot of attention to how they are made. In general, the smoother the shoe the classier the look, so learning to notice those details will ensure you’re happy with your choices. There are 3 main ways a ballet flat can be finished:

Invisible Stitching – This is my favorite and what I usually look for in flats. It is the cleanest look and easiest to cross over into all categories of life. Sometimes these flats are simply glued together, but high quality ones have an interior stitch for more durability.


Top stitch with finished edges – This will add a little bulk to your flats, but still has the potential to be smooth and classy. Examples of brands that do this well are Gea Soles and Drifter Leather.


Top stitch with raw edge – This is the most casual finish and can sometimes look bulky. I have seen it done well (in Botky Mechovky’s work, for example), but I generally avoid this type of finish in anything I want to be dressy. The flats I have with raw edges are for casual occasions.

Understanding your foot volume is also super important when choosing shoes. Because I have low volume feet, I often employ little tricks to get my shoes to fit well (see here). For flats, moleskin is my favorite to fill in space that might want to slip.

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2. My Ballet Flat Picks

1. ZlaTush Shoes ($120)

ZlaTush Shoes is my favorite find of the spring. Zlatica has some flats with an invisible seam and some with a top stitch, and she has some of the cutest designs around. This t-stap flat is a ready-made size with lots of color options, but she also has a line of fully custom-made shoes. She is located in Slovakia and ships internationally, accepting payment through Paypal or bank transfer.

Zlatica is a lovely woman, dedicated to making great shoes for her customers that are truly foot shaped. The ability to customize shoes with the colors and details you need make her an excellent choice if you’re looking for something specific. You can read my review here.

Zlatush barefoot Shoes ballet flats outfit inspiration

2. Softstar Ballerines ($160)

Softstar Ballerines are one of the best simple flats around. They are soft and unstructured but not wrinkly; spacious but not bulky. You can order it in tons of different colors and it has a very mainstream look (calling all Tieks fans!). Softstar hand makes all their shoes in Oregon and they are very high quality.

I was pleased to find that the insole is a little bit cushioned, which makes these more practical for all-day wear or pavement walking. You can get a sport strap if you’re concerned about slipping and they also come in a wide version. Mine are a 5u regular (women’s 6).

softstar shoes minimalist ballet flats outfit inspiration


3. The Storehouse Flats ($75)

These are a good affordable option and they come in tons of different colors. They are unstructured so they can really stretch, but it takes breaking in and some people still find them too narrow. They have a baggier look to them, but for the price and color options I think these are a good brand to keep in mind. My favorites are the suede ones you see here because they look the most structured and fit me well, but their special editions change each month. You can read my full review of them here. Code ANYA will get you $5 off + a free bag.

the storehouse flats outfit inspiration


4. Lisbeth Joe Harare

These Harare flats have the cutest details, they’re a style I have yet to see elsewhere. I’d love to see more color options in the future, but I could not resist the scalloped toe and ankle strap. Sizing is tricky with Lisbeth Joe and I had issues with my foot sliding forward in these at first. I even thought I might need to return them. But after stretching out the elastic and putting moleskin in the top they are fitting much better. I also have the loafers which fit me well (once I put a felt insert in the top). The flats are a full size up from my usual and the loafers are a half size up. See here for more details. Code ANYALJ will get you 10% off.

lisbeth joe barefoot ballet flats outfit inspiration


5. Zaqq

Ima be honest, I ordered these 100% for their looks. I had some reservations about the toe box width, but studded flats? Had to try them at least. I got them in a 37 which is a size larger than my usual because that was all they had, but that turned out to be best. The toe box is indeed narrow, so a size up is the only reason they don’t squish. Zaqq has many beautiful flats options, but be aware of the toe tapering. Their sneakers and boots have a much better foot shape to them and in the future I will stick to those styles from Zaqq. Read my review here.

zaqq barefoot shoes ballet flat outfit inspiration


6. Botky Mechovky

Botky Mechovky barefoot ballet flats close up

I have an order in to Eliska for the flats shown here. She is very busy at the moment and they won’t be ready until summer, but I have been very impressed with her work and am really excited about them! They are fully custom made to my measurements and I expect them to be some of my best shoes. Because these have a top stitch and raw edge I won’t wear them to a fancy event, but I do think they’ll be great for date nights, semi-dressy stuff, and everyday.

*I got this order and they are GORGEOUS! See my review of them on Instagram


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3. The Full Barefoot Flats List

The Drifter Leather ($120) – Custom. My Drifter Leather reviews here.

Vivobarefoot ($120) – Vivobarefoot releases a new Jing Jing flat seasonally, but it is currently sold out everywhere but here. My code ANYAVB will get you 10% off.

Ursanina ($60) – Custom

Zlatush ($120) – Custom options

Botky Mechovky ($115) – Custom

Dextra Perspective ($70) – Custom. My experience here.

Rachell Design ($65) – Custom

The Storehouse Flats ($75) – ANYA for $5 off + free bag

Gea Soles ($90)- Custom

Lisbeth Joe ($120) – ANYALJ for 10% off

Zaqq ($150+)

Cinderollies ($14) Very cheap, a little bit narrow.

Yosi Samra – Options on Amazon as low as $50. Wider toe box than Cinderollies (and Tieks, Rothys, and most conventional flats) but still one of the narrower options on this list.

Joe Nimble Steptoes – These are currently only available on the international site, and can’t be shipped to the US. The online store Baer Shoes carries Joe Nimble for US customers, but not this style currently.

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4. Mary Jane Flats – with a Strap

Belenka Ballerines ($86) – ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off

Ahinsa ($100)

Tadeevo ($99)

Rachell Design ($65) – Custom

Zlatush ($120) – Custom options

Botky Mechovky ($115) – Custom

Zeazoo Mary Jane – My review here.

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5. Best Brands for Wide Feet

Belenka Ballerines ($86) – ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off

The Drifter Leather ($120) – Custom. My Drifter Leather reviews here.

Dextra Perspective ($70) – Custom. My experience here.

Gea Soles Yrsa ($100) – Custom

Zlatush ($120) – Custom options

Botky Mechovky ($115) – Custom

Tadeevo ($99)

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6. Vegan Ballet Flats

Ahinsa ($100)

Dextra Perspective ($70) – Custom. My experience here.

Ursanina ($60) – Custom

Cinderollies ($14) Very cheap, a little bit narrow.

Xero Phoenix – I recently reviewed the Phoenix here.

Oesh Flats

Zaqq Flats

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Comments

14 thoughts on “A Barefoot Guide to Ballet Flats For Women”

  1. I’ve often looked at Softstar Ballerines, but from their pictures it looks like they curve in and come up high at the back, which would not work for me, would rub and cause blister. I need a more vertical, straight up/down around the heel, if that makes sense (Like the back on the Vivobarefoot Jing Jing Lace shoe). (Sorry, I don’t know all the proper shoe terminology ?)
    Thoughts? Thanks, love love your blog.

    1. The Ballerines do have a big curvy heel cup, but it is not stiff at all. I have a Halgund’s deformity on my heel and haven’t had any irritation from the Ballerines, but my heel does want to slip a little so I put a heel grip in there. Otherwise, the Zlatush shoes would be a good option for you. It’s a lower cut heel with a straight cut.

  2. Brilliant job! I can’t be the only person who loves barefoot but has to wear clothes that Just don’t go with sports type shoes. This guide is the first sensible list I’ve seen. SO much appreciated! (Now I’m going to have a nice cup of tea and drool over The list 😉

  3. You forgot about crupon! I love my crupon shoes and I bought them based upon your recommendation. Thanks for all that you do 🙂

    1. I never made a selection about sole thickness because the T strap flat is a ready made style, not custom. I think it says how thick it is on her website, but I’d guess it to be about 4mm.

    1. Hi!I have looked at those and link to them in the post, but haven’t tried them yet. I actually came really close to ordering them! They seem like a really good toe box shape, but I don’t have any knowledge on sizing, fit, or quality of the brand.

  4. Hi Anya!

    I too have the Lisbeth Joe flats, and I’m curious how you stretched out the elastic? I love the shoes, but I’ve never been able to wear them for very long because the elastic at the back pushes my foot forward and jams my toes in the front toe box and its so uncomfortable! They would be perfect if they didn’t have the elastic.

    Thank you for all the amazing reviewing you do!! 🙂

    1. Hey there! I stuffed the toebox with socks and devised a sort of contraption with a pen where one end was pressing into the socks and the other pushing out the heel. I also just pulled on it with my hands for a minute or so at a time.

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