Next time you’re thinking of reaching for a pair of heels, consider opting for flats instead. Style icons including Coco Chanel and Karlie Kloss have been choosing party-worthy ballerinas, loafers, and slippers over stilettos for years. Take a look at these for inspiration.
Coco Chanel’s simple elegance still resonates today—her classic take on ladylike dressing remains much unchanged. One accessory the designer popularized? Ballet flats—which prove shoes don’t have to have a high heel to make a woman look her chicest.
Actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly made comfort look elegant when she opted for flats over heels. Though espadrilles remained a favorite style of Kelly’s, she certainly slipped into her fair share of skimmers!
Katharine Hepburn was one of the first to popularize the still-modern-and-fresh borrowed-from-the-boys style we now love so dearly. Hepburn adopted the menswear trend right down to her flat-soled oxford lace-ups.
Fresh-faced Audrey Hepburn was known to have her ballet flats custom-made by Salvatore Ferragamo. A classically-trained ballerina, Hepburn brought the youthful style into the spotlight, paired with everything from black pixie pants to midi skirts.
The youth movement of the 1960s brought with it the minidresses and flats still popular today. One of the decade’s biggest models, Twiggy, often stepped out onto the London scene wearing ballet flats or Mary Janes.
Fun fact: it’s Brigitte Bardot who is credited with popularizing Repetto—growing the brand from a technical dance shoe company to one that also makes everyday footwear. Trained as a ballerina, Bardot requested the ballet slipper with a city sole—ease and elegance rolled into one.
Before, during, and after JFK’s time in office, all eyes were on Jackie, as she effortlessly donned everything from ball gowns to flared jeans. It was through her zeal for ballerinas and loafers, though, that she showed the world flats can be just as elegant as heels.
A lover of ballet flats in every color, Princess Diana is credited with popularizing the British company French Sole (after buying 12 pairs in one fell swoop.) A fashion icon, Diana often chose to pair dresses and skirts with flat shoes instead of heels.
Lauren Hutton’s masculine-meets-feminine style means she’s often spotted wearing pants, blazers, or suiting and sneakers and flats.
Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt is the epitome of casual, cool French-girl fashion. Even in black jeans and a crisp button-down shirt, Alt makes flats look chicer than any stiletto heels.
Olivia Palermo has been known to pair everything from miniskirts to midi dresses, wool trousers to denim shorts with shoes of the flat variety. Take a cue from Palermo and opt for styles more festive in design, with an unexpected element or texture.
Fashion editor Giovanna Battaglia shows off her legs by pairing fun and flirty minidresses with flats of all varieties. She has been known to sport everything from menswear oxfords and smoking slippers to girly ballet fats and pointed-toe slingbacks.
If there’s one girl who opts for flats over heels for most occasions, it’s Alexa Chung. A fan of Charlotte Olympia cat flats, there are few parties too fancy for Chung’s feline feet.
Petite as the pair may be, Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen prove that you don’t need sky-high heels to look elegant at a party. Whether it’s Coco Chanel’s favorite cap-toe ballet skimmers or elongated masculine slip-ons, the right pairs of flats are always party-ready!
Standing at almost a foot taller than the design duo, Karlie Kloss opts for elegant flats on the red carpet, gown and all. With the shoes’ pointed shape and metallic sheen, the model is ready to dance the night away while remaining graceful and festive.