Ballet flats are back. Podiatrists everywhere are putting down deposits on cruises and kitchen extensions

Brianna Parkins: There are three fashion trends we should bury forever - and one to keep

After threatening a comeback for the last two seasons, it seems ballet flats have returned to stink up our soles and ruin our arches. Podiatrists everywhere are putting deposits down on Caribbean cruises and kitchen extensions as they see the reports from the latest round of fashion weeks.

Ballet flats featured heavily in last month’s coverage of “must-have items” from the New York, Copenhagen and Milan fashion weeks. We could ignore them. After all, trend forecasters had been promising their return consistently since 2021. But not every article declaring X item of clothing is the “next big thing” in fashion can be trusted.

I know this because I used to write them as an intern at a fashion magazine. They would ask us to crank them out using a highly unscientific method: clicking through all the pictures the agency was sending through of skinny women either walking in the shows or going to the shows. Then we’d halfheartedly find a few things in common with their outfits and wacking them in a gallery with a click-baity headline like “The latest looks to steal from the runway: socks with shoes” or “All the cool kids are wearing white jumpers this autumn, so make sure you buy one too you unfashionable freak.” The insatiable demand for content driven by chronically online audiences means some fashion articles are insightful and others are written by unpaid students wearing Impulse body spray.

So, like religious groups that wrongly predict the end of the world every year, I thought it was safe to ignore the warnings that ballet flats had been resurrected and get on with my life. But as Paris Fashion week ends today, it’s clear the problematic flat shoe has returned from style exile.


Vogue dedicated an entire article hailing the shoe “a street style favourite,” while TikTok stylists have been flooding the “For You” pages of millions with videos explaining “how to wear ballet flats”.

Even though most of us are more likely to buy our bits at H&M rather than Hermès, we are not safe from whatever mad things fashion week shows and street style influencers are trying to dredge up from the archives. Every autumn we’re treated to a little preview of the types of clothes that we’ll be stuck wearing shortly via very thin women. This is because high street brands, ecommerce giants and fast fashion labels can now churn out cheaper versions of clothes sent down the catwalk faster than ever. When you go to look for a nice going out top at the shops you can only find itchy and impractical designs that only looked good on an 180cm-tall 18-year-old. Only more poorly constructed this time.

Penneys already have ballet flats for under €10 while Zara has a selection of 35 different pairs on their website in assorted colours and materials.

It has begun.

Traditionally, fashion moves through 20-year cycles, which means every two decades styles, cuts and colours are pulled from fashion purgatory and made cool again. Think of the late-2010s reviving 90s glam, the 90s re-embracing the flare jean silhouettes of the 1970s and so forth for eternity.

This is why we’re seeing late 90s minimalism dovetail into a “Y2K” obsession. But while the early-2000s was being heavily referenced by under-30s only in the last two years with the return of low-cut jeans, small bags and gaudy belts, we’ve already seeing sartorial nods to the late-2000s and early-2010s as the trend cycle leapfrogs relentlessly.

So, if everything we have ever worn is coming back around, what are some trends we should bury forever?

Ballet flats

As victims of the late-2000s and early-2010s invasion can attest, feet don’t really like being encased in a tight glorified pop-sock all day. Beating about pavements in what is essentially an uncomfortable slipper will leave you with feet reeking of old Parmesan cheese and your lower back screaming in pain. Don’t fall for the flat equals practical false equivalence. You need a heel or something to support your arches. There’s a reason these look good on street style galleries – these people have the proper leather ones from Chanel or Repetto. Yours are synthetic jobs. These people are only wearing them for a photo or to walk from a car into a temperature controlled building and then back into another car. You have to walk through puddles to get to the bus then a train to get to work. Do we see the problem? If millennials can do one thing in their lives, it’s warning Gen Z to protect their young feet from the blisters and bunions they endured before it’s too late. They won’t listen though. Just as we did not listen to our elders about skinny jeans.

Low-cut jeans

The second horseman of the damaging returning trend apocalypse. These will leave your most delicate back skin exposed to the chilly air every time you bend over. They cut right into the lovely soft bits on your hips. You will never know comfort again as you continually pull scratchy denim up and over your bum to make sure you haven’t accidentally mooned the general public. These will trick you into thinking you have “love handles” and these are something you need to waste mental energy on. Your body is not the problem. It’s the jeans. Put them in the bin.

Ugg boots

These are slippers made of sheepskin, all it takes is one Irish bout of rain to give yourself a trench foot from slopping about town in wet woolly leg casts. Also, stop banging on about “authentic Uggs” that cost upwards of €200. Uggs originally come from Australia where the word “ugg” is not a trademarked brand – it would be like trying to trademark the word “jumper” or “dress”. All sheepskin/woolly slippers are called uggs there. If you want authentic ugg boots, they need to be bought off the side of road from a gentlemen with a mullet who goes by the name of Ferret. Then you’ll know you have a genuine product handcrafted by a true artisan.

Lastly, the one good thing making their way back on to the high street is shoulder pads. They give an outfit structure and they make you look wider so people move out the way on footpaths instead of crashing into you. We should rejoice in small mercies while we can.