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The likelihood is that by now you’ll be familiar with 2023’s influencer-favourite mesh ballet flats trend - a contemporary, cool-girl take on the classic Y2K ballerina shoe.

The rise in popularity of flat shoes has been astronomical this year, so much so some of TikTok's fashion community (who we know have a way with buzzwords) are labelling this season 'flat shoe fall'. And the hashtag #Meshflats specifically has over 2.3 million views on the platform.

Mesh has been having a major moment since 2022 (we're looking at you, Emily Ratajkowski), therefore it's unsurprising that the semi-sheer material made its way down to footwear, and is thriving this autumn - from dazzling, eveningwear-approved embellished slip-ons to more formal and chic Mary-Jane styles.

A guest wearing mesh flats at the Paris Fashion Week SS24 shows© Edward Berthelot
A guest wearing mesh flats during Paris Fashion Week SS24

The traditional ballerina shoe has an infamous reputation for chopping heels and baby toes to pieces before the shoes were broken in. So I was intrigued to see if the mesh shoe was the same.

I tried mesh ballet flats and these are my honest thoughts...

First things first, I was utterly shocked at how comfortable Dear Frances' bestselling 'Balla' mesh ballet flats are. Unlike classic leather, the mesh material is so malleable that it almost moulds to your foot - no squashing of the toes or scraping of the heels.

I was also surprised by how easy they are to style. They've become my go-to shoes, because I found myself just slipping them on as I was leaving the house because I knew they’d elevate any outfit and I could wear them all day.

Outfit One:

Monochrome is a failproof combination and my ultimate favourite. I played it safe on my first day pairing these cropped River Island black jeans with a white shirt from The Paloma Shirt. Thanks to the unusually warm start to autumn we had, I was fine to wear without layers, however, I tried this same outfit with tights underneath and it still worked just as nicely. I added my brown Stella McCartney Logo Mini bag to inject some warm, autumnal colour.

Outfit Two:

I am a huge advocate for double denim. Though it may seem a less likely combination for the cooler months, throwing a blazer over the top of a denim shirt makes it feel more autumn-appropriate (another option is to wear a cream turtle neck underneath). This shirt is one I found in my boyfriends ‘take to charity’ bag and kept for myself, but Zara currently has a lovely similar version in stock. I paired it with H&M jeans from AW22.

Outfit Three:

Parisian chic but make it autumn. A satin midi skirt is a wardrobe staple and I wear it for literally any occasion possible. I paid £35 for this River Island one in July, and by my ‘girl math’ calculations, the cost per wear is ridiculously low (it's currently sold out but this New Look one is a great alternative). I paired it with this cream Nicole Miller cardigan with statement gold buttons, and my favourite earrings from YSSO. 

Outfit Four:

A braver silhouette than I usually sport, as I feel an oversized outfit sometimes drowns my 5"5 frame, but I feel the dainty design of the ballet flats made the look feel less bulky. This printed silk shirt is giving ‘70s music teacher' but I'm obsessed. A dark printed shirt and black shoes are a great way to keep the beige trousers transitional and create an autumnal feel. I also added my faux leather black M&S bag to bring the look together.

Outfit Five:

A workday classic: Ecru or white jeans look 10x smarter if paired with black, so adding a t-shirt and blazer gives it a smarter feel without compromising on comfort. The Balla's also gave the look an air of cool.

The Verdict

Suffice to say I have not been so impressed by a trend-led shoe for a very long time. They are comfortable and seriously chic and worth investing in in my opinion, even if they do cause a few raised eyebrows on the Victoria line...