You only need to have seen Black Swan once to know that being a ballerina takes discipline. The 2010 psychological thriller explores the darker side of dance, but for those who have taken to the bar, the reality is that ballet provides structure and foundation. It’s not just about tutus, pointe shoes or pliés.
“Growing up with that level of intensity and commitment present from such a young age shaped me and my core values immensely,” says Lauren Eggertsen, the editorial director of Who What Wear, and a ballet dancer from ages five to 22. “It taught me about the more rigid things in life like discipline, hard work, self-awareness and grit, but it also allowed me to experience beauty and art in a way I would have never been able to otherwise.”
Ballet and fashion have long gone hand and hand, with many designers drawing inspiration from their favorite dancers, and even designing costumes for dancers themselves. In 1924, Coco Chanel created the looks for Ballets Russes’ “Le Train Bleu.” More recently, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri designed the costumes for the 2019 “Nuit Blanche” ballet in Rome. And, not to be forgotten, Rodarte not only designed the tutus for Black Swan, but looked to ballet as the inspiration for their Fall/Winter 2022 collection.
Dancers or not, many fashion enthusiasts are embracing balletcore as part of their fall wardrobes. Eggertsen notes that while there are the overt references, such as ballet flats, corsetry and legwarmers, she also has seen the trend play out in more subtle ways. “We saw a ton of muted shades trend in the spring shows which reminded me of the very specific shade of pink ballet tights,” she says.
The key to incorporating balletcore into your wardrobe is in embracing the balance between elegance and ease. As Eggertsen says, “the very essence of ballerinas in terms of both aesthetics and demeanor is their ability to make everything look effortless which is what we saw executed so flawlessly in recent seasons.” While a full look head-to-toe may be the move for dance class, in everyday life it’s about contrasting the touches of pink, tulle, and satin with more masculine details. Think leather and lace or tulle and trousers. You may not be en pointe, but it’s still about finding balance.
Subscribe to Observer’s Lifestyle Newsletter
All products featured are independently selected by Observer editors. When you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission that supports our work.
Miu Miu Satin Ballerinas
“Naturally, I bought the Miu Miu satin ballet flats as soon as they came out,” says Eggertsen.
$950, Shop Now
Brother Vellies Cloud Socks
Instead of leg warmers, Eggertsen suggests wearing thick socks that can be scrunched beneath ballet flats.
$35, Shop Now
Khaite Drop Waist Dress
“I am also very into drop-waist dresses because they remind me of wearing a tutu. Time to splurge on the Khaite one? Potentially,” says Eggertsen.
$1,180, Shop Now
Ozma Dance Wrap Top
Inspired by a ballet wrap tee, this 100% silk noil jersey top can be styled with a bodysuit for dance class, or paired with low-rise pants for a night out.
$178, Shop Now
Nodress White Bowknot Socks
If thick, scrunchy socks aren’t your style, these delicate lacy ones also touch on the ballet aesthetic.
$50, Shop Now
Live The Process Wrap Skirt
At dance class, a wrap skirt is a go-to option for layering over a leotard and tights. Try pairing the skirt with knee-high boots and a blazer for a cool, off-duty look.
$185, Shop Now
Nensi Dojaka Cutout Tulle Bodysuit
The structured boning of this sheer bodysuit from Nensi Dojaka is reminiscent of the same structure found in corsetry. The hybrid design— part lingerie, part party look—gives it that effortlessly undone feel.
$706, Shop Now
TheOpen Product Shrug
Another common staple in the dancer’s wardrobe is a shrug—more or less a set of sweater sleeves without a body. Slide this on and you’ll be cozy, while still showing off a going-out top.
$150, Shop Now
Yumiko Larissa Mesh Leotard
Eggertsen’s favorite label for functional leotards is Yumiko. “I actually love working out in what others call a bodysuit but I call a leotard,” she says.
$107, Shop Now
Everlane The Italian Leather Day Ballet Flat
For a more minimal take on the ballet trend, opt for these leather slip-ons from Everlane. They come in six colors, and the leather upper will stay fresh for seasons to come. Timeless? Absolutely.
$130, Shop Now
Renaissance Renaissance Gathered Tulle Mini Dress
It’s the tutu reimagined. This pale pink, tulle dress embodies the aesthetic of the classic ballet uniform, but gives it a modern twist by way of a bubble hem and off-the-shoulder sleeves.
$894, Shop Now
Namjosh Marseille Pony Bow
It’s all about the details. The addition of a delicate bow to an everyday look can help to give off that just-came-from-dance-class vibe.
$25, Shop Now