Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Are Chanel Ballet Flats Worth the Splurge?

This is one of my website's most popular posts so I am updating it! Originally Posted January 2019. 

Almost 4 years ago I ordered my first pair of Chanel ballet flats (ballerines). Just last month, they got their last wear. I get a lot of questions regarding whether or not certain items are worth the splurge so I thought I would share with you all why I think Chanel Ballerines are worth the splurge. 

I asked you to submit your questions about Chanel flats on my instastories and I was absolutely flooded with great questions! I tried to be very descriptive and cover as much as I possibly could, so keep scrolling!! 

Do they go out of style?
These are the most classic shoes you can buy (specifically the beige and black). I'm not just talking about the Chanel brand, though! Any classic ballet flat with the little bow and a cap toe are just so timeless. They don't really go in or out of style. I tend to be more likely to splurge if the item is something I can wear forever and these Chanel flats are just that. Even if your style isn't classic, I still think these shoes can be worn with so many different styles and still work so well. 

Some pieces are matronly, some pieces are trendy, some pieces are too skimpy. But these shoes are appropriate for women of all ages!

I have had some people that have Chanel flats complain about the durability but I sometimes think that they're potentially not taking proper care of them. The classic flats are made of lambskin while others can be made of goatskin or calfskin or so many other exotic leathers. Some flats are even made in tweed or felt or velvet- the list goes on! These materials all wear differently. 

Most non-designer leather shoes are made from cow hide which tends to be more durable. In fact, I can't really think of any other shoe brand off the top of my head that makes shoes in lambskin. It's just not the most practical. Lambskin is very soft and as you can see in the photos, the leather looks so smooth and feels so soft and luxurious- almost as if someone put a smoothing filter on it. Because of this, it can be creased and scratched quite easily.

You just need to be aware of that and try your best not to wear them in snow or rain- but I am like that with all of my nicer shoes!

If you are worried about durability, I'd say choose a pair of Chanel ballerines that are more forgiving. Patent, caviar leather, etc. are all going to be more durable than the traditional lambskin. 

Over the course of 4 years, I only had to have my flats re-soled once! When you are getting them re-soled a good cobbler can also clean the leather and the grosgrain as best possible which I find helps so much! 

I personally think they held up so beautifully and the only reason I had to retire them is that I fell in NYC (long story) but I ripped my coat, my shoes, my pants, etc... I actually got very badly hurt. While 4 years of continuous, constant wear definitely made them look well-loved, I probably could have gotten another 6 months or even a year wear out of them before they had to be retired.

Since I had ruined my shoes, that should show you how much I loved them- enough to get a new pair of exactly the same shoes! Gotta give credit where credit is due, though, my fiance actually got them for me for Christmas! 

Can you have them water-proofed/weather-proofed?
I would suggest not having this done. Sure, I guess you could, but putting chemicals on lambskin will totally change the feeling of the leather. If you do this, I don't really see the point in buying the Chanel flats because half the reason they look so luxurious and are so comfortable is because of the lambskin!

You just need to know that when buying these shoes, you are not going to be wearing them in bad weather. I honestly wear mine in light snow and have gotten caught in the rain a few times and they have been just fine. They have gotten water spots and usually, that fades within a few days. Just don't go trudging through lots of snow or jump in puddles, ha!

What is the Cost-Per-Wear?
If I had to guess, in 4 years time, I bet I wore the shoes over 50% of the time. But being conservative on my estimate, the cost per wear comes out to be about $1 per wear. Again, I bet I could have maybe gotten another year out of them and if I had not ripped them it would have brought down the cost-per-wear to just 82 cents (the cost-per-wear estimate is based on wearing them 50% of 365 days in a year over 4 years and then over 5 years). Still, the cost-per-wear of the Chanel ballerines are pricey compared to a lot of other shoes I own (I wore my Uggs from high school for 12 years -honestly a little gross haha- and the cost per wear ended up being like 22 cents- assuming I wore them 20% of the time throughout the 12 years). On the other hand, I have shoes in my closet that I have paid $200 for and only worn about 5 times which makes their price per wear much more expensive than the Chanel flats. 

Worth the splurge? 
In my opinion, it is worth the splurge and if I were to only ever splurge on one pair of shoes, this would, without a doubt, be the shoe. All that to say that my opinion is subjective- I don't get why my fiance buys expensive golf clubs or why my sister has an expensive Kitchen-Aid mixer! Those items are not something that I see 'worth it' but I know both my fiance and sister love these things and also probably think my Chanel flats are not worth the cost. 

I personally prefer to spend on my shoes. I prefer designer shoes and I buy fewer pairs of shoes so I can have high-quality shoes. That's also not to say I don't have plenty of budget shoes, too, though! Designer shoes take work (sometimes a lot of work) to keep them looking gorgeous and I'm also willing to put in the work to maintain them. I'm not one to keep my designer items sitting on the shelf because I am afraid they will get dirty. My mentality is that if you are going to spend a lot on something, you better get the lowest cost per wear you can! Why spend a ton if you won't get a lot of use out of it?! 

Does the ribbon trim get dirty?
Yes, this is probably the thing that is the quickest to wear but a good cobbler can clean this and you can spot treat with a cloth! A lot of people were calling the grosgrain ribbon piping 'elastic' in their questions and this is not at all elastic! 

Do you get soles put on them?
You can either wear the soles down first and then get them re-soled or you can immediately get a protective sole put on them. In my opinion, I think a sole changes the look of them ever so slightly. There is no reason you can't wear the sole in and then have a protective sole added which is what I plan on doing with my new pair!

How do you store them? 
I store them in a shoe cubby stuffed with tissue to keep their shape! I am always sure that my shoes and handbags do not see the light of day. UV rays that come from windows rapidly wear leather and fade colors. It's also important that you are storing your leather in a dry, cool space. But not overly dry because then that can cause the leather to crack! 

These shoes are of the highest quality. Truly. This article from The Real Real blog is super informative on the shoe's history as well as why it has been designed like it has! The nude part is meant to elongate the leg while the cap-toe is meant to shorten the look of the foot- which is honestly why I think I wear them so much- they just work with any and every outfit and are so flattering! 

While the lambskin is definitely fragile, the reason Chanel flats are so comfortable is because of the lambskin and the way it bends and works with your foot. They breathe really well and my foot is never sweaty! I wish my Chanel flats had a step counter on them because I think it would be shocking. These are my go-to shoes for traveling (especially in the airport when I'm not wearing sneakers) when I do a lot of walking. They are sturdy but also flexible. I have walked 25,000+ steps in these at one time and have never gotten a blister or anything of the sort! These are the perfect shoes for those that commute or walk a ton.

Do you have to break them in?
I don't find that there is a breaking-in period with the lambskin flats at all. They have never rubbed or irritated my feet and they are comfortable from the first wear. However, after a few consistent wears, they get even more comfortable and really form to your foot. Again, you need to keep in mind the material- the patent ones, in my opinion, aren't comfortable from the start and need a bit of wear until they're comfortable!

They run true to size. I usually wear an 8.5 or 9 in US sizes and with European sizing, usually a 39 and that's what I wear in Chanel! They run similar to Gucci and less similar to Ferragamo, in my opinion! They do stretch a bit, though, so if you are between sizes, you may want to consider going down a half size. You also need to consider the materials that the shoes are made of. The lambskin are the ones that I find to stretch and be extremely comfortable. But, I have a patent blush pink pair and those are a little less comfortable and also do not stretch! So just keep the materials in mind! 

Chanel Ballerines vs. Ferragamo Varina
The Ferragamo varina, in my opinion, is a totally different shoe so it is a little hard to compare. The varina is much more structured and more of a sturdy shoe because it is patent. The larger grosgrain bow and lack of capture just give it a completely different look and feel. I think the varina feels a little dressier and more ladylike. I wear my varinas a ton, but still wear my Chanel flats way more. I find the comfort of the Ferragamo Varas (the one with the block heel) to be one of the most comfortable shoes (I have an extremely high arch) but the patent does make it so that you need to break them in and even still, if you wear them to walk a ton, I find I get blisters. With the Chanel flats, I get a similar comfort (less arch support, though) and never have blisters. I don't find the varinas (the totally flat Ferragamo shoes) to be the most comfortable shoe but I just love the look. 

Are they narrow?
A lot of you asked me this and I would say no. I don't have narrow or wide feet and these are just fine on me! 

Where do you buy Chanel flats?
In Chanel boutiques and at Neiman Marcus (in-store only, if you don't have a Neimans, you can call and order them from a Sales Associate)! The price starts at $750 and then goes up from there depending upon what design/materials you choose. I love the look of some of the tweed designs as well as the suede with the patent cap toe!

Can you buy them second-hand?
Yes! You can find a good selection of gently used pairs on eBay and The Real Real! It's nice because, with a lot of products on The Real Real, you are able to return them for a full refund- this is especially good if you are unsure of your size!

More Styling Inspiration...

Chanel Look-Alikes:


Maureen said...

Totally worth it.....but I also love these which have been my day to day work shoe for years......like wearing slippers but always sharp! https://www.frenchsoleshoes.com/ballets/heros-beige.html

Anonymous said...

FYI...think this might be a typo: “Most non-designer leather shoes are made from calfskin which tends to be more durable.” I’m guessing you meant not made from calfskin. I got mine in beige and black (same as yours) but may do all black next time because I feel like I need to baby them with the light color since they pick up every bit of dirt on them as you walk.

Anonymous said...

I found the shoes run really small. I normally wear 6.5 and had to go up to 7.5.
With that being said- I love these shoes!


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