Ballet’s Influence on Fashion


Ballerinas are feminine, graceful, strong yet delicate and almost angelic like, so of course, we want to emulate them. Every time a woman or a young girl pulls her hair back in a chic chignon or slip their feet in ballet flats, they are channeling some of that ethereal beauty. For some time now, I have been noticing how much ballet has influenced the designs and cuts of modern high-end fashion, so I decided to do a post on it in hopes my readers will learn something about this dance form and fashion.

In the beginning of the 1780’s, the fashion impacted by classical ballet had a direct correlation with the attire worn by dancers at the time. All of the clothing worn by dancers was used to enhance the naturalistic features of the body including elongating the legs and arms and slimming the waist and chest. These features were considered the idealized female body at the time. Suited in the aristocracy, this led to a great amount of empowerment for women as well as young girls. Dancers wore soft long skirts that emphasized a wasp waistline and ballet slippers that became standard apparel for those in the aristocracy.  Despite the discomfort they created, ballet slippers, which were made with satin and silk, provided flexibility for the foot which was ideal for dancers. Ballet has been affecting fashion from the beginning of the aristocracy as it was seen as one of the most sophisticated art forms of the time. It shows sentimental femininity in a tangible way through favoring fluttery silk gowns in soft pastel shades that highlight the waist.

One name stands out when it comes to asking who is responsible for ballet’s influence on the fashion world. The work of ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of Ballets Russes, the Russian ballet company that took Paris by storm in the early 1900s was the primary inspiration for this trend. The Ballet Russes inspired fashion designers, such as Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli and art and fashion magazines including Vogue, Comoedia Illustre and La Gazette du Bon Ton, published articles and photographs which fueled ballets popularity in fashion.


Shoes: Shoes are the most popular and ubiquitous example of this trend. I can say this with confidence that these days, it would be difficult to pinpoint a girl who doesn’t own a pair of ballet flats in her closet. Versatile, casual, and comfortable, these flats are designed by the best of the best to economical brands and come in a variety of colors and materials. We recently spotted Stuart Weitzman lace-up flats, which are gorgeous by the way, that emulate the style of pointe shoes on ballerinas. Highly chic!

Hindu Fashion: Just because Ballet is a western art form, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold meaning in the Eastern World. Pakistan and India are not far behind this trend with the incorporation of ballerina-wear in their traditional attire. Two names stand out from the crowd – Seher Tareen from Studio S., Nomi Ansari, and Ali Xeeshan. Seher Tareen is an art minor from a London school and incorporates art of various forms in her fashion masterpieces. One of her collection was solely based on ballet. She used inspiration from Degas paintings and Russian ballet to come up with her own interpretation of high-end Pakistani fashion wear. Whether it is lace-up pants, or lace-up saris with Degas paintings digitally printed on them, it was no surprise to see this art enthusiast include ballet in her fashion line. Nomi Ansari, the “color king” as he is known is not about the pastels that ballet is known for, but he is a pioneering designer to use tulle crinolines under his vibrant and colorful lenghas. These crinolines give the lengha body, shape, and that extra oomph that can make any woman feel like modern-day royalty. Poufy lenghas with short cholis and dupattas draped in creative style is a vision to behold.

Western Fashion: Although we see ballerina influence on children-wear more, more and more women are embracing this feminine style in their wardrobe. Tulle skirts were first spotted on Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and City and soon the tutu took a bold step out of weddings and into mainstream fashion. I even bought a neon green and hot pink tulle skirt from Etsy and wore it to a themed party-it was a big hit! Nothing says fashionistas like a hot pair of stilettos and a midi tulle skirt. As mentioned before, the wedding wear is another fashion market that is influenced by ballet. Tulle wedding gowns, and flower girl dresses all are similar to ballet costumes.

Punk ballet fashion: In the 1980’s a new form of mainstream fashion took place-punk and ballet was not left behind. Everyone remembers that Madonna “like a virgin” performance when she was dressed in a white outfit with a twist of ballet and punk mixed into it. And then this trend exploded- tutus with leather corsets, and boots were seen on every die hard punk woman. The colors were as vibrant and neon as they could be and there was makeup to match.

Kitty Fashion: My cats would kill me if I don’t include kitty fashion in this post. Fashionistas want their pets to look as cute as they look as well so it is not uncommon to see kitty (and dogs) in tutus. Thank you very much!

Happy Shopping!