A woman with good shoes is never ugly…Coco Chanel
There is probably no better way to make your first foray into a luxury brand like Chanel than buying a pair of shoes which you know you will get a decent cost per wear with over time. Purchasing a pair of designer shoes is like dipping your toe into the water to see how it feels, as opposed to cannon balling into a pool by buying a designer bag… and so it was for me late last year when I was on holiday in Paris.
It was my birthday and I decided to treat myself with an oh so practical pair of the Chanel classic ballerina flats, which I can now confidently say has been my best footwear purchase of the last decade. And this is a pretty big statement given I’ve always been more team heels that team flats! Let’s have a look at why these pretty pair of shoes are so worth the high price tag and what the experience was like shopping in one of the Chanel boutiques in Paris!
The making of a classic
The Chanel ballerina flats and sling-back heels were first released back in in the 1950’s and became an instant hit. Immediately recognisable by the beige leather with a highly contrasting black cap toe; the colour combination and design offer a leg lengthening appearance, perfect for vertically challenged women like me! This is due to the beige leather blending in with the colour of skin whilst the black cap toe makes the tip of the foot appear slimmer. Soon followed a myriad of colour combinations and materials; with Chanel ballet flats available in patent leather and tweed fabrics, released in different hues and patterns each season. I adore the look of the tweed flats but for my first purchase I decided to invest in the classic beige and black style, as I also desperately need the illusion of height!
Beauty isn’t always pain!
Another reason for their popularity at the time of release and subsequent cult status has to be due to the comfort factor. These shoes are constructed with lamb-skin leather, which is why they feel buttery soft…There is also soft stitching around the top line of the shoes which means you won’t have that dreaded “breaking in” period, so often accompanied by blisters. It’s extremely rare that I have been able to find a pair of ballet flats which hasn’t hurt from the first wear; one of the main reasons why I stopped wearing this style of shoe many years ago. You won’t have a hard time wearing in these flats at all, which is testament to the quality of materials and design by Chanel. The majority of Chanel’s shoes are made in Italy, with the size, serial number and “made in Italy” noted on the inside and outside of each pair.
These ballet flats become more and more comfortable with each wear, as the soft leather moulds to your feet. A slight heel also provides additional comfort with a touch of height. The shoes come in three different width sizes, from A to C, however these aren’t available in all Chanel boutiques. When I visited the store on Rue St Honore, the only width available was the standard width (“B”) and this was the same in Sydney’s boutique on Castlereagh Street. My recommendation would be if this is your first time buying a pair of these flats, to go into a Chanel store and try them on to ensure you get the perfect size, rather than trying your luck online. There are a lot of pre-owned Chanel ballet flats for sale on the second-hand market simply because the owners found they “don’t’ fit” them properly.
Some useful tips
Given the neutral colourway of the beige & black, these shoes also pair expertly with a variety of outfits. I’ve been able to wear mine to work during the week whenever I feel like being more comfortable and to give my feet a break from wearing heels. The Chanel classic flats are also perfect for wearing on the weekends with dresses or a pair of jeans and a tee!
A couple of things to be mindful of is firstly these are not wet weather appropriate footwear – my sales assistant advised me not to wear them in the rain so I’ve been very careful with mine. Secondly I’d also recommend getting the soles done by a cobbler after your first few wears, as these will definitely protect and extend the life of your shoes. After a couple of wears I noticed the black cap toe was becoming marked with signs of wear, so getting protective soles addressed this issue for me.
Shopping in Chanel on Rue St Honore
So what is the service actually like in Chanel? I’ve read and watched quite a few reviews online by customers who haven’t been happy with the service at some stores. However it’s worth pointing out these types of experiences aren’t solely restricted to Chanel… they also happen with a large variety of stores & designers worldwide. Personally I think it all comes down to the store and sales assistant on the day; I can honestly say I was truly impressed and happy with the service I received in the Rue St Honore boutique. The sales assistant was very patient whilst I spent ages trying to decide between two sizes and took the time to walk me through the pro’s and con’s of each size.
When it came time to purchase, another sales assistant and I discussed how another brand in Paris hadn’t offered me the option to claim my VAT refund on a handbag I’d purchased earlier that day. She called up that store for me and spoke to the manager there to organise for me to receive my refund, which was extremely helpful. Whether you are purchasing a big ticket item like clothing or a handbag, or something more affordable like a pair of shoes or jewellery, my experience has been that Chanel is a great place to shop – so don’t be afraid to go in store! You’ll also save some money back on purchases if you buy overseas as well, due to the VAT refund on offer.
A luxury item and experience
The packaging at Chanel is exquisitely beautiful, as is to be expected. Each shoe comes with its own protective black shoe bag and the carry bag is decorated with the brand’s signature white camellia flower with a black & white ribbon. Perfume samples were also added in as a special treat and I received the Sycamore, Chance and Paris – Venice fragrances to try out.
At over AUD$1,000 a pair, these are quite expensive ballet flats but in my opinion they are entirely worth the investment. The comfort, design, versatility of wear and luxury vibes encapsulated in this pretty pair of shoes is unmatched by other brands…this is why the classic ballerina flats by Chanel have been imitated time & time again with other labels releasing their own version of Chanel dupes. As for me, I will be wearing these on my upcoming trip to Paris and looking forward to returning to that friendly Chanel boutique on Rue St Honore…
I hope you enjoyed this review of Chanel’s classic ballerina flats and found it useful! Let me know if you have any questions or if you are a fan of Chanel as well!