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Vintage Pumps

June 26, 2015

The ballet flat is such an elegant shoe, it sits on the foot so beautifully, you immediately feel balletic as soon as you slip them on, as if more delicate steps and a softer gait is required in order to fully appreciate their delicate beauty. They’re convenient, comfortable and chic. Vintage Pumps are the ultimate lightweight classic shoe that come with a little heel or none at all, all depending on how much you feel you need that little extra inch.

Repetto pumps - Lots of them

Repetto pumps – Lots of them

Vintage Pumps and Ballet Flats-You love them or hate them

For those who prefer a more generous heel, there’s no place for a ballet shoe in their shoe closet, however, for many, even those who prefer a heel, somewhere in their wardrobe there’ll be a trusty well-worn pair of Vintage Pumps that have been worn on and off for a variety of different occasions.The versatility of Vintage Pumps is what makes them so popular, they can be worn dressed up or down, with skirts, dresses and shorts, skinny jeans or cigarette pants. They’re the perfect accompaniment for any outfit, the final addition that adds class to whatever you’re wearing.

 Vintage Pumps-Flat shoe history – it goes back a long way

Of course, flat shoes have been worn for hundreds of years, even King Tutankhamen had a stash in his tomb, no not ballet flats as such, but flat shoes, thongs, the precursor of the flip flop.Flat footwear was fashionable during the 16th century in France too, but went out of style for a short time, coming back into vogue after the execution of Marie Antoinette.

Close up view of Repetto pumps

Close up view of Repetto pumps

Repetto and the ballet shoe

The ballet flat as we know it today came into our line of vision during the late forties when Rose Repetto hand stitched a fresh pair for her son Roland Petit, a ballet dancer. What followed was that her shoes would become so popular she would start making them for other dancers.

Ballet pumps reach iconic status with the help of BB

Then one day Brigitte Bardot wore a pair of Repetto’s flats and they acquired their iconic status as the shoe to be seen in. Repetto would even go on to create a pair specifically designed for Bardot, the “Cendrillon” with material cut away at the front to reveal more toe. And so ballet flats became the popular shoe of choice.


Repetto would go on to world-wide success with Maison Repetto with her first ad campaign in 1952, creation of the famous logo in 1964, and her first boutique at Rue de la Paix. Serge Gainsbourg was so taken by Repetto’s shoes he became an ambassador for the brand.Today Maison Repetto still makes the famous ballet flat, ballet clothes as well as perfume, under the management of Jean Marc Gaucher who took over in 1999.Salvatore Ferragamo also developed ballet flats for Audrey Hepburn who wore them in Funny Face, the 1957 film co-starring Fred Astaire.

Whether they’re designer or high street – everyone loves Vintage Pumps

The ballet flat, whether it’s a Repetto, a Roger Vivier or any other designer brand, or simply a high street copy, has never gone out of style since. Like denim jeans and leather jackets, the ballet flat is a wardrobe staple that everyone has, with at least one pair at the back of the closet to rely on in a crisis. It’s the ubiquitous flat that everyone loves. If you love a bit of ballet flats or ballet pump, you can call them whatever you like, take a look at Blue17’s selection of vintage ballet pumps, and mix and match with your own wardrobe.






SaMention “vintage pumps” to most British women of the non fashionista variety and they’ll pull a bit of a face.Because the word pumps mostly makes them think of school gyms, trying and failing to climb up a rope or jump over the horse, or even country dancing.


That’s because pumps are regarded as something you wear on your feet for school Physical Education lessons, and the idea of vintage pumps being desirable – well, it’s a bit odd. Being generous, one could imagine a vintage PE kit being collectable but the pumps part is stretching it a bit. That, or it’s quite a specific fetish.

Womens vintage pumps

But of course, we’re not talking about PE kits, we’re talking something a lot more elegant. The US term “pumps” is just about the opposite – womens vintage pumps are vintage shoes with a high heel.

Celebrities in pumps

We may also be talking about ballet shoes, or the fashion equivalent of ballet shoes – that is to say, the very flat soled slip on shoes popularised by Kate Moss.


All the female celebrities in the world seemed to be wearing them at one point, and they’re very handy for slipping into your bag in case your high heels get to be too much.


But of course, Kate Moss wasn’t the first by a long chalk to wear ballet pumps.

Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot, both trained ballerinas, wore ballet pumps in the street – Brigitte Bardot had a specially resilient pair made for her in scarlet by ballet company Repetto, who still make popular flats today.


They were taken up en masse by women in the Fifties who wanted to be carefree and casual, wearing flat shoes that made them feel like dancers too, rather than constricted by the high heels of their mothers.

Chanel and Roger Vivier

Coco Chanel

And going further back, Coco Chanel invented her inimical two tone ballet flats in the 1920s, which were the height of casual chic alongside her jersey separates and cardigan jackets.


The most classic version has a softly rounded almond toe, black toe cap, tiny string bow and a beige body, sometime quilted or with the double C logo on the toe.


Since this style of womens vintage pumps has been around almost continuously for nearly a hundred years, you’ll find a lot of variations on the theme.


Ballet pumps are available in all kinds of finishes and colours, some with a tiny heel (we’re talking half a centimeter) and a bit of structure, some completely foldable and squashy. They can be quilted, fabric or leather, unadorned or with a cluster of jewels or a bow at the toe.

Roger Vivier

Some of my very favourite vintage pumps are by Roger Vivier – the ones from the Sixties have a huge buckle and a square toe. I’ve seen some in emerald green that I have my eye on, but the shoe design came in so many variations, all elegant and desirable.


His “Belle Vivier” shoe was first made for Catherine Deneuve in the film “Belle du Jour” in 1967. In 1953, he made the shoes that Queen Elizabeth wore for her coronation – a surprisingly frothy gold sandal, studded with diamante.


ballet flats audrey hepburn
Ballet Flats Repetto
ballet flats Repetto Cendrillon
ballet flats-Bridgit Bardot
Not that kind of pumps
Samantha Cameron, Elle MacPherson, Kate Moss, Pippa Middleton,wearing Womens vintage pumps
Audrey Hepburn wears ballet pumps
A classic Chanel ballet flat
60s jewelled flats
Catherine Denueve in her Roger Vivier pumps in Belle du Jour
A contemporary Roger Vivier “Belle Vivier” design in patent leather

The Queen’s coronation shoe