“ Brand: George / Type: Ballerina „
Not everyone agrees on what constitutes a proper sport, but I would like to draw your attention to two of my favourite Facebook groups that have garnered quite a following:
If you don't think cheerleading is a sport, you've clearly never tried it.
If trampolining were easy, it would be called football.
Because yes, my sports tend to be the more....unorthodox ones. Now shoe names are a funny thing that you don't often realise until you search for an item online specifically for reviewing purposes, but for once I think these "Ballerina Sport Shoes" are perfectly named, not only because they are a sporty taken on the standard ballet flats, but because as someone who danced for over a decade, I can assure you that it takes a lot of athletic power to look that graceful.
These shoes come from George at Asda. Available from early spring, they have been around for years with only minor colour changes. The 2011 version is black and costs £10. Online it is available in sizes 3 to 9 currently, but stores may have a better (or more limited) selection.
It was not the normal things that attracted me to these, as I didn't personally buy them, I just inherited them. And though you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth (or a gift shoe on the label), I was of course delighted to learn that despite their appearance, there is no actual leather or suede in the shoe. They are crafted from entirely man-made materials, vaguely described as 'textile / other' though they don't really look it at all, hence my initial doubts (though of course I was silly to think Big Sis would EVER buy anything with ANY animal material in it). The use of these materials obviously helps keep the price down, too.
I struggle with what footwear to wear at weekends. For work I tend to wear ballet flats or heels, and I wear white trainers to the gym, but I often don't want to wear any of these for shopping or sightseeing. I had a pair of grey less-sporty trainers that were doing well until my gym trainers disintegrated, and these stepped up to fill the void. What I therefore needed for weekends was something comfy and casual, but not too sporty, and these George shoes fitted the bill perfectly.
They are called 'Ballerina' because they are flat shoes with a curved toe, like ballet flats, but they have some extras too. The sole, for example, is more like a trainer sole, supportive and with a good grip rather than the polished flat surface some ballet flats boast. They also had an ankle strap a bit like on MaryJanes. This surprised me because it is very thin and very long. Because of its narrowness, I thought it might not hold that well, and because of its length I worried there would be a lot of overhang drifting around. My worries were unfounded, though. The strap velcros down securely, meaning if I pull it tight there isn't a speck of wriggle room for my feet. And since the velcro goes some way down the side of the shoe, it manages to tidy away the overhang so it's snug against your foot, and not flapping in the breeze.
These shoes have a great, springy sole which makes walking on them easy. Compared to proper, more formal shoes (like structured ballet flats) I can walk for much longer in these without my feet getting tired. The straps help too, as it's easier to walk when your foot is firmly in place (think walking barefoot on a beach vs. doing it in walking sandals). They also have a lot more support than some casual flat shoes, like canvas pumps or <<shudder>> Crocs. They honestly feel like a trainer, but look better and don't have the faff of laces to deal with. Because of the cut, most of the top of your foot is open which keeps things cool on a hot day (and allows for another interesting tan line when the sun is shining).
I would classify these as a spring/summer shoe simply because I would not want to wear socks with them. With ballet flats the most I will wear to work is sheer tights, and I think anything else looks weird, like you have Babar feet (Google if you need a reminder). They are comfy to wear without socks and do not rub at all in any of the expected places (little toes, backs of ankles, under the strap). Something that impressed me about these was that every single bit of the shoe that touches your foot (beneath, side or top) is padded and spongy, with extra padding right behind the heel. Wearing them without socks in a hot climate can make them a bit sweatier than a more open sandal, but being made of fabric you can quite easily sort that out with Febreeze.
Though there's only one colour design out at any one time, these are so long-wearing that you could buy a new pair each year without binning the old, and build up quite a collection. Mine are from 2 summers ago, and a nice cream colour - as long as it's a block of colour and not patterned, I find most shoes can be worn with most things. Yesterday I had these on with blue jeans and a purple t-shirt, and they looked fine. The only thing I probably wouldn't wear the cream ones with is a long white skirt, as I wouldn't wear this year's black ones with a long navy skirt (not that I own long skirts, but you get the point).
There's a bit of stitching detail that encircles the opening when your foot slides in, but otherwise they are quite nice and plain. The shoes have no visible branding on - great if you don't want to advertise the fact you bought your shoes at a supermarket, though I have no problem with that.
These are a really versatile shoe to wear because they have two different looks depending on what you pair them with. In a mini skirt or shorts you can see the whole shoe, but in jeans or anything else long, the position of the strap right where your foot and ankle meet means it stays hidden, and these just look like regular slip-ons. I wouldn't recommend them for wear on a beach because their fabric design might make them harder to clean than a plastic or leather that can just be brushed off, but they are perfect for day to day city life and because they look more like a shoe than a sloppy trainer, I also have no qualms about teaching in them either. They are a bit too absorbent of water so not ideal for venturing out in floods, but the same goes for canvas shoes or regular trainers.
These shoes are now on their second owner and into their 3rd year. For the £10 price tag you might expect them to be falling apart by now if they hadn't already, but the wear thus far is minimal. There is a small crack on one of the soles which will no doubt develop into a bigger crack with time but which, for now, does not affect the look or feel of the shoes. Inside, the covering on the bottom is a little worn in one small spot, but because it appears to be made of layers and layers of padding, again, this doesn't yet affect the feel because they're nowhere near the stage of having a hole to the outside.
My shoes are a size 4 - luckily Big Sis and I wear the same size - and they fit well. I can feel my toes at the end, but not unpleasantly so, though if I were to wear them with big thick socks it might be a different story. I have fat, wide feet, and these are absolutely fine at both the toe and ankle end.
Available from George at Asda, George clothing stores and online, for a mere £10. Highly recommended.