Leotards and Lace: Defining Ballet-Core

By Julia Karns

Ballet-core is a highly popular aesthetic which originates from the appreciation of the grace and beauty of ballet. The trend-wave was set in motion when Italian brand, Miu Miu, showcased their famous ballet flats in their Fall/Winter 2022 runway show. While ballet-core has certainly become all the rage in high fashion, it has trickled down into more accessible brands such as Zara and H&M. 

The aesthetic loving platform, TikTok, served as an instrument for creating wide-spread obsession over the newly coined “ballet-core”. But, balletomania has been seen in fashion before, most notably in the 1930’s and 40’s when women’s dress hem-lines rose and the need for things like stockings became more necessary- and therefore an opportunity for the fashion industry. The influence of ballet on fashion can be seen all throughout history from Coco Chanel’s love for tulle in the ‘30s and ‘40s to John Galliano’s Spring 1996 runway to Ming Ha’s beautiful Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear collection. 

Whether you start by finding an old bin of dance clothes from your childhood, or by sifting through the lingerie rack at your local thrift, capturing this beautifully feminine look, is absolutely achievable. The key to accomplishing the look is to lean into usage of articles of clothing that might be worn by a ballerina such as tights, leotards, and legwarmers. Choose a starting piece to work from like a wrap top, then add details: lace, bows, your favorite ballet flats. A true ballerina knows the art of layering and you should too. Look to designers like Sandy Liang and Simone Rocha or watch movies like The Virgin Suicides (1999) and Sugar and Spice (2001) for inspiration.

For ages, women have been shamed for their silliness or fragility and therefore forced to suppress their femininity. Ballet-core is an appreciation for an art that is so intrinsically feminine- undeniably beautiful, but riddled with pain. The popularity of this girlish aesthetic is a liberating celebration of the beauty of womanhood.

Photographer: Josh Brown

Creative Director: Carolina Gomez

Creative Team: Abbie Rios, Kristina Wise, Maria Canales& Alyssa Carman

Modeled by: Nathalie Santis, Lealani Vila, & Meghna Vemuri