Tiny Black Shoes Are Having a Massive Year

For those of you just tuning in, this is the latest episode of Menswear Trends Live (2024), where the coats are big, the pants are even bigger, and the shoes are—wait a second, folks. We interrupt this transmission to bring you breaking news from the footwear world: right now, the shoes are actually…tiny. Which is kind of a huge deal.

See, on the last few seasons of this show, the shoes were as big as they could possibly get: hulking derbies, beefed-up loafers, cartoonishly gargantuan sneakers. But if the ballet flat craze is any indication, a smaller, daintier silhouette looms on the horizon—and if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphors, it’s poised to go from fan-favorite guest star to main character in record time.

Five Small Black Shoes for Bigger Fits

The shoes we’re talking about here aren’t just ballet flats, though plenty of them are ballet flat-adjacent. For our purposes, they share three primary characteristics: black leather uppers that fold, envelop, or crease snugly around your feet; thin, barely-there soles; and the ability to telegraph to the world that wherever you’re headed, you’re totally fine getting there at a leisurely pace.

Adding a pair to your regular rotation shouldn’t involve any sort of wardrobe overhaul. Because the best way to wear them is, ironically enough, exactly the same way you would their large-and-in-charge counterparts—with wide, relaxed trousers or baggy, pooling jeans that threaten to swallow ‘em whole.

To help you size up your options, we gathered 9 of our favorite dainty black shoes below. Alert the Academy—this is our official “For Your Consideration” campaign.

The Gateway Pick

If you aren’t quite ready to abandon the lug soles, Magliano’s Mary Jane-esque shoes are here to make the transition a little easier. They boast the same streamlined uppers as the other options on this list, but come rendered in a sturdy cotton canvas that you don’t have to baby. The semi-rugged sole means they can handle a light sprinkle and (relatively) uneven terrain on a trek around town.

The En Pointe Pick

The ballet flat craze reached a fever pitch this year among a highly specific subset of guys looking to, uh, to minimize their footprints, and it shows no sign of slowing down as we enter the warmer months of 2024. Plenty of the shoes on this list are ballet flat-adjacent, but Balenciaga’s take the source material a lot more literally—and are all the cooler for it. Who cares if you know how to plié or not? Toss these on with baggy sweats and a hoodie to unlock levels of coziness that’ll have you dancing in the street.

The Off-Duty Tycoon Pick

You want to know why everyone re-watching Succession (and plenty of the folks it’s inspired by) lust after The Row’s stealthy, wealthy wares? Take the brand’s crushable leather loafers as evidence. There might not be another shoe on the market that telegraphs your total disregard for mundane concerns like function—instead, these are slip-ons for the guy whose feet only touch the ground on the walk between his tinted Escalade and the corner booth. That guy would probably wear these with chinos; you should wear ’em with billowy pleated trousers.

The Strapped-Up Pick

Lemaire’s aptly-named ballerina loafers boast a fun buckle closure (plus a collapsable heel if strapping in is too much to ask), but their leather soles lend them a welcome degree of heft. Wear ’em any way you would your derbies—your boss might not approve at the office, but at your cousin’s laid-back wedding? Buckle up and away.

The Pre-Broken-In Pick

Marsèll has been churning out butter-soft dainty shoes like these since 2001, and they’ve been a fashion-crowd favorite for about as long. To the extent that anyone’s keeping track, they’re sort of an OG of the genre—and they still make one of the comfiest riffs you’ll find fresh out of the box, thanks to those tasteful creases and an intentionally lived-in feel.

The Endless Summer Pick

Spanish label Hereu is one of our favorite footwear brands to emerge over the last few years, thanks to its fresh take on loafers, derbies, and the occasional pair of cowboy boots. Wear the brand’s ultra-dainty slippers with white socks and slouchy trousers now, and then go full European vacation mode all spring long with dress shorts and your sultriest, barely-there button-up.

The Suit-Friendly Pick

Last year, the chilled-out suiting gods at Stòffa introduced these slippers as part of their inaugural foray into footwear. Like everything the New York-based brand touches, they’re crafted from primo materials worth every cent—in this case, Italian leather uppers plopped on top of all-natural latex outsoles. Stòffa isn’t in the business of shilling menswear you’ll want to replace every season. These slippers are plenty luxe, but they’re not precious; they’re resolable so you can—and should—wear ’em into the ground with impunity.

The Drop-Top Pick

Jonathan Anderson became one of the biggest names in capital-F Fashion—and GQ’s reigning designer of the year—thanks, in part, to his ability to imbue familiar silhouettes with a jolt of the absurd. So, as you might expect, his swanky leather slippers feel like a closer relative to his smash-hit loafers than anything you’d find in a hotel room—but might be just as comfortable thanks to a wide, squared-off toe box. The real X factor here, though, is that collapsible heel, a flourish damn-near guaranteed to upgrade your bed-to-bodega shuffle.

The Beefy(ier) Pick

Dries Van Noten’s riff on the silhouette combines the simplicity, elegance, and sheer comfort of leather slippers with the traction of a crepe-sole chukka. Naturally, they’ll look rad with roomy hiking pants when you’ve got to hightail it uptown (or walk the dog on a weekend trip upstate), but they’re really the most discreet way to add a little heft to your slip-ons without resorting to deal sleds.

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