When I found out about Magical Shoes I was impressed with what I saw. They make and sell minimalist sneakers, ballerina flats, wool-lined short boots (especially intriguing for this Canadian… I really want to try these!), children’s shoes and more. A family business, started by a third generation cobbler, Magical Shoes cares about both the ethical and environmental side of shoe production. They were very generous when I reached out to them, asking if they’d like to collaborate with Bare Sole Reviews. I suggested many options and they asked me to choose some shoes to do personal reviews of. I was happy to oblige!
To start, I asked them to let me try their Balerina Anna flats in Pastel Blue. In photos looked grey more than blue. When they arrived, they really were as pictured, a cool grey. I chose this style because I was intrigued by the criss-crossed strap which looks very elegant for a minimalist shoe. The grey was a bit of a challenge for myself – most of my wardrobe being bright intense colours, not pale pastels… but I took my sister’s advice (she’s got great taste) and decided to try something different.
Disclosure: I’m an honest person, integrity is very important to me. My goal is to collect YOUR fit reviews through my survey, and run statistics, so others can see how shoes will fit before they purchase them. Sometimes a brand wants me to personally review their footwear – and this still helps everyone. It helps you learn about new brands that might fit you well, and it helps them and I get more exposure. Obviously, I benefit as well, with a new pair of shoes. But I’ll always strive to be honest in any review I do.
Everyone ignore my sandal tan… and here we go!
They came quickly, considering they had shipped from overseas, within a couple of weeks. I opened the package to find they were well package for shipping. They looked fresh and new, the leather unmarked and uncreased, and just beautiful looking. I could tell at first glance that a lot goes into their workmanship. You’ll see that I had my daughter also try them on, and of course my son wanted in on that as well, haha.
Upper: natural grain leather Padding: natural grain leather Lining: cotton+natural grain leather Sole: Magical Rubber : 5mm Weight: 160g (size 39) Colour: pastel blue Elasticity: very high Drop : 0.0mm (zero drop)
Sizing & Comfort
Overall the fit of these shoes is great for my feet. They aren’t tight and aren’t loose. I didn’t see any gaping. I have mid-high volume feet, somewhat wide feet, I think.
For reference, I wear a size 6, sometimes a 5 in sandals. I ordered a 36, based on the measurements in the size chart. Their European/American sizing conversions aren’t what I’m used to – but I’ve seen a lot of inconsistency across brands in this regard. I’ve always read a 36 is a 6, but sometimes I’ve seen charts show a 37 as a 6 too. The actual measurements they give helped me decide on the 36 in this case. My daughter is a size 7-7.5 and her toe came right to the end of the shoes… she would definitely need a size up to make them work. So, they seem true to size.
The volume of the shoe might be too big for some. They fit my feet comfortably. I’d say they are a smidge narrower than the Vivobarefoot Daisy, and definitely much wider than the my Vivobarefoot Jing Jings. They’ve been very comfortable to wear so far, with no chafing or rubbing.
The soles are very flexible. They roll, fold and twist easily. They are zero drop, no toe rise, and the ground feel is great. The soles have deep tread, so they should have good traction. There is no cushioning in the shoe that I notice, which is how I like my shoes. The ankle straps help keep the shoe from slipping, so I’m not finding I’m toe-gripping to hold them on, which sometimes happens with wide shoes. I’m short, so I guess my ankles are short too… or something… because new shoes often rub the backs of my ankles raw. So far these shoes have not rubbed my ankles at all.
The width is plenty roomy for my toes, though I don’t have tons of toe mobility. They are also wide enough for me to include toe spacers! And they feel more roomy than they look, due to the soft upper. So it looks like my toes go right to the edge, but there seems to be more space when wearing them. Bear in mind that the internal width of the shoe doesn’t always accurately reflect how wide the shoe will fit – see this amazing explanation over at Bare Steps.
The shape of the toe box is rounded, and you should keep the shape of your toes in mind when deciding on these. They worked well for my toe shape (longest big toe and sloping downwards from there). If you have a different toe shape, you might want to consider sizing up (like if your second toe is longer than your first or your toes are more square shaped).
These ballet flats look slightly different than the other options around, due to their details. There is some stitching along the toe area and around the heel area, but the most notable feature is the criss-crossed ankle strap, with buckle closure. I think this feature takes these ballet flats up a notch, giving them just a bit of elegance, a bit of that feeling of being a ballerina (my favourite shoes from childhood were the ones I felt looked like ballet shoes). As I mentioned at the top, I challenged myself a bit about the colour. I already have a pair of Vivobarefoot Daisy’s in black, so I wanted to try something new.
Now, I’m no fashionista. I wear a lot of bright colours (to avoid spending time on stain removal, with four children climbing all over me), and comfort is my top priority. I tend to be all about the practical well-worn clothing, though I try not to clash. I do have a collection of silky blouses that I pull out when I want to dress up. So, in other words, your aesthetic might not be mine. But if you are a busy person, not too concerned about being trendy or fashionable as much as comfortable and able to move, you may find my fashion attempts useful. ????
One way to style them is with slim fitting pants and a blouse. Rolling up the pant legs to show the straps looked worked. So would cropped pants. I think there’s another kind of pants… cigar pants? The style Audrey Hepburn was known for? Those would look good too.
I also wanted to try them with a dress or skirt (or both) to show them off even more. I found that I didn’t have to exactly match the shoes – as long as there was grey, or white, or a muted blue, they looked great.
Is this an office appropriate look? Well, not for my current office (sofa… bathroom… floor… wherever my kids are not!), but maybe someday.
Also, quite unexpectedly, these shoes could be dressed down and worn more casually. This outfit was sort of accidental, when I took the shoes for a walk to see how they felt. Maybe shorter shorts would look better proportioned?
And, what do you know, I CAN match them with the brighter side of my wardrobe ???? I definitely need to find socks that won’t show… please tell me what kind of socks I need?!
Price & Shopping their Website
Based in Poland, their pricing seems roughly in line with, or even less than, other comparative brands that sell ballerina flats. The Balerina Anna shoes are roughly $110 USD ($150 for my Canadian pals). The English version of their website is easy to navigate.
They provide free shipping, and their shopping cart seems simple enough. I’ve read that if you purchase through Paypal, they will cover the cost of return shipping (12 times a year). Their return policy is 30 days, for unworn shoes. My shoes arrived within 2 weeks, nicely packaged.
Workmanship & Materials
The leather on the uppers of these shoes feels luxuriously soft and pliable. Really great quality! All the places you’d expect some finishing have that – there are no exposed edges of leather. The top stitching details are a nice touch – though I think the toe area stitching makes the shoe look a little bit more casual.
One con, really for any shoe that buckles at the side, is that if you have reduced mobility of your arms, hands, shoulders, bending over, etc… it can be more of a challenge to do the buckles up. Also, these aren’t quick on/off shoes – it takes time to put them on and take them off. If you’re a busy parent running in and out, maybe save these for special occasions.
The buckle looks like quality, and it has a little bit of elastic where its affixed, which somehow makes the buckle easier to close than other buckled shoes I’ve tried (I’m thinking of Salt Water Sandal’s buckle).
They are lined in a nice cotton and leather.
I love these ballet flats. The colours made me stretch a bit from what I’m used to wearing. The style also was a stretch, somewhat more feminine than the casual clothing I mostly wear. I think they could be dressed up even further, with the right outfit. They were very comfortable, well made, true-to-size and perfectly minimal. They shipped promptly. And the people I collaborated with at Magical Shoes were easy to work with.
If I could change or suggest anything for the future, it would be to add some bright bold colours. If there had been a ruby red, emerald green, deep blue or bright purple… or canary yellow… uh oh, I’m quoting the rainbow! I have a hard time saying no to bright colours.
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