Even though I have always liked the concept of Ferragamo shoes with their iconic bow and the classic almond-shaped toe, it took a while before I committed myself to purchasing my first pair. I was simply dubious that they would be compatible with my personal style. With Varas, the reservations revolved around the small block heel projecting a slightly matronly feel, whereas in Varinas (the flat equivalent of Varas), I was concerned that the bow-embellished ballerinas might look overly cute-sey and not quite me. Eventually, I settled for Varinas and in retrospect I have no idea how I could live without them. Elegant and feminine, they have become an inseparable part of my shoe collection and an absolute wardrobe essential. This is why I have decided to write this review to help anyone who is going through similar notions and to shed some light on the pros and cons of this little Italian shoe marvel.

Fit and Sizing

From the experience I have had with Ferragamo’s Varinas so far, they seem to run true to size. In the patent leather option, I usually choose size 7C which corresponds with my regular size 37.5 (UK 4.5) brands such as Chanel or Gucci. The letter “C” reflects the width of the ballerinas which normally ranges from AA to D, with the As being more suitable for narrow feet.  To me, “C” seems compatible with an average-width foot and measures 7,5cm in the widest part of the shoe, the same as the Chanel ballet flats. However, judging from other reviews it sounds as if it may be possible to get away with different widths and still end up with perfectly wearable shoes albeit the sizing may need to be adjusted (don’t take my word for it, thought!).

While the shoe sizing is not an issue, the aspect which causes more controversy is the tight-fitting nature of these flats, mostly noticeable in the beginning. Based on my previous encounters with this model, a brand-new pair of Varinas in patent calfskin tends to pinch the toes and rub the heel so much at first, that it raises serious questions over the rationality behind the purchase. Still, anyone who has survived this baptism of fire will know that this is just a temporary phase before these gorgeous flats become the ultimate shoe. With the benefit of time, I have learnt that all is needed is a bit of patience and stretching.  This is why each time I buy a new pair I always put my Ferragamo ballerinas through a “boot camp” consisting of a few days of relaxing and expanding of the toe box with a wooden shoe stretcher as well as using fingers to loosen the heel to make it softer and stop it from causing blisters. What also helps is wearing them around the house with a pair of very thick socks (e.g. skiing socks) to allow them to mould to the shape of the foot. Although this may sound like hard work, a bit of stretching and a short break-in period is a small price to pay for creating a perfect pair of super-comfortable flats which will serve for many seasons.


Disregarding the initial break-in period mentioned earlier, Ferragamo’s Varinas have become one of my favourite flats due to their level of comfort. Thanks to the padded footbeds and good support for the arches, they can be easily worn for long periods of time without putting too much pressure on the foot. That’s why I have always considered them to be my go-to flats for a busy workday or for occasions where a lot of standing around or walking is involved but where trainers are not suitable.  They are also one of my favourite flats to wear on longer-haul flights because they slip on and off very easily and can even handle my slightly swollen foot upon landing.

One additional observation about these gorgeous ballerinas is that the leather used for their outer sole is very soft and smooth. Even though the sole incorporates a rubber patch, initially they may feel a bit slippery on some surfaces, for example wet and smooth pavement slabs or on carpets. This will improve as the sole becomes naturally scuffed while the shoes are worn and so, overtime, they will have more traction.


I absolutely love the romantic but classy look of Varinas and how they can make any outfit look effortlessly elegant and stylish. The rounded, almond-shaped toe, and the small stacked heel measuring circa 1cm are not the only feminine aspect of these ballet flats. There is of course “the” bow! The hallmark Ferragamo bow, first introduced in 1978 with the creation of the iconic Vara shoes, has become a signature of the brand and was later incorporated into the Varina shoe in 2007. The iconic grosgrain bow measuring around 7cm with a gold-tone metal plaque at its centre engraved with Ferragamo’s logo make Varinas an instantly recognisable design and an absolute fashion staple.

The continuing popularity of Varinas is also attributed to the fact that the shoes have been available in a variety of finishes including calfskin, patent, suede as well as a myriad of colour options updated throughout seasons. My personal favourite is the patent leather version in New Bisque i.e. pinky-beige colour which is extremely versatile but it is definitely worth investing in more than one colour of these stunning flats because they are such an iconic piece, perfect for running errands around town and for occasions requiring understated glamour.


Ferragamo’s Varinas are the types of ballet flats most likely to become a heavy rotation shoe due to their great comfort and effortless elegance. Because of this, they are will require some TLC to help them stay in a good shape for as long as possible. To that effect, it is important to ensure that the grosgrain bow remains dry and clean because the fabric, by virtue of being so close to the ground, will be exposed to dust, puddles, mud etc so and after a while it may start showing signs of discolouration and dirt. This is most likely to be the case if you opt for the lighter option but will apply to all Varinas in general. The metal buckle will also need to be wiped regularly to keep it clean and shiny. The same applies to the patent leather to help it retain the beautiful high-gloss finish for many happy outings. 

When the shoes are not worn, it is highly recommended for the ballerinas to be kept in their original dustbag or in a box, ideally with a shoe filler inserts helping to maintain the structure of the shoe. While the patent calfskin is of a superb quality, my experience with one of the Varina pairs shows that the leather may become slightly misshapen if inappropriately stored so an adequate support for a “resting” pair will be key.

There is also another issue which may affect Varinas subjected to extensive use. It seems that one of my pairs developed small cracks in places where there was most impact on the leather while walking i.e where the leather bends. These cracks only started becoming visible after a couple of years of frequent use and I suspect that this is due to the delicate nature of the patent leather. Although I have not tried the suede or the calfskin versions of Varinas, I suspect that the cracking is not going to be an issue there. Hence, for anyone thinking of investing in their first pair of Varinas this aspect may be something to think about when deciding whether to opt for patent or regular leather, especially if you hope for the shoes to last longer than a couple of years.

In addition, for anyone wondering whether the gold Ferragamo stamp on the insoles of the shoes fades with time, the answer is yes. But even though this is the case, realistically it should be expected and I would not dwell too much on this aspect. While the inner printing wears off gently, the shoes still look outstanding even after heavy use. In fact, it is remarkable that the flats show no significant scratches, scuffs or any other marks associated with considerable wear which attests to the exceptional craftsmanship and high-quality materials used in their construction. Therefore, in the grander scale of things, the fading of the golden print is nothing to worry about.

Good investment?

Ferragamo shoes have been celebrated for decades by everyone from Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn to modern muses such as Meryl Streep or Jenifer Aniston. If it is good for them, who else wouldn’t want to taste a bit of the Ferragamo magic, right? Having tried Varinas, it is easy to understand why this iconic Ferragamo design has gained such immense popularity. They have quickly become one of my favourite flats because the blend of elegance and comfort (excluding the initial break-in period, of course!) means that the shoes can be worn for hours on many different occasions and, as such, constitute a good value for money. It is true that where the expectation of longevity and heavy-duty wear is at stake, Varinas in patent finish may not be the best option but there are other leather varieties to select from to enjoy the model for longer. Although not the cheapest, retailing in the region of £425 (as of 2019), the extra perk of Ferragamo shoes is that, unlike many other luxury brands, they are regularly on sale though the Ferragamo website so from time to time it is possible to purchase a pair of these beautiful ballet flats without breaking the bank, at around 30-40% discount. In addition, I have spotted discounted Varinas in Ferragamo outlets in the Bicester Village in the UK and in The Mall near Florence albeit the classic colours are hard to come by and they frequently only have a small selection of sizes.  Overall verdict: Can’t live without them!