Fitting shoes for growing feet can be a real challenge. You want them to have enough room to grow, but you don’t want them wearing shoes that could put them in danger of tripping and seriously injuring themselves while dancing. In this post, we break down our method of finding the golden fit for a growing dancer.
Leaving Growing Room - The Rule of Thumb
In soft shoes like a ballet slipper or a jazz shoe, the dancer’s foot will typically slide forward no matter how big or small they are, so make sure to pull the shoe all the way forward and pinch the fabric in front of the toes to see how much growing room is in them. Typically, we won’t fit for any more than a thumb’s width of room in front of the toes once the shoe has been pulled forward to keep the shoes safe.
This photo shows that a thumbs width of room is ideal for a growing dancer.
Length vs. Width
Usually when kids go through growth spurts, their feet will grow lengthwise more than widthwise. Because of this, we try not to leave much space on the sides of the shoe when fitting since the leather or the canvas will stretch with the foot to accommodate the width. If you can fit a finger into the side of the shoe, there’s too much room.
This photo shows a shoe that is too wide and will gape and pucker on the sides.
Wearing a Roomy Shoe
Our “rule of thumb” keeps most slips and falls from happening, but any shoe with extra room can be a tripping hazard. So, we typically recommend that dancers who have been fitted recently for shoes with growing room use one of these few tactics to keep themselves safe. Instead of bare feet or tights, wearing the shoes with socks can help take up some of the extra room until their feet grow some more. For more solid shoes like a tap shoe or a character shoe, we recommend wearing a heel grip to take up some of the extra room in the back and push the foot forward. Once their feet have grown the heel grip can be removed and the shoe can be worn normally.
Capezio Love Ballet Slipper
Dancewear manufacturer Capezio makes a ballet slipper called the Love that is designed to grow with a dancer’s foot. The elastic that stretches across the top of the foot is attached via buttons on the side that can be adjusted to 3 separate positions depending on the foot’s growth. The sole includes a portion made of elasticized mesh that stretches with the foot as it grows. The sole is also designed to function both as a full-sole and a split-sole. While there is a gap between the two soles, the front sole is long enough that it still helps strengthen young dancers’ feet.
Many teachers prefer the shoe to be fitted to the foot, especially for performances, exams, competitions, and recitals. This is because a baggy shoe can make the foot look sloppy and can hide good technique that the dancer has worked hard to master. So keep in mind that when it comes to fitting with growing room, those shoes are usually only used for class. As always, check for requirements with your teacher before you have shoes fit with growing room, since they sometimes won’t allow a shoe to have any extra room in class.
Hopefully that shed some light on the fitting process and you can feel more confident with the fit of your dance shoes. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call, email, or simply visit the store to speak with a dancewear professional.