Ballet slippers come in many shapes and sizes, so finding one that fits well can be a challenge. It’s important to note that there isn’t a universally “correct” way to fit a ballet slipper. Some people prefer them with some room at the toes, some like them to be very form-fitting. At the end of the day, your ballet teacher will usually have the final say. They’ve had plenty of experience over the years and will have a distinct preference for how they like their students’ shoes to fit, so definitely listen to what they have to say.
Width of a Shoe
Ballet slippers sometimes come in different widths. For instance, Capezio Daisy ballet slippers are available in a narrow width, a medium width, and by special order, a wide width. Bloch’s ballet slippers come in A, B, C, D, & E widths (A being the narrowest). You can tell if a shoe is too wide for someone’s foot if there’s a gap between the arch of the foot and the side of the shoe. If you can slide a finger in there, it’s too wide. You can tell if a shoe is too narrow if the toes are bunched together at the front. Toes should be able to lay flat when standing, so you may want to try a different width if you find you can’t do that.
An example of ballet slippers that are too wide.
Fitting Ballet Shoes for Growing Feet
Ballet slippers can fit different ways depending on what you want to get out of them. Obviously for younger dancers who are still growing, we want to make sure that there’s some room in the shoe for their feet to grow. However, leaving too much room turns the shoe into a tripping hazard, and we definitely don’t want that. So our basic rule of thumb is quite literally a thumb’s width of room in front of the toe.
Measure a thumb's width of space for growing room.
When the dancer has the shoe on, pull the shoe forward as far as possible and pinch the fabric to measure space in the shoe. Anything more than a thumb’s width could be dangerous, so we recommend that be your maximum. Keep in mind also that leather shoes do stretch a bit, (especially when they get warmed up from being danced in,) so there’s a little more growth in the shoe than what it seems when they’re new.
Fitting Ballet Shoes for Performance
Usually for performances (competitions, recitals, or exams), teachers and judges prefer for students’ shoes to fit snugly in order to show off their feet. In almost all cases, the students will be required to wear canvas ballet slippers since they are generally the “prettiest” on stage. Canvas shoes often have stretch fabric woven into them to allow for some growth, so they will almost always be fitted quite close to the foot.
We hope you enjoyed this brief guide on fitting ballet shoes. If you want to know more about the different types of ballet slippers, check out our blog post here. If you have any further questions, feel free to give us a call or drop by our store to speak with our dancewear professionals in person.