People often mistakenly buy ballet shoes that are a size too small for them, in the belief that the leather style will stretch and the shoes will fit better. However, this is simply not true. When you buy ballet shoes you have to make sure that there is room for your toes to spread out in the shoe, helping with your balance when dancing. Equally, do not be tempted to buy shoes that are too large with the idea that you will grow into them, as the surplus material will cause them to rub and will affect your balance, which could be dangerous.
There are couple of good pointers for buying ballet shoes. Go and get fitted at the time of day when you are usually dancing, so that your feet are as similar as possible to your ‘dancing’ feet. Also, bearing in mind the advice on size above, it is a good idea to test out your potential ballet shoes by doing a quick frappé or tendu in the shop when you try them on.
The next decision to make is whether to buy leather or canvas ballet shoes. Leather is generally more attractive and durable than canvas, and keeps your feet warmer in chilly studios. However, the type of floor you dance on (wood or vinyl for example) might affect your decision as canvas shoes won’t last as long as leather shoes on wooden flooring due to wear and tear. Men tend to prefer canvas as they don’t stick to the floor like leather shoes can when heavier men wear them. Yet canvas shoes have the advantage of being washable in a machine and you can dye them easily to match any costume. So, choose a heavy canvas pair of ballet shoes and they should last as long as a leather pair if you look after them properly.
Ballet shoes can have full soles or split soles. The latter can make pointing easier and hug the arch of the foot well, but full soles are generally cheaper. Basically, there is not that much difference so you just have to work out your own preference.
These days ballet shoes are popular not just with ballet dancers, but with the fashionable set as well. Think Audrey Hepburn in cropped trousers and little ballet pumps, preferably red ones, dotting about Paris in the springtime, and you get the general idea. Ballet-style pumps are also very popular as bridal shoes and evening shoes, as they come in all sorts of colours, fabrics and with various trimmings and decorations to match any outfit.