How To Choose A Ballet Shoe: All About Ballet Shoes

There are so many different ballet shoes and it can be overwhelming, especially when you’re a new dance parent. If you’re not sure what kind of ballet shoes to buy, or you thought all ballet shoes were the same, keep reading!

Ballet shoes come in leather, canvas, stretch canvas, split sole, straight sole. Then there’s pointe shoes which are NOT ballet flat shoes. 

So which Ballet shoe should you get?

Most little (around 2-8 years old) beginner ballerina’s do leather straight sole ballet shoes. Straight sole means the piece of suede on the bottom of the shoe goes from toe to heel with no space. The leather straight sole (like the Capezio Lily or Eurotard Passe) is a pretty standard shoe for little beginners.

Stretch canvas ballet shoes have a split sole which means there’s a piece of suede on the ball of the foot and on the heel with no sole covering the arch. The stretch canvas ballet shoes offer the best fit without feeling too tight or baggy. They hug the foot perfectly and they can stretch 1.5-2 sizes! These are great for growing feet or for dancers that like to accentuate their arch. The Capezio Hanami and So Danca SD16’s are great options. (The Capezio Hanami is our #1 selling ballet shoe.) 

Canvas ballet shoes are made of the same canvas material as the stretch canvas, without the stretch. In the Washington DC area, not many dancers use these anymore because they look baggy compared to the stretch canvas and they’re not as comfortable as the stretch canvas.

Leather split sole ballet shoes are also a good option if you want a fitted shoe that is going to last a little longer than the stretch canvas as leather is more durable. 

Most studio’s have a ballet shoe requirement, so if you’re not sure what to get, check with your studio! 

If you just signed up your child for ballet and were expecting the shiny shoes they can stand on their toes in, those are pointe shoes and they are not for beginners. You should be at least 12 years old and have years of extensive ballet training, your teachers approval, and possibly a doctor’s approval to be ready for pointe shoes.

There are some questions we get over and over about ballet shoes, so keep reading for the answers!

Can ballet shoes have “grow room”? 

When dancers are young (in the straight sole leather ballet shoes) we do sell them with a little bit of “grow room,” but not much. Since the material is flimsy (unlike a sneaker), if there’s too much space in the front of the shoe, it’s easy to trip. Also, ballet shoes stretch out so they don’t need much extra room.

I haven’t signed her up for class yet, but can we get her ballet shoes?

We recommend waiting until you choose a studio and sign up. Each studio has different shoe requirements and we wouldn’t want you to get the wrong shoes!

Do ballet shoes come with ribbons?

No. Generally, ballet shoes are not worn with ribbons. Sometimes for performances, a teacher will want ribbon to mimic a pointe shoe, but ballet shoes do not need ribbons. 

Do you wear tights with ballet shoes?

Yes! Most studios require tights with ballet shoes however, always check with your studio for their specific requirements. 

What ballet shoes do boys wear?

Boys generally wear black or white ballet shoes with either tights, socks, or bare feet. Check with your studio for specific requirements.

What’s your favorite ballet shoe? Let us know in the comments!

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