Finding a perfect dance shoe or garment is very satisfying. But getting the right size is essential – it affects performance (and appearance!). So, here’s our guide to ensure you have the best fit possible.
Ballet Shoes fit differently from other shoes – they are designed so that the toes come to the front of the shoe, so that the footwork can be easily seen. So, even in a pair of ballet shoes that are too large, the toes will still come to the front of the shoe. In contrast to outdoor shoes, growth room can be seen mostly at the back of the shoe. To check the fit of your ballet shoes:
- Always try your ballet shoes on a clean surface so that if they don’t fit correctly they can be returned.
- Check that you are wearing ballet socks or tights (these are much thinner than normal socks/tights).
- Look at the ballet shoe when the wearer is standing with both feet flat on the floor. None of the toes should be crunched, or pressing tightly at the end of the shoes – if they are, then the shoe is too small. Equally, there shouldn’t be too much room beyond the toes, so that the leather at the tip of the shoe can be folded over – in which case the shoe is too big.
- Look at the growth room at the back of the shoe by pointing the foot to the side – with a perfect fit, there should be approximately a finger’s width (a pinch) at the back. Any more room than this ‘pinch’ and the shoe will slip during class (not good for the teacher to be able to accurately see the footwork and a potential tripping hazard).
Excess of leather around shoe.
Smooth toes. No excess of leather at tip of shoe. A finger’s width growth room at back of shoe.
Remember, ballet shoe leather is very soft and will ‘give’ and mould to the shape of the foot, within the first few times they are worn. There is no ‘left’ or ‘right’ initially, so always mark the shoe left and right after the first time it is worn, to ensure the leather moulds perfectly to each foot.
If in doubt, always ask your ballet teacher to check the fit of your new shoes before wearing them in class.
Leotards, like swimsuits, should fit smoothly, without wrinkles across the body of the leotard.
If in doubt, check the growth room of a leotard by gently pulling up the shoulders of the leotard. The optimal amount of growth room is when the leotard stretches to the bottom of the ear. (This gives a minimum of a few inches of growing room). If the leotard can stretch beyond the top of the ear, it is too big!
Stretches beyond the top of the ear.
Does not stretch above ears.
Waist size is hopefully straightforward (just measure the waist around the stomach, level with the tummy-button). Our skirts have adjustable waists with fairly long strips of Velcro – so the skirt should ‘grow’ with your child for quite some time.
Skirt length is slightly debatable – different schools have different views, so always check with your teacher. The most popular view on length is that the skirt should be approximately 1-3 inches below the knee (as shown in the picture). Any lower and it becomes difficult for the teacher to see the child’s legwork when dancing.