The quest for perfectly fitting pointe shoes is familiar to any ballet dancer – because every foot's anatomy is different, it's essential you find a specialist to help you choose the right shape and style for you alone.
It’s vitally important not to be swayed by aesthetics alone – your pointes will need to support you through the rigours of all the routines you throw at it and having ill-fitting shoes will do more harm than good (to your foot and the way it looks on you). The wrong shoes can easily lead to injury, which can severely hamper your progress and career.
Whether you buy your shoes online or have them custom-tailored to your feet, you should always attend a fitting in person to get a full understanding of your anatomy and the myriad of options open to you. When your feet are growing, you'll need to have your pointe shoes custom fitted each time you upgrade, however, once your feet stabilise, it's easy to reorder the same model online with confidence.
On the day of your fitting, it’s a good idea to bring along any of your previously worn shoes – particularly the ones that have given you trouble. Your pointe shoe specialist can then work with you to find out why they’re not working for you – it could be the hardness of the box, the shank strength or the length of the vamp that’s making them difficult to dance in.
The shoe should fit snugly, following your foot’s unique lines and shape. Each style comes in a wide range of lengths and widths – you don’t want your shoe to be too big because your toes will be jammed down into the point and you'll get poor support as you dance. But if your fit is too narrow or short, you risk pressure on your toe joints and problems with your Achilles tendon leading to acute inflammation, discomfort and injury.
Your pointe shoe's vamp should correspond to your toe length – if you've got long toes, choose a shoe with a more extended vamp that entirely covers your first toe's second joint. Wear a short-vamped shoe, and your foot will fall out of the shoe causing – you guessed it – injury. Those with short toes wearing long vamped shoes will experience restricted movement between half and full pointe.
The box, or the bit that encases your toes, comes in a variety of shapes from square to tapered. While tapered pointes look elegant, if your toes are roughly all the same length you should choose a square box to match your foot shape – otherwise you risk having too much space, which means your toes will jam into the shoe, or not enough room, adding pressure between the toes and the shoe’s sides.
Finally, you should not be able to place more than one finger between your foot and the top of the shoe when standing flat. If the pointe shoes’ profile is too high, your foot may slide and jam into the show; if too small you’re courting further discomfort.
When you correctly fit a shoe to your foot, it should deliver minimal pain (unless you place your foot incorrectly while dancing). At More to the Pointe, we recommend Gaynor Minden shoes to give you the best, most customised pointe experience. Call us now for an appointment.