How Should Pointe Shoes Fit?

 Your Pointe shoes must be very snug and yet somewhat comfortable……

Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them when being fitted for Pointe Shoes. It is not reccomended to buy pointe shoes online, unless you have been dancing on pointe for a while and know exactly what make and style and EXACTLY what size you need.

Some  dance store associates  tend to fit the shoes way too loosely. Tell them your teacher insists on a snug fit.They need to fit snugly so that the foot does not slide around while dancing. If you give it some thought, this is very logical. The shoes should fit like a glove and never leave room for growth. Trying to learn proper technique on pointe with shoes that are too large introduces many difficulties. In addition to causing blistering, it forces you into bad habits as you try to compensate for your foot sliding around within the pointe shoe. Such habits, once formed are difficult to correct.  When you are pointe shoe shopping, be prepared to try on perhaps 30 pairs of shoes, yet still walk out without buying if you are not completely satisified with the way that they fit. Do NOT succumb to seller pressure.   T he shoe should be snug but not painfully tight. Your toes should be able to lay straight inside the box of the shoe and NOT be jammed into the end. Be sure that your toes  are not overlapping.

In addition to being a snug fit, make sure the pointe shoes feel relatively good in the store. If you find pointe shoes that feel terrific and have a snug fit in relevé first, BUY THEM INSTANTLY!!! DO NOT purchase pointe shoes if they DO NOT feel good in the store. The shoes will not magically be pain free at the studio if they felt terrible in the store.

 DO NOT sew on elastics and/or ribbons until your teacher has checked the shoes in person for proper fit. Many sales associates have never worn pointe shoes and can not relate to their feel.  They may have to be returned.

In preparing to go for your Pointe shoe fitting make sure you have plenty of time and are not in a rush. Wear tights and be sure to cut your toe nails, but make sure that they are not too short.

The following is a portion from Freed of London’s website:

With both shoes on, stand with your weight on both feet and knees bent. In this position, your feet will be at their widest. Your shoes should feel snug but not pinch. You should also feel the block ‘cupping’ your toes. In addition, you should feel the little toe joint, the big toe joint and the center of the heel on the floor in this position.

 Next, place one foot on Pointe without transferring body weight. If the outer sole of the shoe remains flat against the pad of your heel, your shoe is the right width for you. If your sole twists away from your foot, the shoe is too narrow. At this time, you should also check that the block completely covers the toe joints.

 To check the length of the shoe, go on Pointe on both feet and transfer your body-weight onto your toes. If the outer sole of the shoe extends beyond the pad of your heel, the shoe is too long.

It is a good idea to learn at this time the parts of a Pointe Shoe so you can describe to the seller what part of the shoe is bothering you.

Going on Pointe is a wonderful time in your dancelife. Enjoy every minute of being able to do such an amazing form of dance!



17 thoughts on “How Should Pointe Shoes Fit?

    • Yes Bloch is a very nice shoe. However the pictures were just to enhance the article, not to promote any one shoe. I wear Bloch ballet slippers my self, however my daughter loves Bloch pointe shoes and that is all she wears.

  1. I am so glad I found this article! I needed to show my mom this info because I dance. I appreciate the knowledge. I myself have been dancing on Pointe for three years.

  2. I purchased pointe shoes and they fit prefectly while en pointe but on flat my big toe feels like it curls slightly, causing me trouble when rolling through demi pointe. Given that they are perfect while en pointe, should I just break them in and hope they get better while on flat? Thanks!

    • In my opinion, if your big toe curls while flat the the shoe is too short for your foot. You possibly need a 1/2 size longer. Your toes need to be totally flat while you are standing flat. You may feel comfortable while on full pointe because you may have a good arch in your foot. Next pair try a 1/2 size longer

  3. most people have one foot that is slightly longer than the other. If your toe is curling up then the shoe is too small. I always bought two pairs – one pair a half size bigger. This gave me two pairs that were right for my feet.

  4. I try to tell my mom that I need to go to a place to get my shoes fitted but she won’t listen to me and buys them online anyway, and because of that I have to stick to the same type of brand/make that I got the very first time I got pointe shoes. And I really want to try some other brands. Ugh

    • Possibly you should have your mom read my post on pointe shoes. I tell my dancers that they should be fitted at least once per year to be sure the size and type shoe are still what they require. Your feet do tend to change and your dancing should improve as you continue your training so different shanks and vamps may suit you better. If you buy several pair per year then it is ok to buy those online….but try to be fitted at least once per year.

  5. Hello. My daughter has very small feet and we cannot find pointe shoes in a size 12. The smallest size seems to be a 2. Do you know of an online company that sells them in a 12? I have not been able to find anything online.

    Thank you,

    • Hello Stacie

      My first question to you is, How old is your daughter? I do not put anyone on pointe until the age of 12 sometimes 11. So I have never come across this situation.
      This is an except from my February 7, 2012 post on Pointe Work:

      “The year at which a young dancer should begin pointe work is a matter of controversy. Because so much depends on the physique of the dancer, the standard of her technique and the rate of progress, it is impossible to set an exact age. A dedicated dancer, who loves to come to classes and makes no excuses for other activities, who has had continual ballet training for a minimum of three years and is twelve years old or more, would be a good candidate. It is extremely unwise for dancers under the age of twelve and without sufficient training to work in pointe shoes. The too soft bones of the feet can become dislocated because muscles used for the lifting of the weight of the body on to the toes are not yet sufficiently developed to protect them.

      The structure of the foot has its advantages also. The foot that has toes that are not too long and the first three being even in length are the ideal feet for pointe work. When standing on pointe, the toes should never curl under so that the weight of the body rests on the joints. This occurs when the pointe shoes are too big and don’t hold the foot, particularly the toes, firmly together.”

      Also visit online International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. Their bulletin of November 2015….

  6. I am so happy I read this article now I can show it to my mom in about two weeks I’m having my first pointe shoe fitting

  7. My toes are overlapping and curled, but when I had the fitted 8 months ago the professional said they were perfect. My instructor said she suggested I try another pair but left the ultimate decision up to me what should I do? Would toe spacers be an option?

    • Well I see two problems here, and possibly you should get another fitting. If your toes are curled, when you are en pointe, that could mean one of two things. Either the shoes are too big and your foot is sliding forward in the shoe or the shoe is too short and you are stuffing your foot into a shoe that is too short for your foot. When en pointe is there a lot of excess satin at the heel of your foot? If so, the shoe is too big and your foot is sliding forward which would cause the toes to curl. If the toes are curled when standing flat then the shoe is too short.

      If your toes are overlapping, then the box of your pointe shoe is not wide or broad enough for the width of your foot.

      In either case it sounds that you were improperly fitted, but I can not absolutely tell unless you were here in person. When standing flat your foot should lay totally flat within the shoe. No overlapping of toes no curling of toes. You should go for another fitting at a different dance shop.

      Is this your first pair of pointe shoes? I go with my students as a group field trip to the dance store when getting their first pair of pointe shoes. I am very fussy as to fit and a new student really does not know how the shoe is supposed to feel. When they are on their following pairs I just have them bring them in to the school for me to check before they are permitted to sew on the ribbons and elastics. No one is allowed to wear their new pointe shoes until I check them first.

      If you have not worn your new pointe shoes, I would save the receipt and go for another fitting at an different dance store. When fitting for the first pair of pointe shoes it sometimes takes up to a half hour or more to find the perfect style and size. Be sure to go to a store that is well stocked so you may try on different brands and styles. We have found a preference for Bloch pointe shoes. Although I myself grew up with Capezio, but now have found that Bloch has more variety. Grishko are also a favorite at our school.

      Good Luck in your dance journey….would love to hear your outcome

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