What to Expect at Your First Pointe Shoe Fitting

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hi Friends!

It seems many of you are reaching your goals of going on pointe! So first off, Congratulations!! There is no more exciting a time for a ballet dancer than getting pointe shoes for the first time! :)

If you are completely new to pointe shoes as an adult, you may be wondering just what to expect when you go to the store to get fitted. There is so much build up to this moment, that it can be a bit nerve-wracking when it gets here. It's the first time you'll actually stand on pointe! But no need to panic. You will be great :)

Below I've compiled some tips & information to help you prepare!

If you plan to dance in your pointe shoes with pink tights over your feet, wear pink tights to your fitting. If you plan to dance in them barefoot, try them on without tights. Wear shorts, yoga pants, or loose pants that you can easily roll up so you can see what's going on with your feet and ankles. Full ballet class attire is not necessary.

What to Bring
If you are brand spankin' new to pointe, then you'll want to purchase some kind of toe pad either online beforehand or at your dance store. I really like the Ouch Pouch Jr. Large. Once you've been on pointe for awhile and have an idea of what kind of toe protection you like best, make sure you bring that to every fitting after. The general rule is that you don't want too much protection on your feet because you still want to be able to "feel the floor". I, personally, wear my Ouch Pouches with the Bunheads Big Tip on my second toes because they are crazy long and I lose my toenails without them! I'm currently not using toe tape since getting back on pointe in December, but when I do need it, this stuff is amazing. Don't buy the off brand version because it does not work as well!

What Will Happen
The person fitting you will first measure your feet for length & width. They will also take note of your toes shape & length, and your arch height. Based on this information they should have an idea of what shoes to start with. If you want more background information on that process, Abby and I go into more detail about the different parts of the pointe shoe and how they fit different feet types in our Intro to Pointe Shoes video.

From there, I would say the trying on process can be as quick as a 1/2 hour, to as long as 2 hours if you're a first timer. It can be tricky the first time around to understand what you should consider "comfortable" because honestly, you're standing on your toes, it's not like trying on jazz shoes or soft slippers! BUT, I do think you will notice the sweet spot of comfort after trying on many different types of shoes.

You should try on as many pairs as you need until you find a pair that:

  • Allows your toes to lay completely flat (no curling or scrunching) when standing.
  • Feels snug around your foot and toes, but doesn't pinch anywhere when standing, on pointe, or on demi-pointe.
  • The shank/sole stays even with your foot (no movement to the side when on pointe).
  • Allows you to get fully over the platform (flat portion at the end of the shoe) without buckling over.

There are many more factors than those three, but I think those are some big ones to be aware of when your fitter is asking you questions about how a shoe feels. The more you can communicate what's happening inside your shoe, the quicker the fitting process will go (not that you have to be quick. please take your time!). If you happen to get a really good fitter, they will know before you ever even go on pointe if a shoe is going to work or not! Which brings me to...

Final Tips
  • If possible, go to a well-recommended dance store that carries a variety of pointe shoe brands. Twice I have driven 3 hours to get a really good fitting at a superb dance store!
  • The person fitting you should bring out as many shoes as needed until you find a fit. If you don't find a fit, or they seem annoyed to bring out more than three pairs of shoes, I would take your business elsewhere.
  • Before you sew or do anything to your shoes, have your teacher look at you in them to double check they are a good fit!! Pointe shoes can not be returned if the satin is scuffed or the shoe has been altered in any way!

Let me know in the comments below if this was helpful to you! I'd love to hear about your first fitting experiences if you'd like to share! And if you fancy watching me talk about these tips, check out our corresponding video right here!

Also helpful: How to Sew Your Pointe Shoes Ribbons & Elastic :)

Follow Ballerinas By Night!


Unknown said...

I love your blog! I will never be a "real" ballet dancer, as I don't even have a place that offers adult classes (the last place I went to that did - they've since shut down - their "adult" class actually meant 11-15-years and then me, lol), so I just do ballet-inspired at home workouts right now. I also have a bad back and have to be very careful. Anyways, I can dance vicariously, lol.


Ballerinas By Night said...

Thank you, Kelly! So sorry to hear that you don't have a good place to take classes. That is so frustrating :( We're hoping to add some more follow along class videos on our YouTube channel, but for now we have this one if you haven't done it yet! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqXr-ZUO_54. It's not quite the same as being IN class, but hopefully the next best thing?! We're here for ya :)

Berry Smiles said...

This is such a helpful post. Thank you! I'm getting my first pair of pointe shoes fitted in the next few weeks and had no idea what to look for or expect. This is a brilliant help and I love your blog. Thank you so much! Sarah x http://berrysmiles.blogspot.com

Unknown said...

Thank you very much for this information. I'm learning how to dance and I need to get a pointe shoe fitting. I am really unsure of what to expect, so I thought I should do some research on the subject. Your advice on finding the right shoe was very helpful. I'll be sure to remember it.

Susan Hirst | http://www.bouncepodiatry.com.au/services/dancers/pointe-shoe-fitting/

skram said...

I'm just curious what the suggestion is for those of us with flat feet (or pronated due to no natural arch).
I can point my toes well, and have a nice arch when doing so, but have always wondered if a firm shank is better or something with less support to allow what flexibility I have to come through, since there is no natural arch. I also have "Egyptian feet" (although the second toe is close in length t the first, then they taper off) so no square toes for me, apparently a tapered box is best.
Mind you, I don't dance- I got into the Joffrey ballet school as a kid but my mum couldn't be bothered to take me to class so I never got to realise those dreams, but I still enjoy reading about dance and so on.
I hope to start some basic ballet to supplement my pole work and thought pointe would be a great thing to incorporate into a stage show.
Anyway, cool blog, even if it is aimed at people much younger than me :)

Ballerinas By Night said...

Jana did a really great video on low arches: https://youtu.be/W6v8VDoAV0Y. I would definitely recommend a softer shank in the case of low arches, with an emphasis on strengthening the ankles.

skram said...

Thanks so much :) I wear 7" heels (I do pole dance/sport) which definitely helps to strengthen the ankle because of the inherent instability ;)
When I was fitted for pointe shoes in my early 20's the lady was surprised at how well I rolled up onto pointe but still, flat feet are a problem as you naturally pronate, it's very hard not to.
Thanks for the link <3

Anonymous said...

I’m starting pointe very soon, and I’ve researched so much but no where else told me what’s to wear/have when I go to a fitting! Thank you!

Jadyn said...

This was so helpful! I am an 11 year old girl that just go permission to start! I am so exited. I was nervous about what to expect at my first fitting, but now I know! I am going to fancy footworks to get my shoes. Is that an ok place or should I go someplace else? I just wanted to let you know live in Michigan too.

Thank you for reading!

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Anonymous said...

I just got my first pair of pointe shoes today. Thanks for this article, it made me feel less nervous. The person fitting my shoes definetly had to bring out more than 3 pairs but didn't seem anoyed at all. Is Merlet a good brand of pointe shoes? Those are the ones I have.

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Richard Warfield said...

A correctly fitting pointe shoe should feel snug. It isn't possible to fit pointe shoes with a growing room. A loose shoe increases the chance of injury and the dancer will not have the correct control of movement.
Visit here @ https://kidsole.com/, different different varieties shoes.

Anonymous said...

Hello we don't know how old this is but um yeah IDK what to say but this is useful for us we think we are very close to getting onto pre-pointe classes and then to pointe on my studio.

~Malachite, Clay, Ozone, and Ombre

Edited by Rosi + Onyx Brokerston

Allej Kosmosia Finoric + Kuscha Maledori Avion-Criaas said...

Hello, I think that I'm quite close to getting on pointe now. I always try to improve my body and practice. If anyone sees this, then I hope you reach your dreams too.

-Allej Kosmosia Finoric & Kuscha Maledori Avion-Criaas

Luv to u all!

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