Choose a model, size and vamp length based on your evaluations of the dancer’s feet (and worn pointe shoes, if applicable), experience and feedback, and the complete model descriptions.
Explain to the dancer that you are likely to try several pairs of shoes before finding the perfect fit, and that the “first-try” or “maybe” pair she’s about to try on will help you decide what to try next.
When you are trying a model with a drawstring, aim for a perfect or near-perfect fit before tightening the drawstring, because a tightened drawstring can give the illusion of a better fit than has actually been achieved.
Trying on shoes
The dancer should put on one pointe shoe at a time, with her foot and leg in good, straight alignment. The shoe should never be slipped on at an angle, and the dancer should not have to “wiggle” the shoe on (this would typically indicate the shoe is too narrow). Remind her not to cross her legs, and not to tuck her working foot under her seat. For a realistic, accurate fit, she should wear the toe pads that she will wear when dancing.
Evaluating the fit
When the dancer has put on both shoes, ask her to stand with her feet parallel. Check for an even and smooth appearance. If the shoe is gapping at the back, try a smaller size.
If the shoe is gapping significantly at the sides, try a narrower width or a different model. (Note that some dancers have such strongly diamond-shaped feet that you will see some gapping at the sides in any pointe shoe. Never solve this by giving the dancer a shoe that is too tight at the metatarsal area. Instead, help her learn to use her ribbons, elastics and drawstring, if any, to refine the fit.)
If the foot is puffing out of the pointe shoe, the shoe is too tight, because of either size or width. Try a longer or wider shoe, or a pointe model with a fuller toe box (higher crown and/or wider toe platform).
Questions to ask:
- Are your toes lying straight, next to each other without crossing or pinching? Are they lying flat on the insole of the shoe? (These indicate a good fit.)
- Are any of your toes crossing over? (This indicates that the shoe is too narrow; try a wider width or a model with a fuller toe box.)
- Can you move your toes from side to side, or up and down? (Toes should be able to move very slightly. If they can move significantly from side to side, the box is probably too wide. If they can move significantly up and down, the crown is probably too high.)
Learn more about evaluating size and width.