Finding the right ballet shoe -- one that properly fits your foot -- is the key to a successful class or performance. The term "ballet shoe" is broad. In general, there are two types of ballet shoes: "pointe" shoes and soft ballet slippers. Pointe shoes are shiny satin with a hard box and made with wood materials and glue -- they're literally oven baked. Soft ballet slippers often come in canvas or leather. Learn how to find the best size for your fancy feet no matter which type of ballet shoe you seek.
Do some research on different brands of shoes -- there are many to select from. Narrow down which brands or styles you would like to try and find a store that carries them. Be sure there is a professional in the store who is adept at sizing ballet shoes. Usually, a dance wear store will carry a full line of brands.
Have the store clerk measure your foot with a measuring tool -- usually a Brannock Device -- to first get an accurate measurement of your street-shoe size. Depending on the brand you select, ballet shoes and pointe shoes can run from one to one-and-a-half sizes smaller than your street shoe.
With each shoe you try on, stand up and walk around. Notice if the shoe pinches your toes. There should be enough space to allow you to comfortably point your toes. As well, notice if your heel is slipping out of the back. In most cases, you will need to sew ribbon or elastic to your shoes, but the elastic or ribbon should never be used as a way to keep the shoe on. Your shoe should fit correctly before you sew on the extras.
All ballet shoes, soft slippers or hard pointe shoes, will require a break-in period. After your shoes are broken in, they will be much more comfortable and almost seem moulded to your feet. Also, if you buy a leather pair of soft ballet slippers, know that they will stretch. Be aware of this before you purchase a size.
Ballet slippers will last a few months before they possibly tear or wear through. A ballet dancer who takes many classes a week in pointe shoes will go through a pair in a week or perhaps two weeks.