When buying girls ballet shoes there are a number of variables to consider. The fit, the material, the fastening, the sole and the colour.
The fit of the shoe is absolutely essential. Take care! Girls ballet shoe sizing is different from everyday shoe sizing. As a general rule you go up one size if you intend to wear your ballet shoes with bare feet (not normally done) and up one and a half to two sizes if ballet tights or ballet socks are being worn. To establish if the fit is correct put them on and stand flat footed. You should be able to pinch the seam all down the back of the shoe. Next, raise up onto releve (lifting your heel of the floor rise as high as possible onto the ball of your foot) and you should be able to move your toes without them pushing on the front.
It is essential to go along to a local ballet clothes store that has a wide variety of girls ballet shoes for you to try on when purchasing your first pair. Also remember to take your ballet tights or socks with you when trying on.
Moving on to the material. The three basic varieties are canvas, satin and leather. Leather ballet shoes are the most expensive, but they are the most durable so are ideal for those who practice a lot. Some people consider that leather shoes hug the foot better and hence give a better line to the arch of the foot (important in ballet). They are the most expensive, but you are only talking about a difference of a couple of pounds.
Satin ballet shoes have the edge for their shiny satin appearance. Young girls all seem to prefer satin for this reason. Unfortunately they are difficult to clean and are not overly durable. Don’t let this put you off though as many young girls are likely to outgrow them before they wear them out! Satin ballet shoes are the prettiest for exams and performances too. Many avid dancers will have leather shoes to practice in and a best pair of satin shoes for exams and performances.
The canvas variety are the cheapest and the easiest to clean, but they do not give a great line to the foot. Canvas are good for use on vinyl floors where leather can get rather sticky!
Next we will consider the fastening options. Girls ballet shoes can be held in place by either elastic or ribbon. Elastic is more practical. Putting on and taking off elastic fastening ballet shoes is easy, especially for young girls. Ribbons are the traditional method and look very pretty, but you need to know how to tie the ribbons and this can be fiddly for the new or young dancer, or parent.
Beware! They do not come with ribbon or elastic on when they are new. Often new shoes will come with two small pieces of elastic ready to sew on yourself. Ribbons are often sold separately.
The sole of the ballet shoes come in two basic types, full sole and split sole. This refers to the thicker leather section on the underside of the shoe. Full sole are the most common and have one piece of leather making up the sole passing from under the heel to under the balls off the feet. Split sole shoes have two pieces of leather under each shoe, one small circular piece under the heel and another larger piece under the ball off the foot leaving a soft section in the middle that allows for greater flexibility of the foot and a better line in pointing.
And lastly, the final option is colour. Pale pink is by far the most common as this is required for most ballet uniforms and exams. Other common colours include white, red and black, but you can get almost any colour. As a beginner starting out you should always opt for pale pink unless your ballet teacher has stated otherwise.
Armed with this information you should know enough to purchase your girls ballet shoes with confidence!