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Buying Guide for Adult Ballet Beginners
Shopping for ballet slippers as a new adult beginner can be a fun and frustrating experience. Between the weird sizes and widths, it can be confusing what to buy. I know I had to return multiple shoes before I found a pair that I love. Unfortunately, what works for me, might not work for you. Today, we are going to break down the different types of ballet slippers and help you figure out what to wear as a dancer. This is geared for what a female dancer would wear, and I will not be diving into men’s shoes.
Types of Ballet Shoes
There are a lot of different types of ballet shoes. We aren’t going to cover them all (like pointe shoes) but will be focusing on the main types of flat shoes you will see on the market. Word of wise; it can be hard to get the right shoe size. I had to try a couple of different sizes and brands before settling on my favorite. Don’t be scared to experiment and find what works best for you. That’s why I suggest shopping on Amazon at first. They make it really easy to return items. Let’s break the ballet shoes by fabric and sole type.
You will see 3 main types of fabric on the market; satin, canvas, and leather. There may be different ballet shoe fabrics but these are the ones that I have seen before.
Satin is usually seen on pointe shoes, but there are few brands that do offer a satin version. One is Grishko! They offer the satin shoe in both split sole and full sole, which we will cover later on.
I would not recommend satin ballet shoes for daily class or for beginners. Satin wears very quickly and is often only used in performance situations. That being said, they do look very elegant and have that ballerina aesthetic that we all love.
Canvas ballet shoes are very popular for women and I imagine men as well. They are great for beginners because of the cheaper price point, ease of cleaning, breathability of the fabric, easier to break-in, and can feel the floor more. Personally, I prefer canvas over leather, because it’s easier to see if I’m “crunching” my toes versus lengthening them and spreading them correctly when in demi-pointe. Plus they are more flattering when pointing due to it hugging the arches more (us adults need all the help we can get!).
My all-time favorite shoe that I wear is the Bloch Performa! I purchase this ballet shoe on Amazon and it is my favorite so far. It has 4.5 stars and almost 2,300 reviews.
I wear a 5.5 Wide and find that I can spread my toes easily. I also love that it comes with no weird drawstring on the front and that the elastics are pre-sewn. I do not have time to be sewing flat ballet shoes.
Some honorable mentions for other canvas ballet shoes are:
Leather ballet shoes are often very popular with children and beginners. It helps build up feet strength more quickly compared to canvas shoes. But it does take longer to break in and it can be hard to feel your feet. I have tried leather ballet shoes before but found it too hard to feel if my toes are long and not crunched. One of the most popular leather shoes is the Capezio Daisy ballet shoe.
This shoe is often raved about and has almost 3,000 positive reviews on Amazon. It is a full sole shoe, which I will talk about later on. Make sure you know that leather does take longer to break-in. They may feel weird in the beginning, but the more you wear them, the more comfortable they will be.
Leather shoes also come at a higher price point than canvas but they usually last longer due to the durability of the fabric.
The soles on ballet shoes can come in either full or split. Each has its benefits and cons for beginners.
Full soles ballet shoes have a leather sole that covers the whole bottom of the shoe. They are great for beginners and help provide arch support. When you have a full sole shoe, it forces the foot to work harder and helps build up strength and balance. You often see children using this type of sole because of this.
But it does make it harder to pointe and create clean lines while dancing. Full sole shoes lack flexibility and don’t hug the foot. Personally, I am not a fan of the full sole. As an adult beginner, my goals are different than a child’s and I appreciate the flexibility of a split more.
Split sole shoes on the other hand, only cover the ball of the foot and the heel portion. There is no leather sole over the arch. This allows easier pointing of the foot and helps create beautiful lines while dancing. This sole type offers less support, and usually requires greater control from the dancer. Split soles are often reserved for dancers with “more experience”, while children use the full sole.
As an adult starting ballet, I preferred going straight for the split sole. If you are doing foot strengthening exercises I don’t think you need the extra resistance the full sole would give you. The split offers a more pleasing aesthetic and really helps accentuate the arch more. The Chicago Tribune also talks about different soles and elastic bands.
How much is a good pair of ballet shoes?
Ballet shoes can range from $20 to $35, depending on what type you get. Leather will be the most expensive while canvas is cheaper.
What are the best ballet shoes for beginners?
So, what do I think are the best for beginners? Honestly, I would give each style a try and see what you like best. As an adult beginner, you have the luxury of choosing what works best for you. Personally, I love my Bloch Performa. I find that the fit is really comfortable for my wide feet and it gives me a really pretty arch.
I suggest trying different brands and types to find out what works best for your feet. If you are looking for more clothes suggestions, go check out my blog post about leotards you can buy on Amazon.
How to wash your ballet shoes?
I’m almost embarrassed to write this, but did you know you are supposed to wash your shoes frequently? Because I didn’t when I first started. I went MONTHS without washing my first pair. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. I’m 26, and probably should be a better adult by now. But in case you didn’t know, you definitely need to be washing your shoes.
I suggest following whatever the brand says to do. They usually have something about how to wash them on their website.
No matter what, don’t let not having ballet shoes hold you back from starting! Go sign up for that class and start in socks. The point is to go start living the dream that you always had as a kid. You can be brave and do this! Don’t worry what others will think. Go do you! Are you looking for ballet hair inspiration? Check out this post about the best hairstyles for class.
Have fun dancing, my friends!