Dancers: Check Your Fit

Did I Get The Right Size?

Check the fit of your new shoes carefully. If you wish to return them for refund or exchange they must be in pristine, new condition. Do not attach ribbons or elastics; only pointe shoes that have never been sewn and that are spotlessly clean inside and out can be returned or exchanged.

1. Getting Started

Wear ballet tights. Find a place near a mirror where you can see your feet. Stand only on a clean surface; it's a good idea to stand on a clean cloth.

Gently loosen the drawstring so it moves freely inside its casing.

Put on your pointe shoes and adjust the drawstrings. Pull them parallel to the floor, not up toward your knees. Tie them in a shoelace knot.

2. Check the Length

Standing flat, your heel should touch the back of the shoe and your big toe should just touch the front. If they don't the shoes may be too long. If your toes are crunching or curling the shoe may be too short.

Demi plié deeply on one leg. Significant pressure on the big toe indicates a length that is too short or a box that is too wide. The addition of a box liner and/or toe cushion can usually eliminate mild pain and pressure if the fit is otherwise correct. If they don't, you may need a half size longer.

Place one foot on pointe. You should be able to pinch 1/8" to 1/4" of material at the top of the heel by the drawstring casing. If you can pinch more you may need a half size shorter. If cannot pinch any material you may need a half size longer.

3. Check the Box

The box should feel snug and its appearance should be smooth and without creases. Its edge should neither dig into the big toe joint nor end abruptly just below it causing the joint to bulge. If it does you may need a larger box or a wider width. If you change to a wider box try it first with a box liner to ensure a snug fit; remove the box liner if the box is still too tight.

On the other hand, your foot should not slide or "sink" into the box. Pain at the longest toe in a shoe that is the correct length may indicate that the box is too wide. If you're in between boxes try a larger box with a boxliner.

Consult the Size Availability Chart if you wish to adjust your box size.

4. Check the Width

Width is measured between the edge of the box and the side seams. Minimize bagginess and gaping at the sides of the shoe by using the narrowest width that still allows the foot to slide into the box.

Consult the Size Availability Chart if you wish to adjust your width.

5. Check the Support— Shank and Vamp

The shank should be stiff enough to help you maintain correct, comfortable placement en pointe, but pliable enough to achieve a high demi-pointe easily. Remember that Gaynor Minden shanks and boxes never weaken.

The vamp must be long enough to prevent you from "popping out" of the shoe, but not so long that it hinders demi-pointe. It should cover the toes and big toe joint completely—no visible cleavage! Most dancers wearing Gaynor Minden lengths size 8 and longer are better fitted with our deep vamp. Most wearing size 6 and shorter are better fitted with the regular vamp. Vamps can be made even longer or shorter by special order (six pair minimum).

Stand on pointe. If you are "going over too far" or "knuckling" you will need a stiffer shank and/or a deeper vamp. If you cannot "get over enough" or feel "held back" you will need a more pliable shank and/or a lower vamp. Your shank should be as pliable as possible and still provide proper support. Do not fit Gaynor Mindens too stiff.

6. Check the Sides and Heel

The shoe should fit the entire foot snugly. It should not be baggy or wrinkled at the sides or heels. A small amount of extra material can be eliminated with the addition of a heel gripper.

If a heel gripper is not sufficient, consider a lower heel, a narrower width, or a sleekfit. Note: sleekfits are narrower not only at the heel but also at the middle of the shoe. You may need a longer length in a sleekfit.

Consult the Sleekfit Availability Chart to be sure that the length, box, and width you have chosen are available. If they are not, call our Fitters Hotline for guidance. 800-637-9240 extention 12.

If the heel feels too low or that it is sliding off, you may need a heel gripper or a higher heel.

7. Are your shoes comfortable?

Sleek and smooth? Do you feel balanced and properly—not overly—supported? If you plan to wear pads, gel pads, or any other kind of cushions inside your shoes put them in now—they can have a big effect on the fit and you may need a larger size. Re–check your fit with all cushions in place.

8. Show them to your teacher

It is always a good idea to show your shoes to your teacher for approval, remembering to keep them perfectly clean when doing so. Then sew on your ribbons and have a great class!

Call our fitters hotline, 800-637-9240 extention 12 if you have any questions. All our "Fitterinas" are highly trained dancers and Certified Gaynor Minden Fitters.