Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Types of shoes/slippers for new student?


Recommended Posts

Hello all,

I'm hoping to return to ballet after 25 years. I took class for about a year, then had to stop for various reasons. I'm now 51 and looking to start up again. I know this question has been covered before by looking through older posts, but I thought fresh opinions would be helpful to me and maybe others.


Can you tell me the difference between split sole and full sole, besides the obvious?


Why do you feel one is better than another in your opinion?


Canvas vs leather and again why you think one would be better than another?


Any favorite brands or brands better suited for a man?


Am I buying shoes or slippers? Are the terms interchangeable?


How snug should they feel when trying them on?


Thank you all for your help in advance. I'm enjoying this site very much and learning a lot!

Dave :D

Link to comment

A lot of it is down to your personal preference. I like canvas split sole shoes (and you can call them shoes or slippers, I don't think it matters ...) because I don't have the typical "banana feet" and so softer shoes mould to my foot and help me see how I'm working my feet.


It's probably best to go to a dance supplies shop and try on a few pairs. Make sure to pull up the elastic to get the fit around the top of the shoe. And don't make the mistake I always do which is to buy them in a 'comfortable' fit and then they get too loose and a bit floppy. But you need to be able to feel your toes on the floor, so not too tight! However, remember that canvas or leather will stretch.

Link to comment

Redbookish is right down to personal choice.


I have recently changed my mind on the type, used to wear always leather and full sole, since we have been rehearsing for a show (next Sunday 1st performance!!) they I have found that split sole are far better .


For make again think find one you are happy with and fits you "like a glove" some are the same as normal shoe size others you need to go up a size, main thing is you get them as near prefect fit as you can and of course comfortable !

As for leather v canvas, jury still out on that one for me, have just got some white canvas for the show, they seem very comfortable and are a good fit, so maybe I will be a canvas convert as well as split sole soon

Link to comment

Thank you both for your thoughts. Can you clearify what 'banana feet' are? I'm guessing the shape of one's foot. How does that affect your choice of shoe? Are split sole different in that you have 2 difined areas of contact with the floor instead of a continuous sole contact?


So, get them a bit snug, but not tight to allow for the material to stretch, correct? Any favorite, recommened or quality brands?


Thanks again!

Link to comment

Welcome back to ballet Dave62! As far as leather or canvas, I tend to go with what the floor dictates. If it is a marley floor, I always use canvas, easier to move and for a more slippery wood floor, I use leather, more grip. Split sole will show off your foot articulation but a full sole will work your foot more. Fit is most important and the shoe should be as snug as you can tolerate without cramping your toes. Check where the pleats hit under your toes and where you heal hits. Hope this helps!

Link to comment

Dave62, I wish I could recommend a type, but I am really dissatisfied with all the slippers I've tried lately.


One thing I did not see mentioned above, which you may or may not have picked up from watching ballet, was that men do usually wear black or white slippers, not the ubiquitous pink ones most women wear.


Also, personal experience tells me that canvas doesn't stretch much. Your mileage may vary.


Whatever shoes you do try on, I recommend that you do yourself a favor, and try them on at the end of the day or after a workout, when your feet are swollen. This way you'll know how they'll feel by the end of class.


Merde! (Ballet-talk for good luck!)

Link to comment

Dancepig and insidesolist,


Thanks for your thoughtful answers. All good information to think about. Not sure what type of floor the studio has, but I will ask. I did know about shoe color for men. Don't think the pink would play very well! :blush:


Keep the recommendations coming folks!



Link to comment

I wear and prefer canvas ballet shoes. They are very comfortable. I first tried leather. But, when I picked up additional classes at a local ballet school, I made the switch. For colors, I would stick with the basics like black for men. I think your best bet is to ask your teacher what they prefer you wear or the studio in terms of shoes or class attire. For men, the choices are slim unless you shop on line. However, a dancewear store could help as well with some advice.

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

I also agree and may mention that canvas breathes, and can be washed. My canvas slippers are 1/2 size too tight! I have tried wetting the toe area of the shoes and wearing them in the house for tendus and releves to stretch em. But, yes, they dont stretch much! My feet get hot when at the barre/center, so I appreciate the thin material. At $13 they are an easy first slipper for me.

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...

Hi, Dave;


Cool to hear you're resuming your ballet training. That's great!


Here's my two cents on the topic of ballet slippers (or ballet shoes -- the terms are used interchangeably):


Split soles hug the arches better and allow for a more effective and attractive toe point / tendu, which is a plus is your feet aren't super flexible. (Mine aren't.) Full soles, on the other hand, feel a bit sturdier and provide more of a gripping surface, which can be a plus on a slippery floor. I don't feel either sole design is better than the other, although I tend to prefer split sole slippers in the dance studio due to my rather stiff feet.


Canvas is more breathable than leather, but it's also less stretchy, so you need to ensure you don't buy canvas slippers in too small a size or your toes will feel permanently crunched. (Your slippers should have a snug fit, but not a tight fit, regardless whether you buy canvas or leather. Be sure to cinch-up the elastics to make sure the fit is a good one before buying.) Leather stretches more and feels softer and more pliable, so leather slippers tend to be more comfortable overall (at least I think so), but again, they won't breathe as effectively as canvas ones. Leather has a nicer look in my opinion, but canvas is more washable. Leather tends to be a bit pricier than canvas, but not necessarily -- it depends on the brand.


So as you can see, with ballet slippers it's pretty much a "6 of one, half-dozen of the other" proposition -- there are advantages and disadvantages to each style. It's really up to you to decide what you like and what works best for you. Personally, I go for canvas split sole slippers in the studio and leather full sole slippers for my home workouts. I arrived at this conclusion through trial and error -- and of course, the purchase of numerous pairs of ballet slippers!


Brand is pretty much a matter of personal preference -- there are many excellent ones out there. Go for whichever brand(s) you feel fit and look the best. For me, Leo's, Bloch, Sansha and SoDanca brands work best. They all seem well-constructed and well-proportioned for my feet. Capezios are beautifully-made slippers, but I haven't yet found a pair that fits me correctly. They seem to run too narrow for me, even though I don't have particularly wide feet. I haven't tried any other brands to date.


As for size, you'll find that ballet slipper sizes are all over the map -- there's no real consistency in sizing among the various manufacturers. You might wear a size 9 in Leo's and a size 14 in Sansha, it's hard to say. The best thing is to invest a little time at a local dancewear shop trying a bunch of slippers on to find the perfect pair.


For colors, you're likely to find only black and white for guys, although other colors like grey and nude (fleshtone) are sometimes available. Those would be acceptable in adult classes as well. I pretty much stick with the standard black and white, although I do carry a couple other colors in my dance bag as well just to keep things interesting. (No pink, though!) :-)


I hope this info helps, and best of luck with your classes!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...