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Pointe Shoes for Wide Feet: A Complete Dancer's Guide
Wide feet may be actually a blessing for a ballet dancer. These feet are usually strong and very stable, providing great balance and helping in turns… On the other hand, only the people with wide feet can understand the pain when the metatarsals are being pressured in a wrong shoe.
Finding our pointe shoes size doesn’t mean the width will be ok. A very significant parameter of choosing them is to make sure our feet fill completely the pointes – which means we have to find our foot width by measuring the girth of the foot in the phalanx-metatarsal articulation (the widest part of the foot). The pointe shoes should embrace our feet. They have to be tight, so as not to let the feet slide down to the floor when the ballerina is on a rise, but not so tight, to squeeze our metatarsals and feel pain.
The REAL problem with the wide feet is that we will never find a model with our width in stock, in any shop – even the biggest ones. It’s not that there are no such shoes - it’s that our local shop would never store them. This is quite easy to understand: there are not so many people with very wide feet - statistically, not more than 10%, in most of the nations. This is a fact all manufacturers understand and work on - most of them DO have such lasts. In this case, we just have to persuade him/her to make a call to the supplier/manufacturer for making our special order. Normally, we will receive a positive response, Just have in mind that the backorder timeline may vary from 4 to 12 weeks – but it will be worth waiting!
Each company provide 3-6 choices in width. Let’s see a list with the width-related options of several brands:
• Grishko has five of them: they are denoted by the letter X: from the narrowest, X, to the widest, XXXXX. The widest models of Grishkos are the Triumph for square feet and the Miracle for medium tapered ones.
• Russian Pointe has six: from W1 to W6, plus there is a Muse model which has another chart for its widths to accommodate even the widest feet.
• Bloch has five - A, B, C, D, & E. Actually, Bloch must be the first brand you need to try on when your feet are wider than medium. The widest model of Blochs is the European Balance.
• Gaynor Minden has five “boxes” (#2, #3, #3+ #4, #5) which refer to the space inside the box for the toes, plus three widths: N, M, W which show how much space is there for the metatarsals.
• In Capezio, there are three basic choices of the width: N, M, W, plus WW for the Gliss and Cambre model - both great for the “square” foot shape.
• Siberian Swan has recently analyzed their sales on the world market and noticed that they barely ever use the narrowest lasts. Thus, they have adjusted their width charts - as a result, both models have become wider, especially the Karsavina one whose XXXX now can compete with the Bloch’s “E”...
But what happens if we cannot find our perfect pointe shoes pair match at our local store? Here we look into three possible options:
1. We could widen a medium box. We open/cut the box and sew it back, soften the wings until we are not in pain.
2. We buy a pair of pointe shoes of a bigger length, to compensate the lack of the width.
3. We buy the biggest width possible and we just suffer…
Not finding the suitable match in our local store is possible, but what about not finding our perfect pair of pointe shoes online? No fear of that happening! We will elaborate in one of our fitting cases to help you understand better.
Teresa is a 15 year old ballerina from France, who spent 5 years wearing a pair of Repetto' s "Carlotta" Medium size 7.5, whose long vamp made her feet sickling, and a Bloch's "European Balance" XXX size 6.5, as her feet are really strong. Usually Bloch models are life-savers for wide feet, but often, although they have plenty of space in the box for the toe, the shoes still hurt on the sides – especially the feet with bunions and bunionettes. The width of her feet is 25cm (girth of metatarsals), which automatically blocks many pointe shoe models and even brands, and so she came to us for an online fitting service.
While working on Teresa’ s case, we suggested three options, a Russian' s Pointe "Brava" 41, W5 V2 FH, a Grishko' s "Dreampointe" XXXXX size 5.6 Hard Shank, and a Siberian Swan' s XXX size 7 Hard Shank, all because of the right box shape. The ballerina’ s mother went for all the three options at the same time. As the wide models are never found in stock, and –as we said- the backorder time vary from 4 to 12 weeks, we back-ordered a Russian Pointe and a Siberian Swan, and they managed to try the Grishko' s model in a local store - which didn't fit her as it wasn’t wide enough. For a moment, we were afraid it would be the same for the rest of the shoes. The Siberian Swan's model was, on the contrary, too wide. Finally, she received the Russian's Pointe model, which has the most waiting timeline for the custom orders and that was her perfect match!
Feel also free to fill out our questionnaire if you need our opinion about your own pointe shoe sizing and models and let’s get fitted!