All pointe shoes do not fit all feet. Pointe shoe makers make different models to suit different feet - for instance, the Bloch Sylphide suits tapered toes, but would be uncomfortable if your toes are all even. So before you begin looking at shoes, it's important to know what your foot type, profile and toe length you have.
There are three foot types - Egyptian, Giselle or Greek. If you don't know what yours are, read this article to "diagnose" your feet.
The shoe profile is based on the height of your foot when viewed from the side, measured at the metatarsal joint (where the bunion is, if you have one!).
Measure your foot (not in a shoe!) at that point. Be accurate, because there's not much difference between high, medium and low, but the difference can be very important!
If it's an inch or less, you need a low profile shoe. Between 1 inch and 1.25 inches, you're a medium. A high profile is over 1.25 inches.
Most pointe shoes are made to suit low or medium profiles. If you have a high profile, those shoes will squash your foot, so it's important to seek out the few shoes that have the extra space you need in the box.
The vamp is the part of the shoe covering the front of the toes, from the front edge of the platform to the drawstring. The length of vamp for you will depend mainly on the length of your toes - your vamp needs to be just high enough to hide your toes completely (no "toe cleavage"!).
- If your big toe is around 1 inch long, you have short toes.
- Between 1 and 1.5 inches, your toes are medium.
- Over 1.5 inches, you have long toes.
The length of your toes = the length of the vamp for most people. The "knuckles" of your toes must be covered, otherwise that part of your foot may "pop out" when you're en pointe.
It's important to get the height of the vamp right. Too high and the vamp will stop you getting properly over the box - unless you have a high arch, in which case you may need a high vamp to stop you going too far.
One More Thing - Compressibility
This foot spreads out wide when the foot is flat on the floor, but narrows when on pointe. If you choose a shoe that fits on the flat, the foot will just slide straight into the box, putting all the pressure on the toes and leaving an empty heel! Unfortunately there's no accurate way to measure for this - so bear in mind that even if you do all the other measurements carefully, if you have a compressible foot, the shoes may not fit.