Pointe ballet shoes are often described as best fitted to 2-3 sizes smaller than the street shoes you wear.
This is grossly inaccurate, as pointe shoes, or pointe ballet toe shoes, come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes.
The best approach, if you are a pointe ballet beginner and are ready to go and buy ballet shoes, is to first really know your foot type, to get the best pointe shoes for you.. Here are some ballet tips that will help.
If you have a "Greek" or "Morton's" foot type, your second toe is longer than your big toe. This means you must have the strength to keep the second toe long in the pointe shoe. Using a toe protector such as a gel sleeve on the toe is a good idea, at least until a student is used to toe shoes. A "V" shape of the vamp, or the cloth covering the foot over the metatarsals, may be a more flattering and comfortable style of shoe. Try on a few vamp/box shapes and see what feels best.
The "Egyptian" foot is a challenging shape to fit. The big toe is longer with the other toes diminishing in length steeply. Often the little toe is opposite the ball of the foot. In a pointe shoes, this means that it is not even in the box. This little toe may need taping up as it will be rubbing against the wing, or the stiff outside of the shoe, instead of being tucked securely in the box with the other toes. Make sure that as you press up through demi pointe, that the big toe joint is not meeting a too deep box edge, but can bend efficiently.
The "Giselle/Peasant" foot has three or more toes that are the same length. Often toes on such a foot are short, and medium in width. Some students do not think this foot type is very elegant, yet it is great foot for pointe ballet. Short to medium vamps are good. This can be strong foot in toe shoes, and will likely suffer less injuries than other foot types.
The Compressible foot is one which appears quite wide when the dancer is standing. Yet this foot has little muscle structure between its bones, and will easily compress into a narrower shoe than a fitter might pick from a visual decision.
So always try on MANY pairs of shoes. Fitting ballet shoes takes time, so don't allow anyone else to rush you. Once you find a shoe that feels fairly good, try half a size different each way - shorter, longer, narrower, wider, just to be sure. Try different brands of the same size.
Point shoe sizing charts are a guide, but only a guide. After you buy your pointe ballet toe shoes, take them to the dance studio and let your teacher check the fit before you sew ribbons on them. This way you can be sure that you have the best fit. For more details, get THE POINTE BOOK to read more about how to buy pointe shoes, and get the best pointe shoes.