Pointe Shoe Essentials… part 2!

So in continuing with the last post – let’s quickly talk about two more essentials in my toolkit: pliers and flat bladed screw driver!

Yes – I know a lot of these items require a trip to the hardware store rather than your local big-box-retailer-of-everything (however, you can get most of these there too!).  :-)


I personally prefer a flat tipped needle nose – pair because there’s more you can do with them, but honestly – any pair of sturdy pliers meets this criteria well.  I don’t like getting these at a craft store because they’re usually too flimsy in those.  I mean for some pointe shoe “surgeries” you really need some raw “OOMPH” to do battle with the glues and fabrics in a shoe.

Pliers are pretty darned useful utensils already… but let’s talk about some of the different ways they can be used for pointe shoes:

  1.  Pulling satin off the tips of pointe shoes
  2. Helping to pull a darning needle thru the tip of shoes
  3. Repairing a drawstring
  4. Popping a shank
  5. Applying pressure to re-glue a shoe
  6. Putting in or pulling out a foam pad in the tip of a pointe shoe.

You can use pliers in all different ways!

Flat bladed screwdriver

The screwdriver is mostly to help pop the shank on pointe shoes or to pull up satin from the tips.  You can also use it to spread glue in the very inside tip of the pointe shoe, replace a liner, re-position a liner, and many more things where you just can’t get a finger in the right spot to do something.  :-)


Both of these items generally cost $5-10 each at big box marts (don’t go for fancy – go for sturdy) and save your fingers a lot of pain and effort!


Up next?  Dental floss, alcohol, cotton balls, and craft foam!



Pointe Shoe Essentials (for modification)

Yes I know – I still have another thread I need to finish up (and I will… hopefully this week!), but I also get frequently asked “what are some things that I keep in my crack-shot tool kit for pointe shoes?”

So here’s an overview of what I keep.  I’ll post every other day another item until the list is done.

Pointe Shoe Essentials (for modification)

So… I get a lot of questions asking what are some “essentials” in my tool kit for modifying a pointe shoe.  Some of these will seems kind of insane, but trust me – THEY WORK.  Most of these tools cost under $10 (with many much less than that), and if they’re more than or on the upper end of $10 – they’re entirely worth it!

So here’s what I keep in my “toolkit”

-E6000 Glue

-Sturdy Pliers (flat or needle nose is my preference, but not a deal breaker)

-Flat bladed screwdriver

-Dental Floss

-Isopropyl Alcohol (aka – rubbing alcohol)

-Cotton balls

-craft foam (2mm or 3mm is what I usually have)

So let’s get started!

E6000 glue:

If you’ve ever had to rhinestone a costume, chances are pretty good you are quite familiar with this glue.  Let’s compare the glues, shall we?


Brand name: E6000

Main Ingredient(s):  Tetrachloroethylene, Styrene Butadiene Copolymer (according to their Materials Safety Data Sheet)

Why I like it:  not as watery, much stronger bond, longer “set” time, easier clean up.  Very flexible once dry (we usually use this glue to stick rhinestones on costumes).

What I don’t like about it:  doesn’t “soak” into the fibers as much (it seems), longer cure time


Brand names:  Instant Jet-Glue (what we normally see), Krazy Glue, Super Glue, Loctite, etc

Main Ingredient:  cyanoacrylate

Why I like it:  since it’s already known in the dance world, minimal guidance is needed to instruct dancers on using it. Quick cure time.  Extremely flexible when dry, however seems brittle/flaky.

Why I don’t like it:  doesn’t last longer than 2 “wears” of a shoe – if you’re lucky.  Usually will only get 1 good wear out of it.  It is almost TOO runny to effectively form a structurally supportive and water resistant barrier.  


See you in a few days for the “hardware” essentials!

Pointe Shoe Musings ….. Part 1!

Pointe Shoe Musings …. Part 1 of 3

These are the descriptions I use in the store, and I hope it makes sense for you, dear reader!  Parts 1 & 2 are geared towards the first time and new pointe shoe students (within the first two years of pointe work).  Part 3 will be geared towards more experienced dancers.  But all the parts are good refreshers for all abilities!:-)

So, you’ve been approved for pointe work?

First of all—congratulations!  Starting pointe is a major event in your life.  After all, you’ll only ever have one “first pair” of pointe shoes!  Now you’re probably wondering what you should expect at your first fitting (regardless of if you’re a parent or dancer)!

When I fit first time students in the store, I like to sit down and talk about what he/she should expect to feel while in a pointe shoe.  Why do I do this?  Simple—pointe shoes are different from just about EVERY other shoe out there.  They’re just different ducks to put it simply.  Pointe shoes, unlike your street shoes, have to fit snugly.  Most fitters will use a glove analogy, but I actually prefer to use a different one—M&Ms.  Pointe shoes and the feet are like an M&M candy shell and the delicious chocolate interior (don’t laugh—a 3 year old little brother gave me the idea).  I prefer this analogy for several reasons:

  1. Pointe shoes are hard, like the candy coating on the M&M.
  2. Just like the candy coating, there is very little, if any air space in an M&M.
  3. The purpose of the candy coating is to protect the chocolate inside (just like the purpose of the pointe shoe should be to protect the foot).


There are very few “hard” rules I make in pointe shoe fitting, but I do have some.

  1. I can’t fit with growing room in a pointe shoe.    I CAN however, try to fit with a little “bonus” room.  Yes, there is a difference.
    1. Why? Pointe shoes, in order to protect the foot properly, need to be a TOOL that helps the foot, not a HINDRANCE to what the foot needs to do.  (Yes, I’ll get to this later).  The pointe shoe is designed to support the foot on flat, en pointe, and the full 90 degree range of motion in between.  It can’t do that if it’s too big.
  2. Toes can NEVER be scrunched, crunched, mashed, crossed, or put into awkward positions within the shoe. Usually, this means that the shoe is too tapered, too short, or just not the right shape for the foot.
  3. Pain is BAD. Pressure is GOOD.
    1. I do expect some pain, particularly from first time students. HOWEVER, it should be on the level of a bee sting, scraped knee, paper cut with lemon juice of pain (more of a sting than “OWWWW”).  There are times, however, that I will tolerate a little bit more than this.  I’ll talk about that later.
    2. I also expect pain when the shoe is “dead” and lacks support.

See?  Not too difficult, so far.


 Now—you make it sound simple, so why can’t I just go online and order any particular pair of pointe shoes?

Several reasons—and yes, full disclosure.  I do sell shoes, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been there, done that.  Yes—pointe work IS expensive (hey—I was going through 5-6 pairs of pointe shoes a month growing up and they weren’t the cheap ones either).

First reason:  95% of pointe shoes are handmade.  Even with the highest level of quality control, it’s highly unlikely that two shoes will be *exactly* alike.  Yes, it stinks.

Second reason:  It’s actually really hard to trouble-shoot why a shoe isn’t working like it should/did/could by yourself.  You really need a trained spotter to see what’s going on with the shoes from the outside.

Third reason:  Get the wrong size, and you’ve most likely already paid more in shoes, shipping, and your time/effort than what you would have at your local dance store (and yes, they should appreciate your business!).

Fourth reason:  Every brand runs different (in both shape, size, and price), and usually models within the same brand run different too.  This is where a fitter’s expertise really comes in handy!


Okay—so what am I looking at cost-wise for pointe shoes?

First timer:

Toe pads–$8-$30 (however, you shouldn’t NEED to buy new ones, particularly gel ones, every time you get shoes… so average this cost over at least a few months)

Spacers (if needed)–$5-$15 (these are one of those, you buy once and then you only lose them.  Or the dog chews them up, etc.  Don’t ever really outgrow or out use these guys…)

Pointe Shoes–$60-$130 (There are such a wide variety of brands, styles, models, etc on the market that there is no real “price point” for shoes.)  Average price is around $85-$95 per pair.

Ribbons/Elastics–$3-$6 per set.

Fitting Fee, Sales Tax/Shipping, random other stuff–varies

Total investment: easily $80-$180. 

Now—notice I gave a range of prices for all the above?  Yeah—not only is every brand/model generally priced differently, but also every store.  When people come into my store—I tell them to expect to spend between $130 and $150 for a first time.  It’s usually NOT THAT HIGH… but it’s easier/better to err on the side of caution than anything else.  Also—in our store, I don’t charge for fitting if shoes are purchased from us, ribbons/elastics, OR the sewing of shoes.  My logic behind that is that you don’t go to the shoe store to buy sneakers and pay separately for shoe laces.  It’s a personal philosophy more than anything else.


How long does a first pair of shoes last?

This is always one of those *fun* questions—because the answer really is “it depends”.  But I do have a general guideline…

If the feet are still growing (yes, even a half size)—then I will usually see a dancer outgrow the shoes, not out wear their first pair.

If the feet aren’t still growing—I’ll almost always see the shoes out worn.  How quick this is depends on the physical stature of the dancer, how often the shoes are being danced in, if proper care is taken with the shoes, if the dog doesn’t get them, etc.

I really wish I could give a definitive answer, but I really can’t.

What are some factors that determine whether or not I am ready for pointe?

There are definitely some physical factors that determine pointe work readiness.

  1. Ankle and foot strength within the metatarsals and tendons (including the ankle)
  2. Ankle and foot flexibility within the metatarsals and tendons (including the ankle.
  3. Age
  4. Technique/propensity

……Until next time!

Part 2: Preview

Why should we wait until our daughter turns at least 10 or 12 before starting pointe?   What is a pointe shoe supposed to feel like on?  What other things should I know for my first time?  What are some questions you think/wish I should ask?

New Leotards from Capezio and Braden McDonald (Project Runway)

I’m seriously IN.LOVE. These new leotards by Capezio are simply what I, personally, have always looked for in leotards! This collection was designed by Project Runway Finalist Braden McDonald–and I’d think that being a former dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Company – he’d KNOW his stuff. Sure, we’ve had others before *think* they know dancewear… BUT…. Either a) they made really cute garments, I honestly had to think that they really weren’t made with the serious dancer in mind (it kinda screamed “potential ‘wardrobe malfunction’ here!!!”) or b) they weren’t on the market long enough for the leotards to become really popular. Sad but true, I know.

Sure enough – I think the partnership between Mr. McDonald and Capezio was a good one. On one side – you’ve got an INCREDIBLE dancer-turned-designer, and the other – one of the 800lb gorilla’s of dance apparel. So you’ve got a designer who has worn all types of garments for dance (or at least I’d have a reasonable bet he has) and the other has the might of 100+ years of apparel manufacturing experience at the mass-quantity level needed to be a serious contender worldwide.

So let’s talk collection – this collection has got my favorite three “C”s. Cute, Comfortable, and Conservative.

Cute – this one should be blatantly obvious! The stitch and slash trim on all the pieces really add another dimension to the cuts on the leotards. I’m a fan of geometric type stuff, and to be honest – a lot of times the leotards that have that are either “strappy strappy” (read- accident prone to tangling when putting them on), uncomfortably revealing, OR look really cool but don’t functionally move with me as well as I thought when I bought the leotard.  However – none of the items in this collection encounter any of those three problems! All the items feature this really cool trim that Mr. McDonald and Capezio have termed “stitch-and-slash”. It’s not a rough slash, is entirely stitched down, and it lays very well on the leotard.

Comfortable – these are cut with movement in mind. It’s like Mr. McDonald designed them while in rehearsal instead of a design studio. Believe me- class and rehearsal are where ALL the wardrobe issues come out! I’ll speak in a bit on each individual style – but believe me, the comfort of this line is entirely worth the high(er) price tag!

Conservative – I’m generally not a favor of cut-outs on leotards unless it’s for a costume. Each of these three designs are very classically based. These designs are not pushing the “out there” leotard designs that was seen a few years, but rather enhancing the tried-and-true into new and wonderful dimensions!

So let’s talk the actual garments! All of the garments come in adult XS to XL and are made with an 80% Nylon, 20% Spandex blend.  The collection is available in seven colors – but not all pieces are available in all colors.  The six colors are – Smoke (steel grey), Coal (black), Mermaid Turquoise (pictured as the front image), Clear Sky (light blue – pictured as the back image), Berry crush (a beautiful mulberry color), and Cabernet (deep beautiful burgundy), and Deep Night (dark teal).

Capezio April Bradon McDonald Collection Colors

The “Downtown Leotard”
Capezio 10483W FrontCapezio 10483W Back

The “Downtown Leotard” (Style 10483W) tank leotard is high cut both in front and in back. Meaning VERY little chance of something slipping out of position! The ultra conservative cut is GREAT to wear a bra underneath without it showing. This leotard would be a great choice for auditions where coverage is a must and good first looks go a long ways towards getting the job! The way the stitch-and-slash trim is laid is good for both large and small busts. It’s also a good all-age appropriate leotard – for those just entering teenage uncertainty to those entering the glorious years – it’s been a good look on all ages!

The “West Side Leotard”

Capezio 10486W Leotard

The “West Side” leotard is such a PRETTY leotard! Seriously. It’s just stunning both in photos and in person! A conservatively cut front incorporates the idea of a built in short sleeved shrug (it’s firmly attached to the leotard so it’s not going to go anywhere). The beautiful open back isn’t super low but it is low enough to show off a beautiful back! This leotard would be difficult to hide a bra underneath (anything with an open back usually is), but it feels solid and secure on the body. The straight neckline is perfect to show of the décolletage! I think this would also be another very strong audition leotard. The classic lines with a subtle, but eye-catching trim makes this leotard not just a strong audition leotard, but a strong contender for a favorite leotard as well!

The “Riverside Camisole” Leotard

Capezio 10482 Camisole Leotard with 10586 Skirt

The “Riverside Camisole” (Style 10482W) leotard has beautiful and interesting seaming on the front (also with the stitch-and-slash trim). The vertical layout on the bust area isn’t overwhelming and is quite a nice change from most all-bust trim. The bottom trim of the leotard tapers down to a faux-almost-princess seamed look, and as we all know, princess seams are slimming! The back is also configured in a beautiful triangular-geometric look. The sides of the back straps are sewn so as to minimize those nasty under arm gaps! :-)
The “Call Back Skirt” is also pictured here. It’s a beautiful all fabric skirt with a shorter front than back. It’s also got a beautiful tulip cut on the side of the skirt – perfect for showing off those legs! It’s made of the same 80% nylon, 20% spandex fabric blend that the whole collection is made of.
This leotard is available in seven colors – the berry crush, cabernet, clear sky, coal, mermaid turquoise, and smoke (those colors have been previously mentioned). It is also available in a color called deep night – a teal/dark royal blue combination. The skirt is also available in all of those seven colors. Only the camisole leotard and the skirt are available in that deep night color and it’s the only color that Capezio did not make a picture available of!

The “Brooklyn Biketard”

10485W!CAP-2465_dCapezio 10485W Biketard Smoke

The final piece in the collection is “Brooklyn Biketard” (Style 10485W) and is an absolute KNOCKOUT! It was created as an athletic look with a feminine flair and even better… IT HAS THUMBHOLES! Yes. Seriously. Imagine squealing with joy right now (or don’t imagine and just DO!)! And even better—the wrist openings are nice and wide. So when you’ve gotten all nice and sweaty in the studio – it’s not a pain to pull those sleeves up and keep on going! The biketard has the stitch-and-slash trim at the wrists and thumbholes, as well as around the waist for a faux-belt type look. The biketard’s shorts are always a nice alternative to wearing tights – or just adding an extra layer for multiple reasons. The back of the garment zips up and the mock neck isn’t too tight (no constricting neckline!). This garment is only available in coal (black – left picture) and smoke (grey – right picture). It would also be another super audition or convention piece!

In summary – I don’t think you could go wrong with any of the pieces in this collection. Hats off to Mr. McDonald to designing a stunning classic collection and I look forward to seeing more from his partnership with Capezio.
Authors Note: We’ve seen the next upcoming pieces for the fall/back to school season and are equally impressed with Mr. McDonald’s choices in style and fabric. It’s not difficult to see why he did so well in the show Project Runway! We’ll do a blog post when those come out too on them!

New Favorite Product! – Sweet Feet!

So we have a new favorite product.  Seriously!

As many mamas know first hand…. feet = stink!  Not just any stink but STANK!

This has been the only product we have found to work and work WELL!

Sweet Feet Spray

This product you can spray in your shoes or on your feet to get rid of STANK!

Sweet Feet

The BEST foot odor defeater!

It refreshes your feet after being in pointe shoes!  Keeps those jazz and tap shoes smelling at least decent!  And yes – the best shoes we’ve seen it used on?  TOMS and UGGS!  Many moms didn’t believe that it actually works…. until they try a friends or try it here at the store.  I’ve used it in my nice leather heels (feel great, look great, don’t smell so great heels), my kids shoes (because let’s face it – once they start walking…*ahem* running–odor quickly follows), and just about every leather good that starts smelling.  I sold a whole package of this stuff to a mom with softball-ers and baseball-ers for kids for them to use in their gloves (and shoes, but gloves worked too).

It comes in two scents – here’s how the company describes the scents:

The Black Label targets those dare devils that like to take extreme to a whole new level. It attracts those individuals that live active lifestyles for men and women. For an everlasting fresh scent that is guaranteed for your whole day.

The Pink Label focuses its attention to those hardworking soccer moms, children, families, and Guys with a taste for sweetness. It attracts individuals who have set goals with strong dedication and commitment into achieving those goals. Indulge in a long-lasting enhanced Jamaican plum sensation that’ll get you through your day odor free.

Black label has been used by just about everyone.  Pink label has been predominantly ladies (guys tend to gravitate to the black label – but we’ve had a lot of ladies love that scent too).  The only shoes we don’t recommend spraying this inside?  Pointe shoes (because of the composition of the shoes).

It’s only $7.95 here at the store – and it’s worth EVERY penny!

Moral of the story?  Get your Sweet Feet spray today and tell that STANK to “GO AWAY!”

The end of 2014….

So today is December 31, 2014.

Traditionally, this is a day I both love and loathe.

I love it because it means that a new fresh start is just around the corner. It’s a time for cleaning up and clearing out! Out with the old and in with the new! Time to move out inventory and start fresh!

However, I also loathe it – because of inventory. And price increases. With the exception of a few companies, we see the majority of the price increases happen in January–with many of them taking effect on Jan 1. Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, we’ll get the new price lists in and loaded the first part of December…. but that’s not always the case. We just got one of our new updated price lists this past week! And yes, you guessed it – it takes effect starting tomorrow! Not only do we get price lists this time of year (joy!), we also get drop/discontinueds lists. We usually get them concurrently, regardless of vendor (price lists & new stuff come out – old stuff gets cleared out), and regardless of the time of year.

So needless to say – here’s to typing in new prices, inventorying, and getting rid of the old stuff!

Check out some of these new(ly) marked down and discontinued items!
Glitter & Rhinestone hair pins. Bun bracelet. All were $8.00 now $4.00
Allegro Fake Bun Was $14. Now $9

Bunheads Allegro Fake Bun

Bunheads Allegro Fake Bun

Happy New Years Eve Eve Eve!

Today’s blog post is about some of the new changes we’re seeing in the dance apparel market over the past year.

First of all – lace. It’s HOT! And I don’t just mean tepid-bath-water hot—it’s lava-nuclear-reactor H.O.T! We haven’t been able to keep lace in stock and, while it’s pricey (because, well…. it’s LACE), it’s just so stunningly gorgeous, we just can’t resist it!

Second – we’re seeing an increase in “back to black” fashion. Less color, more black and pink. (Black and pink refers to the dress code – typically a black leotard and pink tights with pink ballet shoes). Industry-wide, this change means that we see much more innovative leotard and top designs to complement the only-color scheme rather than the multi-color schemes we’ve seen in the past.

Third – a tendency towards modesty. As a mom – I can only say “HALLELUJAH!” When I first opened the store 5 years ago, we had the booty short, the bitty booty short, and the ultra booty short. Same with bra tops. Now we’re seeing leggings, mid thigh shorts, high-waisted shorts, crop tops, and much more coverage in general. Interesting how the trend swung quickly in just a few years! I do *kinda* hope to see jazz pants and unitards making a comeback… but that’s probably just me.

Fourth – an increase in flowy tops with a bra or camisole top underneath. Back to when we opened a few years ago – it was “tight and snug” across the board. Now it’s “tight and snug for most classes, but warm ups don’t have to be snug”. But this has not crossed over yet to the serious students in ballet class – it’s still “tight and snug” for them.

Fifth – we’re seeing manufacturers start to really deliver products that are needed to the marketplace. Not just products or colors that are “neat but dumb”. Example – Bloch’s split sole combat boots. Makes perfect sense to have a well-constructed combat boot that has the split sole so it can actually move with the foot and not just be a clunker on the foot.

Sixth – okay, this is the last one and it’s not really a “hunky dory” item. We’ve seen some companies fall well behind on their stock, when they had been really good in the past. It’s also happened the other way too (bad companies get much better at stock). Strikes at the ports can be blamed for a good chunk of the supply issues, but it still stinks. Most retailers have (or should have) an acceptable alternate item or two to replace the item at issue however. So a little patience can go a very long way with stock issues.

Happy ending of 2014 and looking forward to writing more in 2015!