A Jazz Shoe Fitting Guide

Andie Rowe
Written by
Last update:

What is the Sizing Like in Jazz Shoes?

Jazz shoe sizing can be mysterious or confusing, particularly because many jazz shoe manufacturers use their own sizing standards. In this post, we’ll cover the basic jazz shoe sizes for men with some of the different sizing options that are available.

In general, men’s jazz shoes are smaller than men’s typical shoes. This is because they need to be able to fit the hard inside soles or heels, but also because the shoes don’t need to hold the foot in as much as some other types of shoes. Unlike dress shoes for men, jazz shoes have the energy and movement of the feet built into the construction from the beginning.

With that said, you may run into a different size from store to store. In most cases, this is due to flexible sizing, discussed below. Check with the vendors before you buy to make sure that you’ll get the size that you need.

The basic standard jazz shoe sizes for men are as follows:

Size 5: Smallest Jazz Shoe

Size 6: Smaller Jazz Shoe

Size 7-7.5: Smaller Jazz Shoe

Size 8-8.5: Slightly Smaller Jazz Shoe

Size 9-9.5: Average Jazz Shoe

Trying Jazz Shoes on

You’ll notice that jazz shoes have a snugger fit than regular shoes, but remember that your feet need to be comfortable in your jazz shoes. The extra snugness helps keep your ankles in line.

You should put on the shoes and make sure the shoe is easy to wear. If it’s a little snug at the toes, this is okay. When you’re putting them on, make sure that the tips of your toes just barely touch the front of the shoe, but aren’t cramped.

Tightness in the ball of the foot and heel is normal. The shoes should be tight enough so that you can move the toes back and forth, but you should not be able to move them too much. It’s also important to pay attention to the shoe’s shape so you know the toe box doesn’t pinch into your toes. You should have your thumb fit into the shoe without a lot of extra room.

The shoe should also be snug on your heel so it’s not slipping. The heel of the shoe should not be pinching into your heel. Your heel should be secure and held tight by the shoe.

If they’re too big?

A pair of shoes that fit properly and are a good fit is usually a welcome sight. A perfect fit for a shoe means that it’s snug enough to keep your foot stable but not so tight that you can barely squeeze them on. They should be sturdy, but not so stiff that you can’t bend your ankle and flex your foot. The shoe must be roomy enough at the front of the shoe so that your toes have plenty of room to move.

If you have shoes that don’t quite fit as snugly as you’d like, it might be possible to gently stretch the size. Many people will simply wear the shoe for a few hours to a day to give the leather a bit of a stretch. If you must wear the shoes to work, be careful not to walk much. A few gentle stretches is ok, but don’t do anything too rigorous.

If they’re too small?

A relative of mine was recently fitted for a new pair of jazz shoes. In fact, he had an appointment at a local dance store. When he called, the shop owner said they didn’t have a single pair that would fit him. My relative lives in a small town, so finding a pair wasn’t so easy.

He checked some of the usual outlets and discovered that no one in town sold jazz shoes. To make the story interesting, my relative told me that the dance shop owner told him not to get smaller shoes because they would be too uncomfortable in rehearsals. We’ll break the story into three sections and discuss each part in detail. We’ll deal with the difficulty of finding a retailer (Section 1) and we’ll discuss why getting shoes that are too small is bad (Section 2). And in section 3, we’ll discuss the fact that jazz shoes really should be custom-made (or at least made to be fitted to the wearer).

Section 1: Finding a Retailer (Difficulty)

Let’s say you live in a small town like my relative does and you want a new pair of jazz shoes for dance class. You’re looking for jazz shoes in a store, but aren’t having any luck.

Types of Jazz Shoe

There are several types of jazz shoes, and you can now find jazz shoes with built-in taps, or taps that you can attach to your jazz shoes. The taps make a loud clicking noise when your foot hits the ground, creating a rhythm for your routine.

Split-sole or Full-sole Jazz Shoes?

Different brands offer different types of jazz shoes, but you’ll generally find two types on the market: split-sole or full-sole jazz shoes. Although the full-sole shoe often appears fancier, it’s possible to get years of use and wear out of a high-quality split-sole shoe.

Split-sole shoes have a rubberized sole that seperates into two pieces. One part of the sole is in the heel while the other is in the ball of the foot. This type of jazz shoe is usually sturdier, more economical, and more comfortable. Some other benefits of the split-sole jazz shoe is that you don’t have to worry about breaking your shoes in, and you can easily replace the sole as needed.

Full-sole jazz shoes are exactly what the name would suggest; the sole covers all of the bottom of the shoe. There is usually no rubberized material, just a stiff feel with a leather upper. Because of the way they are designed, full-sole jazz shoes may be heavier, but do have the advantage of providing more arch support.

Regardless of the type of jazz shoe you choose to work out in, you absolutely must replace them at least once a year, if not more often, depending on how much you workout.

Lace-up Jazz Shoes or Slip-on?

In jazz shoe class, your teacher will probably tell you to buy a pair of jazz shoes with elastic laces. Jazz shoes are designed to be worn both on and off the dance floor with the elastic laces acting as a mask for changing dress codes. Professional jazz dancers tie their jazz shoes every time they wear them in class, but on a night out on the town, it is acceptable for them to slip their jazz shoes on without lacing them up.

Parents sometimes worry about the safety of elastic laces because younger children may not be able to tie them securely. Dancewear manufacturers often recommend slip-on jazz shoes for children ages 6-8, and lace-up jazz shoes for children 8 and older.

Jazz dancers want to choose their laces according to the occasion. Black or clear elastic laces are best worn in the studio because they don’t show wear and tear from repeated use. These clear laces look sharp with dress shoes, tuxedos, and other formal wear.

For a Saturday night out, jazz dancers usually choose colored elastic laces to match the outfit they’re wearing. For example, most dancers who wear black or dark tights choose laces made of the same color. Some dancers wear black lace-up jazz shoes with black tights and black laces for performances or competitions.

A Fitting Guide for Jazz Shoes on Children

When shopping for jazz shoes, you’re going to want to have a good idea of what size to purchase. The best way to do this is to go to a store that specializes in dance and gymnastic footwear, and talk to a trained staff member. Here you can look at spools and different models and sizes, and figure out the right one for your child.

Since jazz shoes tend to run big, you’ll want to purchase a size that is as small as possible. Remember to consult with the sales associates about narrow and wide feet. Your child’s feet should not be bent at more than a 15 degree angle when the shoes are on. (Click to tweet)

Here are some quick fitting tips for you to consider:

Choose a shoe with a reinforced toe box. Don’t be tempted to buy a leather, canvas shoe for your child. These shoes will last for a very short while before his toes poke through and cause blisters. Breathable mesh or leather are great choices for jazz shoes, but there are even some that have more protection than other styles. If your child’s foot can’t breathe, his feet will become wet which can cause them to stink.

How to measure your feet

One of the first things to do when you are thinking about getting a new pair of jazz shoes is to go see the salesperson to get your jazz shoe fitting. For safety, comfort, and performance reasons, this is a must.

Even if you wind up buying online, it is a good idea to try them out in the store to be sure you know how they fit.

The jazz shoe salesperson will ask you for about 5 minutes to evaluate your feet. They will want to know your foot length, width, arch support needs, and if you have a high or low instep. They will also need to know whether you wear heavy or light socks.

A jazz shoe fitting is essential because while jazz shoes are more forgiving than other types of dance shoes, they will not be effective if they don’t fit correctly. Like ballet flats or tap shoes, jazz shoes need to be worn with socks and the type of socks you wear will affect the fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Jazz Shoe?

A Jazz shoe is essentially a ballet flat, with a sturdier base, smoother texture and with a non-slip sole. It is made up of soft leather and resembles a flat ballet shoe. However, dancers who use jazz shoes will find that they are a little more forgiving than a classical ballet shoe. The reason for this is that without the hard surfaced heel that is present in a ballet shoe, dancers will have more spring and flexibility. Jazz shoes are generally used in competitions and are much lighter than classical shoes.

There are many manufacturers of Jazz shoes, and this may make it difficult to select a pair of shoes. However, if you need guidance on how to do this, below are some of the aspects you want to consider.

Can I Wear Jazz Shoes to Ballet Class?

If you play in an orchestra and want a comfortable yet elegant shoe, you may be considering replacing your typical dancing shoes with a pair of jazz shoes. Jazz shoes are less formal than your typical pointe shoes or ballet slippers, so you may wonder if you can wear a pair to a dance class.

Unfortunately, jazz shoes can’t be worn to ballet class. While the lack of a box doesn’t matter, the material that a jazz shoe is made of will not support your foot for all of the movements that you need for the class.

A good pair of jazz shoes will provide you with the flexible sole that you need for a softer shoe. However, they lack the rigidity necessary to effectively support your foot for a lengthy ballet class.

If you want a shoe that you can wear to orchestra practices and to a ballet class, you may want to consider a lighter weight pointe shoe instead of your jazz shoes.

Should You Wear Socks With Jazz Shoes?

When purchasing your jazz shoes, remember it’s all about your comfort. Even if the shoes feel too narrow, you can buy the biggest size you need. As your foot gets into shape, the shoes will conform to your foot.

The shoes are meant to feel snug, but the laces keep them snug without being too tight. You never want shoes that are too tight, since they can cause blisters and foot problems later. The point of the shoes is for them to help you move easier and more naturally.

If you aren’t sure what size you need, don’t worry. Your instructor will help you figure it out, and they are very patient. There are even jazz-specific stores that can help you with the fitting and selection of shoes. Most of them sell shoes that aren’t so low to the ground, and fit better for jazz.

You don’t need socks with your jazz shoes. The material of the shoes is thick enough in most cases that you can go sockless.

If you have a pointe shoe size, wear the same size jazz shoe. Always try jazz shoes on to ensure the correct fit.