Canvas vs. Leather Ballet Shoes: What’s the Difference?

So, you’re thinking about picking up ballet as a hobby. (Or maybe you’ve been doing it for a while and are just looking to switch things up.) Congratulations! Ballet is a fantastic form of exercise that can improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination. But before you can start dancing en pointe, you need to choose the right pair of ballet shoes. In this comprehensive guide, we will compare canvas and leather ballet shoes and help you decide which type is best for you.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Ballet Shoes

The Importance of Choosing the Right Ballet Shoes

Ballet shoes are an essential part of a dancer’s wardrobe, and it is important to choose the right pair to suit your needs.

It is important to choose the right ballet shoes for a number of reasons. First, the wrong shoes can be uncomfortable and even painful to wear. Second, they can cause problems with your feet, legs, and back. Third, they can make it difficult to dance correctly and fourth, they can actually damage your floors or carpeting.

There are two main types of ballet shoes – canvas and leather – and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. In the following sections, we will take a closer look at each type of shoe and help you decide which is right for you. [1], [2]

The Advantages of Canvas Ballet Shoes

Canvas ballet shoes, also known as slippers, are the most popular type of shoe worn by beginner and professional dancers alike. They’re made of a soft, pliable fabric that conforms to the shape of your foot and provides good support. Let’s discuss the advantages of canvas ballet shoes in more detail.

Affordable price

One of the reasons canvas shoes are so popular is because they’re very affordable. A good pair of canvas shoes will usually cost between $50 and sub $100. This is a fraction of the price of a leather shoe, which can cost upwards of $100.

Price is important for beginner dancers who may not want to invest a lot of money in shoes until they’re sure they’re going to stick with ballet. It’s also important for professional dancers who may go through several pairs of shoes in a season.

They are flexible and lightweight

canvas ballet shoes

Another advantage of canvas ballet shoes is that they are very flexible and lightweight. This makes them ideal for dancers who need to be able to move their feet quickly and easily. They also don’t weigh very much, so you won’t get tired as quickly if you’re wearing them for long periods of time.

In addition, they won’t feel as stiff and constricting as leather shoes. This can be a major advantage if you have sensitive feet or are just getting used to wearing ballet shoes.

They are immune to stretching

The next plus of canvas ballet shoes is that they don’t stretch. This is a huge benefit, especially for beginners who are still getting used to the feel of ballet shoes and how they should fit. Canvas shoes will always keep their shape, which means they’ll continue to provide good support and a comfortable fit.

However this can also be seen as a downside since if you’re considering buying shoes for your child, keep in mind that their feet will likely grow very quickly, so you’ll probably have to buy them a new pair of shoes before long anyway.

They are easy to clean and maintain

Compared to leather shoes, canvas shoes are much easier to keep clean and in good condition. They can be spot-cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap if they get dirty, and they don’t require any special polishing or conditioning. You can also wash them in the washing machine on a delicate cycle if necessary.

They can fit wide feet

This is one of the main reasons why canvas shoes are so popular, especially among beginner dancers. They’re very forgiving in terms of fit and can accommodate a wide range of foot shapes and sizes. This is due to the fact that they’re made of a soft, pliable fabric that can be easily stretched. So if you have wide feet, or even if your feet are just on the larger side, canvas shoes are definitely worth considering.

Even if you pick a slightly smaller size, canvas won’t punish you the way leather will. With those materials, a shoe that’s even a half size too small can be excruciatingly painful to wear. But with canvas, you can usually get away with a shoe that’s a bit too small, as long as it’s not too tight.

They provide better sensitivity

They provide better sensitivity

When it comes to ballet, there are countless factors that go into a dancer’s success. However, one of the most important aspects of ballet is having sensitive feet. This is because sensitive feet allow dancers to better feel the floor and make adjustments in their technique accordingly. As a result, dancers with sensitive feet are often able to execute movements more accurately and with greater precision than those without sensitive feet.

Canvas ballet shoes provide better sensitivity than leather shoes. This means that you’ll be able to feel the floor more, allowing you to make corrections in your technique more easily. This is especially important for beginners who are still learning the correct placement of their feet.

They have a lesser impact on environment

As we become more aware of the impact our choices have on the environment, many of us are looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. One way to do this is to choose eco-friendly products, and canvas ballet shoes definitely fit into this category. They’re usually made of natural materials like cotton, which is a renewable resource. In contrast, leather ballet shoes are made from cowhide and we all know how harmful the animal industry can be to the environment.

They don’t get stuck on sticky floors

If you’re dancing on a sticky floor, you know how frustrating it is when your shoes get stuck. This can cause you to lose your balance and possibly injure yourself. Canvas ballet shoes don’t have this problem because they’re made of a fabric that slides easily on smooth surfaces.

Marley floors for example are notoriously sticky, but dancers can wear canvas shoes without fear of them getting stuck.

Breathability and comfort

Lastly, it’s hard to ignore that canvas ballet shoes are very breathable. This is due to the fact that they’re made of a natural material (cotton) which allows your feet to “breathe.” This is especially important for dancers who tend to sweat a lot, as it helps to prevent blisters and other foot problems.

Canvas ballet shoes are also generally more comfortable than leather shoes, since they conform more easily to the shape of your foot. As we mentioned already, this can be a big advantage if you have wide or narrow feet, as it can be difficult to find comfortable shoes that fit well. [2], [3], [4], [5]

Disadvantages of Canvas Shoes

Sadly, nothing is perfect, and that includes canvas shoes. While they do have a lot of advantages, there is also one major disadvantage that you should be aware of before making your purchase.

They’re not as durable as leather shoes

This is probably the biggest downside to canvas shoes. They just don’t last as long as leather shoes, which means you’ll have to replace them more often. This can be a big disadvantage if you’re on a tight budget, or if you simply don’t like the idea of having to buy new shoes every few months.

Of course, how long your canvas shoes last will depend on how often you wear them and how well you take care of them. It’s best to buy your shoes from a reputable brand, and to avoid wearing them on rough surfaces whenever possible. You should also take care to store them properly when you’re not using them, as this will help to extend their lifespan. [4], [5]

Advantages of Leather Ballet Shoes

Now that we’ve looked at the disadvantages of canvas shoes, let’s discuss the advantages of leather ballet shoes.

Leather ballet shoes are a more premium choice for ballet dancers. They’re usually made of soft, pliable leather that molds to your feet and provides good support. Leather shoes can be expensive, but they’re worth the investment if you’re serious about ballet.

Little ballerinas legs


One of the big advantages of leather shoes is that they’re much more durable than canvas. If you’re a beginner, you might not think this is a big deal. But if you dance regularly, you’ll start to see how quickly canvas shoes can wear down.

Canvas material is a lot thinner than leather, which means it’s more likely to tear. And once a canvas shoe starts to develop holes, there’s not much you can do to repair them. In contrast, leather shoes can last for years with proper care.

The leather sole of a ballet shoe is also much more durable than the fabric sole of a canvas shoe. This means you won’t have to replace your shoes as often, which can save you money in the long run.

They can stretch and accommodate growing feet

A major advantage of leather shoes is that they can stretch and accommodate growing feet. If you’re a beginner, your feet will probably grow a lot in the first few years of ballet. It’s important to have shoes that can stretch with your feet, or you’ll end up having to buy new shoes all the time.

Still, leather shoes take a long while to break in. So if you’re looking for a pair of shoes to wear right away, canvas might be a better option.

Leather ballet shoes can also be stretched by a shoe repair person if they start to feel too tight. This is a good option if you’ve already invested in a good pair of leather shoes and don’t want to replace them.

They fit snugly

This brings us to another of the advantages of leather shoes, that they fit snugly. This is due to the fact that leather shoes are made of softer, more pliable material. As a result, they conform to your feet better and provide good support.

They improve foot strength in children

Leather ballet shoes also have the advantage of improving foot strength in children. This is because they require more effort to move around in than canvas shoes. As a result, children’s feet and ankles get a better workout when they wear leather shoes. This can help them develop better foot and ankle strength, which will be useful later on in their ballet careers.

They give more traction on wooden floors

Traction is important in ballet because it helps you maintain control while you’re moving. Leather shoes have more traction than canvas shoes, so they’re a good choice if you’re dancing on a wooden floor.

However, leather ballet shoes can provide way too much grip on certain surfaces. If you’re dancing on a slippery surface, like vinyl or linoleum, leather shoes can make it harder to move around. In that case, you might be better off with canvas shoes. [2], [4], [5]

Disadvantages of Leather Ballet Shoes

Advantages of Leather Ballet Shoes

Just like canvas shoes, leather ballet shoes have their own set of disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of leather shoes.

They’re more expensive

Let’s address the elephant in the room: leather ballet shoes are more expensive than canvas shoes. If you’re on a budget, this might be a deal-breaker. The reason for that is simple: leather is a more expensive material than canvas.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that leather shoes are also more durable than canvas shoes. This means you won’t have to replace them as often, which can save you money in the long run.

They’re not as breathable

Another disadvantage of leather shoes is that they’re not as breathable as canvas shoes. This means your feet can get very hot and sweaty when you wear them. If you have sensitive skin or tend to get blisters, this might not be the best choice for you.

They require more care

Leather ballet shoes require a bit more care than canvas shoes. You’ll need to condition the leather periodically to keep it from drying out and cracking. You should also avoid getting them wet, as this can damage the leather.

You also won’t be able to wash them in the washing machine like you can with canvas shoes. Instead, you’ll need to spot clean them by hand. [2], [4], [5]

Canvas vs. Leather Ballet Shoes: A Comparative Overview

Choosing between canvas and leather ballet shoes is a decision that dancers often face, and it can impact comfort, performance, and aesthetics. In the table below, we’ll explore the key differences between these two types of ballet shoes to help you make an informed choice.

Aspect Canvas Ballet Shoes Leather Ballet Shoes
Material Canvas fabric with a suede or leather sole Genuine or synthetic leather
Comfort Lightweight, breathable, and molds to the foot Durable, provides excellent support
Fit Contours to the foot’s shape, may require less breaking in Structured fit, may need some breaking in
Durability May wear out faster with intense use Durable and suitable for extended use
Aesthetics Often preferred for a streamlined, minimalistic look Classic appearance, often chosen for traditional ballet styles
Price Range Generally more affordable Varies based on leather quality

Explanation of the Table:

  • Aspect: Lists key aspects for comparison between canvas and leather ballet shoes.
  • Canvas Ballet Shoes: Describes characteristics and advantages of canvas ballet shoes.
  • Leather Ballet Shoes: Describes characteristics and advantages of leather ballet shoes.

Your choice between canvas and leather ballet shoes depends on your dancing style, comfort preferences, and the specific requirements of your dance routines. Canvas ballet shoes are often favored for their lightweight and breathable qualities, making them ideal for contemporary dance styles. On the other hand, leather ballet shoes offer durability and support, making them suitable for classical ballet and rigorous training.

Consider your dance goals and the type of movements you’ll be performing when selecting the most appropriate ballet shoe material for your needs.


Is canvas or leather shoes better?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on personal preference. Some dancers find that canvas shoes are more comfortable and breathable, while others prefer the support and stability of leather shoes. Ultimately, it is up to the individual dancer to decide which type of shoe works best for them.

What is the best material for ballet shoes?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on personal preference. Some dancers prefer canvas shoes for their flexibility, while others find leather shoes to be more supportive. Ultimately, it is up to the dancer to decide which material works best for them.

Are leather or canvas half soles better?

It depends on your personal preferences as a dancer. Some dancers find that leather provides more support and stability, while others find that canvas is more comfortable and breathable. If you are unsure, we recommend trying both types of shoes to see which works better for you.

If you or your child are just starting out in ballet, we recommend canvas shoes. They are less expensive than leather shoes and will help you get a feel for the dance before you invest in a more expensive pair of shoes.

How do I know if my canvas ballet shoes are too big?

There are a few telltale signs that your canvas ballet flats are too big. First, if there is excess fabric around your toes or heel, the shoe is probably too big. Second, if you can slip your foot in and out of the shoe without having to tie it, the shoe is too big. Finally, if you can feel your foot sliding inside the shoe when you walk or dance, the shoe is probably too big.

Do canvas ballet shoes stretch out?

It is widely believed that canvas shoes will stretch out more than leather shoes. This is not always the case, as it depends on the quality of the material and construction of the shoe. In general, cheaper shoes made with less durable materials will stretch out faster than higher quality shoes. If you are concerned about stretching, it is best to buy a shoe that is slightly too small, rather than too large.

What are the primary differences between canvas and leather ballet shoes?

The primary differences between canvas and leather ballet shoes lie in their material, fit, durability, and aesthetics. Canvas ballet shoes are lightweight, breathable, and typically less expensive. They conform to the foot’s shape but may not last as long as leather shoes. Leather ballet shoes offer durability, support, and a classic appearance, but they may require more time to break in.

Which type of ballet shoe is better for beginners?

Both canvas and leather ballet shoes can be suitable for beginners, and the choice often comes down to personal preference. Canvas shoes are known for their flexibility and comfort, making them a good choice for those just starting ballet. Leather shoes, while requiring a bit more time to break in, provide durability and support, which some beginners may prefer.

Do canvas or leather ballet shoes offer better durability?

Leather ballet shoes typically offer better durability compared to canvas ones. Leather is a sturdier material that can withstand the rigors of ballet practice and performance over an extended period. Canvas shoes may wear out more quickly, especially if used for daily practice.

Which type of ballet shoe is more breathable, canvas, or leather?

Canvas ballet shoes are generally more breathable than leather ones. Canvas allows for better air circulation, which can help keep the feet cooler during long hours of practice. Leather, being less breathable, may result in warmer and potentially sweatier feet.

Do canvas or leather ballet shoes provide a better fit?

The fit of ballet shoes depends on the individual’s foot shape and personal preference. Canvas ballet shoes tend to conform more closely to the foot’s shape and can provide a snug fit. Leather shoes may take more time to break in and adapt to the foot’s contours, but they offer excellent support once properly fitted.

Which type of ballet shoe is preferred for performances?

For ballet performances, leather ballet shoes are often preferred due to their classic appearance and durability. They provide a polished and elegant look on stage and can withstand the demands of a performance. However, some dancers may opt for canvas shoes if they prioritize comfort and flexibility during specific routines.

Useful Video: Difference Between Leather and Canvas


Selecting the right pair of ballet shoes is a critical part of any dancer’s equipment. Canvas and leather are the two most popular materials for ballet shoes, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

In general, canvas shoes are less expensive than leather shoes and are better for beginners. Leather shoes last longer and provide more support, making them a good choice for more experienced dancers. Ultimately, the best material for your ballet shoes depends on your needs and preferences as a dancer.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that canvas shoes are a bit more delicate than leather shoes.

Do you prefer the feel of softness against your foot? Then, canvas might be the better option for you as it shapes to your feet quicker than leather. Does support and longevity matter more to you? Then, shell out the extra cash for a quality pair of leather ballet shoes. Whichever type of shoe you choose, make sure to take good care of them so they last longer. With proper care, your ballet shoes can last many years.