Your son or daughter comes back from class and says their Irish dance teacher has told them to get a pair of jig shoes.
While some parents are confident about what to do next, many find themselves in a minor panic.
What brand, what style, what tips and heels? And that is before the major question of what size to go for!
We have been down this road with thousands of parents over the years and here is our simple guide on how to get the right jig shoe for your child.
If your child has been dancing less than 6 months and has no experience of other dance forms then we would suggest you go for the Antonio Pacelli Superflexi Jig Shoes which has a soft leather sole. This provide support to your child's arches which is very important in the early stages of a child's dancing life as it allows time for their arches to strengthen.
The soles will soften over time and become a fantastic pair of comfortable, supportive jig shoes. The leather sole is also more hard-wearing than the softer suede soles so also represent good value for money. There is also a good second hand market in this jig shoe due to their popularity amongst beginners and because they wear so well.
If you child has been dancing for less than 6 months but has over 1 years experience in other forms of dance then your child's arches may be strong enough to go straight into a pair of Antonio Pacelli Ultraflexi Jig Shoes. These have a suede sole and are much more flexible and responsive. They allow dancers to go straight onto their toes without any breaking in time.
Remember: Suede soles do not offer the same level of support as the leather sole Superflexi so if you are unsure whether to go for a leather sole or not then we would suggest talking to your dance teacher for their input.
What about the other jig shoe styles available in the online shop you ask?
Yes, we do offer a wide range of jig shoes but most of the other styles are aimed at more experienced or show dancers. They are a lot more expensive than the ones we are suggesting above and while some are lighter, have louder tips and heels or have more comfort features, your son or daughter will still have a wonderful dancing experience with one of the above models. You can always review a more expensive pair further down the road if your child looks like they are really enjoying their classes and want to continue.
If your child has very sensitive feet then you could consider the Hullachan Pro Jig Shoe. This has lots of features to keep your child's feet comfortable and protected. The Hullachan Jig has a range of comfort features including a padded heel, padded tongue and excellent shock absorption.
If you child is relatively new to irish dance then we would recommend the Leinster tip and Leinster heel. They offer a wonderful sound and are also economical and great value. They are by far our most popular tip and heel for newer dancers. There is no need to go for anything more expensive at this early stage in their Irish dance career.
All of the jig shoe links above are for Leinster tips and Leinsterl heels.
This is the most popular question asked by new Irish dance parents. We have an excellent size guide here which converts international sizes to the UK sizing used on this site. Once you know your UK size we would recommend that you go for the same size as their school shoe/dress shoe size. Do not go by the size of trainers or gym shoes.
Many of our dance shoes come in a standard and wide fitting. The difference is largely around the toe area, with the wider width having more space from the ball of the foot forward to the toes. If you child doesn't normally have problems with the width of shoes then the standard fitting should be fine. Go for the wide if your child likes some wiggle room for their toes or has a relatively wide foot. If your child has a very wide foot then the Nova wide fitting is our widest style.
We strongly recommend that you do not order a big size with the idea of 'they will grow into it'. Jig shoes need to be relatively well fitting so the ball of the foot is in the right place in the shoe to use the tip properly. At most please only go up half a size.
We will happily exchange any shoe which is not the right size when you receive it. Simply send it back to us with a copy of the delivery note or invoice with a note on what size you would like in exchange and we will send out another size. You can see more information on our exchange and returns policy here.
Hopefully that has answered most of your questions. Still unsure? Then please do get in touch and ask us. We are happy to help new parents and have plenty of experience to share with you to help you get the right size for your child. You can contact us here.