A rough guide to buying flamenco shoes online

When I first started dancing flamenco in New Zealand, back in 2008 (oh, lord!), I resorted to the only pair of high-heels that had survived my move Down Under. They were fine for sevillanas, but once I started learning tangos de Málaga, and I was most definitely hooked on flamenco dancing, I decided it was time for me to invest in a pair of proper (and pricey) flamenco shoes. I had no idea where to start looking, or what exactly I was looking for. Does this ring a bell? Let me tell you how to go about buying Spanish flamenco shoes online (from anywhere in the world).

Menkes flamenco shoes (600 x 337)

I’ve worn these flamenco shoes from Menkes for 7 years now… And they’re still going strong!

1. Visit one of these excellent online flamenco stores:

– Flamencista. This shop stocks a wide selection of flamenco shoe brands (including renowned Gallardo shoes) and styles, from amateur level to professional, and allows customisation in terms of colour, material, type of heel, etc. Handy clickable tips appear during the purchase process to help you choose correctly. If you don’t want to wait for your shoes to be tailor-made they also have a stock selection of the most popular flamenco shoes, just choose your size and have them shipped home. The price range is €40–€160 plus shipping costs (€25, but if you find lower shipping costs at another website, they say they’ll beat them by 5%).

– Menkes. I bought my first pair of flamenco shoes from these guys. My Amaya shoes are simple in design and so sturdy that I’m still using them. Prices range from €75 to €150 plus €10 for shipping. Shoes are customisable too.

– Don Flamenco. All Don Flamenco shoes are made to measure and customisable. They sell their own branded shoes, and each pair is around €100 plus shipping costs (€10 approx).

2. Choose your shoe. Look at the different designs (and prices!) and choose your favourite pair – keeping in mind that most shoes will be customisable in terms of colour, material, type of heel, etc. There are a few things to consider about this customisation:

flamenco shoes heels_gallardo (600 x 285)

Heel range at Gallardo’s

Heel shape and size. Cuban heels are the thickest and therefore most stable and comfortable. At the other end of the spectrum there are the carrete and semi-carrete heels, which are thinner and more slender, worn mainly for their aesthetics. It’s also important to take into account the heel size: the shorter the heel is, obviously the more stability it’ll give you. The shortest heels measure around 3 cm, and the longest 7 cm. Five centimetres is considered standard length.

Flamenco shoes materials - Senovilla (600 x 400)

Senovilla flamenco shoes can be customised with a huge variety of materials

Material. You can usually choose between leather and suede. I find leather is more stain-proof and stretches less – the risk with suede shoes is that they stretch so much that the shoes become loose, something you don’t want to happen – especially if this is your only pair and you’re planning to use them quite a lot!

Fastenings. Elastic or leather straps? Buckles? Laces? I’d say the sturdiest fastening is a leather strap with a buckle (or buckles if your chosen shoes are quite fancy!). As with suede, the elastic straps can stretch too much and risk not holding your feet tight enough. Laces look lovely, but perhaps they’re not the most practical option to practise in class.

Nails or not nails. Definitely nails for your golpes, puntas and tacones to ensure your dancing sounds like it should… sort of like this:

Customising means waiting. Having your flamenco shoes tailor-made takes typically a month, but the wait is worth it!

3. Figure out your size. When I ordered my first pair while living in New Zealand, I was nervous about which size to order – particularly after I read that different brands use different numbering systems! I measured my feet following the advice given by Menkes in their website and with the assistance of hubby. My shoes fit snugly when they arrived, and after a couple of weeks’ use they were just perfect. Most brands have their own guide to measure your feet (see for example Don Flamenco’s and Gallardo’s). If in doubt, I recommend checking with the brand before ordering your pair of flamenco shoes – they’ll be happy to help!

4. Click Buy!

I hope this answers a few questions about buying flamenco shoes online. Please share your experience or ask any questions in the comments!

Happy dancing!

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