Seen above, the same shoe, new (left) and after 10 competitions (right)
Men's shoes are much more durable than
their partner's. The first thing to go will probably be the suede bottom.
You know it's time to have a cobbler
replace the suede when it wears
through or starts to peel off. This
is a rather inexpensive repair, and
allow the dance shoes to last a long
time. Eventually, you will wear
through either the leather near the
toe area, or the wood in the heel.
When either of these things happen,
you need a new shoe.
If you are wearing patent leather shoes, though, they will scuff very easily. As you can see above, these patent leather shoes have scuff marks on the side, and the patent leather at the toe is beginning to actually peel off from the shoe around the toe. Patent leather shoes are best worn only for competition, and retired to being practice shoes after they become scuffed. Scuffing can be inhibited by using Vaseline, but the shoes still won't last a tenth the length of regular leather shoes.
To sum it up, retire patent shoes (if you use them) to practice shoes when they get scuffed, replace the suede bottom when it is damaged, and retire practice shoes completely when the leather or the heel wears through.
Seen above, Standard (left) and Latin (right) shoes that have been regularly practiced in for eight months
Ladies' shoes don't last as long as Men's shoes, but at least they're prettier while they last! The first thing to wear out in
your shoes will probably be the satin, as seen above. When your feet rub past each other, the delicate satin will fray more and more. On the plus side,
that means you know you're closing your feet properly! Because
Ladies don't wear socks with their shoes, the sweat from your feet will soak into the
inside of the shoe, darkening it. Some ladies
are tempted to retire their shoes based on the smell alone.
As for the suede sole, they tend not
to wear out as easily on Ladies'
shoes, but if they do, take the
shoes to a cobbler and they can be
The structure of the shoe also has a much shorter lifespan than that of the man's shoe, when that structure goes you are in danger of injuring your feet. Dancing on heel without proper arch support can cause microfractures in the bones of the feet, or strain on the tendonds that run along the feet. There is no clear sign that the structure of the shoe is becoming too flimsy, so compare the shoes to a new pair if you think they are getting too worn to see if there is a significant difference. Another problem can come about from not using Heel Protectors. Without protecting the heel, it may wear through all the way to the nail that holds it in, and need to be replaced because it is no longer sturdy. Lastly, with Latin shoes, the straps holding your feet in may break. This can be seen in the front left strap of the Latin shoe above.
To sum it up, retire competition shoes to practice shoes when the satin starts to fray, and retire practice shoes completely when the structure starts to fail, the heel wears through, or a strap breaks.
That's all you need to know about shoes!