Ballet boots are a type of fetish fashion, and they should not be confused with ballet shoes, which are dancing wear. Their design melds the classic look of pointe shoes for ballet with extremely high heels. The result is a highly specialized piece of fetish footwear, most commonly worn by women. Wearing ballet boots successfully takes acclimatization because of the extreme design, which is very hard on the feet and calves of inexperienced wearers.
A pair of ballet boots has extremely long heels, designed to closely match the length of the foot. Seven inches (18 centimeters) is fairly standard, although those designed for larger feet have even longer heels. The design of the shoe forces the wearer into the en pointe position familiar to fans of ballet, with the foot fully extended and the bulk of the weight concentrated in the toes.
Walking or standing in ballet boots is extremely difficult. Most people are only able to take a few steps as they begin to learn how to wear the shoes, and it is important to slowly train the feet to avoid permanent damage. The ankles and calves must be strengthened for the unusual walking position, and a burning sensation can set in along the calves if the boots are worn in an upright position for too long. Some wearers bend their knees when they are learning how to wear ballet boots, but this can lead to physical discomfort and health problems down the line, and should be avoided.
Latex and leather are commonly used to make ballet boots, which come in ankle, knee, and thigh high lengths. Many designs lace up in front, allowing the fit of the boots to be customized, although a zipper may run along the back of the boot for easy removal once the boot has been adjusted for fit. It is extremely important to find ballet boots which fit properly, because of the high amount of stress put on the foot and ankle in the shoes.