When choosing shoes for Irish Dance it's important to keep in mind that the shoes should be very tight, well-shaped and formed to the foot. It is best to choose shoes that are several sizes smaller than one's regular street shoes. There are two styles of Irish Dance shoes. Soft shoes also called light shoes are similar to ballet slippers or the Scottish Highland dance slippers in that they're made of soft leather and lace up around the ankle. Today's soft shoes often feature a small amount of padding near the ball of the foot. This enables the contemporary Irish dancer to achieve a very high stance in releve or a very high stance on the balls of the feet.
The second style of Irish dance shoe is the hard shoe or the heavy shoe. These shoes feature fiberglass tips and heels through which the dancer makes percussive or battering steps on the floor. When hard shoes are first new, they may be quite uncomfortable because they are very stiff. Don't worry with additional wear and practice they will mold well to your own specific foot. Today's hard shoes also feature a small shaved platform on the very tip of the shoe. This enables contemporary Irish dancers to perform moves such as toe walks which are taken from or borrowed from classical ballet. So that's a brief overview of the different styles of shoes one might choose for Irish Dance.