Safety Level

Dance Dress Code Decoded – Girls


When you think of a dancer, what comes to mind?  Is it the shoes that she is wearing or the pink tights?  Is it the leotard?  Perhaps it is the signature hire style of ballerinas, a bun.  Have you ever wondered why a dancer wears these things or why most studios require a standard uniform for dancers?  In this two-part series, we’ll look at the history of these iconic wardrobe items and why Ms. Julie requires them for classes.


The Leotard

Black short sleeve leotard

Made famous by Jules Léotard, a French acrobatic performer, the leotard is a unisex, form-fitting, one-piece garment that covers the torso but leaves the legs free.  The first known use of the word “leotard” to describe the garment we know today was in 1886.  From the late 1880s to the 1950s, leotards were used by circus performers, Broadway dancers, and showgirls and most were simple and functional in design.  The 1960s and 1970s brought more colors and styles with the production of nylon and spandex.



The Tights


Tights were derived from hose several centuries ago, worn by European nobility, made to fit as snug as possible when riding on horse back.  Many athletes today from horseback riders to cyclists to basketball players wear tights for their ability to provide support to muscles and wick moisture away from the body.  The “ballet pink” of tights allows for additional highlighting of the muscles and helps teachers check for alignment, turnout, and that positions are being properly executed.

You’ll notice on the SDC dress code, that underwear and sports bras should not be worn under leotards and tights.    Underwear tend to bunch up and roll down under leotards, making it difficult to see the body’s lines and sports bras prevent the instructor from seeing the lights of the back and ensuring proper alignment.  Nude dance undergarments are permitted and may be worn for classes or performances.

Leotards and tights should fit snugly and follow the lines of the body.  These classic dance wardrobe pieces are worn by dancers because they allow instructors and later, the dancers themselves to ensure the proper positioning of the body.  This helps reduce the risk of injury to developing bodies.

Any time you have any questions about dance attire, just ask the SDC staff or leave ask in the comments!  We’re always happy to help!

Trip the light fantastic, dancers!

~Ms. Kerry


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