What To Wear In Ballet Class

Unlike the ballerinas you see on stage, you don’t have to wear a tutu! Adult ballet class is recreational, which means the dress code is more relaxed. However, even though the atmosphere is not as strict, it’s important to still demonstrate a measure of etiquette and respect. After all, ballet is an art form that was originally performed in the royal court! Whether dancing professionally or for fun, consider some traditional ballet essentials and modern alternatives to ensure you get the most out of your class.

Leotards are the most common apparel for ballet students and look like one-piece bathing suits. They have been the uniform for every ballet student in the world for over a century. The most traditional style of leotard is black or pale pink, and simple, though they come in a variety of colors and designs. Adult ballet class will not require you wear one, but it is highly recommended.

Tip: While you may want to wear a bra underneath, many come with shelf lining for added support.

Alternative: Tank Top
If leotards aren’t your thing, your best option is to wear a tank top. T-shirts can be baggy and restrict your movement. You want your arms to and torso to move freely. Though it’s completely normal to sweat in ballet class, choose breathable fabrics that wick away moisture.

Tip: If you’re chilly at the beginning of class, you can wear a sweatshirt over your tank top for the first couple of exercises at the barre, and just shed it once you’re warmed up.

Pink tights are traditionally worn underneath your leotard. They help reduce the risk of injury by keeping the leg muscles warm. Again, adult ballet class will not require you to wear tights but it is also highly recommended. In the chance that you have to sit on the floor to stretch, there is nothing worse for your muscles than to sprawl out on a cold dance floor. If you prefer not to wear pink, many adult ballet students wear black tights instead.

Tip: Variations include footed, footless, and convertible, which allows you to transition from footed to footless. The most popular option among adult ballet students is pink convertible tights, and black footless tights.

Alternative: Yoga pants
If you’re not in the mood to peel tights over your thighs, you can opt to wear form-fitting yoga pants. Remember, you need to be able bend your knees and move freely. If you try to squat and it feels like the material is going to split, you need to wear something more lightweight.

Tip: If they flare at the bottom and cover your feet, make sure to roll them up above your ankles. You do not want to trip on your pants!

Ballet shoes (No alternative!)
Ballet shoes, or technique shoes, are the single most important thing you can wear to ballet class. It is never appropriate to go barefoot or wear socks. Not only is it disrespectful, it’s not practical as you may slip and cause injury. Make sure to have your shoes properly fitted at your local dance store.

Tip: Ballet shoes can be leather or canvas, and come with a full-sole or split sole. Pink is the most traditional color to wear, though black and white are also acceptable. However, it is suggested that black shoes never be worn with pink tights! It’s considered tacky and unprofessional. Pink shoes may be worn with black tights only if the tights are footless.

These are some basic guidelines for what you should wear in adult ballet class. Also, don’t think you have to drop major bucks to achieve these looks. Check your closet before you rush to the local dance store. Simple, cost-effective apparel may already be in your drawer. The goal is to be comfortable and prepared, so you can receive the most benefit from your adult ballet class.


image credit: Quinn Dombrowski
Creative Commons license Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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