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Leotard and tights sizes


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So....having returned to ballet classes, I received a bit of a surprise when I went to purchase my leotard and tights.

I am 5 foot 6 and [weight removed] and I was directed to the LARGE adult leotards and even EXTRA large tights!!!! In street clothing I wear small sizes so why do I need large sizes in the Capezio store?

Are ballet clothing sizes different from the jeans and tops I wear normally (which are often, incidentally, form fitting and a small or medium) or am I big for a dancer??

I have a flat stomach by the way, though I DO take a c to d bra size. My legs are firm and muscular but not fat in the least OR extra long.

The large leotards fit fine as did the tights.

Might that be why the larger women in the adult classes I go to, not wear leotards but leggings and tee shirts?


Also...where on earth can I find a leotard that is pretty but has more support in the bust? Or one that is not so low in the back you can wear a bra with it?

Edited by Victoria Leigh
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It's probably because of your height, that you have been directed to large sizes.

I remember when I was 14 and pretty close to the same weight and height as you, and I had to wear large dancewear because it was long enough. It was usually baggy around the behind but at least I didn't have a panic attack when I had to cambre back.

What you really need, is extra long or tall sizes.

Body Wrappers makes tall size leotards with built in shelf bras.

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Thanks for your response! That may be why.

By the way, I am just curious....definitely don't think that size matters in adult dance class...in fact it is nothing atall to do with who is most graceful, flexible, etc...

I am just finding it difficult to know where I am with sizing as I would like to buy dance wear online for convenience and it seems like it may prove difficult.

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I'm 5'8, about the same clothing size, and my biggest issue is always length of the leotard. Also leotard sizing differs drastically by company (and material), I am not at all comfortable in my size large bloch leotard but I have a danskin one that is a large and it fits perfectly (maybe even a little big). Tank leotards are usually the easiest to hide a bra, but I'm not an expert in that department (I can still wear a training bra).

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It's hard to find dance wear for taller people! I'm 5'8" and when I was first trying on leotards, my hips and everything fit in a medium but I ended up buying an extra-large because of the height. And even then, the ones with thicker straps or sleeves felt like they were pulling my shoulders down uncomfortably. Then there are some brands of tights that even the largest size gives me 'muffin top.' :pinch:


Some web sites have size charts with measurements. I'd be concerned about whether they're accurate though (my tights said they were for people up to 6'0" and they barely fit me - I think the company is just out of touch with reality). Maybe you could try to find a dance store that will special-order tall leotards without making you commit to buying them?

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I am average size for the "normal" population but definitely larger as far as dancers go. Many pro dancers would probably be sizes 0-4 (are we allowed to put sizes?? I apologize if we are not--please delete it). I can fit well Capezio leotards that are XL and squeeze into L. I am also a D cup. Depending on the brand of dance tights I wear L to XXL. I have chunky legs and a butt, so tights are more of a challenge for me. Even when I weighed considerably less and was about 5 street sizes smaller I still wore a medium in leotards, although tights weren't an issue--I could easily fit mediums. There are a few ladies who are bigger than me (not taller but wider) and they wear leotards and tights too, so they are finding them. There are a few brands that make plus size leotards and tights. I find that Sansha one size fits all tights are good.


The sizes are definitely not to scale with the sizes of street clothes. I am also a singer and was recently in a production and they ordered dance tights for all the women. My tights just fit but more than half the women had to wear socks because the biggest sizes did not fit them. Some of these women would be average sized but tall, and some others plump but the dance tights don't fit all women, while you can find tights for any size woman in a regular store.


I've used Leggs microfiber tights for dance too, and find they are BETTER than any dance tights. They last longer and they are also soft.

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It happens with men's ballet clothes too. I wonder it its whether ballet dancers are in general smaller than the average population*, and so the makers use different size standards.




*Whether or not that is true, would make an interesting though different thread. Certainly many professional dancers seem to be small. But I expect many professional dancers would object, and say that they're just "normal".

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In the UK street clothing has progressively got larger despite the label sizes remaining the same. I have only ever dropped dress sizes over the last 25 years despite weighing more! It came as a shock that the same could not be said for dancewear when I returned after a 30 year gap - I had a few embarrassing moments trying on (or trying to try on) items until I realised I was clearly asking for the wrong size label.


I can't see why dancewear specialists can't make at least some ranges in larger sizes; I'm sure there is a huge market out there, but it's as if they don't wish to admit that people other than their ideal might want to take up dance, if only recreationally. I don't see the same issues with clothing for other hobbies. Imagine not being able to buy 'running' pants in XXXXXL lol

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I made the experience that dancewear is allover smaller than normal clothing, especially shoes it is much easier to get in small sizes (I cannot find fitting streetshoes because I have such small feet but on the other hand in ballet, I always find shoes without problem and I always the widest).


Usually I wear an XS in streetclothes allover but in ballet it happened to me a couple of times that I had to get an M.


Recently I was a bit offended when I had to buy new tights: I am rather short and I know from my old tights that I have a Capezio's S/M and they are perfect. The girl in the store told me that they would be much too small for me and I would never ever fit in my life in the S/M (she instead was rather big...). She nearly forced me to by the bigger size but I insisted on the smaller one (I have short legs so even if they are too tight there's some material left that they feel comfy. At the risk that I could not return them, I bought them and when I tried them at home, they fitted perfectly!

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Merry - I'll go along with that, there is definitely size expansion. I still have a few non-ballet garments from when I was in my late teens and twenties which dd now borrows. They still have the original labels so she was amazed to see that an old UK size 12 fitted her snugly. She normally wears 8 or 10 - depending on the brand, there is a wide variation between manufacturers too.

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I'm also 5ft6, wear XS in street clothes, but I have to get an M in leotards and even L or XL in tights, because I have very long legs. But even for streetwear tights I was recommended M or L. The only problem with M leotards, is that I sometimes have to shorten the straps.


I think in street clothes, sizes are getting so much bigger, in some brands, even a XS is much too large for me and I'm not THAT skinny.

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I think dance clothing (which is fairly tiny) seems like an extra slap in the face because shops now mislead customers with vanity sizing. I was thinking of getting a couple of leotards, until a petite friend who is a UK size 6 (so American 2?) said she was a 'large', so at 5'8" with a DD bust I may as well not bother.

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From my own knowledge of clothing manufacturing, each manufacturer has to decide what size their average customer is, and base the sizing and grading (how to incrementally reduce or increase that size) off of that range. I'd say the standard dance customer is noticeably smaller/shorter than the average population, and so the sizes are made accordingly. A medium in capezio is probably a lot smaller than a medium at the Gap. If a manufacturer doesn't want to get into numbered sizing (lots of reasons for that), then they have to decide how big their medium is, even if it's drastically different from another company's medium. Otherwise they'd be left with XS, XXS, XXXS, XXXXS, etc.


As for your question about a supportive leo, I just bought a 2nd one of this Capezio style, it has an internal shelf bra with its own soft cups and 2-hook back clasp that's only attached at the neckline. I find it very supportive, however the bottoms of Mirella leotards fit me better. This one rides up a bit on me but I have more of a bottom than most.

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