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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What leotard colors are appropriate for adults? Dance dress?


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Confidence is key, and so is personal opinion. Wear what you like! Now, to breach the topic of personal opinion and leotard styles: I love 3/4 sleeved leotards with v-necks and v-backs, but for some reason a regular short sleeved scoop-neck leotard seems... I dunno, childish and cheap. I can think of a few reasons for this.

1.)Maybe it's because when kids are 4 years old, their parents don't really know where to buy dancewear so they resort to visiting general stores (think Target, Walmart, etc.) and getting whatever light pink monstrosity is hanging on the rack (usually an ill fitting scoop-necked leotard).


2.) Childrens' uniform dress codes often involve these styles of leotards.


3.) Adults that have just started ballet for the first times in their lives also either a. don't now where to buy leotards except at the discount rack in a local dance store, or b. don't want to spend a ton of money on one of those pricey leotards when they don't know how long they want to keep learning ballet.


At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what other people think of you. If you're dominating the dance floor like Alina Cojacaru, then there isn't going to be a single peep about the fact that you might be wearing a holographic-laser-light-velvet-unitard. On the other hand, if you're beginner, then it's expected that you might come wearing very stereotypical uniform dance clothes, since they're easier to find, cheaper, and hey... you've just started! Taking the dive and being comfortable with your appearance is a big part of ballet. There will be a time and a place for you to start experimenting with all the crazy dancewear styles, brands, options out there. We're all adults, so as long as it isn't extreme and distracting to what you're really there for (Ballet, that is) then you should wear whatever you prefer.


Some like simple, some like strappy, some like colorful, some like covered up, some like dressy, I say hey! If you can dance well in it, wear it.

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I used to wear short-sleeved leotards since I was self-concious about my arms (WHERE did that flap of skin come from hanging from my arms?!). But that short sleeve hits right at the widest part of my upper arm, ugh! Turns out a camisole leo is actually more flattering (anyone who has seen me in person feel free to correct me here :innocent: )

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I have one leotard with short sleeves (which is actually quite flattering, I like to think!), but I rarely wear it because I get quite hot and sweaty when dancing. Takes me forever to warm up, and then I drip sweat.... I suspect that part of the change from short sleeved leotards to camisoles occurs as dancers hit puberty and their sweat changes.

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And that's why 3/4 sleeves are a girls best friend. :) As for the sweating, it's difficult to work around that problem. I guess the best way to avoid seeing that is to wear darker colors... even then, there's not much to be done about that! Maybe sweat under the arms doesn't seem as noticeable in camisoles, but then there are all the other areas of the body that sweat as well (back, bottom, you name it). I luckily only have this problem in extremely hot and humid places, but otherwise I'm not a great bucket-prespirerer.

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I have a scoop neck short sleeved leo and it suits me wonderfully. I do not find it childish at all. The back is quite deep which makes it just gorgeous.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a couple of colored leotards, but usually end up reverting to black tank, camisole, or cap sleeve styles, with the exception of a red Jozette cap sleeve leotard. That one is my favorite. That's when I wear a leotard at all. I usually go for dark or black tank tops or tee shirts, with black booty shorts. Because I love shocking the heck out of people when I announce that I'm still taking ballet at the age of 57, I have a couple of tee shirts that I love to wear to class---""senior citizen, give me my d---- discount," "don't you wish you'll look this good at 55?," "no guts, no glory," and "barre fly," which was a custom make-up tee that my son gave me.


I have one dance dress which I've worn once, because I felt downright silly wearing it. Watch out for dance dresses: Some of them have the skirt attached to the leotard with a non-stretchable seam, which means you will not be able to get them on. Yeah, I wear pink tights (usually,) or black wool tights if it's really cold.


The grunge look is most popular at my studio. Since I take class with the teenagers for the most part, I do the grunge thing, but draw the line where it comes to duct tape on my slippers. That's a pretty popular look, and occasionally, our teacher will get down on us about cleaning up our act! I have a couple of really ratty sweaters and leg warmers that I wear at the pre-pro classes, and the kids seem to like it that this old lady "fits in."


It really all boils down to your own personal taste. There's no dress code in adult ballet, other than ballet slippers. If you want to do the ballerina thing, go right ahead and do it. If you want to do the grunge ballerina thing, that's okay, too. Someone is bound to like whatever you wear, and someone else is bound to get their tights in a knot over the same outfit. We adults need to do precisely what we want to do. We're certainly old enough to do that!

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Haha, when I had duct tape covering the giant holes in my slippers, it was simply because I was trying really hard to increase the longevity of my poor shoes. Definitely not fashion! It was expensive to buy Grishko flats in Europe... the cost was more and the exchange from Dollar to Euro made me that much less motivated to buy new pairs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I will update my original post, as I've done lots of ballet shopping lately and have "test-driven" some new outfits. Here's what I've bought--

-White camisole leotard from Wear Moi. Quality is nice, but even though it came lined lined it is STILL see through! I've already had the sides taken in so I can't return. Do I bring it back to the tailor and have him put in a thicker liner?

-Dark grey halter leotard from "Body Wrappers" premier elegant collection. Pretty, versatile color (a dark-purple-y gray) but ick it shows sweat stains (none of my other leotards do)! Do not recommend for this reason.

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For the white leotard problem, you could buy a skin colored liner to wear under it (something like this: http://www.discountdance.com/dancewear/style_TB49.html?pid=134&Shop=Style&SID=295368175). I have to do that with my white leotard. Or you could check into having a tailor add a liner-I don't know if that would be too expensive to be worth it, though.


I love colored leotards. Most of my leotards are not black because I prefer color and most studios that I've attended allowed us to wear solid color leotards. http://www.classindanceshoponline.com/index.htm makes some fun leotards with lace or polka dots--but they are not solid, they are more than one color, so depending on dress code they might not be allowed. I had to go down one size in their leotards because they are very stretchy.


Really cheap leotards (sometimes): http://www.dancefactoryoutlet.com/store/bodywear/leotards/womens/c02DBDW-c02LEOS-c02DBDW02LEOS02WMNS-p1.html They used to have a "grab bag special" for 3 leotards for $10 US; with shipping it was only $17 total I think. I got the grab bag a few times and still have two leotards from one of those grab bags. Sometimes Discount Dance or Dance Distributors have leotards on clearance and they are cheaper, also.


The only leotard style that I dislike is the camisole with the shoulder strap as one continuous loop; those always fall off of my shoulders or the strap flips as I dance (which is annoying).


I usually wear camisole leotards because I sweat a lot & I get too hot in 3/4 sleeve leotards. I currently only have 1 cap sleeve leotard but the sleeves are mesh so its not that hot. I wear pink or black tights as both are acceptable at my studio. i don't wear skirts very much. I have the harmonie boxer shorts (not sure if they still make them), they are baggy, and I like them. I also have some fitted shorts by dance rags & I like them. If you are ever in a piece that requires a lot of kneeling, I recommend getting some long leg warmers (long enough to go over your knee) so that you can fold them down to make sort of a knee pad to save your knee during rehearsal. I do this & still have a bruise on my knee! I see knee pads in dancewear catalogues but I never see any dancers wear them. I also have a re-usable thick hair net (has some dark beads on it) that I use to keep my bun neat; I have been using it for years and it still works well and has lasted much longer than a "normal" hair net.


Different companies have different leg lines on their leotards; I like a higher leg line since my legs are short. I don't like bodywrappers leotards because their leg line is lower. I do like capezio and bloch usually because their leg line is not as low as bodywrappers. I would imagine with most leotards you will have to try it on to see if it works for you, since the same leotard can look very different on different people. Bloch also sometimes has a gel line on the leg line which helps the leg line stay in place and not ride up--I love this feature! Now they may have quit doing this since its been a few years since I bought a new bloch leotard. I like Mirella leotards because they are made well & the fabric is thicker and they last a long time. I also like Natalie leotards. I think of all the leotard brands I've tried, Mirella has lasted the longest (elastic did not wear out & no holes). I've worn the same size for over 10 years now so I have some pretty old leotards. I prefer a shorter skirt; I have a mirella wrap skirt that I like, and I have another pretty floral skirt-not sure which brand- that I don't wear as much because it doesn't look as nice on me since its a bit long and does nothing for my figure.

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  • 9 years later...
On 9/22/2011 at 3:22 AM, mermaid7176 said:

Personally, I always wear black leos. There are a few reasons why I avoid other colors. One is a sweat issue. I know that sweat is totally normal in class, but I choose not to have large sweat spots that are super-visible on my leos (I had a burgundy and plum leo- both showed sweat a lot). Black is the only color I have found that doesn't seem to show the sweat as much. Secondly, other colors tend to reveal more, how do I put this, information- like how cold the studio is :o, that I don't like- at least on myself. I love all of the fun color leos, but choose to wear the traditional black and pink, and add some color with fun skirts. I have found a seller on etsy that does some really beautiful ones that I can mix and match so that I feel feminine.


Personally, I think dance dresses are great- as long as the teacher can see what they need to see. I love them and only don't wear them because my torso is so long, I can't find any that fit me.


This is just my two cents. I do think that an adult can get away with any color they feel comfortable in. I personally, just prefer the black ones for the reasons listed above.

What is the seller called on Etsy?

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Holly, and to the Adult Dancer section. The post you're responding to is 10 years old, so I'm not sure you'll get an answer! 

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Oh I don't know--some of us NEVER get tired of talking about leotards!  Truthfully the answer is that you'll have to see what works for you.
Etsy has a number of custom leotard makers now.

I personally have had pretty good luck with https://nydancestore.com/  --the site loads slowly but they have a wide selection, including some at prices so low that it's worth experimenting!

Otherwise, I think jewel tones are a great starting point.  I prefer sleeveless leotard/black tights but it's up to you!

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😀 Koshka! I've just had a bit of an indulgent splurge on some new leotards - particularly like one that's a boat neck, mesh sleeves & back, all in black. But I also bought a mesh-backed teal, and a red criss-cross strapped one, both sleeveless. 

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