Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

How many adults actually wear a leotard/tights to class?


Recommended Posts

I don't see any reason to look down on or criticize any fellow student for what they wear in class (as long as all of their... parts... are covered and they aren't a hazzard in some way). It doesn't serve you and it doesn't serve them. If they're comfortable, cool - feeling great helps you dance great! If a studio owner feels otherwise, they're free to set a dress code. 

As a matter of observation, most people I take class with at ballet-focused studios do wear leotards... There's a lot do variation between black or pink tights, and/or warm-up shorts or skirts, and/or leggings or tight shorts. There are also tshirts, tanks, sweaters, legwarmers, etc. A lot of it also depends on the weather, since we have pretty extreme seasons. But... at other studios with more of a modern or jazz focus, there are very few leotards and way more leggings and tops. 

Link to post
  • Replies 156
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • LaFilleSylphide


  • missyr


  • Redbookish


  • Claude_Catastrophique


Chasse Away

Oh I think what I said wasn’t communicated clearly.

I am not trying to look down on anyone for what they wear to class, especially beginners. But even advanced dancers may want to wear yoga wear, and while I personally think that’s disrespectful and highly impractical, if it makes sense to them so be it. Maybe, like a dancer at my studio, they teach jazz before the class and it doesn’t make sense to change. I’m not here to judge.

The point that I am trying to make is there is no sense in not wearing a proper leo and tights because you are self conscious about your body. (If you want to be self conscious about your body take up fencing or down hill skiing not ballet). Maybe it’s because I’ve been a little bored at work so I’ve been reading through some of the old forums and every 5th post is like “I’m to f*t for a leo” and then like they list a million things wrong with themselves. It’s just so confusing to me? Like you can’t dance if you hate your body? Do people really hate there thighs that much? I’m so confused!


All I’m saying is, there’s no room to be self conscious about your body in ballet, so don’t be too self conscious to wear proper form fitting clothes that’s not fair to yourself or the teacher.

Link to post

So if you're too self-conscious to wear a leotard and tights you shouldn't take up or continue with ballet? Or you should just get over it, despite the long history of body-shaming in ballet and in society more generally? 

It's awesome that you are not self-conscious! But my viewpoint is precisely opposite to yours. We should take people as they come and do everything in our power to make the studio a safe space for anyone who wants to participate - no matter their body type, level of confidence or self-consciousness, race, gender, age, stage of life, etc. If you let people build up their confidence in their dancing on their own terms and with encouragement, they are more likely to become confident about their bodies anyway. 

Link to post

Having taken most of my early classes at a conservatory, I was expected to follow the dress code along with the other students. I was 52 at the time. I took classes with the regular students. (children)

Wear the uniform!  It is the best way for your teacher to evaluate you. Adult classes are different. The motivations to be there are different. Many adults are not there to train. Some are very committed and are. Just remember that no one is really watching you! They have enough of their own stuff to take care of. If you look like a slob or don't care how you look. You will lose the very opinion you are seeking.

Link to post
Chasse Away
2 hours ago, gav said:

No that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m saying you should never ever be so self conscious that it effects what you wear to ballet class. I’m saying “get over it” because it’s not helping yourself or the teacher, I know it sounds harsh but it’s the honest truth. And obviously this isn’t for beginners, this is for people who have been training ballet for a while and are devoting a certain amount of time in it and financially it makes sense to buy proper Dancewear. 

Can you imagine if people never went to the beach because they were too self conscious to wear a bathing suit? That would be silly! If it’s silly at the beach it’s silly in dance class.

I totally agree that a studio should be a safe place for dancers or all ages, shapes, and size! I’m a huge advocate for this! Dance is so good for you, everyone can benefit from it! And I agree that dance builds confidence, but what if the first step to building confidence is wearing the appropriate clothes and telling yourself you look fierce? 

********Wear whatever you want to dance class! But don’t NOT wear a leo and tights because you feel “self conscious” there’s just no point******

I also personally believe that a dance class should be the same for adults as it is for teens, class structure and manners should be the same for pre-pro students and adults, I call everything “ballet class” because it shouldn’t matter the level or age group. If teens have a uniform, so should adults. THE only difference is teens generally stay at the same school so they may have a specific colour or cut of leo, where adults tend to go to multiple schools or move around a lot, so a specific colour or style is impractical. Plus, adults tend not to out grow their leos so they likely accumulate a more, which would also make it impractical to have a single style and colour. OTHER then that, the same standards should be applied. A ballet class is a ballet class and manners are manners. Although, I understand this is a personal opinion and people may disagree.

There’s also something to be said to class atmosphere. Just like it is disruptive when a student comes in late, is taking in class, is complaining, a class full of dancers in gym wear had a different vibe. They could all be great dancers, but the lack of proper dance wear makes me think that they don’t respect the teacher’s opinion or the class (because if they did respect the opinion of the teacher they’d make sure the teacher could see their lines). Idk, it just diminishes the over atmosphere of the class. Should it effect me? No. But just like I can’t always tune out the chatty people in class, it’s hard to ignore the class vibe when everyone is wearing work out clothes. Again just my opinion, I get that there’s perfect valid reasons to not wear dance wear to class, but like I said, I think all dance classes should follow the same rules and manners, aside from beginners of course. 

Also sorry, gav.  I’m not trying to disagree with you, I just think we are on opposite sides of the discussion and I want to make sure I elaborate on my points. I think your arguments are valid too, I just don’t entirely agree with them.

Link to post

However, Chasse Away, you are willing to leave very little, if any, room to disagree with with your opinion. 😉

We have heard you loud and clear, so please let others express theirs unchallenged in this discussion and exchange of perspectives in keeping with BT4D decorum. . 👍🙂

Link to post

At our local studio there are several professional ballet dancers who take class when they are home on vacation, and they never wear tights!  Usually a leo with leggings or shorts and bare legs, but even baggies are seen.  In the same class might be older teens in proper attire, adults in tights aspiring to improve, and women in their 50s-80s that are there because it's their life-long ritual and not because they have expectations of improvement.  I will be in yoga clothes and a baggy t-shirt because leos don't fit or support my mature figure the way they used to.

I heard someone say the other day "if you want to have a dancer's body that's great - you already have one!" because everyone is entitled to dance and most of us will never get that idealized ballet body no matter how many classes we take.  I agree with ChasseAway that self-body-shaming is an unfortunate part of our society that I hope becomes obsolete.  But if someone is not comfortable in a leo (or can't find one that fits them) but still has the guts to get into dance class, I say bring it!  Trash bag pants and all.

Link to post

The only reason I want to respond further is to urge you to broaden your horizons, because I think you're missing out on so much by focusing on a rigid notion of what ballet class should be.

I dance in a community of gorgeous people that includes professional ballet dancers, teenagers to older adults (up to mid-90s!), pregnant and post-partum people (adult bodies definitely change!), people who previously exhibited eating disorders, people with injuries or past injuries of all sorts, new and experienced dancers, people who rush into class at the last second from work or putting the kids down for a nap, and on and on. People come to class on their own terms with their own goals and in their own choices of clothes. Students show respect for teachers by valuing their experience, corrections and methods. Teachers show respect for students by taking each student as they are and helping them to improve on their own level. The vibe is awesome. 

Link to post
fun en face

Amen gav! 🤗

Personally, taking class every day for about 4 years now...And I wear a leo and tights underneath layers of various warm ups, depending on how the bod is feeling that particular day. Simple as that!

I take all levels of OPEN adult class, which can be quite a different  from a training ground atmosphere. There are pros in the intermediate and advanced who wear all sorts of their favorite t-shirts, baggy pants, sweatshirts, shawls, leg warmers, etc. The entire class, not just barre. 50% at most will be in leotards and fewer in tights by center. 

In rehearsal I wear what matches the piece, etc. I usually only wear skirts in pointe or beginning/intermediate. Depending on the teacher. Some do more center work than others...

I've taken class all over the world and can easily say there are few rules in adult open classes. Mainly folks understand what's appropriate for both footwear and movement suited for the individual who has to wear it.

After all, we are all there for our own reasons. Mine is just because I love everything about it!



Link to post
On 8/7/2019 at 1:10 PM, Chasse Away said:

I also personally believe that a dance class should be the same for adults as it is for teens, class structure and manners should be the same for pre-pro students and adults, I call everything “ballet class” because it shouldn’t matter the level or age group. If teens have a uniform, so should adults.


Fully agree!!!

Link to post

I would like to agree with gav & fun en face. I re started and Adult Ballet class after 30 years of not dancing and having 4 children.  When I first returned to dance, I would not have felt comfortable putting on a Leotard and tights, and it was a couple of years before I did so.  I personally believe that Adults take class for many different personal reasons and the freedom to dress in what is comfortable for each individual is sometimes necessary to get those who have been away from the classical leotard and tights back to dancing.  We have a wonderful class of Adults ranging in ages from 20'2 through 70's, of varying body types and ablilities.  We are all there to try to get better for ourselves.  For me personally, ballet offers a form of exercise that I enjoy and gives me aerobic, balance, strengthening, and flexibility.  I would much rather dance than do anything else.  In addition, it is time that I have for myself and social time with other like minded women.  I never intended to be performing again, but to my delight, many of us Adults were the Court ladies in the studios Sleeping Beauty.  We are all disciplined in class, and each individual trying their best to improve, but recognize that as Adults, there are things that may never be as good as the teens, and I think you just have to except the limitations.

Making strict rules about leotards for Adults will turn away many who want to do it for enjoyment and exercise.  

Link to post

I think that we wear what we're comfortable in. As people get more serious they may want to start showing their seriousness and respect for the traditions of the ballet class in the way they dress, as Chasse Away does. 


Personally, I like a mix of the formality of class and informality. My bugbears are not about what people wear, but novice dancers' lack of spatial awareness and the way that often teachers of adult beginners seem wary of requiring the usual "etiquette" of spacing in the centre, and giving way to those moving across the floor. But that's  :offtopic:so I won't rant on this thread!

Link to post
  • 3 weeks later...


This is how I feel, personally. I would love to wear a leotard but they don't make them in my size (sadly). I want to get back to ballet after many years away and I'm taking my first class at a new studio tomorrow. The only specs the studio has is wear what makes you feel comfortable, but I do have proper technique shoes, and if I have tights that fit, I'll wear those. But I'm thinking gym leggings, and a not really baggy t-shirt, because I know the teacher needs to see my line. 

Link to post

Have a great time, GiselleJuliet, and be confident! Apart from anything else, everyone else is concerned with themselves, so no-one will be pointing & staring... 😉

And you may surprise yourself at what your body remembers.

Link to post


Enjoy your class time.  It takes time to get back the steps, but just keep working for yourself and you will be surprised at what happens. And I agree with Redbookish, the others dancers are all there for themselves as well and I my experience will be happy to welcome another Adult dancer.

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...