The multiple physical and mental benefits of dance are well attested. Whether jazz, ballet, contemporary, or any other genre, regular dancing increases your strength and stamina, improves flexibility and balance, and reduces stress. And there’s no denying that you can maximize those rewards by wearing the right dance apparel.
This post looks at why it is important to choose dancewear that works as hard as you do. Picking out a new leotard or unitard is a big decision, and the sheer range of available choices can be overwhelming. We’re also going to share our top tips on what to look for in dance costumes so you won’t spend money on something you regret.
Why Does High-Quality Dancewear Matter?
The best dance apparel does a lot more than just make you look good—although that comes into it. Let’s break down what you should expect from your dancewear:
- Unrestricted movement: One of the critical functions of a dance costume is to allow the wearer absolute freedom of movement. Dance is demanding, and the last thing you want is your clothing, hindering your flexibility and agility.
Well-fitting dance attire can be a factor in perfecting your technique. It will allow your teacher to spot any fault in your body alignment and show you how to correct it. In addition to improving your performance, this correction could save you from strain and injury caused by the wrong posture.
- Complete comfort: Dancing pushes your body to the limits and makes you sweat. (That’s one of the reasons it’s so good for you!) It’s vital that the clothing against your skin wicks moisture away to keep you dry and comfortable. The fabric should be soft and breathable, so you barely know it’s there.
Therefore, dancewear like leotards and unitards are designed to fit you like a second skin. The garment moves smoothly with your body and never bunch up or needs constant adjusting.
- Durability: When you purchase budget dancewear, the material starts to bobble after a few washes or loses its shape.
Premium quality dance outfits will keep their smoothness and hold their shape through multiple wears and washes. You can also rely on the colors to remain vibrant, any trimmings to stay in place, and fastenings to be 100% effective throughout the garment’s life.
- On-point style: Although comfort and functionality are of utmost importance, it goes without saying that dancewear should look fabulous too. After all, dancing is a form of art, and the outfit you wear is an integral part of your performance.
Sometimes the choreography will dictate a particular style or color scheme, or your dance school may have its dress guidelines. Keeping the requirements in mind, you will want a stylish dance costume that serves to enhance your routines. The right choice of dancewear will accentuate your grace and precision rather than draw attention to itself.
It is natural to feel more confident when you are happy with your look. While putting on dancewear makes you feel like a dancer, exquisitely tailored dancewear makes you feel like a real showstopper!
Choosing The Right Leotard or Unitard
Leotards and unitards are the most iconic forms of dance apparel. The “little black leo” (LBL) is a staple item in every dance bag. But even LBLs can vary enormously in quality, style, and size. Here’s what you need to consider when shopping for a leotard or a unitard:
Unitards and leotards are available in a variety of sleeve lengths and styles. The minimalist choice is a thin camisole or spaghetti strap. Tank straps are slightly wider—similar to a traditional vest top—and halter leotards have strap sizes similar to the tank style, but they wrap around the wearer’s neck instead of attaching to the back of the leotard. Cap-sleeved leotards have very short sleeves that just cover the shoulders. The other sleeve length options are short (like a t-shirt), half (to just above the elbow,) three quarters (past the elbow,) and finally, full length.
You’ll also need to think about the neckline shape that best suits you. A scoop neck gives the appearance of a longer neck and accentuates your collar bone. A V-neck is flattering for any body shape—the more profound the V, the more it will appear to lengthen your silhouette. Other neckline options for leotards and unitards include sweetheart and turtleneck.
You may want to flaunt your thighs in a high-cut style or prefer something that covers you up a bit more. Either way, it’s important to choose the leg cut that suits you best. Leotards come in high, classic (ballerina), and low-cut styles, while unitards have full-length or 7/8 legs. A third option, the jump suit or biketard, has short legs that fully cover the thigh, like bike shorts.
Sometimes, the choice of color for your dancewear is out of your hands. As we mentioned above, it depends on your dance school or the theme of the performance based on which you can pick the color.
Sometimes, you may have the liberty to choose the color and design of your dancewear. Our advice here is to go for shades that complement your skin tone. Wear colors you love when you’re off stage or practicing, but you need a dance costume that doesn’t distract viewers from your visual artistry when performing.
Dancewear should be the perfect blend of what suits you and what is in trend. While your first consideration should always be what suits you, you’re sure to find inspiration in the latest dancewear trends. The current trend is the lace detailing in leotards and unitards. Color block and contrast piping are other on-trend features to look out for.
Fit and size
Size is perhaps the most important factor to consider when investing in dancewear. You can get away with a sweater being a little snug or a skirt slightly too long with your regular clothes, but dancewear has to fit perfectly. There’s simply no wiggle room!
Leotards and unitards should fit you like a second skin; the fabric should make neither bunch nor chafe. The straps should stay firmly in place but never dig into your skin. Sleeves, neckline, and legs shouldn’t need continual adjusting. In short, when you’re dancing, you should be able to forget about what you’re wearing.
When you’ve found the leotard, unitard, or other dancewear that ticks all the right boxes in terms of style and color, be sure to check the size guide before you order. It may not be as straightforward as simply selecting your “normal” size because some dancewear will size up differently than others. Good dance apparel retailers will indicate if designs usually run true to size or tend to come up bigger or smaller than average.
If you accidentally buy a garment in the wrong size, it’s always best to return it. If you hang on to poorly fitting dancewear because it seems too much of a hassle to send it back, chances are you’ll soon stop wearing it and revert to something more comfortable.
With literally hundreds of labels offering dance leotards and unitards, the sheer number of options can be unhelpful. You can take a lot of the guesswork out by shopping with an experienced supplier that only stocks trusted brands.
Specialist dancewear shops like Tiger Friday know better than overwhelm customers with too much choice. Instead, we work with a carefully selected line-up of proven dancewear brands. Our customers can shop confidently, knowing that we only stock top-quality, high-performance dance gear.
Streetwear for Dance
Dance apparel goes way beyond leotards and unitards. Although leos and unitards are the staples, streetwear has a special place in a dancer’s ensemble. Oversized sweatshirts and wide-leg slouchy pants are ideal for attending dance classes. They are comfortable and can be worn at any time of the day.
Recap: What Dancewear is Best For You?
As we have seen, getting the right dance outfit will maximize the benefits of dancing and shows your proficiency. When shopping for dance apparel, you should pay close attention to quality because buying inferior garments is not cost-efficient in the long term. Premium dancewear is comfortable, long-lasting, and stylish. And as long as you get the right size, you’ll hardly know you’re wearing it!