Four clothes not to wear in a ballet studio, or “Fail-Fashion for ballet dancers”.

by Henrik on September 17, 2010

As everywhere where people gather, so also in the ballet studio there are some fashions and trends around. Dancer-fashion, if you like. Some trends are limited to certain theaters or geographical places, but there are some generals as well. Like layers;

Marc Jacob's spring collection, new york fashion week, hot models, layered clothing,

I'm sorry, Marc Jacobs, but we've been doing that for ages ;)

Without being over-the-average up-to-date on the latest trends in the world of fashion, folks who are enjoyed putting on a bunch of layers of clothes a while back. Now, that’s something we’ve been doing for ages. Apart from the more practical use, where several layers of clothes help in warming up and keeping muscles warm in cold studios, it also creates the image that you are an individual with your own style and esthetics (I mean, you may very well be as well, but thats not the point). Dancers love to stand out. We are often a little eccentric, after all, we are artists, and our job is to expose ourselves in front of an audience. So, the clothing needs to say: Check it out people: I’m here! I’m myself! I’m free!

Instead of telling you about the good stuff seen in ballet studios around, I’m going to focus on the ugly – after all, it’s way more entertaining. Here’s a list of a couple of less fortunate things often seen in the ballet studio:

Use the following garments with extreme caution:

The sauna pant, or rubber-pants, from Grishko

You might look good. The sauna pants doesn't!

  1. Shorts over trousers (unisex). A typical “modern dancer” thing, I believe. All about not following the conventional way of dressing. Just have to be special, don’t you?
  2. Sleeveless turtleneck sweaters for men. Not my favorite. I guess the idea is to keep you warm, though still showing your perfectly toned biceps… Not cool!
  3. Sauna-pants. Although widely spread amongst both male and female dancers, and a trusted tool for warming up, rest assured: It doesn’t matter how well you look, the sauna-pants doesn’t. Meant to increase sweating in certain areas by using not-breathing material, not unlike the livingroom-saunas you can buy on tv-shop. Come to think about it, who comes up with these ideas?
  4. Socks over pointe-shoes. Adding colors, patterns and warmth to your shoes, at the small cost of totally losing all control, grip and feel of the shoe. And it doesn’t look well, either!

What I do like, is dancers using old tee’s to put out a statement in class, like band-shirts or tee’s with a funny saying. Most of the big brands in dance-wear (almost without exemption grown out from a major pointe- or shoe-producer) has their own clothing-collection with clothes aimed at dancers. Although you might find some cool stuff, I often find them too dull, or just girly. Although few, there are some producers that focus on dance-clothing apart from what you get from the big brands. Check out the small firm HD-wear, they have some really sweet stuff, or:

Get yourself a Tights and Tiaras T-shirt to rock in ballet class, or outside. This black piece of fabric is a no-brainer to get noticed, and show the world your support of dance and Tights and Tiaras while you’re at it!

Buy great dancers wear for both male and female at

Legalize it! From

Tee’s that really kicks ass, though, are the ones you find yourself. My colleague once attended a real serious swan-lake dress rehearsal with a neon-green shirt, with the text “I only dance drunk. Let’s get pissed” written all over it. Now, that’s a tee-shirt I can like!

As for more successful dancers-fashion-statements, maybe I’ll get back to the matter. I wrote about what look is generally “expected” of a male dancer and our shaving issues already… And please remember, we’re all individuals. You might like it. I might not. I am right.

Have you seen any strange dancers lately?
Not to mention the creations one can stumble over in a public gym… (geez…)
Any additions to my list?

See you soon!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

David September 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Yikes!!! Those sauna pants are the worst. Do they make a lot of noise?

I am amused by see through ripped panty hose pulled over leotards. I am not sure what it is meant to be. In some ways, its looks very bad but in other ways it is looks naughty.

My favorite ballet fashion so far is worn by Diana Vishneva. She always looks elegant in the studio. I know a woman in ballet class who dresses like her and looks elegant and dainty.

Also, another woman in ballet class wears these black leg warmers with the skull and crossbones on them. Her lipstick is black. Her nails are black. Her hair is black. She is goth and looks very good. She also wears a lavender, thin spaghetti strap top that looks like the top half of a full body slip. Very nice.

And then there is the 19 years young woman who wears the “Winnie The Pooh” t-shirt with her hair in pigtails.

We men only get to wear boring clothes.

Gym fashion is the worst. Oversized, white pants with green zebra stripes. Yikes!!!


Henrik September 18, 2010 at 9:11 am

Geez, what ballet studio do you go to? Diana Vishneva, attractive goth chicks and lolita’s? Haha, can I come to one of your classes? :P
On the panty hose over leotard – while I do get your point, I’m leaning more towards bad than nasty on that one..
Do agree on gym fashion. Terrible!


David September 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Oh! I have had this idea for a ballerinas t-shirt that says, “Ball-hell-rina” with the letters having flames around them. As in, ballerina from hell. A t-shirt like that has attitude.


Henrik September 18, 2010 at 9:05 am

cool idea! Do you want me to pass it on to David at Hdwear, maybe they could cook up something? :)


David September 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Oh yes. Please do!! You have my legal permission and all that. I would love to one of my many, many t-shirts ideas come to reality.


Henrik September 19, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I’ll give him a hint… :)


Adult Beginner September 19, 2010 at 2:18 am

Socks over pointe shoes?! Wouldn’t that just look like you have huge feet?!?
Here’s an excellent look:
Black patent leather high heels, leg warmers, pink ballet tights, and a tattered Lés Miserablés t-shirt with the bottom of her black leotard just peeking out underneath.
Saw this on the street. Near a ballet studio, but definitely out in public.


Henrik September 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm

it sure doesn’t look good, anyway :)
But that look you described sounded pretty fierce, actually ;) High heels and ballerina-tights, always a winner ;)


Terrry September 20, 2010 at 11:39 am

Well, the ripped-up old pantyhose worn on the upper body is one I have been doing since I was about 11 – so forever. ;)
It is meant to add a little bit of warmth when one is standing still and yet allow the air to get through. I do not rip them up on purpose, that happens when one cuts off the feet and cuts a hole for the head. I call them “arm-tights” and wear them all the time, under other shirts. (I freeze easily)

We used to also make our own leg-warmers out of old socks which we had cut the toes and heels off of. Haven’t seen many of those around recently; perhaps because people enough money to buy “real” legwarmers now? :p

I agree with the t-shirts – I have several from various stages of the bands my brothers were in -Indie-bands that no one else knows about. Very nice. :D Or, you can always make your own with special pens and paints.



Henrik September 21, 2010 at 11:12 am

I have several pairs of “home-made” leg-warmers! Woolen socks are usually both cheaper, and better quality/warmer than what you get at dance-shops!


Catherine September 23, 2010 at 6:24 am

What a great post H! :) I used to be a bit of a rebel back in the day…wore my hair in a long braid (which hurt like hell when I turned and it smacked me in the face) and a bandana wrapped around my head like a headband. Everyone else was all “ballet pink” in buns. Heh.

I too hate the sauna pants. We used to refer to them as “diapers”.


PNBist September 27, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I absolutely know what you mean about studio fashion. It seems there are far more DON’Ts out there these days than DOs.
I like your idea about the tee and although handy for making a statement, just gets too wet, damp and stinky for me to consider it an appropriate choice for practice.
And egad! those sauna pants are absolutely terrible!
I’ve been wearing a really cool brand called MPG, which stands for Mondetta Performance Gear for the last several years and it’s been kick-ass. The designs are cool but also made with moisture wicking fabrics that make sure sweat doesn’t stick to your skin when you’re really getting into it. Plus, they do a lot of work with our company, including getting us modeling gigs.
Check it out!


Dancing Branflake October 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Ha! Well, I have actually never seen modern dancers do the shorts over pants thing, although I have seen a lot of jazz dancers do this and it makes no sense to me either way. Another trend I see a lot is wearing scarves in class. Doesn’t your scarf get all sticky and gross? Doesn’t it impede your port de bras?


Henrik October 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

Yes, scarfs are definitely IN nowadays, specially when the winters coming.. And yes, they’ve got to get disgusting!! :) Some dancers (girls, obviously) wears huge scarfs round their necks, and then another, second scarf around their waist… I don’t get it :)


Bobbi Girone May 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I have a daughter that is 26, a daughter that is 14 and a grandaughter that is 6 and they all dance, so I see the styles of many age ranges. I always like to see the little ones in their dance clothes… pretty little leotards and ruffled tutus that are a mess before they even get to class! lol You can see a great example of this with my grandaughters pic on my Tutu You page ( ). The teens like to get a little funky in their clothing. Mix up colors, lots of black and very bright colors, t’s and shorts and leos. Tights are always ripped all the way up the leg… this definately adds to the look. I have made tutus for some of the teens as well. Again, they like the bright colors and they also like things added to decorate the tutus to make them more individual (I let them participate in the design) My daughter’s has chain all around the waist with little charms all over it. Another girl, Nicole, is a social butterfly, fluttering everywhere, so we put butterflies on her tutu. The teens like them really short and like to wear boy shorts underneith and funky t’s over a tank or leo. They look great! The adult class is much different and much more casual and practicle in their clothing. One thing my daughter likes to do is cut the neck band off her t’s because they are restricting. Then she puts them over a tank with shorts or a leo. Another thing we do for her makes a plain t shirt look really fun. We cut off the neck band and the sleeves then cut the shirt completely in half up the sides and across the shoulders. Then we cut strips all around the the shirt (Kind of like a fringe) and tie each strip front to back. you end up with tied fringes on your shoulders and down each side… so cute! ( if you plan to try it, make sure you buy a t- shirt that is a lot bigger than normal… at least one size, two if you want it looser.)


Henrik May 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Wow, a lot of dance in your family then :)
The thing with the t-shirt sounds kind of.. Complicated, at least on paper. MAybe you’ll have to show it to me sometime ;) Glad you enjoy the blog, thank you for sharing your ideas and ‘methods’ :) H


Lisa May 26, 2011 at 6:36 am

Baggy sweat pants (the generic army/navy variety) look almost as bad sauna pants. At least sauna pants keep you warm & there are some new more attractive ones made by Chacott. I hate to say it but Paloma Herrarra is always wearing these ugly sweats in open classes that I’ve attended or watched.


Henrik May 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Haha, You’d be surprised to know how many professional dancers that are using those horrid pants every day. To be honest, I even own one myself (although, after having a reality-check in the mirror, I don’t wear it anymore). You need to show me that more attractive sauna-pants, because I haven’t seen one :) Ok, it looks better on some than others, but I can hardly say it is a complimenting garment ever (unless you have something to hide ;) )


candice May 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

Dancers in cold climates are lucky in that they get to wear neat stuff on top of their leotards…I know, because I used to be one. So many layers. The modern company I was in back then; we were a very interestingly dressed motley crew.

Then I moved back home, 1300 miles south (upstate ny to new orleans), and spend all spring/summer/fall scheming on how to wear less ballet gear to not die of overheating in class. Vintage-type mesh 100% nylon tights breathe better than just about everything but are crazy hard to find.

And some girls here wear the crazy sauna pants! in a dance studio with an under-sized air conditioner that is well over 90 degrees! Je ne comprends pas.


Dancing diva November 4, 2012 at 12:00 am

I agree with sauna pants they look awful! I myself put socks over my pointe shoes not to add pattern or warmth but to keep them clean because my studio is very dusty and the floors are filthy from all the tap classes we do it also protects the shoe and stops it falling apart so I guess it saves money aswell!!


hi-and-bye February 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Last night I saw a production of Cinderella by the Russian National Ballet and the corps dancers wore arm warmers! True, we’re in Palm Desert, a resort destination not a world class venue, but the temperature outside was 70 degrees. I thought it was insulting to the audience.

In addition, the dancing was student-level. The program didn’t even list the names of the dancers. I wonder who the Russian National Ballet really is. Does anyone know? They seem to tour constantly to resorts and backwater venues. Are they just fund-raising for another, hopefully worthy, cause?


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