Tag Archives: ballet clothes

My First Ballet Skirt

One of the most remarkable things about my ballet journey has been that I’ve met such an amazingly diverse group of people. We may not have anything else in common, but ballet is the common link that holds us together. Making friends is not easy for me (bad social skills and anxiety related) as I’ve mentioned once or a hundred times, so having the icebreaker of ballet has really helped me so far as interpersonal communication is concerned.

That said, there are drawbacks. For a person as annoyingly suggestible or impressionable (or whatever the word-which-I-don’t-know-and-am-to-lazy-to-scour-a-thesaurus-for) as me, it can mean that I often come close to feeling like I’m losing myself – those things that set me apart, that make me me.  Sometimes it’s seemingly easier to go with the group – even if it’s against your own beliefs – and then beat myself up about it afterwards, in solitude. I’ve always had an exceptionally hard time standing up for myself, and I find it really hard to say “no” to people, especially if I feel that my saying “no” will upset them (and then they won’t like me, and I’m already weird enough as it is that I don’t need to give even more reasons. Yes, I’m aware that made me sound like I’m in grade school, but if you can’t be honest on your own blog, where can you?…). Often, I put other’s interests before my own, and then end up feeling emotionally drained.

But – and this is a big but(t) (haha) – I’ve promised myself that I will work on it. And I have, little baby steps at a time. So what does this have to do with a ballet skirt? Plenty, as far as baby steps go.

For our upcoming show, we need to partially provide our own costumes (mostly consisting of a particular style or color of leotard, and I’m able to use ones I already have), except for the tutus which the school owns.  For one of the pieces, we need a skirt. Not actually having a ballet skirt previous to this, I started to stress about it. Some classmates began to discuss having custom skirts made just for the show, which I did not want to go for. The worst thing I could think of was spending all this money  and getting something new that I would only wear once and then relegate to the closet. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal to people – most people, perhaps – but it is to me, just one of my many “quirks”. Besides the ballet class budget is tight enough without factoring in any unnecessary expenses.

Inspiration struck. I  decided I would make the skirt, using my friend’s as a pattern. I hit the thrift store, and was fortunate to find what looked like a curtain, made of a similar sheer material as the skirt for about two bucks. Even though I have no sewing machine, I’m skilled (and patient, surprisingly) enough to be able to hand sew something together, especially when it’s a pretty straightforward project.

 

And it was fairly straighforward – I laid the curtain over the skirt, pinned it together around the perimeter, cut the curtain to shape, and sewed some black ribbon I had around the waist for the waistband. Easy, if not a bit time consuming.

 

To be fair, I’m not the best person at noticing details, but once it’s on I find it hard to tell the difference between the original version and mine (I actually can’t tell from the pictures which is which, though I do realize they look slightly different). My first handmade skirt ever – I’m pretty proud of myself. Also proud of myself for coming up with an outside-the-box solution and not letting myself get walked all over. I’d told myself I need to figure out better way of solving my problems (than giving in to pressure and then getting upset later) if I plan to continue ballet. (Not trying to sound like I’m picking on ballet, just that it’s the only activity I do that actually requires specialized clothing at times, so that tends to fuel my guilt. Long story, and beyond the scope of this blog…)

Anyway, yay, $2 ballet skirt!

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Improvise

No, not the kind of improv done during Modern class, though that is fun too…

Some awful person ran off with one of my leg warmers (I took them off after class, could have sworn I put them in my bag, I had somewhere important to be (family emergency), then I get home and there’s only one leg warmer in there. Not to worry, the studio has a lost and found. Except I get there the next day -as I spent the rest of the previous day with my Dad at the hospital – and the leg warmer is nowhere to be found.) What kind of awful person takes things that are not theirs?  (That may be a rhetorical question)

Anyways, I had another class to go to and no way of keeping my legs extra warm. An idea struck. I remembered this old pair of pink leggings that I kept around that no longer fit. I’d been keeping them around on the hopes that I would fit into them again – not going to happen unless I want to lose all my newfound jumping power (muscles) – or if not to donate them to a local thrift store once I accumulated enough items to make the trip worth it.

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Pink leggings, not ballet pink but close enough

Instead, I cut the legs off from the gusset and improvised myself some leg warmers. They actually fit really nice and snug all the way up to a little over my knees – perfect leg warmer length. I wore them as is already, but I’m thinking of possibly hemming them so that the knit doesn’t begin to run.

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They come up to a good height mid-thigh without feeling like strangling my leg

Even if I do get another pair of dance legwarmers like the ones I had (which I feel so guilty about because I was so irresponsible as to put myself in the situation that someone could take them…) – and I might as the stirrup part really helps keep my arches warm during barefooted Modern class, and unfortunately warm arches are a necessity for me – these fit well underneath pants or leggings to keep me warm throughout my day.

Bonus: The gusset part that I cut off makes a great pair of warmup shorts (not pictured).

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The post would not be complete without showing my crappy turnout…

My Leotard Shopping Do’s And Don’ts

(…or would that be “don’t’s”?)

Anyway, I went leotard shopping this weekend, as I’m getting ready for an increased load of dance classes. Came home with several new leotards, and my head full of leotard-shopping advice!

Obviously we all – referring to adult non-professional dancers/dance students – have different body shapes and sizes, as well as style preferences. So rather than saying stuff like “avoid halter tops” or “stick to solid colors” I’m just going to give some (hopefully) helpful general guidelines for leotard shopping time.  With the exception of my very first time leotard shopping (when I picked up my black Capezio short sleeve leotard – my first leotard ever) I’ve gone to dancewear outlets where there’s a vast variety of styles and brands to choose from (and the $10 price tag definitely doesn’t hurt!). As I walked out of the store after my latest leotard shopping experience, these guidelines came to mind. Wish I’d realized some of them sooner!

My new leotards!

My new leotards!

1) Do be ready to try stuff on – lots and lots of stuff. I mean, that’s the main advantage to buying dance clothes in person vs. online (where stuff may be cheaper), the opportunity to see how each of these unique garments looks and feels on your unique body (well, that and the instant gratification! 🙂 ). Also, this may sound like a no-brainer, but the way the leotard looks on the hanger or in the bin is almost irrelevant to how it’ll look while being worn – try on anything that is even remotely a possibility. If you tend to run out of energy during things like long clothes shopping marathons (as I do), try having a snack prior to going leotard shopping.

2) Don’t compromise.  Hold out until you find a leotard that’s a definite “yes”. Don’t settle for “maybe”s,  but continue to try stuff on until you find that leotard that will help you feel – and dance – your best.  It is out there – it just may be hiding behind the 15 or so leotards that you try on first.  Seriously, you should see the piles and piles of leotards that I take to the fitting room only to emerge with 2 or 3 perfect picks! At times it can feel very discouraging, and I worried that nothing would look quite right. But then, I found something that was actually somewhat flattering!

3) Do be selective. Just say no to anything that is short of perfect for your body. If you do not see yourself wearing it DO NOT get it, no matter how pretty the color is! Your wallet and your drawer/closet space will thank you. This latest trip to the dance store I found several gorgeous leotards in bright, vibrant colors, and dramatic styles. Unfortunately, despite the beautiful hues they looked much better on the clothes hanger than on me. So as hard as it was to say no to some of them, I did. After all, I need pretty and fuctional dancewear, not wall decorations.

4) Do mind the logistics. What I mean by this is, will the leotard be practical for you to get in and out of? If you’re constantly rushing to prepare for and arrive to class on time, perhaps something with a lot of buttons or clasps will not be as practical as a leotard that you can just pull on. As I tried on various leotards, I struggled so much with the ones with buttons (perhaps I have clumsy fingers?) that I decided they were a no-go even if they looked ok once fully on me.  Same goes for zippers, especially the kind running up the back – I struggled to get myself zipped up and knew that I couldn’t rely on having a trusted classmate help me zip up every day (or at all, lol), so I didn’t get a zipper-back leotard.  Zippers in the front may be easier to work with, but I’m leery of them – wouldn’t want that to accidentally unzip mid-class!

5) Don’t be limited by the size tag. I’ve found sizing for leotards to be incredibly innacurate and it can vary widely depending on the brand or style of the leotard. One brand’s small is another brand’s large.  This may be even more so if you will be shopping at an outlet store, where some of the items may have in fact wound up there because they ran larger or smaller than usual.  Grab anything that you think may fit for trying on purposes, regardless of the size advertised.

Like these 2... one's a size large, the other a size small, and they look - and fit - exactly the same. In fact, I think the small one looks bigger...

Like these 2… one’s a size large, the other a size small, and they look – and fit – exactly the same. In fact, I think the small one looks bigger…

6) Do check with your teacher first if there is a dress code, regarding color and style. It’s sad if you buy the perfect new leotard, and then find out you can’t wear it! A few semesters ago I took class with a very strict teacher who only allowed solid black leotards in specific styles.  May be a rarity as far as adult ballet classes go, but better to be safe 🙂

7) Do, if possible, wear the same type of undergarments that you will be wearing to class when you go leotard shopping. This’ll help ensure an accurate fit. Not following this rule is how I ended up with more than one otherwise perfectly-fitting leotard (at the store) that unfortunately shows way too much cleavage when worn with my 2 sport bra combo for class.  Learn from my dumb mistakes, LOL!

This one! Looked way more modest when I wasn't all pushed up...

This one! Looked way more modest when I wasn’t all pushed up…

8) Do have fun! Ballet class is the most fun you’ll ever have while sweating buckets and dressing for it should not be a drag. Happy dancewear shopping and dancing!

Any other dancewear shopping tips welcomed in the comments, of course…