(…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!
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.
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!
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…