Guide to Ballet Costumes

Ballet Costumes

Ballet costumes and dancewear are important for the dancers in your life. Warm-up clothes help keep muscles limber for dancing, while classic tutus, tights and shoes ensure a peak performance. Here's all you need to know about purchasing ballet costumes.

Kinds of Ballet Costumes

There are two main types of ballet costumes: warm-up gear and performance costumes. Warm-up gear usually covers more of the body and may be made of heavier material than the outfits made for performances. These pieces aren't as fancy as the costumes made for the stage.

Leotards and unitards are both popular choices for warming up. A leotard looks like a one-piece bathing suit in terms of coverage, and is often worn with tights underneath. A unitard is a one-piece, form-fitting body suit that covers the legs and sometimes the arms.

A popular warm-up accessory is leg warmers, long sleeves like socks without feet that can be worn over the leg. Leg warmers keep the leg warm while allowing the foot to move naturally. They're so popular they've crossed over to become a mainstream fashion accessory.

Performance costumes often start with a leotard as well, jazzed up with colorful tights and a tutu, a puffy skirt usually made of tulle or nylon netting that is designed either to hang down, usually to around knee length, or to form a stiff, short skirt that sticks out or flares up.

For recitals of whole ballet classes, children are often dressed in matching outfits that look more like dance costumes than traditional ballet costumes. They might still have the idea of a leotard at heart or be designed like gymnastic costumes, with fuller skirts or even with pants.

Ballet costumes for professional dancers are much more likely to be the classic leotard and tutu most people think of when they think of ballet, but dancers are also adopting costumes influenced by the wider world of dance that might remind some of figure-skating costumes.

Sources for Ballet Costumes

There are many places you can buy ballet costumes online and offline. If you are looking for a costume for your daughter's recital, odds are all the children will match and that the costumes will be purchased directly from the dance studio. This makes it easier for you because you'll know you're getting the right thing, but studios and their attached stores often have a huge markup, meaning you'll pay more this way.

If you have choices in the clothing you are buying, which you most likely will at least for warm-up clothes, the Internet is your best bet for wide selection and good prices. Here are some places to look for ballet costumes online:

Make Your Own

If you or your child is dancing as part of a group, it's probably not a good idea to make your ballet costumes. Even if you are an accomplished seamstress, the colors probably won't be exact and your costume will stand out as different, even if it doesn't stand out as homemade.

For individual performances, it is fine to sew your own costume, and this may be the best way to get ballet costumes that look exactly the way you want in the color and material you desire.

You may be able to find a pattern for a tutu or dance costume at your favorite fabric store. There are also some websites that can make sewing ballet costumes a little easier:

Before you decide to make your own costume, do a little bargain hunting. Tutus use a lot of fabric; you might find that it's actually cheaper to buy a ready-made costume than to make your own once you buy all the required fabric.

Guide to Ballet Costumes