Tips for choosing undergarments for every dance form and performance
What you wear on your body is critical when it comes to dancing - Dancewear can either hide or highlight and either complement or distract from your moves.
So while choosing a costume can be a complicated process and selecting the perfect undergarments to go with your specially crafted outfit is even more critical, requiring some smart thinking.
A finished look (that includes appropriate undergarments) will not only make you look great on stage but will also exude professionalism. Showing any type of undergarments is not becoming on stage. Wearing appropriate undergarment is also essential to ensure there are no costume malfunctions and that your performance is considered tasteful.
In this post, I attempt to demystify the so-called basic concept of undergarments for dancewear; here are some commonsensical but often overlooked guidelines on choosing undergarments.
A dance student taking a class in the dance studio and the professional dancer performing on stage will have different requirements; know your need.
Dance is a sport, and hence supportive garments are a must. You may not need a sports bra as you wouldn't be bouncing up and down, but an undergarment that offers a good fit and support where you need it will still be essential.
- While buying briefs, beware of the visible panty line (VPL). Smooth lines are important for a neat, professional appearance so that no lace or hooks are shown through the leotard.
- Some dresses include an "underwear"- for example, built in cups inside a leotard, but you may still prefer to wear something underneath (that doesn't show through, of course). Built-in bra shelving for extra coverage and support usually is enough for smaller chested women.
- Very young ballet students often wear regular panties underneath their tights and leotards.
- Depending on the dress code of the school, students may not be allowed to show bulk or "panty lines" under their leotards so the teacher can study the lines of the body.
- Older students often use thong-type panties for a smooth look.
- Heavier, more developed ballet students may choose to wear a sports bra under their leotard.
- Always go for comfort and buy the brand you are familiar, well in advance. You don't want to be trying out that brand new bra on stage in case of the dreaded wardrobe malfunction!
- Dark underwear sometimes shines through (if the dress is a light color), so ask somebody to have a look when you're in a place with bright lighting.
- If you are unable to find shorts or leggings that match the color of your outfit, buy them in white and have them dyed.
- It is always a good idea to wear regular panties under your costume undergarments, as they protect your costume from perspiration and other stains.
- Consider wearing another pair of (well fitting) briefs over the top of your tights or leggings to hide the slightly thicker denier.
- Avoid wearing anything that looks like everyday underwear under flared skirts; your undergarments must be coordinated with your costume to avoid a tacky look.
Some Specialty Dance Undergarments
Classic tank-style, the ankle-length unitard is the perfect costume foundation for dance, aerial, tightrope, hoop and other performance styles. Versatile simplicity allows for use under a variety of styles.
A classic racerback silhouette features a scoop neckline with broad shoulder and back straps and provides maximum support for high-impact routines
Camisole-style body tight with heel cutouts provides dancers a smooth, flattering and modest undergarment when performing in revealing or unlined costumes. Detachable, adjustable straps allow for multiple customized styles
Also called booty shorts, the best ones fit snug and eliminate chafing between the inner thighs.
Best for wearing under full skirts or panel skirts, these can be rolled down and pinned into position.
Wearing a Bra with Your Leotard? Get It Right!
For most adult dancers just a leotard may not provide enough support to make it through class without unwanted bounce or a dancer may like to feel very secure and covered when she is dancing.
Consider Your Leotard :
If you have a choice on what kind of leotard you can wear, get one that has a racer back, a high back/mandarin collar, or a relatively high scoop back, as they conceal bras. Leotards with either thick tank straps or sleeves also hide your bra while strappy backs with big cutouts cannot help with concealment.
Match The Style of Bra with The Leotard :
If you have a racerback leo, choose a racerback bra (thinner straps will not show). While wearing a leotard with a high back, any style of bra will work (straight across back with crossed straps or racerback styles can be hidden well--the straps stay in place and don't "peek" out).
A sports bra with a pull over the head feature wins over a day bra with a clasp any day. Clasps make a bump under your leotard and will also hurt you when you do floor work
Consider Why You Need a Bra :
Do you need it for compression or bounce control or concealment of nipples? Choose a bra that serves the purpose in a style that is compatible with your leotard. Some dancewear companies like MotionWear, Eurotard, and Capezio sell sports bras. Sportswear companies like Lululemon, and Nike and even the sportswear department at Target offer some good options.
Choose Colors Carefully
Choose bras in skin tone, black, or the color of your leotard. While your leotard should completely cover the bra, sometimes a little bit of the bra may remain visible. If this happens, try to match the bra color with either your skin or your leotard. Wearing a bra in a color that contrasts your leotard can look sloppy.
If it's difficult to find a bra in the exact color of your leotard (like hunter green, navy blue, or lilac), choose either skin color or black. If it is critical that the bra matches your leotard, you could always dye a white bra to get the color just right.
Last, but not the least - always store your dance bras with your leotards and dancewear. This avoids last minute scrambles searching for the right bra.
Guide to Choosing and Wearing The Dance Belt
Beginning at puberty, all male dancers should always wear a dance belt under their tights. In fact, it is recommended that a male dancer wear one even if they are not wearing tights.
A dance belt should be as close to invisible as possible under tights. The inevitable male bulge should be smoothed out and not embarrassing. And once it's on and adjusted, nothing should move inside the dance belt, regardless of the stretching, leaping, and contortions the dancer engages in.
Dance belts are measured by waist size. You may have a better chance at finding a dance belt online if you are unable to access a specialty dance store and usually, you may need to endure some trial and error before you can find one with the perfect size and fit.
The best color dance belt is a flesh colored: 'nude' or 'tan' for Caucasians, 'chocolate' for darker skinned dancers. The same dance belt can then be worn under black practice tights or white performance tights. A flesh colored dance belt is more invisible under white tights than a white one.
A dance belt must be comfortable enough to be worn for several hours of classes, rehearsals, and performance. Take the time to get all your male parts position where you want them, as comfortably as possible, so nothing moves until you take it off. Try different brands and sizes if comfort or fit are issues.
To put on the dance belt, pull it up over your hipbones, to the height you normally wear your pants. While wearing it lower may give relief from thong tension; this will hamper your movements. Your penis needs to face up towards your belly button, and pulling up the dance belt helps in this process.
While some discomfort is normal while initially wearing a dance belt, a correctly fitting one will soon stop bothering you. A dance belt gives you the ability to let loose, jumping and leaping with abandon, knowing you won't feel that painful bounce when you land.
Dance Undergarments for Different Forms of Dance
A professional dancer needs as much freedom of movement as possible. The last thing any dancer needs to worry about on stage is whether their undergarments are showing each time they move.
You could go with black briefs if your skirt is black. However, keep in mind that whatever fits your dress, is comfortable and doesn't show your bare behind when twirling is the perfect brief.
Ballet dancers can choose to wear thongs if needed, but most just wear tights underneath their classical tutus. This allows for a worry-free and flexible performance. Tutu bodice tops are typically boned, shaped, and lined to provide enough coverage and support with no undergarment needed.
Lyrical or Character Dance Performances
Dancers who are performing wear something called a "trunk" bottom. This is basically a bottom brief made out of leotard-like material. The dancer will match her trunks to her tights or her costume. Wearing a nude camisole shaper gives additional confidence that the dress is fitting the way it should.
Cheerleaders, Majorettes, and Gymnasts
Cheerleaders, Majorettes, Gymnasts and other athletes also wear trunks. Trunks look exactly like the bottom half of a leotard. They are stretchy, comfortable, and make a nice alternative to a regular undergarment
Here are two popular dance forms and a guide on what undergarments go best with them.
What Does a Flamenco Dancer Wear Under Her Skirt?
Flamenco dancewear is cut slightly smaller than your true size to give the best fit. So while choosing the right knickers, here are some things to bear in mind:
Avoid lace entirely, as the lace pattern will show through (unless your dress or skirt is lined) Thongs are not a good idea as flamenco dance moves flare the skirts out and this is not a desirable view. Plain shorts with no visible panty lines are excellent for that smooth line under clothes and give just the right amount of coverage
While most Spanish Flamenco dancers go bare-legged, tights are an option if you need some cover. Consider buying dance specialty tights even if they are more expensive; they will be longer lasting.
Fishnet tights are a classic flamenco look but do pair them with a shoe liner under the tight t avoid any toes going through the holes. Wearing a pair of flesh-colored tights under the fishnets to be sure makes for an even classier and safer look.
Criteria While Choosing Undergarments for Belly Dancing
The ideal undergarment should completely cover the buttocks. It should contain enough fabric to contain a mini – pad, to prevent any leaks. It should be washable and the color choice, fabric and style should be influenced by the costume itself. Thongs are not an ideal choice in belly dancing outfits as they don't offer much protection by way of cover or keep away from sweat and other stains.
Choosing the perfect undergarments with your dancewear is a deliberate effort and often requires the help of an experienced salesperson.
Consider visiting a specialty dancewear store to try out and gain an understanding of what exactly you need. Dancewear stores like Beyond The Barre stock undergarments in high-quality seamless performance fabrics which are ideal for wearing under leotards and costumes for a streamlined appearance.
Do you have a favorite style of bra or tights to wear with your leotard or tips to match the perfect undergarment with your dancewear? Leave a comment!