Guide to Choosing right leotards for Ballet

by Danielle Hernandez on May 03, 2018

Get tips on how to choose the best leotards for children and adult ballet dancers

A ballet dancer's life is all about commitment, focus, hard work, practice, and concentration. It is no secret that along with all the aspects mentioned above, the dancers have to equally focus on their appearance, styling and overall grooming to complement their efforts and help them deliver Avant grade performance, garner audience appreciation, and critical acclaim.

In this article, we focus one essential element of a dancer’s wardrobe that is a constant from the very first ballet dancer class to performance and even as they progress in their dance careers.

Yes, I am referring to the ubiquitous Leotard!

The comfort, styling, design, and versatility of a Leotard make it an absolute essential in the wardrobe of a dancer. The availability of options in leotards for kids, men, and women, is an indicator of its popularity and its status as a timeless fashion article in the world of dance gymnastics and even athletics.

The journey of a Leotard

Leotards have come a long way from the time they were made famous by the French acrobatic performer Jules Léotard. In the beginning, leotards were mainly won by performers in the circus and acrobatic shows. Then the leotard became a favorite style of swimwear, later adapted by professional dancers where they paired fancy, bright leotards with stockings.

It was only in the 1970s and 80s that the Leotard started gaining popularity in aerobics fashion. During this time, leotards were a runaway hit among students and practically everyone on the street.

The icon of aerobics videos, Jane Fonda, immortalized the garment, back in 1982, with a horizontal striped red-and-black leotard, which she wore on the cover of her first exercise video, “Jane Fonda’s Workout."

Today, the leotard has wholly taken the fitness world by storm with innovation in style, fabric, design, color thus making it a must-have in the wardrobe of dancers, athletes, gymnasts, acrobats, sports, by both men and women.

Although the leotard was primarily a garment worn by men, it is undoubtedly become more popular among women, over the years. Leotards worn by men, are slightly different in style and cut, depending on the wearer’s requirement.

How to choose the best leotard for children learning ballet:

Investing in the right dancewear and dance gear required for the class is as important as selecting the proper studio and teacher.

There are several types of leotards available today depending on the purpose ballet to gymnastics. Here we will cover leotards for ballet, and this guide would be of help to parents who are interested in enrolling their kids for ballet lessons.

Schools usually do have guidelines for their students regarding dance uniforms and other etiquettes. It’s not surprising that a leotard would probably feature among the top items in the checklist to get started.

Style & Size: The very first thing to determine is the style of the leotard that is prescribed for young dancers. The Bloch Chasse Seamed Tank Leotard is perfect for starting out.

A long sleeve leotard is also worth buying as the child progresses through the levels. Regarding style alone, there are several styles of leotards available for children, which can be considered for various purposes.

You can go with the pretty, but comfortable Capezio Tutu Leotard, for a memorable recital performance. Another favorite among young dancers making their debut is the Mirella Youth Skirted Leotard which is a beautiful piece with pleated sequin panels.

For regular classes, one can choose from a wide range of styles listed below

A Camisole Leotard with back straps held together by the hrhinestone studded band.

The Classic tank leotard is perfect for everyday classes. In fact, one should invest at least two of these before starting their lessons.

These leotards are styled keeping in mind that children need to feel comfortable and confident in their dance uniforms and costumes, given any condition.

While selecting the right leotards for kids, it is crucial that size is just right. You could try out leotards that are age appropriate and also check if the child is comfortable in it.

Buying a large size would not allow the child to move around freely without worrying about the dress and if it is too tight, it might tug at the shoulders or arms.

Once you have chosen the right size as per the brand, you will know the ones to pick each time.

Fabric: Leotards are mostly made with a blend of Cotton and Spandex, keeping in mind the comfort, stretch, and breathability. Leotards are hence made form-fitting, yet flexible material. Since materials like spandex and lycra can return to its original form, they are more durable in the long run and are hence value for money.

However, in case your child is not comfortable with any of the above materials you can also go in for a cotton leotard. Cotton leotards soak up moisture more than the microfiber fabrics.

Quality: There should be absolutely no compromise when it comes to the quality of leotards. Investing in a few good quality leotards is always a right decision especially if your child is interested in going to the next level in dance. Brands like Capezio, Mirella, So Danca, Motionwear, Bloch, are well known for their fits, style, and quality.

Finally, ensure that you have leotards well planned for all the events and performances in the calendar. When your child starts learning ballet and moves into newer levels of learning and eventually performs on stage, you would want to see that your child’s costume is also in sync and it adds to their confidence on stage or in class.

Always purchase leotards with your child, so that he/she can try the one best suited in terms of size, fit, style and personality.

What to look for while purchasing a ballet leotard for adults:

When it comes to adults who are new to ballet, the basics of size, style, quality, fabric remain the same. However, for adults, leotards are not just dancewear or a uniform.

Given that the leotard is form fitted, it helps the ballet teacher to check your form and posture and correct it whenever required. Achieving the right form is essential when you start learning ballet.

Here are some tips that will help you decide on the best leotard for your regular classes and performances.

  1. For regular practice and training, you can invest in basic tank leotards that are fitted and comfortable and not necessarily expensive. However, a good well-established brand of even the basic leotard makes a lot of difference.
  2. A leotard that has cotton- lycra mix should help you with your objective of ensuring that the leotard can highlight your posture and ballet stance.
  3. While choosing the color of a leotard, choose one that will complement your skin and hair color. Also, remember that darker colored leotards hide sweat spots.
  4. While trying on a leotard for the very first time ensure that it fits well around all the areas of your body experience the maximum stretch – arms, shoulders, waist, and crotch. Never compromise on the fit and length, not just when you are trying out a leotard in a store, as you need to be entirely comfortable in the leotards during your training as well.
  5. Black and Pink leotards are a norm during training and classes. However, you can consider buying leotards in other colors such as blue, green, purple, lilac.
  6. Apart from comfort and your personal choice, the styling of a leotard is also essential to ensure it accentuates your body structure and flatters your natural form.

    For example, a zip front leotard frames the body well while cap sleeved style leotards are ideal for dancers who want to highlight their necks. A camisole leotard, on the other hand, is a classic style that is preferred by most dancers who are starting ballet classes.

    A long sleeve leotard, on the other hand, is usually a performance ensemble preferred by experience ballet dancers.
  7. Speak to someone experienced in the ballet circles about their experience in picking leotards - the best brands and advice on what to consider. Fellow students, ballet teachers, and even online reviews help a great deal in shortlisting options
  8. It’s also a good idea to try leotards out in a store specializing in dancewear and accessories before you can confidently start buying them online. Most of these stores have dance experts who can guide you to make your first leotard purchase.

In conclusion, no matter what your style and your personal preference are. Spend some time in researching the quality, pricing and the right fit which is key to picking the right leotard.

You may or may not find the perfect one at the very first instance, but at least you can minimize the risk of ending up with a wrong one by following certain basic pointers.

Ultimately, it is also about the comfort that will give you the confidence to pursue ballet and grow in it.

Do you have any questions on how to pick the right leotard for yourself or your child? We can help you find the right leotard that can match your requirement, budget, style, and personality.


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