Dance Wear

What to Wear to Dance Class

Jane Bertin
By Jane Bertin. Updated: August 31, 2020
What to Wear to Dance Class

There are many reasons to join a dance class: maybe you want to get in shape, socialize, challenge yourself, or maybe you've watched Fame an unbelievable amount of times and have decided to just go for it.

Whatever your reason for signing up, it's likely that you're wondering what to wear to a dance studio. Sure, you own some comfortable clothes, but will they be right for it? Don't worry. In this OneHowTo article, we'll clarify what to wear to dance class according to your favorite style.

You may also be interested in: How to Use Your Arms in Ballet


  1. Basic tips
  2. Ballroom, Lindy Hop and Social Dancing
  3. Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Modern Dance
  4. Hip-hop
  5. Zumba
  6. Special Dancewear

Basic tips

There are some questions you must consider before deciding what to wear to dance class.

When should I buy dancewear?

Before deciding anything, call your dance studio or take a look at their website. Some schools have a dress code or even a uniform for each level, especially for children. Even if they don't, wear a basic comfortable outfit on the first day and ask your teacher or classmates for dancewear shopping tips: you'll fit in and get to know them.

Where should I buy dancewear?

Listen to your dance instructor's advice and take a look at your local stores to get a feel of prices and trends. If you can't find anything to your taste, there are online megastores and specialized sites for each discipline that will have offers and sales, especially at the beginning of the school year and in recital season - make sure you know your measurements. It can also be fun to go to thrift shops for a bit of vintage flair, and you might find some real bargains.

What should I buy?

Some elements are useful for every style of dance, and you can buy them beforehand. In fact, you probably already own them!

  • A gym or dance bag: Extra space is always better. Choose one with wide straps!
  • A towel.
  • A toilet kit: Deodorant and band-aids are a must.
  • A tight t-shirt or tank top: Breathable fabric.
  • Yoga or jazz pants that are not too loose: In doubt, get them in black.
  • Supportive, comfortable underwear.
  • An extra shirt.

Shoes will always be the biggest investment: wear socks or sports shoes on the first day and ask your instructor.

What should I not wear to dance class?

  • Jewelry: It can be dangerous for you and for your dance partners.
  • Glasses: If you can, wear contacts. Glasses might slip or fly off. Of course, wear them if you really must - seeing what you're doing is basic.
  • Expensive or formal clothes: They will get dirty and they might even be stolen.
  • Street shoes: They will stain the floor. The same goes the other way around - if you wear your dance clothes in the street, they will last less.
What to Wear to Dance Class - Basic tips

Ballroom, Lindy Hop and Social Dancing

These styles of social dancing require clothes like the ones you would wear to an office or a date: elegant and the tiniest bit formal, but not uncomfortably so. If you've seen social dancing competitions on TV, you might think that social dancing clothes must be flashy; however, class standards are much more relaxed, and the most important thing is that you feel at ease.

What should I wear to social dancing class?

Social dancing clothes imitate "business style". Pants are preferred to jeans, for instance. However, do not wear suits. Even if dancers seem to wear them in shows, they are actually especially made and more flexible than normal suits. You can choose to wear practice skirts or dresses in order to get used to show costumes, but they should be flowing and easy to move in, and not tight.

All styles of tops are allowed in social dancing, as long as they can also be worn to an informal workplace dinner: shirts and t-shirst are fine, but careful with straps that can slip off.

What shoes should I wear to social dancing class?

While dress shoes with a low heel are preferred for both men and women, most social dancing classes allow sports shoes. However, you might want to get used to higher shoes.

Flat shoes (like Oxfords or saddle shoes) are more common in Lindy Hop, while shoes for Latin styles tend to be flashier and have higher heels.

What to Wear to Dance Class - Ballroom, Lindy Hop and Social Dancing

Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Modern Dance

These disciplines tend to focus more on solo work and uniform formations, so it's possible that your dance school has a code dictating what to wear to dance class. Nonetheless, they tend to follow the same basic guidelines.

What should I wear to dance practice?

Ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance all require tight-fitting clothes that let the teacher see and correct your lines and positions.

T-shirts and jazz pants or leggings will work for most classes. You can also wear a leotard (there is a huge variety of criss-crossing straps and lace for fancier outfits) and shorts or a short skirt over tights (it's better to have at least a pair of them). Men must wear a dance belt or compression shorts.

It's a good idea to create layers for warm-up. Legwarmers are popular, but there are also special bodysuits and wraparound jackets. Most dance classes for adults will also allow sweaters.

Do not buy or wear a tutu unless told to do so: They can be very expensive, and they're mostly only used for recitals.

It is very important to tie your hair back. If it's long, pull it into a bun, braid or ponytail. Make sure you have elastics, clips and bobby pins to spare. You can also wear a headband or bandana.

What shoes should I wear to the dance studio?

Here is where the styles part ways. On your first day, you can be barefoot or wear socks for modern dance and ballet, while sport shoes will be better for jazz and tap class.

For ballet, you will have to wear ballet slippers, that is, soft leather or satin shoes, usually pink or black. It's likely that you'll have to sew your own elastic bands to fit your feet: sewing them in criss-crossing lines is the most secure option. Remember to tighten the drawstrings, knot them and tuck in the bow. You will not be wearing pointe shoes until your feet are strong and your technique is developed: when the time comes, follow your dance instructor's advice and have them fitted.

Jazz shoes usually have low heels. Ask your instructor to see if they prefer split soles or not, and how high your heel ought to be.

Tap shoes can come with ready-made soles, or separately. Again, consult your tap dance teacher.

What to Wear to Dance Class - Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Modern Dance


Unlike in the previous styles, bulky and loose clothes can be worn to hip-hop class. It's unlikely that there will be a uniform, and you can wear flashy, bright patterns and colors if you want.

What should I wear to hip-hop class?

Clothes for hip hop class should be loose and comfortable. You can wear any kind of shirt or tank top. Long sweatpants are the best option: it's better not to expose the knees, especially if you want to breakdance. You may also wear a baseball cap - ask your instructor in case they have some protocol about it.

What shoes should I wear to hip-hop class?

Sneakers - only not the ones you wear in the street! Do not wear tennis shoes, though, since they are too thin and do not offer enough bounce. You'll lower the risk of injury by choosing cushioned, stable sports shoes, the wider the better.

What to Wear to Dance Class - Hip-hop


If you've decided to try out this trendy discipline, you're in luck! We have an entire section (with video tutorials) on Zumba, including information about what shoes to wear.

What to Wear to Dance Class - Zumba

Special Dancewear

Some dance disciplines require specialized dancewear. Ask your school or studio for guidance.

  • Aerial dancing, pole dancing and acrobatics: The risk of injury is quite high, so you should take care to wear tight clothes that do not slip and shoes with a good grip.
  • Belly dencing: The standard outfit requires a top or bra and a skirt or harem pants, as well as an ornate hip scarf. Look for specialised stores and see what's on offer!
  • Flamenco: Spanish dance requires a long skirt and perhaps castanets as an accessory.
  • Traditional dances: Folk and national dances have very old and rich traditions, and they all come with their own costume and shoes. Do some research on your chosen folk dance.

Now you have some knowledge on what to wear to dance class: Get your back ready and have fun!

If you want to read similar articles to What to Wear to Dance Class, we recommend you visit our Crafts & leisure category.

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