The beginning of a new school year has all the feels – excitement, some nerves, many questions and lots of back-to-school shopping. And when it comes to going back to dance in the fall, your child needs “supplies”, too, whether they’re headed back in person or virtually. Your little one may have had a growth spurt over the summer and have outgrown their ballet shoes, or maybe they’re moving up to a new level with a new dress code requirement.
Perhaps your child’s studio has given out a list of what’s needed for each class, each style and each level. That’s a good start. But do you feel like a “dummy” trying to decipher what it all means? Have no fear! We are here to help talk you through the dance attire lingo and offer some product suggestions that are sure to leave your dancer looking and feeling great, which often leads to dancing great as well! “Split-sole” got you confused? “Convertible” makes you just think of cars? Well, by the end of this, you’ll be a dress code expert!
Tights come in more colors and styles than you may think!
No matter the style of dance your child is signed up for this fall, they will need tights. And if your child is taking multiple classes a week, plan to stock up on several pairs so you’re not over your head in laundry! Is your dancer going to the studio strictly for a ballet class one day? Then these Adult Footed Tights (child size, too) are perfect. Check if your studio director wants all dancers in pink tights, or if tights should match the dancer’s skin tone. Só Dança has a wide range of tights available in every skin tone!
However, if your child is going to the studio for a ballet class and then a barefoot lyrical or modern class afterward, then you’ll want to be sure to purchase the Adult Convertible Tights (or child size), enabling the dancer to transition from one shoe or style to the other. These tights have a small hole on the sole of the foot, so dancers can wear them footed for ballet under their ballet shoes and then roll them up for a barefoot or change-of-shoe class. If your child is taking pointe, the convertible tights are ideal for applying toe pads and pointe shoes as well. Convertible tights come in a Mesh Seamed version as well, which offers a slightly different material and faint seam in the back of the leg, which gives a flattering line for ballet. Teenage dance students and professionals sometime prefer these; for the little ones, stick with the regular ones.
Does your child have only a modern class one day? Then that day, dress your dancer in Footless Tights, which also come in various skin tones. Double-check if your studio director wants dancers in black tights for modern or in skin tone tights.
See if your studio has a preference on how dancers wear their tights. Sometimes, older dance students and professionals wear their tights over their leotard, but often for younger students in training, tights under a leotard is preferred.
Shoes: Go for the classics
The best dance shoes don’t have many frills and thrills. Leave it up to the classic styles to be the best fitted and most appropriate for your dancer’s development. Só Dança’s best-selling Stretch Canvas Split Sole Ballet Slipper has a classic, well-fitted design, offering comfort and protection as well. (And the “split sole” just means the bottom has a separate toe and heel pad. Really young students should probably wear a full-soled ballet shoe.) Like the brand’s line of tights, Só Dança’s shoes come in every skin tone. Again, check with your studio director about what color shoe is preferred. Boy students often wear black or white shoes, while the girls often wear pink or flesh-colored, so know what’s best for your studio.
For tap shoes, you cannot beat Só Dança’s incredibly reasonable and classically designed Tyette “Tamar” Tap Shoe (also available in child sizes as the Tabitha). The shoe has a comfortable, flexible sole, and comes in black, caramel and white. Plus, this is one of Só Dança’s vegan shoes!
For jazz shoes, there are two classic studio styles – something like Só Dança’s Lace-Up Jazz Shoe (comes in child sizes, too) and the gore boot (AKA slip-on) Leather Jazz Shoe (child sizes as well). Your choice may be just a matter of preference, but both styles are supportive and offer just the right amount of protection and traction.
Leotards: Color and cut are all you need to know
In a world of a million leotards (literally…maybe even more), it would be easy to become overwhelmed. But perhaps the two most important factors when it comes to buying your child’s leotard are color and cut. Does your studio have a color-coded dress code? Many do. So check the studio’s website or send an email to the director. Often, each level must wear a different color leotard, and you certainly don’t want your little one feeling (and looking) left out. Some studios even give links or suggestions for specific leotards to purchase, making your life easier! But if not, Só Dança has leotards in just about every shade and color on the spectrum, so you’ll undoubtedly find what you need there.
And how about leotard cut? If you’re familiar with everyday clothing, then you probably know terms like “spaghetti strap” or “camisole” and “cap-sleeve” or “long-sleeve”. And guess what? Dance leotards luckily use the same vocabulary! So then it’s just a matter of, again, checking with your studio’s preferences on style. Some studios prefer a very uniform look, so every dancer in the class will be wearing a maroon spaghetti strap leotard, for example. But others offer some flexibility on style, and your young dancer can show a little of their personality and a touch of flair with their leotard choice. Leotards, more than any other staple dancewear item, can be so much fun to shop for, so let your child have some say in their leotard pick!
Heads-up: there may be a couple leotard terms that may make you go “hmm”. “Shelf-lined” describes a thin bra-type liner attached to the inside of a leotard. “Fully front lined” means there is a thin fabric lining the whole front of the leotard. Both offer protection so that your young pre-teen or teen dancers don’t need to wear a bra underneath their leotard. If a leotard has a “front pinch”, it means there’s a small adjustable “bunching” at the chest of the leotard, offering a flattering neckline. And “princess seams” are a type of seam that run from the waist to the outer bust, giving a flattering line.
Things like ballet skirts, warm-up jackets and wrap sweaters are fun accessories and sometimes come in handy for colder weather, but make sure your studio is okay with the extra dancewear in class. Some schools opt for a very traditional ballet look of just leotard and tights, for example. And don’t forget a good, spacious dance bag for your young dancer to carry their dance shoes (Don’t wear them outdoors! Travel to the studio in street shoes!), water bottle and anything else they need for their classes.