Dancewear Advice for Adults

Dancers foot

The dancewear that you choose for your adult beginners classes doesn't need to be very specific or expensive.

It's highly likely that you already have clothes in your closet that will more than suffice for your first adult dance classes.

You're a beginner, so the teacher is going to be more concerned that you just turn up, rather than in what you wear.

And of course the uniform code for kids attending formal dance schools is hugely relaxed for adult beginners.

However, one of the things that causes some confusion with beginners is that a studio or dance teacher will frequently say "Just wear whatever you feel comfortable in".

Well, we feel comfortable in our PJ's but they would look a little odd if you wore them to class.

So let's explain a little more what you need to know.

(And of course, when you read our sections on specific dances, we go into much more detail about what each individual dance requires and any special clothes or shoes that are needed...)

Dancewear for Adults

As mentioned, your dancewear should be comfortable. By that, we mean it shouldn't either restrict your movement (because it's too tight) or get in your way (because it's too loose).

Clothes should not irritate you or need to be hauled around, picked out of places where they shouldn't be or generally rearranged every few movements.

Check your dance clothes for move-ability. Do they stay in place?

The ideal clothes to dance in give you a full range of movement but are fitted sufficiently that you almost don't notice them.

For the vast majority of dance classes for adults, leggings worn with a tee shirt are absolutely fine.

Ballet Class for Beginners Shoes and Clothes

What you wear on your legs should allow the teacher to see the line of your leg.

In other words, they will want to be able to tell whether you are standing on a completely straight leg or whether your knee is relaxed and slightly bent. Can you tell the difference when you have your dancewear on?

There are obvious exceptions to this. There are some dances for which fairly elaborate costumes are worn, even in basic classes, for example with Flamenco and Middle Eastern dances where wearing a flowing skirt is traditional.

But there are very few good teachers who will expect you to turn up fully kitted out at your first lesson. So even in these classes, it's possible to dance your first lesson or two in leggings and a vest before you decide to buy anything special.

And generally, it is the teacher who is the best person to provide the clothing or recommend the places to get it.

First Lesson...

So don't be too concerned on your first lesson. Just follow the studio or teacher's advice for what to wear for your first class, and then any additional clothing items can be acquired as you progress through a number of lessons.

But, it's always a good idea to go to dance classes prepared with a variety of dance clothes - at least a spare pair of socks and a few thin layers of clothing that you can take off and put on according to how hot you feel.

Social and Partner Dancing...

And for social and partner dance classes held in a club rather than in a studio, does the club have a dress code? Remember to check that out.

Social and partner dance doesn't require any special clothing or even any dancewear - the classes are learnt wearing your ordinary everyday clothes. But if you prefer jeans then be very sure that the club you are learning in allows them.

Ladies, for social dances, it's always an idea, even for complete beginners, to wear a fuller skirt or if you're in trousers, tie a fringed scarf around your waist and hip area. It will bring accent to your moves that will instantly make them look more authentic.

Dance Shoes for Adults

The one thing that you might need to be a little more specific on are your dance shoes.

There are some classes (like Tap Dance, obviously) where you will only really be able to dance the steps if you have the right shoes on. But even with Tap dance, it's possible to do your first class or two in smooth-soled dress or formal shoes - just something that will make a sound when the sole strikes the floor.

The same goes for Ballet - you really ought to have proper Ballet slippers on to get the most from your dancing. But until you've done a lesson or two and decided to stick with it, doing your class in a pair of socks will be fine.

Hip Hop ance Sneakers

So dance shoes shouldn't present too much of a financial outlay for the beginner dancer.

Dance shoes for social or partner dancing (like Latin or Ballroom dance) do need to have a flat, smooth sole. This will enable you to turn smoothly - which sneakers are terrible for. So make sure that your dance shoes don't have a rubber sole or strong grip.

Sneakers are OK for some dance classes, though. Mainly you'll see them in Street and Hip Hop classes and some Jazz classes.

So there's a range of dance shoes that you'll come across in beginners classes. Give the studio a call before your class and find out what they recommend.

Sometimes the worst thing you can do is guess, so check with your teacher and make sure you don't make any expensive mistakes.

But as mentioned, for your first classes, you shouldn't need anything specific or that costs a lot.


Please be very careful about dance clothes and shoes sizing. 

Much of the time, regardless of whether you're buying clothes or shoes, or what manufacturer or label you're buying from, the sizing will be strange.

Your normal clothes and shoe sizes don't apply to dance wear or dance shoes.

The best thing to do is either:-

  • buy your dancewear in person, at a store, and try everything on - don't ever assume something will fit because it appears to be your normal everyday size and don't judge fit by eye.  Always, always try things on.  Or
  • when ordering online, always read up on what the site guidelines tell you about sizing, or if you're buying from somewhere like Amazon, read the comments and reviews thoroughly - most people will post whether they've found a garment or shoe too small or too big when they've ordered it in their usual size.

So don't make any assumptions about what size dance clothes or shoes you'll need.  That way you won't be disappointed (and won't have to go to the dance studio in a leotard that's three sizes too big and with miniscule shoes that you crammed your poor feet into).

Dancewear Advice Tips


Avoid Grey Marl.  It is such a popular material and color for dancewear and there is a lot of it about. When you first put it on, it'll probably look sensational.
But beware. It shows up sweat marks like no other fabric. And your sweat marks are probably going to be in places that you'd prefer the eye not to be drawn to... It just doesn't look good, so stick to other colors.


Long hair should be worn pinned up and out of the way so you can see the teacher. You shouldn't have to fish it out of your eyes, nose, mouth or anyone else's face for that matter. And it helps to keep you cool if you pin it up off the back of your neck.


If you wear glasses make sure they are firmly fitted in place. Wear minimum, if any, jewelry. You should always imagine dancing with a partner and what a disaster it would be if you got your earring or bracelet entangled in their costume.

So those are our best tips for dance shoes and clothes for the complete beginner. They don't need to be anything special or cost a lot. Chances are that you've got enough stuff in your closet already that will mean you can at least dance your first lesson before taking the plunge and buying specific kit.

Next, our guide to dance teachers...

› Dancewear