What do I wear?
Often times students entering the ballet world for the first time, or after a bit of a hiatus, are not quite sure what to wear. General rule of thumb: you want to wear an ensemble that allows the instructor to see that you are in correct alignment. Alignment in the body is a huge part of success in ballet. If the instructor cannot see how you are organizing your skeletal system and core, it is very difficult to guide you towards good technique.
So, on your first day, it is not uncommon to come to class in yoga attire and socks; this is acceptable ... for the first day. But, once you know you are going to continue taking classes, you are going to want to invest in a few items of dancewear. Here is what I suggest:
I prefer canvas, split-sole, demi-pointe (slippers). Others like the leather shoes. I find that the canvas shoes fit more like a sock, and in demi-pointe shoes, you want this kind of snug fit. Often times the elastic is already sewn for you, other brands require that you sew it yourself. Women will usually wear a color of shoe that matches their tights (this creates a beautiful line without any disruption of color).
Men traditionally wear a white or black ballet slipper. Again, the preference regarding the canvas shoe would apply.
The leotard is the dancer's bodysuit. Classically, ballet students will wear a basic black colored leo, but we are adults, therefore, if you want to jazz it up with color, be my guest.
Your leotard should offer support in the bust area, be easy to move in, and inspire confidence. In other words, go for something that makes you feel beautiful.
In ballet, we are athletes and actors. We work hard and sweat hard, but our job is to appear effortless, graceful, and sublime. Often times the right leotard can inspire just this.
Men may wear a tight-fitting t-shirt and leggings. Classically, men will wear darker leggings and a lighter shirt, but you are welcome to mix it up. If you prefer a looser fitted legging to the tighter ones, I understand. But again, be sure that your alignment can be seen. Also, as you progress in your studies, things get a bit larger in the jumping areas, therefore things get "bouncy". You might want to consider a dance belt at this juncture.
Tights are worn either under or over your leotard. Tights are usually worn in a pink hue. Often times adult dancers will choose a black tight, and I have no issue with this choice. When I feel a little too exposed in just the pink tights, I will wear leggings over my tights. I like the way this feels in that the extra layer keeps my legs warm (muscles like to be warm - they perform better), and they add a little extra compression, which also is helpful. Again, the most important factor is that the instructor can see your alignment (shoulders, ribs, hips, knees, ankles).
Not everyone can pull off the ballet bun, but if you can, please do. Otherwise, ensure that your hair is pulled back, off of your face, and neatly and securely fastened. There is nothing more distracting than hair in the dancer's face when she or he is trying to turn, jump, or move in any way. Also, it can be quite distracting to other dancers when your hair or hair accessories come flying out! Imagine Michael Jordan trying to play basketball with a mess of hair in his face. Exactly! It's ridiculous.
Leg warmers are welcome at the barre and at the center. These are not just cool accessories made more popular by the 1980s. these little devices actually serve a purpose: they help to warm and keep warm, leg muscles. When my legs are tired or tight, you will always see me slipping on some leg warmers.
Skirts can be a beautiful accent to your classical ensemble, but again, this should not distract from the instructor's ability to see your proper alignment. Often times dancers will choose a shorter or sheer skirt, or simply forego the skirt until center work, or all together.
I have organized some items, with links, to help you better navigate the dancewear world.