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adult ballet attire


What is appropriate ballet attire for an adult ballet class?

I believe firmly that one should prepare both mentally and physically for ballet class.Pulling on a pair of tights & leotards help the body feel “elongated”, encouraging the lengthening of the muscles in the legs.

There is a subconscious change in your stance when you wear correct ballet attire. It’s as if you “put on” your ballet focus. You stand at the barre taller, you feel the  alignment of your hips & shoulders more keenly when the body is hugged by a leotard.

You simply don’t get the same feel in a t-shirt & pair of shorts! It can be a little embarrassing for some adult beginners to start out in this  attire. So I encourage at least 7/8th leggings and a firm fitting top at this stage, but insist that they have the correct fitted ballet shoes.


If you buy leather shoes, they will last longer than canvas. Both work very well in class.

Split sole ballet shoes tend to look nicer on the feet as they hug into your arch. Some would argue that full sole shoes make you work your feet more (which I tend to agree with ).

It really makes no difference in performance except in price & aesthetics. “Demi pointe”shoes are introduced at a pre-pointe level.

These are for those students wishing to move eventually onto pointe, in order to help one get  accustomed to the stiffer shoe, and narrower sole of a pointe shoe.


After beginner stage, I encourage dancers to wear leotard & tights. There are some gorgeous leotards available nowdays, so you can really have fun choosing colour, lace, floral etc.

If budget is a concern, a simple black leotard online can be purchased at a reasonable price. Some like to add a chiffon ballet wrap skirt to cover the hips a little, or black ¾  or stirrup tights over the leotard /tights makes for a nice sleek look.

Leg warmers, – half and full may be added in winter, as well as a wrap around top. Wool is best, and form fitting. Form fitting clothing helps your teacher pick up critical alignment issues that will affect the development of your technique.

Drooping  elbows hiding under a batwing top can’t be seen, nor a bent knee under baggy tracksuit pants! However..I do GET IT when we  feel the need to cover some of our less attractive body bits!

So if you do want to wear a trackpant or a longer top, keep it to the lighter weight, simple straighter styles, so the teacher can still see the lines you are producing.


Avoid using street clothing as ballet attire. Create a separation of your normal world and your ballet world, both in clothing & hairstyle.

If time permits, dress into your leotard and tights at home, and cover up with a coat or tracksuit. Do your hair into a bun, even apply a little lipstick or gloss so you mentally prepare for the class ahead. This creates an anticipation of a performance, and transports you mentally to a “stage” rather than the gym!

Ballet is art. Taking time to prepare for your art, will make a difference to what you create. Your hair  should be pulled off the face , preferably into a bun  if long, or with a headband, if short. Remove any bulky jewellery. Invest  piece by piece in the real attire.

Keep them especially for ballet class only and feel the transformation mentally as you enter the studio, looking & feeling like a dancer, and ready to dance!


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