When we conjure up images of ballerinas in our minds, many will imagine the stereotypical ballerina, wearing a leotard, tights, a slicked-back bun, and ballet shoes. However, for individuals new to ballet or those who are purely curious, you may be wondering if there are other appropriate alternatives. For example, could socks be worn with ballet flats?
Although unconventional and straying from traditional norms, socks may be worn with ballet flats. However, make certain that your socks are not limiting your foot mobility and check with your studio to make sure you are abiding by the dress code.
Tights are a staple item in the ballet world, but what purpose do they serve? Can socks serve and meet these same needs? Join us as we unravel these truths.
Can You Wear Socks With Ballet Flats?
Socks may be appropriate to wear with ballet flats, depending on the dress code of the studio. Especially for emerging and beginner ballet dancers, socks may offer more comfortable support compared to tights or dancing barefoot in ballet flats.
If you are not used to wearing tights, you may experience some discomfort and uneasiness, but this is completely valid. Permitted your studio allows it, socks can act as a great alternative. However, before jumping on the sock wagon, a few considerations and explorations should be made.
The first consideration is the thickness of the sock and how this affects the fit of your ballet flats. If the chosen sock is too thick, then you may have to act like Cinderella’s stepsisters and force your foot into the shoe. This type of fit is unideal, as it restricts mobility and articulation in your feet.
In addition, ballet flats are relatively thin, as it is important for ballet dancers to feel connected and grounded to the floor. Utilizing socks that are too thick and restrict mobility can have a negative impact on foot articulation, posture, and balance.
Therefore, it is extremely important to self-explore with your various sock options before attending ballet class to see what works for you.
While rummaging through your sock drawer, look for options that are not visually distracting and thick. Thin ankle or calf socks of a neutral color will provide you with both an effective and respectable outcome. You will be able to articulate your feet and ankles more, which will serve you best during a ballet class.
Recommended Ballet Socks for Purchase
1. KEMFORD Ankle Compression Sleeve
The KEMPFORD Ankle Compression Sleeve is a great option for those who are looking for a ballet sock with more arch support and ankle stability. These lightweight and thin compression socks can easily fit into ballet flats. With the open toes, dancers may enjoy the feeling of direct contact with their ballet shoe and the traction within the ballet shoe may be better.
2. Presade Closed Toe Ankle Moderate Compression Sleeve
This product is very similar to the KEMPFORD Ankle Compression Sleeve listed above and is also an ankle compression sock. However, the difference lies in this socks full coverage nature. Because the sock is closed toe, it offers a fuller ankle support. In addition, the compression allows for better circulation, aids in reducing swelling, and quickens recovery time. This high-quality option is perfect for individuals who are looking for full foot coverage, comfort, and ankle/arch support.
3. Hue Sheer Ankle Socks
The Hue Sheer Ankle Socks are a more generic option compared to the previous two. In addition, these socks come in a pack of three and are roughly the same price as the two other listed options. These are simple, modest, very thin socks that can easily fit in ballet flats. For those looking for a simple and cheap pack of socks to wear with ballet flats, these would be a great option.
The Purpose of Tights
Although socks can certainly be worn with ballet flats, it is important to understand the function tights serve in order to make a comprehensive decision. Tights are worn and recommended to be worn by ballet dancers for a multitude of reasons.
The first reason being tights keep the lower-body muscles warm, which is important for safety concerns. Pulling a muscle by not being fully warmed up is a ballet dancer’s worst nightmare. In this case, tights act as a security precaution.
Tights are also useful because they are form-fitting. By offering some form of compression, tights can promote blood circulation and decrease swelling in legs.
By increasing blood circulation, your muscles are able to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. This gives your body and fatigued leg muscles due to exertion the energy to continue. Therefore, tights, although thin in nature, can promote better circulation.
In addition, due to the translucent nature of tights, they allow teachers and onlookers to better observe the shape of the muscles and the overall movement in the dancer’s body. This is important in ballet, as teachers can more easily make corrections and observe if a movement is being initiated and performed properly.
In terms of footed tights, which are tights that fully cover the foot, these kinds of tights may be useful for lengthening the life of ballet flats. They are also useful for preventing blistering and foot infections. Many dancers prefer wearing convertible tights and rolling them to their mid-calves so there is no barrier between their feet and the shoe.
However, by ridding of this barrier, the sweat and grime from their feet is absorbed by the shoe itself, as opposed to the tights. This can cause the aforementioned infections and blisters, as well as the deterioration of the shoe.
Now that we have explored and defined the various functions and purposes tights serve, let’s dive into some important questions. Should a ballet dancer wear tights or socks? What is the benefit of wearing tights instead of socks or vice versa?
Socks vs Tights
When dressing for daily life, the decision between socks and tights is simple. Although it depends on the outfit, socks will almost always win. However, when it comes to dressing for ballet class, the answer is not this simple for individuals, especially beginners; there are positives and negatives for each.
In terms of socks, the overarching positives are that they may offer extra arch and ankle support and that they can be easily found in your home. However, a major negative is that it may be difficult to find thin socks around the house that do not limit foot mobility when wearing ballet flats.
In terms of tights, the overarching positives are that they function to promote blood circulation throughout your leg muscles and that they can be easily bought. Effective ballet tights can be found anywhere.
An additional positive is that tights are widely and universally respected in the dance world. However, a negative is that tights are sleek in nature and may cause the heels of ballet shoes to slip off.
Do Professional Ballerinas Wear Socks with Ballet Flats?
It is quite uncommon for professional ballet dancers to wear socks with ballet flats. Most choose to either cover their feet with tights or dance barefoot in ballet flats. There may be some exceptions, but it is not the norm.
For example, Misty Copeland, who is a principal dancer with ABT, has been seen on multiple occasions to take technique class barefoot within her ballet shoes. This is just her personal preference, and these personal preferences and choices may change every day depending on their bodies’ needs.
The ballet attire in terms of professional companies has evolved into something that is far less strict than it used to be. However, all the traditional elements, including a leotard, tights, a neat bun, and ballet shoes are still worn.
Socks can certainly be worn with ballet flats, permitted the studio and teachers allow it. In this case, the answer truly depends on the dancer’s preference and comfortability. Although tights are traditionally worn, they do not need to be worn in ballet flats. Socks can be a great option for those who are looking for extra ankle and arch support and also for those who simply do not own ballet tights. Moreover, wear what makes you happy and most comfortable.