What to Wear to a Ballet Class? (Explained for Beginners)

Figuring out what to wear to a ballet class can be a daunting task. There are so many different options from warm-ups to skirts to different colors of leotards. 

Some studios have a strict dress code which can help you decide what to wear. Otherwise, it is generally safe to wear a black leotard and pink tights to class.  

Choosing what to wear in class can be difficult on its own, but additionally you have to figure out what to wear before and after class. 

What to Wear to a Ballet Class

What Should You Wear to a Ballet Class?

Many studios have dress codes. Some specify an exact leotard for each level, while others only specify a color and/or brand. Another popular choice is allowing all dancers to wear any black leotard. Make sure to check out the specific studio’s dress code before choosing what to wear. 

If there isn’t a dress code specified, you can most likely wear any color leotard with pink tights. However, it is always safe to start with a black leotard if you’re not sure. That way you can see what others wear and what you would feel comfortable wearing next time. 

Some studios require skirts to be worn by female dancers, some don’t allow skirts at all. Some only allow skirts during pointe classes. Check the website and even call ahead if you aren’t sure. You can always bring a skirt just in case. 

What Should You Wear Before and After Class?

It is generally bad etiquette to wear a leotard and tights in public without some sort of warm-up over it. Popular choices include sweatpants, leggings, running shorts, athletic jackets, or fleece jackets or vests. You can also choose to change in and/or out of your ballet clothes completely when arriving or departing the studio. 

Once in the building, it is common to have warm-ups on until class begins. You can stretch and otherwise warm up during this time. Common choices are leg warmers, jackets or vests, leggings, booties over your ballet shoes, etc. 

Some teachers allow their dancers to stay in their warm-ups for a small portion or the entire class depending on the situation. Just follow the lead of the other dancers and direction from the teacher. 

What Type of Tights Should You Wear?

There are quite a few different styles of ballet tights. The most important difference is convertible vs non-convertible. Convertible tights have a hole on the bottom of the foot that allows you to roll them up to your ankles. 

This allows your feet to be bare if needed for travel, warm-up, or a certain type of class. Convertible tights are also helpful for changing into pointe shoes if spacers or toe pads are needed. A popular choice for tights are Body Wrappers Women’s Convertible Tights

Non-convertible tights don’t have a hole. This means that they must stay covering the entire foot the entire time. This is not ideal for most professional and high-level dancers since they spend so much time at the studio and are changing in and out of pointe shoes often. 

Generally, all ballet tights worn in class will be pink for females. Different studios have different color standards for male dancers, but black, white, and gray are common choices. 

What Leotard Should You Wear?

There are thousands of leotards on the market. There are countless styles, colors, and material combinations. Choosing what to buy boils down to personal preference and studio dress code. There are many styles of leotards, but one of the biggest differences is sleeve length. 

When choosing the proper sleeve length, there are a couple of factors to consider. The first thing to consider is climate. Choosing longer sleeves in the winter might be a good idea, for example. Another thing to consider is how much you anticipate sweating and getting warm from the class. 

Another difference between leotards in neckline and back design. These are entirely personal preference outside of any studio regulations on modesty. Wear a leotard that you feel comfortable in. You don’t want to be distracted by an ill-fitting leotard or a neckline that is too low for your comfort. 

When in doubt, a simple black camisole leotard is a great way to go. This Capezio leotard has adjustable straps as well, so you don’t have to worry about the neckline not working for your body shape. 

What Shoes Should You Wear to Ballet Class?

Traditional ballet classes require dancers to wear soft ballet slippers. Usually these come with elastics pre-sewed. However, some studios require ribbons to be added to the slippers which can be done in addition to the elastics or in place of the elastics depending on personal preference. 

Some less-traditional ballet classes may allow dancers to wear socks or another type of dance shoe, but this isn’t very common. If it isn’t specified, ballet slippers are the best option. 

Ballet slippers come in both leather and canvas. Leather is used more often in younger children and canvas is more common for everyone else. This is personal preference, though, except when specified. Canvas slippers are almost always acceptable. This pair of Bloch slippers is a good place to start. 

Pink ballet shoes are always acceptable, but some dancers choose to match their skin tone with their tights and slippers. This is usually acceptable unless otherwise stated in the studio’s dress code.

Some ballet classes require pointe shoes. This is only for advanced dancers. If you’re a beginner taking a class that includes pointe work, it is generally recommended to take the class in flat ballet slippers until you are ready for pointe work. Please consult a professional before attempting pointe work. 

How Should You Wear Your Hair to a Ballet Class?

Hair is almost exclusively worn in a tight bun for ballet class. If your hair isn’t long enough for a bun, just make sure it is secure and out of your face. 

Some studios require that everyone’s buns are in the same place, either high, mid, or low. If this isn’t a requirement, do whatever feels the most secure and comfortable for you to dance in. 

Always make sure the bun is secure and all flyaways are under control. Many dancers use hairspray and hair nets that match their hair color to keep their bun tidy throughout class. 

Don’t add too many accessories to your bun. Some dancers like to add flowers, barrettes, headbands, or scrunchies, but you should wait to do this until you feel confident in your bun and you know if your studio allows these types of accessories or not. 

What Should Males Wear to a Ballet Class?

Male ballet dancers usually wear a white t-shirt with tights, often gray or black, but colors vary from studio to studio. You should also wear soft ballet shoes, often in a matching color to the tights. Other popular colors for shoes include white or black.

If there isn’t a specified dress code, any white, black, or gray combination of t-shirt, tights, and shoes should be just fine. You can always call ahead if you want more guidance. 

Things to Remember

Don’t stress about what to wear to ballet class. Most places will be forgiving on your first day. Just make sure to follow any dress code guidelines provided and you should be good to go. Black leotards and pink tights and shoes are almost always a safe choice when no dress code is provided. 

Remember to keep your hair slicked back and secure. Make sure your dancewear is comfortable and easy to move in. Wear warm-ups over your leotard and tights before and after class. 

Remember to organize your dance bag in advance before class so you don’t forget anything.

Finally, wear what you feel confident and comfortable in. Ballet class should be a fun experience. Don’t let your dancewear hold you back.