Dressing for Ballet: A Guide

June 8, 2021

Does anybody ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a ballerina as she gracefully moves across the stage in swift glides, gently moving as Swan Lake plays in the background? Stephen King describes the expression on a dancer’s face as “unmistakably joy”. Ballet reminds everybody of what it means to be passionate, devoted, and faithful to an exacting art form. Ballet dancers are some of the most elegant people one can meet. But glory comes at the price of hundreds of hours of relentless practice that results in perfection. When one seeks to take up ballet as a hobby or a profession, one needs to look out for significant wardrobe changes that will inexplicably occur. Here are some dance clothes that are crucial for a ballerina.

Dancing dress

Photo by Olga Pukhalskaya on Unsplash



The ballerina wardrobe is incomplete without a magnificent tutu. A tutu is a traditional ballet costume attached to a bodice. While classical ballet tutus were short and firm, modern tutus are flexible and flowy. They also come in various lengths, ranging from calf-length materials to ankle-length pieces. Depending upon the ballerina’s style, tut’s materials also span extensive preferences such as muslin, nylon, and tulle. Pancake and powder puff are two of the most popular choices of tutus. The primary purpose of a tutu is to highlight the dancer’s graceful legs and poses.


Shopping for dancer’s tights can be an overwhelming experience for a beginner. The sheer variety of this essential part of the ballerina costume is difficult to wade through for a novice ballerina. Dancewear consultants recommend classic tights as the perfect beginner’s tights. They are strong, double knit, and are perfect to wear for a rehearsal class and a performance alike. Capri style tights come up to mid-calf and are suitable for dancers performing barefoot. Convertibles are the best for dancers who sometimes perform without shoes but prefer tights to wear in more than one way.


A leotard is a body-hugging single piece costume essential for any ballerina. It covers the dancer’s body from the upper body and tapers down under the torso. Apart from ballet dancers, leotards are also indispensable costumes for acrobats and gymnasts. They offer heightened mobility and unrestricted movement to performers. Leotards come in different types of sleeves, thus enabling the dancer’s arms to move freely. Ballet dancers often prefer a unitard leotard for rehearsals and practice sessions since they are durable and tear-resistant. During performances, dancers wear full-length seamed leotards covering the whole feet and slip into ballet flats or pointe shoes over them.

Pointe shoes

Pointe work is one of the most crucial routines in a ballet dancer’s career. In pointe work, the dancer balances their body almost entirely on the tips of their toes. As a part of classical ballet, pointe work requires intense training and resilience. It is achievable with the aid of pointe shoes. These shoes come in different colours but are preferable in light pink in the ballet scene. Pointe shoes have a box placed in the front part of the shoes, supporting the dancer’s toes. Similarly, a firm material known as a shank at the sole provides the arch that is necessary for pointe work. The shoes have ribbons attached to the seams so that the footwear stays snugly fastened to the dancer’s feet.


Ballet is a dance form that explores the limits of human agility, grace, and resilience. It is a mode of expression that transports people into a world of fantasy and magic. An impeccable taste in dance clothes is the best friend a budding ballerina can have. After all, if beauty doesn’t reside in the delicate stitches of a dancer’s tutus, is there any hope for beauty?

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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