Well, except to wash them, of course.
(This post was (almost) written a good long while ago but never published. All the points are still just as valid though.)
I now take both ballet and modern in my leotards/tights/shorts. I usually wear knee-length sweatpants over the tights/leotard combo in modern and an incredibly useful piece of clothing that combines a skirt with shorts to ballet. None of my classes has a dress code (obviously, or it wouldn’t have taken me so long to get the proper attire).
It turns out I have been very wrong in several assumptions I made about ballet clothes without having worn them first. Here are the prejudices I had to get rid of:
Prejudice: Leotards cannot be worn over a sports bra
Truth: Maybe not the camisole or the super-cut-out-back styles, but the basic short-sleeved leos work great. I can be a perfectionist with clothes. Visible labels send me into a blind rage and I prefer my bra straps mostly hidden. This is especially true for sports bras, which are utterly inelegant. If you see a good-looking sports bra, it is likely rubbish at its job, which is keeping things from bouncing. Bouncing things can range from distractingly unpleasant to outright painful, depending on how endowed you happen to be, and almost any clothing claiming to have an integrated bra is a bad joke to anyone with a larger cup size. But I did not have any trouble finding leos that hide all the straps perfectly!
Prejudice: Ballet clothes are unflattering because they are tight
Truth: They make me look great! As opposed to street clothes, which are usually too tight in some places and too loose in others, distorting your figure, the leos cling so close they look and feel like a second skin. If you are moderately comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror naked and only get body-image issues when wearing clothes, give ballet clothes a try. Sure, skin-tight clothing might not make you look your best while you’re slouching at your desk, but when you’re trying to dance, it looks great. The close fit also prevents wobble-prone body parts from wobbling.
Prejudice: Ballet clothes are uncomfortable
Truth: Ballet clothes are tight but stretchy, which makes them really comfortable to me. When I get home from class, I’m usually too lazy to change. This results in me eating supper on the couch in front of the TV in my leotard. (Fortunately for my SO, I don’t sweat much.) The nice lady at the ballet shop set me up with Capezio Ultra Soft tights which are soft and breathable and lovely. They also don’t cut in at the waist. That is a huge bonus – most high waistbands give me nausea within minutes. The clothes are very comfortable during class, as well. The reason I started wearing leos to modern is because I spend that much less time readjusting wayward clothing after swings and rolls. Nothing slides down, nothings rides up – BLISS!
Prejudice: Wearing ballet clothes will make me look like a dance impostor.
Truth: I look like A Danceperson. More importantly, I feel like A Danceperson. The «skirt» (meaning my overlaid shorts, Freja by Bloch, if I’m not mistaken) is the best at this. It looks its best during turns and jumps and makes me both happy and motivated every time I catch a glimpse of it twirling in the mirror. Somehow, class feels more proper this way. It also conveniently hides any double-butt that might be caused by a leotard on dancepersons not possessed of glutes of steel. More of my classmates are following suit (haha!) with the attire. M. is using it against us: last week, she jokingly told us, «If you all buy proper ballet clothes, you have to try harder in class!»
Prejudice: Dance-specific warm-ups are just like regular clothes but cost more.
Truth: With these things, damn winter can come all it wants. The only ballet warm-up I own is a teensy little shrug with short sleeves and a wide round neck front and back. It doesn’t cover much and, to be honest, I only bought it because it looks cute. After I first wore it, I realised that it probably only covers so little in order to prevent heat stroke and/or spontaneous combustion. That thing will warm you up better than anything I’ve ever worn before, and that includes woolen sweaters, down jackets and specialised snowboarding clothing designed to withstand arctic (or more precisely alpine) temperatures. Should winter decide to come back this season, I’m definitely buying more warm-ups (and possibly wearing them to the office under my regular clothes).
What were your experiences with dance clothes? Did you hate them or love them when you first got them? What about now?
PS: Both Bloch and Capezio sound hi-la-ri-ous in Russian, bearing similarities to slang and curse words as well as the word for «flea». Not elegant at all!
PPS: And then, sometimes, I’ll show up in class wearing a hila-a-a-arious t-shirt.
I know I was all like «I will hide my face so my identity will remain a mystery forever», but I’m too lazy to photoshop it with the mirror there. But never mind my face, my arm looks like I’m shielding myself from the sun and my other hand is trying to strangle the barre. Still, be nice, my shirt does say I’m the okayest!