The Perfect Outfit For Dancing


I love it when people send in unexpected questions, like, “what should I wear dancing?”

You may want to evoke Ginger Rogers dancing in “Cheek to Cheek” — but keep in mind that at the end of every day, she apparently dumped the blood out of her shoes and he spent the rehearsals choking on the feathers from her gown. Comfort is important, too. I’m assuming no one’s asking about what to wear for, like a ballet or zumba class: that’s specialized stuff. That said, I recently started an 80’s-aerobics class and had to think about this question. Now, say what one will about American Apparel, one thing no one can accuse them of is not having ironic areobics wear. But if you’re not so hot on supporting them, you have to get creative. I took inspiration from this awesome pic of Elizabeth Taylor.

Not having an unlimited clothing budget and not being Rihanna, I couldn’t get this one, but a leotard and a scarf made me feel super-glam and only got me a few weird looks.

But I digress. What you asked was, “what do you recommend wearing to a dance situation? Not a “club” necessarily, but a party or event where dancing goes down.”

Obviously, I’d recommend some bizarre leotard-scarf combo, but let’s assume you don’t want to do that. So, having consulted with a bunch of women who either dance professionally or just dance a lot, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Comfort is key. Obvious, but true. Even if you’re going fitted or salsa-sexy, make sure you can (duh) move.
  • Move in it. Make sure the skirt doesn’t ride up and he pants don’t cut into your waist. You don’t want to be tugging. Can you throw your hands in the air? Do you care if your midriff shows? Ok, then. Personally, I don’t like a short, straight skirt, (but then my moves are kind of Ian Curtis-esque.)
  • If you’re a serious salsa or ballroom dancer, you’ve probably invested in specialized shoes, but no matter what we’re talking about, you want a shoe that doesn’t slip, doesn’t pinch, doesn’t cut into your heel. This is the moment for gel insoles. And there’s a reason professional dance shoes all have ankle-straps. Also: just remember that on a crowded dance floor, an open toe can be a dangerous proposition for all but the most nimble.
  • Think layers. Like a boyscout, you want to be able to control your heat quotient easily.
  • You want fabrics that breathe. John Travolta may have won a trophy in pure poly, but trust: you won’t be a happy camper by evening’s end. The fabric of our lives is your friend.
  • If you’re wearing a skirt that swirls, consider the panty situation. In fact, consider the panty situation regardless: you want comfort. For my money, nothing beats hanky-panky, but obviously this is a matter of personal choice. I have one friend who loves a lacy panty for just these occasions, but she also does a lot of swing-dancing, so. (Incidentally, for any such retro-undies need, I recommend this site.)

But let’s hear from you: what’s your failsafe dance floor uniform? Your go-to shoe? How do you stay comfortable? We must know!

For all of our handy Dress Code guides, go here.

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