PART 2 What to Wear
We’ve gone over some inadvisable things to wear in Part 1, but you want advice about what to wear, right? From this non-fashion plate, who hardly knows what most articles of clothing are called, it’s a bit of a stretch to offer fashion advice. So, in Part 2 I’ll try to give you some guidance on what works for dance, something I’m much more familiar with. Take it all with a grain of salt, since attire is above all a personal decision. Also, know that many people come directly from work and wear everything from suits to scrubs.
The Art of It All
Dance costuming has a rich and long history that’s worth exploring, but you don’t need to know every detail of that history to be well attired for a dance class, and you certainly don’t need a “costume” to learn to dance. Instead, think of this history as your inspiration. With two primary aims—to look good and to feel good—dancewear not only permits movement, but enhances it. Fabrics with drape, shine and stretch have displayed dancers’ movement at its best for decades. And if you dress as you envision a dancer, you’ll be that much closer to feeling like a dancer.
Guys, if you heard the words “drape, shine and stretch” like a church bell tolling your masculinity’s demise, let me make a few points: 1. This does not necessarily apply to you; 2. Stiff and/or baggy pants will camouflage your leg action, if your goal is to keep the teacher off your case; 3. You still can’t hide what your feet are doing; 4. In an effort to get me into something like Latin pants (see below), my girlfriend actually made me try on some kind of rayon-y, drapey ladies’ pants, which all hit about mid-calf (size 12, if you’re keeping track); 5. For Latin competition, I wear a red, sparkly bodysuit. Seriously.
The Fabulousness of It All
Ladies, you always look lovely, and far be it from me to improve on the care and thoughtfulness you put into your attire. Instead, I’ll solicit some pointers from my girlfriend and hope to stay out of trouble.
Me: Hey Girlfriend, what do you recommend ladies wear to dance class?
GF: Oh my goodness. Whatever’s clean.
Me: I’m typing now. This is for the blog.
GF: Ohhhhhh! Okay, hang on a sec. Ladies do well in skirts and dresses, or flowing pants, because they show movement well. I like a form-fitting top and a knee-length, not-too-restrictive skirt that’s been subjected to the twirl test. How’s that?
Me: Sounds good to me. I recommended shiny and stretchy. And drapey.
GF: Yeah, shiny and stretchy, but that doesn’t mean a club-style, lace-up, leopard-print mini-dress.
Me: [Long pause…] Well, what does that mean?
GF: Silk has a nice sheen. Who knows. I think I actually wore a lace-up, animal print mini-dress once, so I can’t talk anymore.
I think I backed her into a corner there. Touché!
At the end of the day, dance is both sport and art. Spart! It’s the nature of artistic expressiveness that it can’t be reduced to a simple, formulaic answer, and that’s one of the things that I love about dance. Experiment. Try things out. You won’t know until you try. And if all else fails, err on the side of fabulous.