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What Should my Children Wear Doing Ballet?

20 January 2023

To begin with children can dance barefoot in loose-fitting shorts and t-shirts. As long as they can move freely they will enjoy the class. Ballet schools encourage form-fitting specialist dance clothing so the teacher can see if positions are being adopted correctly. Some will have specific uniforms.


Leotards, tights and ballet slippers help a child feel special at dance class. They come in all colours and designs. Tutus are great fun for preschoolers. 

Set uniforms mean everyone in the class matches. It helps children feel part of the group. For young girls there are leotards with short sleeves and attached skirts. The attached skirt has the advantage of staying in place.

Formal ballet classes tend to expect traditional black leotards with pink footed tights, pink canvas or leather slippers. It's part of the discipline ethos of ballet. The form-fitting clothing allows the instructor to see if the positions and lines formed are correct and how muscles are developing. An elastic belt is sometimes worn at ballet class to define the waist and highlight shape and movement. Chiffon wrap skirts or stiff tutus add to the femininity of the dancer. 


Boys wear black shorts with white t-shirts tucked in. They may also wear black tights and a unitard. A dance belt is a piece of underwear that lifts and supports the male anatomy from around the age of 11. Boys wear white ballet shoes with white socks or black shoes. 

Ballet Socks and Accessories

Some classes will recommend ballet socks to begin with. These allow the foot to slide, articulate and ground better than shoes. Shoes will be used to prevent slipping as the dancer develops.

If your older child is attending ballet class regularly they will have a dance bag with spare tights, warm-up clothes like wrap-around tops, leggings, legwarmers and socks, character shoes, a sewing kit in case a ribbon comes off a shoe and a water bottle and towel. 

Performance Wear

There are a great variety of ballet costumes for performance including dresses, romantic skirts and tutus. Lace, embroidery and sequins embellish outfits to entrance the audience. Traditional or romantic tutus cover the knee and are light and translucent. The character skirt is full, black with 4 coloured ribbons and comes to mid-calf. It is used in classes and exams.

Ballet Shoes

It's very important that ballet shoes fit snuggly unlike everyday shoes where you would usually allow room to grow. The tight fit means the foot won’t slip when adopting positions.

After at least 6 months of ballet and around the age of 12 or 13 girls may be ready for pointe shoes. There are many kinds including demi-pointe and it's important to research and try on different ones to suit your foot as they can affect your dancing. 

Ribbons need to be sewn onto shoes. Children need to learn how to cross them correctly and tie at the inside of the ankle with the ends tucked in so that the knot is not visible.

Photo by cottonbro studio

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