New To Ballet Class
Is it's your first time to ballet class and you're not sure what to wear? Let us help you shop in confidence
If it's your first Adult Ballet or Barre Class and you're ready to commit to a term of classes, the first important purchase is the right ballet shoes. The most basic and best value style you can buy is a plain leather ballet shoe, with a full sole. These will come with pre-sewn elastics attached and for the correct size you need to add +1 size up from your regular street shoe size. For example if you wear a size 5UK in your everyday shoes; then go for a size 6UK in a ballet shoe. See this style here
The full sole leather ballet shoe will be very long lasting & you can easily clean them (if needed) with baby wipes, however they won't fully mould to the underneath of the arch of your foot when you pointe. Genetics do play a large part in how great an arch you can get from your foot when you pointe, but a split-sole ballet shoe really enhances any foot when it's pointing, as the sole of the shoe is designed to curve neatly under your arch and the elastics attached to this style of shoe are crossed over the top of your arch, so they really pull the shoe up under your arch. Professional ballet dancers would wear split sole ballet shoes so even if you're not planning on being the next Darcey Bussell, you are buying the more 'professional' type shoe with a split sole. Don't worry about looking like you're trying to hard to be a pro with this style, as most dancers would recommend you buying 'split soles' if you asked their opinion. See this style in leather here
The split sole shoe would be a tighter snugger fit so you need to add x2.5 sizes up for this style. For example if you wear a size 5UK in your everyday shoes; then go for a size 7.5UK in a split sole ballet shoe!
To add more choice (or confusion!) you can also get split-sole ballet shoes in satin or canvas fabric. Satin ballet shoes tend to be worn by ballet students for their exams, so not your typical choice for an Adult Ballet class. Canvas split soles are very popular with male dancers and are worn by female dancers too. They wouldn't be as long lasting as leather, as the fabric around the toe area does wear far faster but you do have a choice of colours with them. Male dancers tend to wear black, white or tan and females tend to go for pink or tan.
In your typical hobby ballet class anything goes colour wise for ballet shoes, but the traditional look is to match your ballet shoe colour to your ballet tights so it gives the illusion of making your legs look longer. And it does work!
Now for clothing. To get the most out of your weekly class it's really important that your teacher can see your body and that you can in time learn to 'feel' your posture and to keep especially the upper back, shoulders and neck area free from baggy clothing. Of course to start with leggings and a tshirt are perfect for your first class, so you can safely 'check out' what everyone else is wearing before making a purchase! But a well run Adult Ballet class will have a strong following of students, so if the teacher is good you can expect the class to be wearing at least the correct shoes, ballet leotards and ballet tights. The next step would be to add a wrap skirt, wrap cardigan and legwarmers or you can use a pair of leggings over your ballet tights and leotard as warmups.
Tshirts and sweatshirts are all fine at the start of class if your body is cold, but most teachers will ask students to remove them after 2 or 3 exercises at the barre, so they can see your posture in just a leotard and tights and give you good feedback and correction.
A few tips on leotards! When you try on your leotard for the first time you will be standing still, but you won't be remaining like this in class. You'll be doing pliés, forward, side and possibly backwards ports de bras (upper body bends) and allegro (ballet jumps). It's really important to make sure that the leotard straps sit securely to keep the front line of the leotard covering your chest area comfortably during class. If you've been blessed with a more full cleavage, there's nothing worse than wearing a leotard that doesn't give you support or one that keeps dropping lower than your cleavage line during class. You'll be more preoccupied with pulling the leotard up than focusing on enjoying your ballet class.
If you've any concerns, the best styles to start with are double strapped if you like a bare shoulder look, boat necked leotards, short or full sleeved leotards ensure more support and coverage as do wide strap leotards.
Next your tights. Ballet tights are worn under your leotard. You will often see many professional dancers on Instagram/Pinterest boards wearing their tights over their leotards but it's not a look to easily pull off as a hobby dancer. We would recommend leaving this look to the pros! The traditional ballet tights are a very heavy denier tight with seams up the back and not the most comfortable if you're starting out, although they do last forever. You can get them in ballet pink or white, if this is the style you'd like. See our seamed ballet tights here
Modern fabrics have allowed ballet tights to become far more lightweight and the two options you have are; Footed Ballet tights & Convertible Ballet tights. A footed tight is exactly as described and a very straight forward option, see our Adult Footed tights here. A convertible ballet tight has an opening under the sole of the foot to allow you to roll the tight up around your ankle. A professional dancer will use this to give her quick access to her toes to prep them for wearing pointe shoes or to let her feet 'breathe' between classes. A handy use of them for the hobby dancer is you can wear them to class rolled up around your ankle and they won't be stained by the fabric of your socks, trainers, shoes & boots etc or you can wear them this way with sandals on your way to/from class. If you are tight for time after class and can't shower and change until you get home the convertible tight would be the best option. See our Adult Convertible tight here
Ballet Wrap Cardigans, Skirts & Legwarmers: If you'd love to go the full way and layer up for class, you really can't go wrong with any of these. They're all designed to hug your body so your teacher can see your posture as you dance and give you far better corrections than if you're layered up under baggy tops etc. You can see our range of warm ups here & wrap skirts here
Finally; enjoy your ballet class and the immense benefits it will bring you. The fastest way to see improvement is to really listen to your teacher's feedback on your 'core' posture. For your arms; try to feel your shoulders down and open and your arms being led by your finger tips (not wrists or back of hands) and for your legs; really try to fell all the muscles in your legs and feet working at any easy part of the exercise. Ie when your standing still at the barre or holding a pointe. The more you 'feel' your body dancing during the easier/slower parts of class the more your technique will build into the more difficult steps. And don't feel disillusioned if the whole class goes left & you go right (more times then you'd like to admit!) , keep with it and at the end of a term you'll be amazed at the progress you can make. Happy dancing!