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Understanding Dance Tights

For those of us who aren’t familiar with all the styles of dance tights available, or who are novice dancers who want to know the difference, let’s briefly break down the types of garments dancers usually wear.

First, there are different styles of tights or leg wear – leg warmers, Capri pants, leggings, leotards, unitards, and bodysuits, to name a few.

Legwarmers are acrylic knit socks, sort of like sweaters for legs that dancers wear for extra warmth while dancing. They usually sit just below the knee and have stirrup slots at the toe to fit easily over a pair of dance tights and ballet shoes.

The length of material for tights sometimes determines what they are called. Capri pants are similar to full tights only they end at mid-calf, for a little more freedom of movement in warmer rooms. Leggings are also similar to fully footed tights, only their material ends at the ankle, leaving the foot free.

Likewise, there are longer, one-piece garments like tank top or long-sleeve unitards that give a unified shape and a very clean look for the sake of simplicity. For younger students of dance, clothing suppliers offer “biketards” that extend from the shoulders to the thighs.

Then there are undergarments that protect and accentuate a dancer’s body. Camisoles, bras, and briefs are made of the same nylon and spandex materials as dance tights, and provide a level of comfort and support for layered costumes and dancewear. There are skirts, shorts, dresses, and tutus, for example, that adds colour and shape to the character of particular dance styles.

Then there are the styles of the tights themselves, like fishnets, convertibles, supplex, stirrup, high gloss, and opaque tights that meet the needs of different styles of dance. Opaque and metallic tights are even utilised as casual wear for college girls or to accompany skirts and spring dresses.

Convertible tights have a hole under the arch so that dancers can change into socks, slippers, shoes without having to remove their tights. Stirrup tights have just a band of material to place over the foot for more mobility. Fishnet tights are popular with jazz and more contemporary styles of dance.

One interesting addition to some pairs of tights used in ballroom dancing is the addition of rhinestones or other jewels to add some sparkle to a costume used in competitive dance. The extra flair is noticeable when female dancers twirl and spin on stage with their leading men.

Leotards are a usual accompaniment to dance tights. They generally cover only the torso and have a scoop neck with either short or long sleeves. The higher quality garments are made from the same nylon material as tights are, and the antimicrobial fabric resists bacteria growth and “breathes” well to keep moisture off the body. Bodysuits and unitards cover more of the body, but accomplish the same thing.

The range of colours, varieties, and high-performance materials produced by today’s manufacturers make dance tights more versatile than ever before. Women (and men) of all ages and levels have plenty of options in finding the right dancewear to suit their individual needs.

Europe’s leading online retailer of dancewear – Dance Direct.For further information regarding our range of dance tights and other ballet products, please visit our website at