DANCE TIGHTS 101
When I was a kid, tights were something you wore with your Easter dress and that was about it. When we entered the dance world I had NO idea just how many pairs of different types I would end up buying. To a new dance parent this can be a little overwhelming so have no fear, Tights 101 is here.
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First of all know that the Easter dress tights you can buy at Walmart etc are NOT the same! You may be able to get away with their light pink tights for a beginning ballet class but as your dancer ages and begins to take more classes this wont be the case. Also, your studio likely has a specific type or color of they would like for class and performances and you should always check with the instructor beforehand.
For the non-dance world footed rights is typically the standard. Similar to a regular ol’ pair of tights, “Footed” is pretty self explanatory, they cover the entire foot and leg. If your dancer has no costume or shoe changes this type is fine.
Another pretty self explanatory pair, footless or ankle. These are great for when you are going to be dancing barefoot or in a shoe that does not provide coverage, like toe undies. Typically the bottom has an elastic band that ensures they do not ride up the leg.
This is hands down the type of pair I end up buying most often. Convertible tights are very similar to footed tights except they have a small hole on the bottom of each foot. Why would you want tights with holes in them? They can be pulled over the foot to sit on the ankle (similarly to ankle tights) to accommodate shoe changes for classes!
On Mondays my daughter wears jazz shoes with convertible tights, then pulls them up and wears her toe undies for solo rehearsal, then pulls them back over her feet when its time for hip hop. When your kid takes several different types of classes multiple days of the week these are great!
Now if you’re wondering “Why would I need to buy both ankle footed for one type of shoe and footless tights for another if convertible tights exist for both?”
You may not if your child doesn’t perform outside of class. If the instructor doesn’t care and it works for the dancer, cool.
However! If you are competing or performing in front of a judge or audience do NOT use convertible tights in place of footless. It looks sloppy. As confirmed by the judges who marked my daughters solo down points a couple years ago because she wasn’t wearing footless. She rolled up her convertibles for her barefoot solo and may been edged out of first place as a result. Judges critique the appearance as far as being clean, professional and matching the dance. We wont make that mistake again.
Ok hang with me here. Stirrups are kind of like all of the above tights had a baby. No really! They have a similar bottom elastic to footed except it covers the middle portion of the foot all the way around, leaving the toes and ankle exposed. We have not yet needed to use a pair of stirrups in Mads dance education but they look pretty cool!
These would be used for performance value only, as there is really no functional purpose. My daughters solo “Down in New Orleans” a few years ago was the first time she wore them. With the right costume and dance they can finish the look perfectly!
Body tights are another exactly as the sound, they basically cover the entire body with the exception of the arms, neck and face. They can be used when you want a seamless look with certain costumes so that the waistband etc isn’t visible.
COLORS, SIZES & MORE
Each pair of dance tights has several options in addition to type.
For the most part you wont find any electric hot pink or neon green tights in the dancewear section. Depending on what brand you’re buying from where, you should be able to find ballet pink, black and a whole variety of shades of tan. Our studio typically uses “Light Suntan” unless a dancers skintone is dramatically different. My pale Caucasian child looks like she has a killer tan on her legs but it doesnt look so unnatural that she needs to wear a lighter shade.
Tights are also made of various materials! Most commonly you will find Nylon and Supplex Nylon, Spandex, and Microfiber.
The 2 basic finishes are Matte and Shimmer. This one is instructor/personal preference. The shimmer tights are obviously “shimmery” and pop out a little more but depending on the song and routine you may not want that.
Dancewear, including tights, is mostly separated into two major sizing categories. Child or Adult. Of course its broken down further to S,M,L etc. from there.
The reason I’m mentioning sizes is because if you don’t already know this critical piece of info you need to, now!
CHECK THE SIZE CHART FOR EVERY PIECE OF DANCEWEAR YOU BUY IN EVERY BRAND FROM EVERY COMPANY. Did I make that clear? It doesn’t matter where its coming from or who made it. Every single dancewear company has variations in their sizing and unless you like playing the order/return game check the size chart before hand! In some shoe brands my daughter is an adult 7.5 and in others shes an adult 5.5. One more time – check the size chart.
I’m not going to be able to identify every single brand of tights that exists on the interwebs and elsewhere. I can provide you a basic list, in alphabetical order, of the most popular/common brands.
OUR PERSONAL FAVORITE
I mentioned we buy a ton of tights right? So obviously we have a favorite. DUN-DUN-DUN….
I was hesitant to buy this brand at first because there were a couple reviews on amazon that said they had ripped early on. Honestly, my daughter is hard on tights. We have tried almost every brand and for us it doesn’t matter, shes going to destroy them regardless. So I gave them a try and we love them!
Gia Mia tights are affordable. We usually get them for under $6 a pair in 2 days flat (if you have prime free shipping). They are amazingly soft. We have found them to hold up just as well if not better as other brands.
Check out Gia Mia tights on Amazon!
Congratulations, you’ve just graduated from TIGHTS 101!
If you have ANY tights questions not answered here leave me a comment or email me email@example.com. If I dont know the answer, ill find out! 😉