September 14, 2011

You Will Never See Me In Pink Tights, but..


I just got my first ever real-deal ballerina ballet skirt in the mail! And it´s a barely a whisper of a skirt - seriously, I don´t think I own any garment with less fabric and weight. Even my bikini takes up more space. But I´ve been wanting to get myself a real ballet skirt for some time, it´s just that I´m shy! Shy of exposing too much thigh - and of losing my "class cred". Funny thing how so little fabric can weigh so much after all.

When I started ballet, way back in the day, the class fashion de rigeur was as laid back as possible. My dance studio was popular with the jazz and modern dance crowd, and those with more ballet background had long since ditched their class-coded dance gear. Layers and crocheted scarfs around hips, even thermal wear. But hardly a pink tight or black skirt in sight. Wearing a ballet-school style uniform would have implied actual ballet-school cred, and the skills to accompany such. Even those who had the talent, wore anything but. Occasional visting pros included.

But wearing clothes that are decidedly anti-ballet? Much better! After some trial and error, I went with the mod crowd, to blend in as inconspicuously as possible. I wore sweats to class, loose clothes, never mind not seeing your lines properly. At some point though, I advanced and slimmed down (a lot), and gained enough confidence to wear an unitard (in lovely melange mauve) I had purchased in Paris. Oh, those heady fashionista days!

Five years ago - in fact exactly to this date - I returned to ballet, after a three year long hiatus. I wore black yoga-style pants and a loose, tunicy black top. I had gained way too much weight during those years of not-dancing, and could not quite reconcile myself with the voluptuous woman in the mirror. I also noticed that the class fashion had changed since. Here were grown-up women dressed in leos and pink and white (and black) tights. Some wore jazz pants with a bit of flare, but you could see the full ballet-school regalia on some, even in a beginner´s class. Not for me though, not with 15 kilos over my pre-break ideal weight! I would have felt way too self-conscious.

Now, time flies when you´re dancing. Weight rolls off, literally. From baggy black sweats I proceded to knee-length cut-offs, from there to black leggings with loose and long tops, from there to ditching tops and supportive sports-bras (yeah, figures that your boobs grow smaller way before your thighs follow suit) in favor of thinly strapped leos and black leggings. That´s when I discovered my first skirt, a black, salsa-style short beachy skirt from H&M, made out of 100% viscose fabric. It has a kind of ruched waist-band, which you can pull higher up or lower down. There is a bit too much fabric which adds bulk at the waist, and if you pull it down to your hips, it´s a tad too tight. It looks like a dance-y skirt, but it´s not yet the ballet look I had been secretely longing for..

Bloch Professional skirt, model: not me!

When I got home last night and unwrapped my flimsy new skirt, I swear I felt like the girl who pulls on her first tutu. Excited, and in my case, unnerved too. To wear or not to wear? And how does one tie those skirts anyway? It´s a wrap-around, so why are there no loops for the strings? And how do they not slip around? Do you tie at the side, or at the back? Once I figured it out - tie at the back, have it sit at the hip - it did not look too bad! More thigh exposed, yes, but my legs actually look longer because of it - which is always a bonus for the vertically challenged! So, the class-test is next Friday, right after barre. Can´t decide yet whether I´m gonna be totally blasé about it.."What, this old thing? Why, I´ve had it forever, just found it in the back of closet Siberia." Or, if I´m gonna parade it around and ask my friend to take pictures!

Next up: tutus.  Nope, that´s where I definitely draw the line. Like totally. Unless..

18 comments:

  1. I really like this post: I just bought the same skirt (but in burgundy) and I wore it to class for the first time yesterday, ha ha. Coincidence? I'm used to wearing just a leo (but with a waistband, without that I feel rather exposed. Yes I'm weird like that), but having moved studios with a different crowd, I wanted less exposure. I do like the skirt, but its strange so see it flapping in the mirror when you're not used to wearing one.

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  2. Hi Linda!

    Fun coincidence! I had a hard time deciding which colour, but since it´s my first, decided to go for classic black. Burgundy would be lovely too!

    So, I´m guessing the waistband is a psychological thing? Not much coverage in the way of fabric.. ;)

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  3. I loooooooooove this post. I found myself nodding along going 'me too, me too, OH MY GOODNESS ME TOO'. After my mega crazy diet earlier this year I decided to totally revamp my dance wardrobe from square cut cap sleeve leos and 3/4 length joggers to something more 'show offy' (I have fond memories of being poked in the ribs by one teacher at the point my leos were getting too baggy and her saying 'wow you've lost LOADS of weight'). I have that skirt in the bottom picture, it still scares me that I (a) bought it (b) kept it and (c) wear it because there is still a part of me going 'NO COVER YOURSELF IN ALL THE CLOTHES'. Ha.

    Oh and I won't wear pink tights either... but I do seriously really want a tutu :))))))))

    PS Happy-return-to-ballet-versary!

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  4. My first comment disappeared, mystery...

    Anyway, I said that now we're all waiting for a photo of You with this skirt!! :)

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  5. To wear! It looks great and proffesional! I envy you for being able to afford all those real ballet clothes, I know I'd feel much more self confined wearing them... Nowadays I wear just a t-shirt and leggings or black tights with shorts.
    Don't feel strange about the new skirt, it might be just a tiny little thing but it changes the line radically (in a positive way) compared to just a leo and tights. And I guess anyone but you and people who know about your new piece of dancewear will notice. :))) I love these simple skirts, I think I will somehow make one for myself.

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  6. I do love skirts... and layers... on other people. Unfortunately when I try to wear that stuff I get mega-annoyed and end up stripping down to my (pink) tights and leo as soon as I can. My dancewear is so dull and boring. Though I do try to at least wear interesting leotards to make up for it! ;)

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  7. Penguinshuffle!

    Congrats on the baggy leo - way to dance, girl!

    Of course I´m talking only about a healthy lifestyle & diet. A dancer needs her nutrients, carbs, proteins, fibre and vitamins! When I dance, I always have a huge appetite. And I do allow myself treats, probably a few too many :)

    Having said that, it is so sweet to watch your body change, become more toned and defined - and to show off your (newly-found) dancer´s assets! ;)

    I´m happy that you decided to go for a, b and c!

    I wonder, does wearing a tutu necessitate pink tights? I would happily go for the style the ballerina is wearing in this rehearsal video of Serenade: http://youtu.be/rODd1SV5kWs

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  8. Hello, Iepukka!

    A photo you say? Of me in said skimpy skirt? Yikes.. Did I not mention that I´m kinda shy? Some things may be best left to the imagination.. ;)

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  9. Hi Marie!

    Thank you :) Unfortunately, everyone will notice - we dance so much together. And quite a few of my ballet buddies read my blog too. :)

    But: there is nothing wrong with wearing always a leo with leggings and/or shorts. A pretty skirt alone does not a dancer make. Any graceful line you will see on a dancer is there because of hard work, dedication, intellect and passion! Really, I would rather watch a good dancer in shabby old sweats than a boring dancer in the most beautiful tutu ever!

    I know this is not what you wrote about, but I could not help myself. :)

    If you can make your own skirt, I found this great blog with instructions:

    http://selfishseamstress.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/free-pattern-ballet-skirt-for-grownups/

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  10. Hi Rori!

    I don´t like it either when I have to keep adjusting my ballet wear. I prefer to focus on the dancing, not worry about my clothes. We´ll see how the skirt and I will get along in class :)

    Simple dancewear is never boring. Certainly not if it´s worn by someone who dances with skill & passion!

    As for the pink tights.. good for you! :)

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  11. I completely agree with you but I'm sure I'd feel better in real dance clothes. You know, it adds a bit of confidence and I can be relaxed more which makes me work better etc. :) I mean the only thing I bought in a dance shop are my ballet slippers. Surely it doesn't matter where I bought my tights/leggings but I still wish to own at least two beautiful leos. :)
    My opinion is that good dancers look good wearing anything, the bad ones or the ones that need to learn a lot look better in ballet clothes.

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  12. And thank you for the link, I've already seen it but completely fogot about it.

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  13. Marie, look out for sales - you can find nice leos for less than 10 euros! Dance Direct also sells basic but nice leos for 10-13 pounds.

    I do not think that those "who need to learn" look better in ballet clothes. What is important that you do not wear baggy clothes! The body must be visible for the teacher to correct. It does not matter so much if you wear a top, shorts and leggings from H&M instead of a leo and tights.

    Then again, Christmas is not that far away.. ;)

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  14. Hmmm, Christmas... that's a very good idea! :)

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  15. I also think you should wear it. But I know how you feel. In my class they all wear baggy pants, t-shirts and stuff like that. Some don't even wear ballet shoes. I always thought those wide clothes were a NO Go in ballet. So I seem to be the only one who wears tights, leos and a top.
    Have fun wearing your beautiful skirt!

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  16. Thanks Yvonne!

    I have been wearing my new skirt - and I like it :)

    You are quite right, wide clothes are a "no go" in ballet. It is impossible for the teacher to see if you are using your muscles and alignement correctly. Why cheat yourself out of learning and becoming a better dancer? Wearing appropriate clothing tells your teacher that you are serious about your dancing.

    What, no ballet shoes? Our teacher certainly does not allow classes without. Shoes are there to protect your feet, and give resistance against the floor. It gives the muscles of your feet a better work-out. Socks are too slippery for that purpose. It is also harder to hold your turn-out, especially in pirouettes. And when you jump, your feet spread on landing - this can be potentially dangerous for your metatarsals.

    I´m glad though you´re on the right track!

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  17. (can you tell i'm working my way thru your prior blog posts?) I have a totally different feeling about the pink tights! when I started dancing 5 yrs ago i was the yoga pants girl, too. then graduated to a dance short and cami. only when i joined my studio where I now take pointe was i required to meet the 'black leo, pink tights' dress code (no skirts!). and i have to say, it was like a milestone. like i had become an actual DANCER and finally DESERVED to wear that uniform. i'm very proud now to wear my tights and leo!

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  18. Good for you, Shannon!

    We don't have a dress code in our school, so everyone wears what they feel comfortable in. You see beginners in head-to-toe ballet school uniform, and old-timers in black leggings and tunics. And vice versa.

    I've had the good fortune of taking occasional classes with the pros. Getting rid of enforced dress codes is actually one of their milestones! I guess I sort of adopted that pro-style.. :)

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