The Best Leotard for Ballet

Today’s dancers are no longer stuck wearing the dull tunics and dresses of yesteryear. There is now an abundance of leotards to choose from, with every style, color, size and shape imaginable readily available at the nearest dance shop website or corner dance store—with affordable price tags to boot.

But even with all of these choices, finding the right leotard for your body type can be difficult. Check out these tips on what to look for the next time you’re doing your ballet shopping!

Broad Shoulders

If you’re a dancer with wide shoulders that you’d prefer to play down, consider boat neck and cap sleeved or plain pinched camisole leotards. The open style of a boat neck will emphasize your gorgeous collarbone while the cap sleeves blend your shoulders in with the rest of your torso.

A camisole leotard (especially with a pinched or V front) will flatter you in a similar way; the thin straps look dainty and light, while the detailing added by a pinched front draws attention downward, away from your shoulders.

Avoid halter leotards, as the tightly closed collar will make your shoulders appear broader, drawing attention to where you don’t want it.

Large Bust

Many ballerinas are blessed in the bosom department, but find it difficult to cope during class when leotards shift around and emphasize the wrong area. If you’re one of these dancers, opt for a leotard with built-in shelf support and a more conservative neckline. Leotards with thick straps in a fun color and a high-cut leg will lend support where you need it, while also drawing attention downward toward your lovely ballerina legs.

Avoid leotards with dipping necklines or thin camisole straps; these not only bring attention to your chest, but may pose a hazard when it comes to cambrés.

Wide Hips

With a more curvy and womanly-looking figure than the average ballerina, dancers with wider hips can easily balance out their proportions by wearing a leotard that emphasizes the shoulders (as opposed to the bottom). Go for leotards with open necklines and detailing—whether a print, gathering, or just a fun color—on the top. Drawing attention to your gorgeous neckline and elegant port de bras will help even out the sightline between your upper and lower body.

Avoid leotards in a solid color with plain and bare necklines. These will draw all the attention to your hips, due to the lack of interesting visual cues on your upper half.

Short Arms

Not every ballerina is born with Alina Somova’s languorous limbs, but ballerinas with short arms can still play with their proportions to more fully highlight their assets. Go for sleeveless leotards with thin straps and lower necklines. These will lengthen not just the look of your arms, but your neck and shoulders as well, making your upper body look long and beautiful.

Avoid tank style or ¾ sleeve leotards which cut the line of the arm from shoulder to fingertip, thus making them appear shorter than they are in the first place.

Hot Tip: Color Care

If you’re looking to extend your lines, go for neutral toned leotards. Colors like nude and peachy pink will blend into your tights and skin tone, making your lines look long and fluid.

Short Legs

If you have shorter legs, go for a leotard that has a higher leg line (sometimes referred to as a jazz cut). The raised leg line will extend your legs, making them appear longer and you appear taller, regardless of whether or not you were born with those gorgeous stilt-like gams that many ballerinas seem to possess.

Avoid biketards and leotards with low leg lines, as well as wearing shorts over your leotard. This will cover the extra few inches of your legs that make you appear lankier and long legged.

Short Torso

Dancers with short torsos have long arms and legs to compensate, so don’t be afraid to show them off! Opt for a leotard with a classical ballet leg cut, which will extend the line of your torso without diminishing the effect of your lovely legs. A camisole strapped leotard will also play up your neckline and arms, giving you a balanced and beautiful look.

Avoid leotards that are high cut in the leg line, as they will unnecessarily lengthen your legs and chop the line of your already short torso.

Tummy Trouble

If you feel a bit insecure about your tummy in ballet class, get a leotard that has ruching and/or gathering around the tummy and ribs. The gathering and tailoring will make your waist appear smaller while giving you adequate support so you don’t have to suck it in throughout class.

Avoid leotards that are made from of milliskin or spandex without any gathering on the waist; the material will roll easily and the shiny texture draws attention to your tummy.

Love Your Body!

No matter what you don’t like about yourself when you look in the mirror, remember that your body is beautiful. There’s no such thing as perfect proportions, or a ballerina who doesn’t have doubts about the way she looks.

Instead, embrace your unique image, because there’s no ballerina in the world who looks just like you!

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