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Your partner in formal wear steps onto a dance floor. The lights go down. As the music starts, you extend your hands to each other. And you --- gasp in horror, because, even though this is your daydream, you don't have a thing to wear. Okay, it may not be that bad. Still, when it's time to go dancing you'll feel more confident, and have more fun, if you have some high-stepping styles stashed in your closet.
Just for Practice
You may have been born with twinkling toes and perfect pitch, but that doesn't mean you'll get the hang of ballroom dancing without some practice. Whether you take lessons in a studio or learn the steps in your bedroom, the right practice clothes will help you put the tang in your tango. For classes, check with the dance school for recommendations. Instructors need to be able to see your leg movements and may prefer that you wear pants or a knee-length skirt. At home, anything goes for practice wear, as long as it's comfortable and lets you move freely.
Dress It Up
Dressing for ballroom dancing other than in class means a dress, not pants. What type of dress depends on the event. For a formal dance, wear an ankle-length evening dress. If the occasion is dressed up, but not formal, wear a cocktail dress. Wear your fashion favorites for casual ballroom dancing. If you'll be doing Latin or rhythm dances, you can wear something that shows off your legs or shoulders. Stay away from strapless or tube-top items. There's a lot of physical activity involved in dancing, and you want to avoid the possibility of slippage.
Step It Up
Your ballroom experience could begin and end with social dancing, but suppose you get so good you want to compete; what then? Kick it up a notch, or even more. For competitions, bring on the sequins, the lamé and the fringe. The circuit on which you compete will be your guide; in general, expect more glam to go with the glitz. Dresses for standard dances, like the waltz, will have fullness and movement. Rhythm-dance dresses will show more of your shape and bare more skin.
From the Bottom Up
In ballroom dancing, your shoes are as important as your footwork. Even if your partner is as graceful as a gazelle, consider shoes with closed toes. For classes and some social dancing, wear dressy shoes that feel good and have leather soles, not rubber. If you find yourself getting serious about dancing, you can buy shoes from a dance outfitter. Your dance shoes have to work well with your dress, be comfortable and provide good support. With the right shoes, the right dress and the right moves, you just might find yourself literally swept off your feet.