USA Dance (Boise) Chapter #1014

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Erin's Etiquette Corner - #3 What am I Going to Wear?: Head to Toe Attire for the Dance Floor

Erin's Etiquette Corner - #3 What am I Going to Wear?: Head to Toe Attire for the Dance Floor

What am I Going to Wear?: Head to Toe Attire for the Dance Floor

When you're preparing to head to a dance, consider the contents of your closet carefully. You need to make choices that will help you look, feel and move your best, while taking into consideration the comfort and safety of your partner(s).

Once you've read the invitation to find out the theme of the dance, and how formal or informal you should dress, you'll want to start with a clean slate, if you get my meaning. Shower, use deodorant, and make sure you have a fresh, clean mouth. If you use perfume, cologne, or aftershave, be sparing - you'll be in close contact with other dancers and don't want to overwhelm their senses or upset their allergies.


Ladies with long hair should avoid leaving it loose if it's long enough to interfere with her leader's right hand on her back, but putting it in too high a ponytail is also a mistake - It can whap the gentleman in the face during a spin and throw him off time, or worse, hit him in the eye and cause an injury. Both partners should also avoid hairstyles that compromise their vision and earrings that dangle and may catch on their partner.


Shirts, dresses and jackets should allow complete freedom of arm movement. A common mistake is to wear clothing that fits low in the armhole. That sort of fit actually diminishes mobility (just ask James Bond) and worse, the gentleman may catch his hands in a droopy armhole or sleeve on the lady.

When the temperature climbs, don't let your neckline drop. Sleeveless shirts on men, and strappy tank tops and backless outfits on women are off-putting during partner dancing because it's ooky to have to touch someone's clammy skin when in closed hold. If you tend to perspire, select natural fibers over synthetics, bring a towel or handkerchief along, and guys, bring an extra undershirt.

Choose jewelry that is unlikely to snag on you or your partner, and choose fabrics that aren't super-snag-able (tightly woven items rather than big, loopy knits). Test out outfits with lots of adornment to be sure there are no tendrils that will ensnare or WHAP your partner.


Your pants or skirt should not be tight. You want to be able to take a full stride while you are dancing, and there needs to be room for the man's left leg between the lady's legs as they dance. Dress hems should be at or above the ankle. It's an uncommon length for a day or evening dress, so gowns used for dancing will probably need to be hemmed to a length where the wearer and partner will not be in danger from tripping. Be aware if your skirt is a weighty one - an object in motion tends to remain in motion (and can tear you off of your balance if you aren't prepared).

It's a good idea to leave sharp or bulky objects out of your pockets while dancing, but if you have objects you can't be parted with, leaders, carry them in your left pocket, and followers, carry them in your right pocket. This will make it less likely your partner will encounter the jabby objects over, and over and over as you dance.

and Toes

Dance shoes are the best shoes for dancing. Do not wear sneakers or other shoes with rubbery or sticky soles. These can cling to the floor and cause ankle twists or knee tweaks (not to mention a hurky-jerky texture to your movement). If you aren't wearing dance shoes, wear a shoe your foot stays securely in (no backless sandals) and that has a sole thin enough that you can feel the floor in (no platforms). The best shoes have a flexible, thin sole with the right balance between slick and stick.

The whole package

Once all the safety and comfort criteria are met, if you aren't exhausted, you may want to consider aesthetics. Good dance clothing shows a dancer's movement, is a flattering color on the wearer's skin tone, accentuates the parts of a dancer's body he or she loves (while detracting from areas he or she doesn't love), isn't distracting and is appropriate for the occasion...thankfully, the spectrum of appropriate attire at USA Dance, Boise events is incredibly broad and tuxedos next to dark jeans rarely garner a second glance.

Happy dancing! You look great!