How to Care for Dancewear

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How to Care for Dancewear

Dance is about many elements: expression, ritual, and life are only three of those elements. It is something that is shared by all living things on the planet. Human beings dance, animals dance, and even plants can sway in rhythm.

Dance is a universal art form. Different cultures and tribes all over the world have created and perfected their own unique types of dance. Modern dance is more about social amusement and art than in ancient times when people generally danced for worship and ritual purposes. Attire and raiment were important parts of these early dances; the practice continues to this day. There are many types of dances, and there are different types of apparel that are specifically designed for the art. Dancewear can be designed differently and be made from materials that differ from normal everyday garments; there are times when they need special care. There are many places where dancewear can be acquired, such as dance specialty shops, some sporting goods retailers, and on the online auction site, eBay. Understanding the different types, materials, and the ways to properly care for dancewear helps the garments to last longer and serve the wearer more effectively.

Dancewear Fabrics

Any type of fabric can be incorporated into dancewear. There are, however, several dances and types of attire that utilise stretch fabric, tulle, and various types of novelty fabrics.


Polyester is a synthetic material that is both strong and durable; it does not need much care. Polyester dries easily, which can be a good thing for a dancer, because vigorous practice and routines can make dancers sweat a lot. Polyester does not allow the same level of air circulation as other fabrics, rendering the material less breathable, which means that it is more difficult to remove stains and spills from the fabric. Polyester is washable, though there are polyester blends that are dry clean only. Checking the tags for care instructions is also valuable when caring for dancewear.


Chiffon can be a difficult fabric to clean appropriately. Silk and nylon are the two major fabrics used in the creation of the fabric. Silk chiffons are delicate and require gentle washing techniques to prevent damage. Most do not survive washing machines, so take them to professionals for dry cleaning. Chiffons that contain nylon are a little tougher, but are still easily ripped. Handwashing is better than using machines when it comes to this fabric, and they should be air dried rather than tumble dried. Chiffon can be ironed, but use low settings.


There are different types of satin fabrics. Those that have acetate or silk in them are better when dry cleaned. Always check the tags and care labels on clothing. There are satin fabric blends that can be washed with mild detergents. Machine wash is possible, but avoid tumble dry and air dry or drip dry the garments instead.

Stretch Fabrics

Spandex and Lycra improve garment fit and offer less resistance to movement. Most quality stretch fabrics should be dry cleaned, though machine wash is relatively common. There are rarely clothes made from pure Lycra, and many contain a minor percentage of the fabric, so consider the other fabrics in the blend when thinking about care. They retain scents longer than other fabrics, so keep them aired out. Never use bleach on these fabrics, as the strong substance causes discolouration and brittleness.


Silk should never be machine washed. Taking silk clothing to reputable dry cleaners should be the easiest way to prevent damage. There are silk blends that can be hand washed, of course. When storing silk, do not make use of plastic covering, or any other covering, that does not allow the silk to breathe. Embellished silk, like those with embroidery, should be gently washed as well. Wrap them in cotton and keep the fabric away from direct contact with surfaces that may weaken the fabric or contain parasites, like wood for instance. Heat and direct sunlight discolour silk.

Novelty Fabrics

There are many additions and varieties of fabric these days. Some dancewear fabrics have unique designs, fibres, and some clothing even contains sequins, for instance. Never put them in the dryer or the sequins can fall off and melt. They can be machine washed but use gentle cycles. Do the same for glittered fabrics. Other fabrics have actual metallic fibres, in which case they need to be professionally dry cleaned, and should never be bleached. Metallic fabrics should never be ironed on too high of a setting. When in doubt, take the clothes to professional dry cleaners.

Types of Dancewear

Dancewear has several objectives, but the two most important are: first, that they allow the dancer the freedom of unrestricted movement; and second, that they attract attention. Modern dance has evolved everyday attire to achieve these objectives.


There are three types of fitted dancewear that could be called a leotard. Some people place distinctions on them, some just say they are all types of leotards. The basic descriptions vary, though for more clarity they are presented here.

Type of Fitted Dancewear



A one-piece garment that leaves the legs bare, like a bikini

Sleeves vary in length, can be sleeveless

Neckline can also vary, as well as height and type of leg cut


Also a one-piece, although the leg lengths reach to mid-thigh

Can also vary in neckline style and sleeve length


One-piece, body length garment

Sleeve length varies

May have feet or foot straps

These clothing pieces are generally plain coloured, mostly flesh tones and black, but it depends upon their use. Women's necklines are generally higher than on garments designed for males, as are leg cuts. All are made of similar fabrics, like the stretchy, breathable material Lycra. Caring for these clothing pieces is similar since care generally depends upon the type of material from which the clothes are made. Perspiration, deodourant, and other sources of dampness can cause bleeding of colours and fading, as do aerosols. Dry clean or machine wash with mild detergents, but get the stains out before fully washing. Make sure to dry them out of direct sunlight.


There are several types of shoes that are used in dancing. Some are specialised for certain kinds of dance and some are not.

Ballet Shoes

Ballet shoes are often called ballet slippers. There is more than one type of shoe used for ballet, ballet slippers being the more pliable type. The pointe shoe is also a type of shoe used in ballet, but the material is tougher and the part that covers the toe, called the box, is rigid. However, they can be made with the same basic materials. Ballet shoes can be made from leather or canvas.

Ballet Shoe Material

Care Instructions


Store in warm, dry location

Warm water and mild soap can be used to wipe away scuff marks; use a soft cloth

Regularly treat with leather cleaner and conditioner

Sprinkling baking soda inside the shoes can remove odours


Store in warm, dry location

Sprinkling baking soda inside the shoes can remove odours

Machine wash cold using mild detergent; put on delicate or gentle cycle

Dry out of direct sunlight

Leather and canvas may be the base of ballet shoes, but materials, like satin and elastics, are used as well, which is why they need to be washed gently. Do not machine dry, as heat can damage the leather or satin.


There are sneakers made for the dance floor, generally with softer soles than ordinary outdoor shoes. Wearing them outside would only damage the soles. There are many dance shoes with suede soles,, which regularly need cleaning due to build up of wax and other dirt from the dance floor. It is best to clean them after each use, since uncleaned soles could cause a dancer to slip.

Heeled Shoes

Heeled dance shoes are often more lightweight than fashion shoes. They are, however, not meant to be used anywhere but on the dance floor. Most shoes have suede soles, even heeled shoes, for more traction and to protect the floor.

Before initial use, apply fabric protecting substances on shoes whose uppers are made of satin, cotton, silk, and other fabrics. This makes it easier to get dirt and debris out of the fabric later. Leather should always be kept clean and supple with saddle soap, polish, or conditioners. For shiny patent leather, there are silicone polishes that really make the shoes shine.


Dancers can go through a lot of tights because of the delicate sheer material. Hand wash tights with mild detergent. If using a washing machine, place the tights in a laundry bag and run on a delicate cycle. Do not tumble dry, but hang them outside instead, though not under direct sunlight. A quick fix for a slight snag or run is nail polish, which keeps the run from growing and widening.


There are many materials used to make tutus, and it is important to be aware of their different materials when caring for the garments. For example, before washing, know whether the clothes are preshrunk, colour-fast, or even washable. There are fabrics that should only be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning may soften tulle or the net ruffles of the garment. If machine washing, embellishments on the tutu may rip, come off, or dissolve in detergent.

Store tutus hanging upside down or on a flat surface. Make sure that the storage place is not damp. Places where there are straps and hooks and anyplace where the fabric may be strained holding the garment should be inspected regularly.

How to Buy Dancewear on eBay

Online and offline stores both sell dancewear, and many have good collections. However, there are times when the local store does not have the exact type of dancewear you want, the exact accessories, or the exact cleaning materials needed. This is when online stores are convenient; a greater selection for possibly lower prices than offline stores can be beneficial. Buying dancewear, or dancewear care products, on eBay is easy. Simply go to any eBay page and type your key terms into the search bar. The site also has tools that help you modify the results from this initial search. You can pare the list down by limiting prices, condition, and distance. The list of dancewear can even be ordered according to your preferences. It is faster if you know exactly what you want, and can simply type it into the search. Still, more general keywords, like "ballet dancewear" rather than "black satin striped vests" allows you to see all of the possibilities that dancewear can offer.


It may be difficult to care for and maintain different types of dancewear, but it is all in the material. Always check the tags and labels of the clothes; they provide valuable information like how to wash and clean the garments. Tags also hold fabric information, such as which fabric is used, and if it is a blend it provides the percentages of fabrics that are in the material, and so on. There are different ways to care for different dancewear fabrics, as some of them can be very delicate.

Dance can be gentle exercise or a vigorous activity, and dancewear needs to be durable and accommodating at the same time. Many types of dance require specific dancewear, but there are modern dances that do not require that participants are dressed up extravagantly. Caring for dancewear can be easy or difficult, but knowing things like how to store silk or remove a stain from satin helps to keep garments usable for a long time.

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