The Complete Guide to Buying Modern Dance Clothes

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The Complete Guide to Buying Modern Dance Clothes

Modern dance is a unique dance style which portrays the strong emotions of a dancer. Since it started out as a branch of ballet, it often uses the same techniques and form as ballet but with a variety of free movements according to the dancer's emotions. However, modern dance is not as strict and rigid as ballet and therefore does not have a specific set of dancewear. Since it is a free form of dance and relies on the dancers' creativity, they can choose the best dance clothes to suit their routine. Nevertheless, modern dance requires clothes which highlight the shape of the dancer. Besides traditional ballet costumes, women ' s modern dance clothes include other items, and buying the right clothes is important for comfort and ease of movement. For dancers looking to buy the right modern dance clothes, this guide provides information on how to buy and wear the right clothes for modern dance.

A Brief History of Modern Dance

Modern dance appeared in the early 20th century as a form of rebellion against traditional ballet dancing. Modern dancers at that time felt that ballet was too rigid and focused heavily on technique, and instead, they wanted a dance style which allowed them to translate their emotions into movement. These dancers eventually decided to do without the traditional ballet costumes and preferred more relaxed, casual types of clothes. Modern dancers typically danced barefoot and in more revealing outfits.

This style of dance focuses on the dancers' own interpretation of a piece of music and the expression of their emotions. Modern dancers often create their own steps, and this enables them to have a dance routine that is truly their own. Since their routine usually includes them moving both in the air and on the ground, suitable dance clothes are needed not only for comfort but also to convey all the dancers' feelings to the audience.

What to Wear for Modern Dance

If a dancer is attending a modern dance class, there is usually a guideline provided by the instructor on what to wear. Dance performances require a dancer to dress according to the theme of the dance. Therefore, compared to attire for classes, there is a wider variety of dance clothes to wear for a performance. Listed here are tips on how to choose modern dance clothes.

Fitting Clothes

Modern dance clothes should be form-fitting just like those for ballet. This is because of the often complicated steps involved and the need to display good form. There is a wide variety of clothes that a dancer can wear such as a tight camisole, a fitting top, and leggings. Many dancers also wear leotards with tights, unitards, and skirts, depending on the type of performance. For modern dance classes, it is usually required that students wear form-fitting clothes so the instructor can look at the dancers' posture and correct any mistakes.


Modern dancers often dance barefoot especially during their performances. However, they can also wear flat ballet slippers, half-soled shoes, foot thongs, and foot gloves. These footwear are thin and give the look of naked feet but offer protection especially for the toes and balls of the feet, which are often subjected to stress when dancing.

Suitable Clothes for Each Performance

Dance clothes for performances come in many styles and do not necessarily need to be form fitting. Routines often have elegant movements that flow and require suitable clothes such as dresses or gaucho pants, which have flared ends. Colour also plays an important role in a performance and the colour selected should accurately depict the theme of the dance and the emotions it wants to transmit to the audience. For example, bright red unitards usually portray energy and strong emotions, while light-coloured clothes such as pink or grey ones can better depict sadness or softness.

Clothes for Modern Dance

There is a wide variety of dancewear that a modern dancer can put on. So before buying modern dance attire, one should know what are the items that are worn in modern dance.

Upper Wear

Upper wear for modern dance should be comfortable, figure hugging, and made of stretchable material for ease of movement. Common modern dance upper wear include leotards, unitards, dresses, and tops.


A leotard is a good piece of dance attire because it is able to display a dancer's body shape when dancing. It is a one-piece form-fitting garment which only covers the upper body of a dancer, leaving the legs uncovered. Leotards are often worn on their own or matched with leggings, tights, and pantyhose. Leotards come in different styles such as long-sleeved, short-sleeved, and sleeveless. Although mostly worn for ballet, leotards with skirts can also be worn for modern dance to better display the flowing movements in the dance.


A unitard is a variation of the leotard. Instead of only covering the upper body, it also extends to cover the legs. Like a leotard, it is skin-tight and stretchable to provide freedom of movement for the dancer. Unitards are usually just worn as they are without other clothes or accessories.

Tops and Dresses

Modern dancers do not have uniforms like ballet dancers do, so it is perfectly acceptable to wear normal tops or dresses depending on the performance. However, it is of course not suitable to wear these in classes except with the instructor's permission. When wearing tops and dresses, dancers often wear tight clothes underneath such as camisoles or leotards to cover their bodies in case their outer clothes accidentally display too much of their body while dancing. In the case of wearing tops, dancers often wear shorts, leggings, tights, or pantyhose.

Bottom Wear

Bottom wear for modern dance can be anything that goes with the theme of the dance. This often includes leggings, tights, pantyhose, shorts, and skirts.

Leggings, Tights, and Pantyhose

These three items are similar in that they are tight, provide good range of movement for a dancer, and cover the legs. The only difference is their opacity where leggings are the most opaque, followed by tights, and finally pantyhose. All three can be worn for modern dance depending on the dancer's preferences.

Shorts and skirts

Modern dance clothes are comfortable and allow the dancer to move freely without restriction. Therefore, shorts and skirts are popular choices among dancers. The clothes that are worn for a dance should suit its theme. Shorts go well with either tight or loose tops and skirts go well with tops and leotards. In the end, dancers should choose clothes that that they like and are appropriate for a particular dance routine.


Although sometimes dancers often perform barefoot, there are various shoes suitable for modern dance. They include the traditional slippers, jazz shoes, half-soled shoes, foot thongs, and foot gloves. These footwear all serve to allow the dancer to move as freely and as natural as possible while also protecting the feet from the stress of jumping and running during a dance.

Ballet and jazz shoes cover the whole foot with ballet shoes being softer than jazz shoes and thus allowing a better motion freedom of the foot. Half-soled shoes, foot thongs, and foot gloves only provide padding for the front part of the feet where most dancers will be standing on. These footwear reduce the stress on the ball of the feet and give the feet a naked look.

Choosing Modern Dance Clothes

Modern dance clothes do not always come in a set. Instead, they may consist of several items of clothing. Important factors to consider when buying modern dance clothes are comfort and ease of movement. For those attending modern dance classes it is often required that they wear leotards, unitards, or form-fitting tops with shorts or tights. They are also often required to dance barefoot although this varies between different dance classes. Performing modern dancers also often wear clothes just like those worn in class but their costume also depends on the theme of their performance.

When choosing modern dance clothes, it is important to try them on. They should be form-fitting but not too tight that they restrict one's movements. The colour of the clothes is also important. An easy tip to follow is to wear not more than three colours as too many colours are difficult to match and can be an eyesore.

How to Buy Modern Dance Clothes on eBay

eBay has a wide variety of modern dance clothes. For example, from the eBay home page you can search for 'modern dance' by typing these keywords in the search box to get a list of items related to modern dance, including dance clothes. You can filter this list of items to see only the items you are interested in buying. However, since most modern dance outfits are sets of individual items, it is better to run a separate search for each item that you want. For this, type in the name of item you are looking for in the search box on eBay's home page, for example 'leotards' or 'foot thongs'. If you find something that you like you can select the product to view more information about it, such as size, material, price, or postage fee.

Before buying the item, you should check the seller's return policy to make sure that you can return or exchange the item if you need to. You can also contact the seller directly on eBay if you have any enquiries. If you are satisfied with your selected item, you can then proceed to purchase it.


Modern dance clothes consist of various items such as leotards, unitards, tops, leggings, skirts, shorts, and also footwear including foot thongs and foot gloves. The choice of what to wear is usually up to the dancer. However, there is often a dress code for modern dance classes, so students are advised to ask their instructors what are the suitable clothes to wear during classes.

When choosing modern dance clothes, the buyer should make sure that these are form-fitting and comfortable, and allow a wide range of movement for the dancer. The footwear needs to provide appropriate support for the toes and the ball of the foot so as to reduce the stress on the feet. It is also a good idea to wear a combination of up to three colours in an outfit. Lastly, it is important to choose clothes which can portray the theme and emotions of the dance to the audience. eBay has a wide variety of modern dance clothes to choose from and is definitely a great place to search for them.

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