For the non-dancer, when you think of tights you see those thick brightly coloured cotton leggings you wore as a 10 year old. As a new dance mum, I was so in the dark, with no clue how many pairs of different types of tights I would end up buying for my daughter. The tights world is a confusing place filled with strange names, various colours and yikes, don’t even mention getting the size right. For new dance parents this journey can be an overwhelming one. If this is you, READ ON!

The first rule of thumb is that those tights from department stores are just not the same as dance tights. For your first year or two, you can probably get away with light pink tights for your beginner ballet class, but as your dancer progresses and takes more classes, you’ll need the right tights. Your studio likely has a preferred type &/or colour for classes and performances, so always check with the dance teacher or on the dance school website before you buy.

The Reason for Tights

Most dance classes, and in particular ballet classes will require you to wear tights. Dance tights allow the teacher to see the dancer’s legs and muscles clearly, and give the legs an unbroken, seamless line.
Pink is by far the most popular color for tights. But crikey, I never knew just how many various shades of pink there are.

Ask your teacher what color tights you should get for class…some dance studios simply don’t care, but some are strict about what color and style they want to see worn by students.

Types of Dance Tights

Footed Tights Footed tights are usually the standard basic tights. These cover the entire foot, ankle and leg. These tights are like the normal street wear tights, however, are made of a more durable opaque weave. If your dancer has no costume or shoe changes, this type of tights is fine.

Footless/Ankle Tights These are great for dancing barefoot or in shoes that don’t provide coverage, like foot thongs (toe undies) or lyrical shoes. They cut off at the ankle and usually have an elastic band at the bottom of the leg, to stop them from riding up the leg.

Convertible/Transition Tights These are the most versatile and the most popular. Convertible tights are similar to footed tights but have a small hole on the bottom of each foot. They can be pulled over the foot to sit on the ankle and worn as footless as well. These tights can therefore be kept on while making shoe changes during classes and on stage. These are great for kids who take several types of dance classes.

Stirrup Tights Stirrup tights are a mix of footed and footless tights. They have an elastic that covers the middle of the foot, leaving the toes and ankle exposed. These are a popular choice for shimmer tights and can be worn with most types of shoes, including lyrical or even worn for barefoot performances.

Fishnet Tights Used primarily for performance to complement a costume and usually come in either black or tan/caramel.

Body Tights Body tights cover the entire body except for the arms, neck, and face. They provide a seamless look for certain costumes, ensuring the waistband isn’t visible.

Shimmer Tights These are performance tights with a high gloss or shimmery finish and are great for stage performances. These come in footed, footless and stirrup styles.

Body Tights Covers everything from the neck down. Can be long-sleeved or have camisole straps.

Colour, Finish & Sizing Help

Colour You won’t typically find brightly coloured tights in the world of dance. This is because the costume should ‘pop’, while the legs and feet appear as a natural look, usually the tights coordinating with the shoe colour. Most brands offer prima pink (salmon), ballet pink, white, black, and a variety of flesh and tan shades. Sometimes it can be difficult to match the various pinks and tans to what your studio uses, so make sure you double check with them before purchasing.

Material Dance tights are made in a range of materials, one of the most popular being spandex, but also Nylon, Supplex Nylon, Lycra and Microfiber.

Finish Tights have two basic finishes: Matte and Shimmer. The choice depends on instructor and personal preference. Shimmer tights pop out more and tend to be used for stage performances.

Sizes You will always need to follow the sizing instructions provided by the brand and check the size chart for every piece of dancewear. Brand sizing can vary considerably so don’t assume one size is the same for the next brand. Dancewear sizing is divided into Child and Adult categories and further broken down into XS, S, M, L, XL.


Some of the key dancewear tights brands are:

  • Balletstuff
  • Studio7 Dancewear
  • Bloch
  • Capezio
  • Danskin
  • Sansha

What to wear for which dance genre?

Generally ballet classes will ask you to wear pink footed ballet tights. Prima pink is the most common colour of ballet tights and will match the ballet shoes which are also usually prima pink (salmon or flesh pink). Some studios may ask for ballet pink or pale pink and some will prefer theatrical pink.

Jazz and hip hop classes will usually ask for flesh or tan tights and for a stage performance or concert will prefer to see you in shimmer tights, which can usually be either dark tan or light flesh tone. Tap dance classes do not often mind what tights you wear in class, but may request either tan/flesh opaque tights or shimmer tights for performances, or sometimes just flesh/tan socks.

Tights Care

Tights are expensive and you want them to last as long as possible. If you hand wash your tights in cold water and drip dry, then they are more likely to last longer, without runs. Please don’t put them in the dryer. Teach your child to put their tights on gently, if you handle with care they will last much longer.

We hope this guide has helped to explain some of the basic difference in dance tights. If you’d like help or further information you can email us at [email protected].

Leave a comment