What Not to Wear on the Ballroom Dance Floor

As someone who is just starting ballroom dance lessons, one of the first questions people have is, “How do I know what to wear?” Generally, the answer depends on what level you’re at. However, for a beginner it’s easy.

When choosing what to wear when you’re dancing, we say be comfortable and safe.  


What not to wear…  

  • Soft rubber soles like gym shoes and sneakers can stick to the floor and throw you off balance.
  • Thick, inflexible soles like army boots, steel-toe work shoes, cowboy boots, and some men’s dress shoes can prevent you from being able to feel the floor.
  • Platforms and rocker shoes will not work – see the previous point.
  • Flip-flops, slides or any shoe without a back are too hard to keep on your feet when dancing.
  • And, unless we’re at the beach, we don’t dance barefoot.

What to wear…

Ladies, shoes can be heels or flats.  We usually suggest you practice with what you might have on when you go out dancing.

Men, a dress shoe with a thin sole is ideal for beginners.

Try out a few lessons before you invest in ballroom dance shoes.  

what not to wear short skirt, short top, sneakers

What not to wear…  

  • Apparel that is ill-fitting, too tight, or too short might make you uncomfortable and self-conscious while dancing.
  • Strapless tops are a problem because if you’re led to do an underarm turn, you risk pulling a Janet Jackson.
  • Gym clothes aren’t necessary as this isn’t a workout.
  • And, unless you’re at the beach, men, please, long pants.

What to wear…

Choose something that you can move in and won’t have to worry about. You know what I mean.


What not to wear…

  • Heavy use of perfume and cologne is discouraged.
  • Unless you’re at the beach, don’t skip the deodorant.
  • Actually, on second thought, don’t skip it at the beach either.

What to wear…

Go with the lightest fragrance. For instance, a short spritz of body mist.


What not to wear…

  • Long, flowing locks make it hard for your partner to lead you.
  • Long, high ponytails or braids will whip the face of anyone in your vicinity.  
    what to wear - not a long ponytail
  • Super-high updos make it hard for your partner to indicate which direction to turn.
  • And, unless you’re dancing at the Kentucky Derby, no hats, please.

What to wear…

Usually, any shorter hairstyle will work, as will a low ponytail or a bun.


What not to wear…

  • Avoid earrings and necklaces long enough to do damage when doing turns or spins.
  • Large hoop earrings can get caught and pulled easily.
  • Similarly, bracelets can get entangled with hair or clothing.
  • Large rings may feel uncomfortable when in dance hold.

What to wear…

It’s best to keep it simple when it comes to accessories.  A watch or fitness tracker, smaller rings, necklaces 22″ and shorter are all okay.  Also, earrings that are studs or that dangle closer to the ear will work.

For more information about ballroom dancing, please read the Dance Safari post, “3 Ballroom Dance Blogs That I Like“.

If you’re in the market for ballroom dance practice clothes and accessories, I recommend you visit Dance America for quality and customer service.

Once you know what works on the ballroom dance floor, you can get down to the business of gettin’ down!

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