Ballroom Dance Practice Clothes Basics

Ballroom dance practice clothes can be as simple or as fancy as you like.  But, there are a few rules. For example, if a couple is dancing American Smooth or International Ballroom Style, the lady wears a long, very flowy gown. Additionally, in American Rhythm or International Latin Style, she’ll wear a short dress to show off her legs and feet. The same rules apply to practice clothes, although some ladies like to wear flowy pants instead of a long skirt or dress.

Do I have to buy ballroom dance practice clothes when I’m just getting started?

No, of course not. As a matter of fact, as newcomers to ballroom dancing, it’s customary for men to wear comfortable slacks and a shirt that stays put.  Fabrics that breathe will keep him from overheating and sweating too much.  However, ladies have more options.  Specifically, she can wear pants, dresses, or a skirt and top.  The most important thing is, whatever she chooses, it must be comfortable to move in.

With time, you may decide to take your new hobby more seriously. Maybe you’ll be performing in a Studio Showcase or participating in a Local Competition.  Then, you’ll want to invest in some ballroom dance practice clothes.  It’s kind of like the training gear you wear to the gym.

What to look for in ballroom dance training gear.


Men will be very happy in a simple pair of Latin pants. Manufacturers like to use a combination of polyester and spandex for dance clothes. The reasons for this are many and include comfort, stretchability, easy maintenance, and the capacity to withstand lots of machine washing and drying.

One thing to note is men’s Latin pants are higher waisted than dress pants or jeans. The reason for this is the high waist reminds the dancer to be aware of his core. This helps him keep his dance posture and poise.

ballroom dance practice clothes - men's latin pants
Pick up Latin dance pants in a ballroom dance shop.

As far as a shirt goes, athletic tee shirts are an easy choice. Anything by Nike and Under Armour are good picks. The best thing about these shirts is that you can easily find them made from moisture-wicking fabric. Apparel made with this type of fabric keeps you cool when it’s hot by whisking the perspiration from your skin to the fabric where it quickly evaporates. Nike’s technology is called Dri-Fit and Under Armour’s is HeatGear. Click here to learn more about this fabric and how Nike and Under Armour compare.

On the other hand, if a male ballroom dancer is looking for a shirt with trunks attached (basically a leotard), he’ll have plenty to choose from at an in-person or online ballroom dance store.


Ladies can simply pair a leotard with a ballroom practice skirt for a quick and easy outfit. A one-piece dress will also do the job. As a matter of fact, some dresses come with dance panties attached. If not, you can always find them sold individually at dance stores.

Ballroom Dance Practice Shoes

The practice shoes come in different styles. To be sure, they’re made for the supportive fit and comfort that dancers need when they spend many hours on the dance floor. Let’s take a look.

Ballroom Dance Sneakers

ballroom dance practice clothes and shoes
Unisex Dance Sneaker with a Split Sole and Spin Spot

Lace-up Practice Shoes

ballroom dance training gear - red practice shoes
Ladies Practice Shoe with 2″ Heel and Suede Sole
ballroom dance practice clothes and shoes
Some ladies prefer a ballroom dance shoe with a very low heel for practice.

These clothes and shoes represent an investment. Take good care of them.

Read the labels to be sure to wash and dry your dance training gear properly. And, make no mistake, your ballroom dance practice clothes will need to be washed after each wearing. As for the shoes, it’s best to have a few pairs so you can rotate wearing them. That’s one of the best ways to extend their life and keep your feet and shoes smelling good.

For more on dancin’ and dressin’, please read this Dance Safari post, “What Not to Wear on the Ballroom Dance Floor“.

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  1. Great advice, Barbara.
    I always wear a little sock when dancing. They absorb some of the perspiration and help to keep the shoes fresher. But, if we are dancing hard there’s bound to be a little, shall we say, smell lingering. For this I use a product called ‘nilodor’. I get mine from a local Chemist/Drug Store. It really works.

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