I love everything about dance. The dancing itself, the leotards, the shoes, down to the hair accessories. Now owning a studio, a lot of students will ask about my favorite shoe brand, leotard company, athletic wear, etc. So, why not blog it for the world!
Let’s talk about footwear. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into our dancing, and our shoes basically live through that with us. I don’t take dance shoes lightly. The right or wrong shoe changes everything. I’m not saying these shoes are the end all, be all, but over my many years as a dancer, these have grown to be my favorite.
Ballet shoes: Capezio Hanami Canvas (light pink, but get whatever color you prefer). I used to always get Sansha’s which I definitely loved, but then I found out I could be lazy and I didn’t have to sew the Capezios. As a poor sewer, I haven’t looked back. These shoes are FANTASTIC. They make my point perfect and are sewn exactly how I want them. I wear an 8.5M in these, though I’m usually a 7.5-8 street shoe and my foot is rather wide.
Jazz shoes: Speaking of Sansha, I prefer their tan canvas jazz shoe. It has the same feel as a ballet shoe with the suede bottom, and as all my students know, I love to dunk my feet in the water before I dance. With a rubber sole, which is most jazz shoes, you can’t really do that. Boom. Sansha jazz shoe = way to go.
Character heels: Well, this is probably pretty obvious: LaDucas. LaDucas are every musical theatre girl's dream shoe. For a while, I was apprehensive about them. They didn’t feel sturdy to me. I kept slipping around in them, and I would try multiple styles, but it wasn’t doing the trick. Finally, a few years ago, I decided to go WAY down in size. According to street shoes, I would likely be an 8 (38 in European sizes - they’re Italian shoes). I went down to a 37.5 and eventually found out my favorite size is actually a 36.5. Call me nuts, but I’m basically down 1.5-2 sizes. The leather stretches pretty well once you’ve broken them in. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my LaDucas at a size 36.5! I would never go back. My feet point well in them, which I found to be my biggest pet-peeve with all character heels. Highly recommend giving LaDucas a whirl. I wear a 3” inch tan/black Alexis (I have them in both colors for different shows/auditions).
Tap shoes: I wouldn’t call myself an expert in this department, but I do love my LaDuca taps. They’re super sturdy and super comfortable. I do wear a normal size in these (haha!) I ordered my regular street shoe size of an 8, and they work great. Unlike the character heels, these aren’t supposed to feel super snug or stretch. They’re hard soled through and through. I wear a 2.5” tan Roxie. As far as flat taps go, I own kind of a meh pair and don’t really wear them often, so I will leave it at that.
Pointe shoes: Finding the right pointe shoes takes time. I tried everything in the book and went against most odds. I wear Gaynor Minden’s. These are a very specific shoe. In order to wear Gaynor’s properly, you need to have a high arch and be experienced on pointe. I would not recommend these as a first time pointe shoe. Bloch European Balance is pretty decent. I’ve worn those a few times, and would maybe get those as my next pair, to be honest.
Sneakers: Getting fitted for sneakers is a must. Do not go and buy a cute pair off the sale rack. What you wear outside of dance is important. Your feet matter. I go to the New England Running Company in Beverly and love them. They test your walk and run out, and see what would be best for your specific feet. 10/10 recommend. I wear Brooks Ghost running shoes for working out and everyday use. Chunky sneaks might not be the hip thing, but my feet and legs appreciate them.
Being able to hang in cute, comfy clothes is basically everyone's dream, right? Leotards and tights CAN be comfortable. I promise.
Leotards: I basically only wear two brands of leotards. Elevé and Yumiko. They’re comfy and I can wear them for days. Elevé has such beautiful designs. Yumiko is a little plainer, but they feel amazing on. Also, I wear a size Large leotard. Have since I was 13. Look at the “girth” measurement and go by that. If you don’t know what “girth” measurement is, look that up.
Tights: My go-to is capezio stirrup or convertible tights. They're super comfortable and right for every style. You can roll them down when necessary, and roll them up for modern, contemporary, or even just putting your sneaks back on after class!
Skirts: Abigail Mentzer Designs. I can’t recommend these skirts enough. The slinky, short skirts are my fav.
Athletic Wear: Lululemon. I know, I know it’s pricey. But it really is worth the investment. They stand by their product. If something rips, you can bring it in and talk to the sales associate, and you might be eligible for a new product. I’ve worn a pair of leggings from them for 10+ years. The Align collection is my favorite. Anything Nulu material is great for dancing. Align leggings and muscle crop tank are some of my go-to products.
Accessorizing your dance attire is similar to accessorizing your streetwear. I basically live in dance attire, so I want to look good, and more importantly, feel good, in whatever I wear.
Hair: I love a matching scrunchie. If it has a bow, even better. You pretty much won’t catch me at dance class without a knotted headband from J. Crew. Those things are my life. Hairspray just doesn’t always do the trick, and I can’t stand fly away pieces. On top of the accessories, just a nice, neat hairstyle feels good. I try to change it up a little. A bun, two little braids into a pony, sometimes half up now that my hair is short. But without fail, I pretty much have a hair accessory at all times. Love ittttt.
Jewelry: Jewelry can be distracting and a nuisance. Small earrings and a small necklace are my typical go-to's to feel elegant without it getting in the way. And of course my new ring bling that won’t ever leave my hand. Also, Apple Watch is a MUST if you are a teacher. You don't have to walk over to your phone to change songs or turn the volume up or down. And if you are a dancer, you can track how long you've danced, how you heart rate is. It's fantastic. 10/10+++ recommend!
Nails: Chipped nail polish isn’t my favorite look. If it starts to chip, just take it off.
Masks: Yup. This is a category. The only mask I will dance in, and I’ve tried them all.
When we go to class or rehearsal, we are in front of a mirror for many hours. Feeling good when we look at ourselves is important. And it’s way more than what you ate for lunch and all that. If you can put on your favorite outfit, accessory, and shoes, you’re already more than halfway there. These are just my favorites. Wear what makes you feel your best!!
~owner of Refine~
Top: Lululemon (align)
Leggings: Lululemon (align collection)
Watch: Apple Watch
Leggings: Amazon Essentials (CRZ Yoga)
Hair accessory: Lululemon
Watch: Apple Watch
Leggings: Lululemon (wunder under)
Watch: Apple Watch