Tips for Wearing Tights

You might think pulling on a pair of tights would be as easy as putting on jeans, but as with almost everything involving male dancers' clothes, you'd be wrong.


Ballet tights for men are thicker than women's.  Don't let anyone tell you women's tights are "unisex" unless you will accept a see-thru effect.  Ballerinas wear their tights UNDER their leotards, so transparency isn't an issue for them.  Women's tights frequently come with a little cotton gusset in the crotch that serves their needs, but won't do anything good for you.  Insist on real male dance tights.  

I used to only recommend one brand of tights, but several manufacturers have upped their game, and it would be unfair to them to not acknowledge that.  Try several kinds, you’ll find a favorite.  White tights can be dyed easily using Rit dyes.  Some dancewear stores like will also do custom dying for a small additional charge.


no unibutt tights

no unibutt tights

Ballet tights have a really high waistband, so if you just pull them up to your waist, the crotch will sag badly and extra folds will appear around the backs of your knees.  They are called TIGHTS for a reason: It is considered bad form to have extra material around the rear of the tights which makes it look like you are wearing a diaper or give you the dreaded "unibutt" where your entire rear looks like one object instead of two distinct gluteus muscles.  In extreme cases, a sagging crotch could even interfere with dance movement.

HINT: backstage, the last thing most male dancers do before going on is to pull their tights' rear seam up into their crack.

- For daily class, pull your tights up as high as they will go (which is usually almost to your nipples), then wrap the waistband over a belt and turn the combination over 3 or 4 times until the top of the tights rests on on top of your hips.  Some dancers prefer a non-stretch web belt, others use a piece of 1½" or 2” stiff elastic sewn or knotted to create a belt.  

short waist - no belt or suspenders

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- Many classic male ballet costume tunics have very short waists, so using elastic suspenders to keep the tights waistband high prevents midriff gapping during performances.  Sewing a piece of elastic long enough to go over your shoulders to your tights is the easiest way to keep performance tights up.  Commercially available braces can be used, but the attachment claws create rips and holes in the tights.  If you aren't competent to sew elastic suspenders yourself, your mother lives three states away, and the costumer is mad at you, boysdancetoo sells tights that come complete with suspenders.

It is counter-intuitive, but if you are between two sizes in tights, always opt for the LARGER size.  The added size gives more material to wrap around the elastic belt, insuring there is enough to pull the tights up into your butt crack to avoid the unibutt effect.  Tighter tights are also more see-thru.

If you choose to wear a leotard, remember that men traditionally wear it UNDER their tights.  Thong leotards are preferred to avoid the dreaded VPL “visible panty lines".

And ALWAYS wear a dance belt if you're wearing tights!  A leotard alone doesn’t offer the same level of needed support and protection.


White tights are traditionally reserved for performances.  
White tights don't conceal anything that's going on under them, including any extra weight you're packing or a badly fitting dance belt.  
Remember that a flesh colored dance belt will be more invisible under white tights than a white dance belt will be.  Some companies ask male dancers to wear two pairs of white tights for a super-white (and no see-thru) look, although bright stage lighting generally makes that unnecessary.  An idealized male round-mound bulge is part of the ballet performance costume, so consider that when choosing which dance belt to wear.  Dance belts with padding round the mound and hide details.

If your costume involves white tights always wear sweat pants or warmups over them backstage to avoid getting them dirty.

White dance belts under white tights

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