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Real Men's Dancewear - Ballet Wear for Men
Male ballet dancers have never been as well served by men's dancewear suppliers as female dancers. From researching my male dancer friends, it seems that finding basic things like a comfortable, supportive dance belt or a unitard that doesn't disappear up your ... is not nearly as straightforward as it should be.
So what is available?
Men's Dance Belts
This style is for those of you who don't like that uncomfortable bit of floss at the back - but I have only one word for you: VPL. Ladies are well acquainted with the dreaded Visible Panty Line, and a full-bottomed dance belt is likely to give you one - not a good look in tights.
Some men may have trouble getting the sizing right in this style - if you have big glutes, the back coverage simply won't be adequate in your normal waist size. Why manufacturers make these things for the average man's butt rather than a muscled dancer's shape, I have no idea!
Of course, you'd buy the full style if you're dancing contemporary and using it as a costume - but then, order at least one size larger.
Thong Style Dance Belt
A thong may not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but under costumes, it's the most practical.
If you like a cotton belt, Capezio's quilt front dance belt is a good option, as the addition of lycra will help it keep its shape and provide support for longer. However, for the ultimate in comfort, you should also consider the M Stevens dance belt (below).
Everyone who buys one of these dance belts reports how amazing it feels, as though you're wearing nothing at all. Unfortunately, some men find the support is lacking. Whether that applies to you depends on what you're used to (and perhaps on your size, but that's a discussion I'm not getting into...).
For every man who says this dance belt isn't supportive, you'll find someone who reckons it is. One dedicated user solves the problem by wearing two at once - so if you like the idea of wearing what feels like a second skin, that may be a solution!
There aren't many unitards designed specifically for men. Yumiko is a name causing some buzz in ballet circles with their range of handmade, custom dancewear. They also make a limited range of ready-to-wear items, and their range for men, especially, is worth seeking out. They have men's unitards in the range. Quality is excellent and since the range is designed by a dancer, you know it will work.
There's a real lack of decent men's leotards. Most men wear leotards inside their tights, anyway, so why not go for a figure-hugging T-shirt instead, and avoid the wedgie?
If you must have a leotard, you'll have to resort to "unisex" leotards, which are often just ladies' leotards re-labelled. While men can get away with wearing women's unitards, female leotards are often too skimpy around the butt and crotch even in the largest size. Look for Milliskin material, to give you the best chance of achieving a wearable fit.
Tights are an easier option, and available in suspender, footed, and footless varieties from several manufacturers specifically for men.
Tall men may find Capezio's men's tights aren't long enough in the leg, even in large sizes, so my recommendation would be M. Stevens' Milliskin tights. Yes, they are unisex - but the four-way stretch mean they fit the longest legs effortlessly, and they're featherlight without being see-through.
The other great thing about these tights is they take dye well, so they're the perfect tights for performance while still being durable and comfortable enough for class.
Speaking of tights, here's what some members of the Anaheim Ballet have to say about them...
I notice that many male dancers seem to prefer canvas shoes. Canvas ballet shoes are less expensive than leather - but of course, they also wear out faster (though gaffer tape can do wonders to extend their life!!). It's a matter of personal choice.
These Grishko canvas flats are not unisex, they're men's shoes which means they fit much better. Split sole.