Men's Ballroom Dance Wear
Newcomers to ballroom dance could be excused for wondering why men's dancewear is necessary for ballroom dancing at all. I mean, you just wear a shirt and pants, right?
Yes and no. If you're just social dancing, all you really need is a pair of good ballroom dancing shoes. But if you're going to take it more seriously, you'll find that properly designed men's dancewear can make a difference.
The Ballroom Dancing Suit
It is almost impossible to dance in a regular tail suit or tuxedo - the minute you raise your arms into your frame, you can feel the elbows pulling, the back wrinkling and lifting and tension under your arms. Not only is it uncomfortable, it looks awful!
It takes artful cutting to design a suit jacket that will allow you to lift your arms without lifting the whole jacket. You won't find a tuxedo like that in any high street store!
Even experienced tailors don't know how to cut shirts and jackets for dancing, so having a suit custom-made won't solve the problem. There's really no alternative but to buy from a dancewear supplier. Unfortunately as suits become less common at social dances and even in amateur competitions, it is becoming harder to find ready-made versions. You may have to have one custom made for you by a tailor who specializes in dance.
The Ballroom Dancing Shirt
Shirts are another problem. It's hard enough to maintain your frame without feeling your shirt straining across your back. It may seem like a small thing, but when your muscles are working hard, even a little extra resistance can make you fatigue a lot faster.
Then there's the fact that lifting your arms pulls your shirt out of your pants - so when you let your arms drop again, you have an unattractive balloon effect round the waist. Or worse, a shirt tail hanging out.
A proper ballroom dancing shirt is cleverly cut so you can lift your arms without affecting the body. Also, professional ballroom shirts like this one are often made with space-age fabric in the areas which can't be seen under the jacket, for extra comfort and superior ease of motion.
The Latin Shirt
The latin shirt can be a body-hugging body suit style, or a loose style like a woman's blouse. Because you don't wear a jacket for Latin dance, it's even more important that the shirt stays in place and doesn't lift or wrinkle.
If you want to go for the open-shirt look, it's not enough to take an ordinary shirt and leave it unbuttoned, either - it won't sit properly.
The Dance Pants
Men's dancewear manufacturers may shoot me, but I think most amateur ballroom dancers could get away with ordinary trousers for most dance situations. It's surprising how smart a good pair of golf pants can look in black!
Whatever you do, don't buy regular tuxedo pants because they're usually cut neater for a sharper look - which means they don't have enough room to dance in.