Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tight Squeeze

Disclaimer: This post will be half story/rant and half review on the best kinds of tights, specifically for ballet.

Tights. Love 'em or hate 'em, guys or girls, it's a part of the dance wardrobe. Personally, I hate tights. I wear pink tights for ballet only, and for any other class, I switch out tan or black tights for shorts (not booty shorts), capris, or jazz pants.

However, especially in ballet and pointe, tights are an unavoidable part of dancing. I have at least 20 pairs - tan, black, pink, neon yellow, green, silver&sparkly, hot pink, purple. I have full-footed tights, tights that cut off right above the calf, at the ankle, stirrup tights, tights that have holes and runs...but if I could recommend one pair of tights, it would be the convertible tight. Convertible, or transition, tights are an interesting breed - there's a hole in the bottom of the foot where your arch is (or sometimes where the ball of your foot is) so that you can pull the tights over your whole foot and get the normal full-footed look, or you can poke your foot and ankle through the hole and roll them into ankle tights, or roll them all the way up your calf to make knee-length tights (unless you've got big calves like me - the tights won't go past mid-calf).

The first time I needed convertible tights was for pointe - I didn't realize at first that I would have to take off my tights, put on my toe pads, and pull them all the way up again, just to find out that my toe pad had slipped out of place (and was now halfway up my leg). So I got these lovely convertible tights! For a while, I've had Capezio's Ultra Soft Transition tights (see first box below). They're nice and durable, the hole on the bottom isn't too big, they're comfortable enough. But then, I was introduced somewhat accidentally to Bloch's Convertible Hipstar Tights (see second box below), and I have never, ever been happier with a pair of ballet tights! The legs of the tights themselves are just as soft and smooth and run-resistant as Capezio's Ultra Softs, but the waistband and seams around your tummy area are 10 times more comfortable. The band is stretchier and not as tight and softer on the inside, and the seam that runs up the front of the tights and down your butt in the back sticks out a lot less, meaning when you take them off even after 2-4 hours of rehearsal or class, you don't have weirdly painful indentations on your skin. I love this pair so much, I'll never go back.

Of course, even if you don't take pointe, convertible tights can be really handy. Ever wanted to go to class in flip flops, but realize that your toes don't separate? Pull the convertible flap over your foot and wear those flip flops to class without ruining your tights!

Below, I've posted several different kinds of pink convertible tights. I've mentioned the first two (go for #2! Trust me.), but the third pair is a pair my friend had. She liked them, they were soft, and what she really liked was that the hole in the bottom sat right below the ball of her foot and was a lot smaller, but still stretchy so she could pull her foot through. I personally don't like having the hole under the ball of my foot because that's where you stand on half-toe/demi-pointe, but she liked them! They did tend to get holey though. The fourth pair is a pair I've chosen to tell you to stay away from, unless you like the color. The Ultra Soft tights are never as pink as the Mesh tights, but I think the Professional Mesh tight feels like sandpaper on your skin. Not my favorite feeling.

Also, if you're just starting ballet, make sure to ask your teachers or check your studio dress code to see whether you need to have a seam down the back of your tights. Some studio prefer this look and some require it, so check before buying!

Happy squeezing (into tights)!


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