Under/Over: the great Tights talk

A long long time ago the Adult Beginner wrote this post about people wearing pink tights over their leotards.
Almost five years later, as an older and hotter and wiser Adult Beginner, I have heard tell that lots of people wear their pink tights over, and there are some good reasons (smoothing the leotard line) and some silly reasons (all the cool kids are doing it).
I’m still Team Pink Tights Under. It’s the gusset. You know.
Black tights over is not an issue IMO because the gusset is less horrifyingly visible.
Where do you stand on tights, Gentle Reader? Are you Over or Under?
Has there been a major trend shift toward Tights Over while I wasn’t looking?
How does one style the Pink Tights Over to avoid looking bare-bottomed, anyway?
I’m all curious and no judge on this one, you guys, if you are Team Tights Over we are still totally friends, I just want to understand!!!
Let’s get to the bottom of Pink Tights, together!

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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105 Responses to Under/Over: the great Tights talk

  1. Naomi says:

    Tights over would make a bathroom visit a lot easier… I don’t wear mine that way…have thought about it, but haven’t wanted to draw attention to myself…no one does it at my studio.

  2. d1a2n3e4 says:

    How would a bathroom visit be easier if the tights were worn over the leotard? (both would still have to be removed to complete any business…. ?)

    I agree that pink-tights worn over look a bit odd due to the gusset; but black tights are o.k.; I have worn those before and feel a bit more “covered”- though for students it is better to not be TOO “covered”. (because THAT gives the message to the teacher, “leave me alone!”)

  3. JustScott says:

    As a guy, I couldn’t pass this one up because of experience!

    The first year I took ballet as a teenager, the one small dancewear store didn’t carry guy stuff. So I wore a maroon leo over black tights, which probably set ballet fashion back quite a few decades. I was glad to actually find a store that had men’s clothes a few months later.

    Since then, I’ve taken classes with other guys who’ve worn theirs under (I guess by choice?). Trust me, this trend does not work the other way around.

    As for the ladies (for whom this topic actually applies), we’ve guest artists come in who’ve worn theirs under, and company kids who’ve copied the trend in open class where they have freedom not to follow the code … and I think it depends on the color of tights and the leo. Dark on dark seems to work, and light on light. I danced with a girl who wore pink over light blue, lilac, yellow and white, and it seemed to work for her.

    But I’m a traditionalist…Team Under for girls, Team Over for the guys.

  4. During class I’m definitely I’m a tights under girl and I usually only wear pink tights. When I practice at home I wear black tights over my leotard. I was inspired by the prix de lausanne girls when they were practicing their modern variations. I haven’t introduced it to class yet..but who knows!

    • Black tights with the feet cut off always make me feel very modern too. Absolutely not helpful when trying to slide the ankle along the barre during barre-stretch, but so cool.

  5. kit says:

    I’m firmly in Team Under (hence the VLB mentioned in the last post’s comments…), both because of the visible gusset (that still peaks out from my leo’s leg openings, unfortunately) and because for some reason I feel that the over-the-tights look is reserved for more advanced students who already went through the under-the-tights phase. Or not.
    If it was freezing cold I would consider wearing dark leggins or very thick tights over, but for regular class I’ll probably stick with under for a bit.

  6. daktulos says:

    I heard from someone that it cuts down on chafing from tights if you wear them for hours like professional dancers do. I’ve never danced enough to test this theory so perhaps it’s apocryphal but there you go.

    I’ve only worn black tights over leotards personally

  7. asher says:

    Kit’s point about the over-the-tights look being reserved for more advanced girls is interesting. I never see it on ladies who only do Essentials, rarely see it on those who only do the straight Beginner class, and occasionally see it in the Beginner/Intermediate and Intermediate classes (cross-pollination does occur, so sometimes you’ll see someone in Essentials who is actually an intermediate or advanced student). Haven’t yet been to Advanced class, which is in a different building in a different part of town, though, so I’m not sure how they roll.

    I think the adults at my school (and probably others) are definitely influenced by the dress code for the pre-pro kids, more so as they stick around longer and are slowly consumed by the Ballet virus integrate more and more deeply into ballet culture. By requirement, all the pre-pro girls are Team Under (except for when they throw sweater-tights on top in lieu of those one piece legwarmers, but then they’re Team Under-and-Over, I guess?) and all the boys are Team Over whenever they’re at the school, so that’s what everyone’s used to seeing.

  8. Nadine says:

    Tights Over is confrontingly ugly, but it holds your leotard in place (stops it from migrating into your bum crack), and although I am not a professional, I have it on good authority that this is quite important for partnering (lifts). If I wear tights over, I always put booty shorts over the tights.

  9. Basia says:

    Interesting responses!! I’ve been very confused…
    One of my teachers from NYCB wears pink over. I didn’t think it looked great, but then fashion doesn’t have to does it?

    I’m a black leggings over leotard…plus skirt. Because I want to have the look but not the gusset.

    • I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who finds the gusset inappropes for public viewing.
      And true, fashion doesn’t necessarily look good, or help one navigate the day in comfort, or anything like that. Oh fashion.

  10. wedoballet says:

    LOL. I love this!
    Pink tights under is totally a uniform look. It provides a contrast at the leg opening that you don’t see otherwise.
    Pink under says “I’m a student. I follow all the rules”
    Black over says “I’m an adult. There are no rules for me. Slimming is good, pink is not slimming.”
    Pink over says “I’m the captain now! I’m into ballet trends. I’m super cool.”
    As a kid we looked forward to modern because you could ditch the pink tights and wear black footless over the leo instead. Same thrill in rehearsals where we could wear skirts over pink tights.
    Pink tights over leo is “cool” because it’s what pros do :). But the look requires feet out or it looks ridic, and like my feet in, so it’s silly.
    I wear pink tights under leo, and black footless tights (or shorts) over the leo… cause who doesn’t want to wear two pairs of tights in August?

  11. Joyce says:

    Ohh also, what do we think of biketards with no tights at all? I think that looks nice actually. I’m usually a black footless or transition tights under person. In the City Ballet series, I noticed that a lot of the NYCB dancers wear pink over.

  12. Kiralia says:

    Under. Regardless of the color, or if they are footless or not. I do usually wear black microshorts or a skirt over the tighst and leo. Or both :P The will absolutely be not gusset flashing.

    Never have I seen anyone from team Over. Not in my longitude. Lol.

  13. Michelle says:

    I’m over, all the way! But I NEVER just wear a leotard and tights though – I wear a skirt or shorts on top.

  14. Marion says:

    I’m in the over team too, with black tights. Being in the “no undies under leo team” too, the idea of wearing tights without anything under sound like a big “NO” to me, so : over! Plus it solves the bathroom problem for me. If i had to wear pink tights I would probably go for over to, but with a short to hide this sneaky gusset.

  15. Kaija says:

    I hardly ever wear pink tights…they are not flattering to my muscular legs or my more olive skin tone. I DO wear black tights over a leotard but usually there is a skirt or shorts involved. I agree with AB that the pink tights over looks a bit “half nude” and the gusset is just YUCK. I’m sure this is my own body issues talking, but the only people I think the pink over looks good on are professional dancers and young girls with the typical ballet body. There’s a great rehearsal clip from PNB (on their Facebook page) where they are working with William Forsythe, and all of the dancers are wearing different under/over combos. Carrie Imler (who I adore!) is wearing black tights over, and her athletic build is more like mine. :)

  16. koolchicken says:

    I wear my pink tights under and my black ones under. If I’m in sweater tights then I might do pink tights over, but they’re covered. If I’m in black tights over I’ll also usually have tiny shorts on as well. And if I’m doing shorts with pink tights then those tights are over (cause those shorts really don’t cover much…). So for me it’s really a fashion thing. I’ll actually try stuff out to see what looks good before I commit to wearing it to class.

    • One of the great benefits of getting dressed at home: you can change your mind!

      • koolchicken says:

        It is. I always try to get changed at home. In those rare instances I have to change there I always pull a tried and true look and don’t try and invent the wheel.

        Oh and I just realized I wrote I wear both under my leotard, lol. I do not. pink are under and black are over unless otherwise noted! It’s a fashion thing. always a fashion thing. :)

  17. Alice C. says:

    My classes are–so far–all tights under. I’ve seen professionals in documentaries wearing tights over (usually also with the waistbands snipped), but where I’ve taken classes in my city everyone has them under.

  18. Molly says:

    THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT TOPIC. I recently got back into ballet as an adult and was horrified to see people wearing their tights over their leotards! That was never a thing when I was a kid! I totally agree about the visible gusset being icky.

  19. kitteacat says:

    Pink Under here . . . but has anyone seen the photos of pros wearing Over, with a huge V cut out of the back (presumably to eliminate itchy tags?)? HOW DO THEY STAY UP??? Seriously, I think yanking tights up all class would be a bit distracting.

    • I think the idea with the huge V cut is to cut through the elastic so it doesn’t sqeeze in and create lumps at the waist. Makes sense for regular folk but why the pros would worry about that I don’t know.
      And then the other issue of how they stay up, that must be the magic of theater.

    • I have a pair of black leggings (originally regular tights) that were really digging into my waist, so I cut the waistband off altogether. They do not slide down. But I do wear them on top of pink tights (for extra warmth).

      • Rise-length of tights probably helps with this a little. Like, if they were low rise tights, they’d probably slide down, if they were waist high tights, they’d probably stay up, and if they were the kind of tights you can pull up to your shoulders, they’d definitely stay up.

  20. guyenne says:

    Tights under the leotard all the time here. It’s actually something that drives me nuts with pantyhose because they are automatically worn over and then the crotch sags/slides/otherwise drives me nuts. You do have to futz with the waistband sometimes through the leotard, which is a pain, but less annoying than the crotch moving around.

    Men’s tights are a totally different setup, it seems like, and I’ve never talked to anyone about how they manage it comfortably.

    • I love vintage photos of men in ballet classes with suspenders to hold up the tights. Adorbs.

    • Paul says:

      I’ve only been dancing for 7 months but as soon as I knew how much I loved it away went the loose shorts and baggy t-shirt and on went the biker shorts and soon after that the tights. They are so much more comfortable to dance in. Men’s tights are cut to allow more room for the obvious and fit between the cheeks to show them off. They have a high rise to allow the waistband to be folded over a separate elastic belt, this not only keeps them up but allows the dancer to set the waistband in the most comfortable or flattering position and keeps a fitted t-shirt tucked in smoothly. I believe they are all thicker than ladies tights (probably 100-150 denier) and the ones I have seem to have industrial strength lycra in the mix which means they certainly stay put! I do have a leotard that I wear sometimes so I guess you can put me with the black (or grey)/overs.

  21. tyler says:

    maria kochetkova sometimes tricks me into thinking pink tights over would be ok because she makes everything look so amazing and correct, but deep down i know it’s not right for me…

  22. Rebecca says:

    Mondays is a syllabus class and is totally pinks-under, in a uniformy way.
    Wednesday is open adult class and more varied – pink, black, feet, no feet, shorts, you name it, BUT if you have a leo the tights are UNDER. Never seen an over anywhere in the UK, ever.
    There’s even one lady who dances in leggings and a camisole… but *puts knickers over her leggings to give a leotardy look*.
    (Confession: I once resorted to this on a Day of Laundry Failure – pink tights under black microfibre knickers, black microfibre sport cami on top. Looked fine. Probably.)

  23. Nellie says:

    Tights over with shorts, tights under with a skirt. All my tights come up practically to my armpits anyway so that’s just not attractive either when coupled with a visi-gusset (not to be confused with a Visigoth)…

  24. I’m in Team Over! It’s so much more comfortable. Also, wearing tights on top makes the leo stay put. But I always add short shorts, because I don’t like to show too much of my bottom line. Plus a skirt. See, no gusset issue for me. :)

  25. abc says:

    A tip for all of you, Team Over + Under: Visible gussets can be prevented by sewing the two seams together, especially helpful if the tights are a bit too large for you! It really makes a big difference! At my studio it is an unwritten law that no gusset is allowed to show, no one would ever dare to wear the tights over the leo…

    • Interesting. I remember reading in Allegra Kent’s book, Once A Dancer…, that before performances in those early days the dancers were handed silk tights as part of their costume, and the other girls taught her to open the seams and sew in a gusset to increase the stretch right at that plié pressure point.
      Can you imagine? Thank goodness for microfibre.

  26. Pingback: Moar questionable ballet trends | Adult Beginner

  27. Anna says:

    I’m team pink tights under and black leggings over. Always!

  28. I do both, usually over leotard when it’s hot out.

  29. Kiwi Ballerina says:

    Under, under, always under. Unless you are super skinny. Which I am not. I rely heavily on the clean line of the leotard to make me look longer. Also I sometimes cut my tights at the top to make them more comfortable, no one wants to see that look :)

    • Do you cut through the elastic or cut it off completely? It’s been interesting to learn in these comments how many people take scissors to their tights.

      • Kiwi Ballerina says:

        Usually I cut through in two places at the front or cut the centre tummy piece out. I also buy kids tights size 12 as they are cheap and easy to get from our local store, which would explain why I need to cut the tummy:)

  30. Molly says:

    A ha! Here’s a quote from a HuffPo article about the fashion choices of NYCB dancers.
    “Then, of course, most of the ladies in rehearsal wear their footless tights over their leotards with the ends rolled up above their ankles because it ‘feels more casual,’ says Peck.”

  31. hyysterika says:

    I’ve always worn them under and probably will keep doing so. I tried wearing them over once but they wouldn’t stay up. Then again, in the classes I take, people often wear skirts, shirts, or leggings over anyways, so it doesn’t really matter. lol.

  32. Rein & Raven says:

    Team under all the way!

    I also really, REALLY don’t like black tights + shiny pink pointe shoes.

    • I’ve never actually seen black tights and pointes! Black leggings or footless tights definitely. That’s kind of a bad ass look. I think. I always wore pink tights with pointes though because fear of blisters. I haven’t yet gotten far enough into pointe to be a bad ass about it.
      Sometimes I think black tights with pink flat slipper look a little bit like ye olden days ballerina, but I don’t have any historical reference photos to back that up. Just my own weird association maybe.

      • Rebecca says:

        I once tried black leo/black tights/pink slippers and I didn’t like how it emphasised my foot rather than my instep/arch line.
        It did feel a little bit Louis XIV-y in a brocade-slippers-and-contrasting-silk-stockings kind of way though. Like (um) street shoes with a metallic heel – fashions designed to say ‘look at my tiny delicate feet!’. Mine are neither tiny nor delicate.

        • Ahh, right. Wait— are you ready? I’m about to be brilliant:
          Black ballet slippers with a pink toe! Like the classic Chanel ballet flat with contrasting toe cap! Perfect for days you want to wear black footed tights but would also like a little pink ballet slipper toe peeking out in a tiny and delicate way!
          Do this exist already like my ombréd tights idea exists already? I hope so!!!

  33. v says:

    under. over feels like i’m wearing my panties over my pants, and that sort of makes me feel funny. wasn’t that a thing for a minute in the 80s..? i admit i have tried over once before and my leotard leg elastic chafed. never again.

  34. Jessica says:

    Y’all crack me up! I had no idea so many people were squeamish about the gusset. I miss wearing pink over—miss it so much. I guess it comes from having to be uniform as a kid and then getting to do pink over to be cool as a teenager. But I’m one of only two adult students in this town, and none of the kids wear pink over, and I try to be a good example/blend, so no pink over for me.

  35. aamandary says:

    I wear a little skirt over my leotard so it wouldn’t much matter – but I do not really like the look of tights over leotard, and I wouldn’t do it. I think it spoils the line, especially pink tights over black leotard – plus my tights always feel like they might fall down, even though they are the right size. There’s enough embarrassment already in class sometimes without having further humiliation of pulling your tights back up when they fall to your ankles lol And it reminds me having to wear panties over tights as as kid or something.

  36. Casey says:

    Pink under and black footless/stirrup over (never footed). I even take bad ass dancer further and wear tan shoes with footless black tights. Look at me extending my line…so in “the know.” Lol

  37. Naomi says:

    Let me ask you – do you wear undies under your tights? If not, how do you stand that feeling? If so, how do you stand that feeling?
    //Team Over 4 Eva\\

    • No Underwear In Ballet Class!!! I mean, unless two sets of panty-line is trending in your studio. It’s not in mine.
      There’s not really much of a feeling to stand? I put the tights on, they immediately become imperceptible (except for the waistband), the leotard leg elastic feels about the same as underwear leg elastic, so I don’t really notice that either, then the shorts I wear over make me feel covered, so I basically forget about the whole ensemble.

  38. Kirra says:

    I’ve just been watching season 2 of city.ballet on Youtube, and almost all the girl are wearing tights over! Some have waistbands cut, some do not. Those tiny girls can definitely pull off the look better than I could, but I still don’t find it very attractive. Makes me think there must be more of a practicality/comfort reason we just haven’t quite figured out yet.

  39. I keep coming back to this post just to read the comments because the continuing discussion is so amusing. I find it interesting that most of those saying they wear pink tights over their leotard then cover it up with a pair of shorts, so that’s NOT THE SAME THING at all as letting your gusset and seams and crooked waistbands be seen :) There are a couple of adults in the advanced classes who wear tights over leotard in our studio and now it’s trickling down to the teens. UGH. no no no.

  40. Katy says:

    I have another question – having just come into possession of a small daughter, I’ve discovered that I fasten her vest over her tights and the Lovely Young Man fastened them under.

    Are the rules the same for civilians as dancers? Does it matter if you’re in nappies?

  41. Cathy says:

    Ummm, i thought people were already aware of tights where you can hardly notice a gusset like in the videos.

    Of course i’m tights over aalll the way.

    • Cathy says:

      Omg i just noticed the videos i posted don’t work, oh well i’ll post the titles the.

      VALENTINE PAJTLER. Finaliste. Concours International de Grasse 2012 – J2.mov

      Jennifer Wang – Variation from La Esmeralda

      Dominique Clemente – Variation from Coppelia

  42. Kim Sherman says:

    In my experience ‘tights over’ is much more convenient for a bathroom visit, but does not help hold tights up in place like tights under does. If a leotard is worn that is pulled over head and fastened underneath then the bathroom doesn’t make much difference. Tights under usually looks better when wearing tights less than 100 denier.
    Hope this helps explain under / over dilemma.

  43. Kim Sherman says:

    OK, it’s easy. If tights tend to fall down then tights under if worth considering. If it’s a traditional leotard a call of nature is easier if tights are over; pull tights down and pull gusset to one side. If it’s a bodysuit, instead of leotard, with fastening poppers at gusset then this will not be an issue so over or under irrelevant. For the guys; wearing leotard under tights helps to keep thing in place down there. So the situation will dictate over or under, but I find in the world of dance females tend to go tights under leotard and guys go for tights over leotard. Hope this helps.
    Danskin Ballet Tights

  44. Robert says:

    I’ve started back into ballet after a long absence and tried a leo over tights for the first time. I guess it was for two reasons, one I think it is more comfortable and looks better, and two, I suppose I wanted to make a statement. I have a black, grey and blue leotard that I wear over various colored tights. I’ve never gotten a negative remark or even a raised eyebrow. Everyone just accepted my choice, and even complimented me. I don’t have anything against tradition and would still wear my leo under my tights, but this is way more comfortable and therefore, practical. Also, I really like how it looks, so who cares?

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