If girls wear leotards to dance and ballet class what do boys wear? Do they wear leotards too?
Yes, boys do wear leotards but they wear them under shorts, leggings, or tights, whereas it is more common for girls to wear their leotards on top of their tights or with a chiffon skirt so you can easily tell they are wearing one.
Just as there are differences between boys’ jeans and girls’ jeans, there are differences in leotards for boys and girls as well. We will discuss how they are made differently including a whole heap of information on what a dance belt is, but first…..
What is a leotard and where did they come from?
The History Of the Leotard
The leotard believe it or not was first made by a man, for men and only worn by men for almost a century!
Jule’s Leotard is credited by naming rights as the inventor of the leotard which first appeared more like an all-over bodysuit rather than what we would now call a leotard.
He created the tightly knitted unitard as a way to show off his muscles during his acrobatic circus performances. He needed maximum freedom of movement without showing too much bare skin which was risque at the time in history – the 18th century.
The real leotard look came in the form of the attire he wore over this bodysuit, a black V neck all in one suit that covered his torso with bike short like leg holes. Over time the design changed and was adapted until we have what we know as the leotard today.
What is a Leotard?
A leotard is a tight piece of clothing generally made from spandex or Lycra that covers the torso of a person.
It has leg holes that can be configured in different ways such as hi-cut, low cut or boy cut to name a few with no leg coverings.
A leotard also has armholes and they can remain sleeveless or have a sleeve of any length.
A leotard might also have a sweetheart neckline and camisole straps, or have any other type of neckline imaginable. Dancers wear leotards as they are nonrestrictive and allow the dancer maximum freedom of movement.
Why Do Male Dancers Wear Leotards?
Male dancers wear leotards for the same reasons females do. Because they allow the best freedom of movement when dancing, whilst allowing the dancer to create beautiful lines at the same time as being covered.
Male dancers also wear leotards over the other option of wearing a tank or t-shirt with tights so the top doesn’t constantly need to be tucked in, as it pulls and stretches coming out from where they are tucked it into their tights as they move.
Click here to see some of the boys leotards we recommend!
How are Male Leotards different from Female Leotards?
The main difference between a general all purpose female and male leotard is how they are cut before they are sewn together. The pattern used to make boys leotards is slightly different, being designed to fit the shape of a male body and to look more masculine.
The legs holes are lower cut and the neckline will generally be in a v or u shape. There is a lot less variety and are generally white or black and rarely navy or gray.
Male leotard’s are generally tank top in style or have sleeves cut at the best length to show off the bicep muscles.
Biketards are also common for male dancers to wear – they are a leotard where the leg holes continue downwards and are cut around the upper thigh.
This all being said sometimes the differences between a general all-purpose male and female leotards is so minor that a leotard can be unisex, but may be marketed either to males or females especially when talking about children’s leotards as children’s bodies have not yet reached puberty and therefore the torso is shaped similarly.
The biggest difference is….
The biggest difference between female and male adult or teen dance leotards is that a leotard worn by a male is usually a g-string or thong style and has an inbuilt dance belt!
Why are male leotards made with thong bottoms?
Men and boys wear their leotards under their tights, not over them.
When a full seat leotard is worn under tights you can see where the elastic squeezes against the flesh of the buttocks – women call this VPL, visible panty line.
A thong leotard, however, eliminates this problem giving the male dancer more aesthetically pleasing lines as the leg is given the look of having extra length and extension as it is not chopped at the bum with a leotard line.
Many male dancers once they get over any inhibitions they initially have over wearing the thong-style leotard quickly get over them due to this one benefit!
It is not kosher to just wear a thong leotard with no tights or pants over the top to dance class or under a loose shorts – your dance teacher would not be pleased!
This is when whole seat leotards come in handy!
What is a dance Belt?
A dance belt is an undergarment worn by male dancers that is designed to provide support and protect their genitals. It is basically a jock strap specially made for the needs of dancers. You can check out our resource page on dance belts here.
What is the purpose of a dance belt??
In ballet and dance the purpose of a dance belt is primarily for aesthetics. I write this because male dancers could wear numerous other types of support, but a dance belt is the support of choice because it helps creates beautiful lines in the body and no VPL as I write about further in this article.
Scientifically however males who are performing physical activity in general wear supportive underwear to ensure their testes do not shift, dangle or protrude. When the male body warms up the testes drop to help regulate their temperature. The opposite occurs when they are cold – they are drawn to the body to keep them warm.
What is a full seat or thong dance belt?
The following images are from the Dance Jox Website that makes top-quality dance belts! In fact, they only make dance belts and active shorts for male dancers because they are so obsessed with the quality of their product, having been the brainchild of Tom Kilps a former dancer with Texas Ballet Theatre.
Dance Parent 101 is an affilate for Dance Jox and if you make a purchase by clicking on any of our links we receive a small commission that helps us continue to provide free helpful information for you!
Unlike a jockstrap (which are not apparently in use much now days) which have two elasticized straps from the groin that pass between the legs and go around the buttocks of each leg to the waist belt, a dance belt is usually either full seat or thong.
Full seat means that just like a pair of undies, the whole of the buttocks are covered with material – it covers the whole seat of the bum.
A thong dance belt has one elasticized strap that attaches to the groin, fitting between the bum cheeks and attaches to the middle back of the belt.
From what age do boys wear dance belts?
Boys should wear a dance belt when they feel they are ready to wear one, especially thong style.
Most boys who are serious about their dancing and in particular ballet will quickly get used to them because of the drastic change it can make to the look of their lines.
Many people would argue that definitely by the age of 12 around the time a boy hits puberty they should be wearing one for the support and protection they provide.
Others argue that younger is better around the age of 9 or so when both sexes really start to become more aware of the differences in their bodies, as a dance belt also provides coverage and a little modesty for male dancers.
Why do male dancers wear thong dance belts?
Most male athletes wear some sort of genital protection. For those that play ball games for example a rigid cup is inserted into a double layer pouch within a jock strap. For those not playing contact sports there is compression underwear.
Although dance is not a contact sport, dancers will come into contact with others and they are required to move in ways many athletes are not required – think grand jetes through the air (running and doing a full split in the air) and so male dancers especially in ballet require the extra support and protection of a dance belt.
In ballet in particular though a dance belt provides another purpose.
Just like females who wear tight pants, male dancers have to worry about VPL or visible panty line! (if you don’t know, VPL is when you can see the lines of the elastic in underwear pressing against bum skin creating bulges).
Male dancers wear thong dance belts to prevent VPL or visible panty line through the tights that they wear over the dance belt or leotard with built in dance belt. It produces nicer lines and aesthetics when the male is dancing.
A dance belt also provides padding and modesty for the male dancer so that his genitals are not on show for the world to see.
How do you fit and size your son for a dance belt?
Firstly for all those moms or dads and sons who really don’t feel like bonding over their first thong dance belt in a real live dancewear store guess what? You can buy them online!! OH YEAH!!! and sizing for one is really simple.
Saying that, I wouldn’t want to rob any dance mom or dad from any bonding experience but feel free to check out our resource page on Dance Belts here for a list of various brands and styles you can buy.
You buy a dance belt in just the same way you would choose a pair of underwear for your son based on their clothing size. Most dance belts for children come in small, medium and large sizes or for ages 8-10 or 11-12.
It is best you know your sons hip and waist size to get the best fit. For teens, you will be looking at buying an adult men’s dance belt which will generally come in sizes from XX-Small to X Large. Again it is best to know your son’s waist and hip size for the best fit.
As well as choosing either thong or full seat, depending on where you are buying the dance belt from you may also be able to choose the width of the belt.
The belt can be 2 or 4 inches or even wider depending on what is most comfortable and supportive for your boy.
And I know you are all thinking this – No they don’t do differing cup sizes, but the cup can come quilted or padded or made from differing materials.
So which do you buy?
Again this can come down to which is more comfortable for your son. Padded are usually worn for performances as they give a smoother look to the crotch area, but some males swear that the quilted cups is more comfortable and prefer wearing those to rehearsals and class.
How do you wear a dance belt?
Men wear dance belts in lieu of other underwear under their tights or leotard.
You simply put your legs through the holes, pull them up until they are comfortable and adjust the genitals to fit comfortably within the cup at the front.
The belt part like a normal belt should sit just above the hips on the waist.
You do not have to wear a pair of underwear underneath the dance belt, the dance belt is the underwear. You would put items of clothing on in the following order:
No clothing – Dance belt – tights or pants – singlet/t’shirt
No clothing- dance belt – leotard – tights, pants or shorts
No clothing – Leotard with inbuilt dance belt – tights or pants
Are there alternatives to wearing a dance belt?
No not really, but there are several different manufacturers of dance belts today and you can find some of them here made with different materials and padding so you are more than likely to find one that you are most comfortable using.
Can men dance without a dance belt?
Of course, men can dance without a dance belt, just like athletes can play without their compression underwear, jock straps and rigid cups if they really wanted to.
For professional ballet dancers for example, it might not be written in their contract, but it is a non-verbal requirement that they do.
What is better a leotard with an inbuilt dance belt or wearing a dance belt under a leotard?
Many male dancers own both dance belts and leotards with inbuilt dance belts and some prefer one over the other and at the end of the day everyone will have their own preferences but here are some pros and cons of both:
- DANCE BELT
- Can be worn under anything
- Dancer may feel more comfortable in a t’shirt or singlet tucked into tights rather than have to wear a leotard.
- BUILT IN DANCE BELT AND LEOTARD
- Fewer layers
- Need to buy one item
- DANCE BELT
- As they are worn like underwear your need just as many pairs as you would underwear.
- Some males hate having to layer.
- Having two elastic thong straps can be uncomfortable – the dance belt thong and the leotard thong.
- If you are wearing them with just tights and a shirt if the shirt lifts up, you can sometimes see the belt.
- BUILT IN DANCE BELT AND LEOTARD
- Some boys wear out of either their T’shirts or Dance Belts faster. You would have to replace the whole leotard rather than just a shirt or dance belt.
- As you do not wear any other undergarment underneath you need just as many pairs as you would underwear.
- Check out our resource page on male leotards to see the top leotard with inbuilt dance belt that we found was recommended the most when we were researching this article!
How to best clean a male dancer’s white thong leotard?
Like with all underwear that gets soiled or dirty you should be able to put a white leotard into your white clothing washing load and have them come out fine!
If needed you could give the underarm and thong area an extra scrub with laundry soap or even try some of the suggestions in our article The Best Life-Saving Stain Removers for your Dance Costume Disasters
It is most likely your son’s white leotard will start to turn yellow around the underarm, groin and thong area due to sweat. Having gone to a full time dance school this was a complaint I heard from my male colleagues who wore white thong and full seat leotards daily, especially those living out of home and doing their own washing.
If you are after a natural solution – try soaking the leotard in 4litres of water and a cup of baking soda for a few hours, then wash as normal before adding a dose of vinegar during the rinse cycle.
Make sure you finally dry them in the sun for more whitening action.
If all this fails, reach for the bleach and follow the directions on the bottle for removing stains in clothing, just make sure your son isn’t sensitive to the chemicals first.
But won’t bleach decrease the life of the leotard you ask?
Well if the stains are becoming visible when worn in class or on stage – especially under the arms, and you can’t get the marks out with bleach you might end up throwing it out anyway, so really you are not losing anything!
Do guys wear cups in ballet?
Yes, in the form of a dance belt that has a pouch at the front to support and protect the genitals. It is a soft pouch rather than a hard plastic cup as worn by people playing contact sports.
What is a Male Ballerina called?
A male ballerina is called a ballerino.
Ballet originated in the Royal courts of Italy during the 15th century. In the Italian language, many words have both a female and male form.
You are able to tell whether a word is feminine or male as words which describe the female end with the letter A and words that describe the male end with the letter O.
A male ballerina can also be called a danseur or a ballet dancer.
Do males wear dance belts for other activities like Gymnastics or Figure Skating?
Absolutely, males wear dance belts for gymnastics and figure skating. Your favorite actors and super heroes in the movies also wear them under their costumes.
NEED MORE INFORMATION ON DANCE BELTS???
If you are after more information on Dance Belts I really wish I could say we here at Dance Parent 101 have the best information for you, but what I have is the second best thing…
I came across a site called dancebelt.info and this site really is the ultimate resource on all things dance belt with reviews on every type of dance belt you can think of.
The site was created by a ‘veteran ballet dancer and teacher’.
I hate sending you away from our site, but we want to be as helpful to you as possible and so if you have a son and you or he are hungry for more information I would 100% recommend you go and check out this site!