Do Boys Wear Leotards? And what is a Dance belt?

If girls wear leotards to dance and ballet class what do boys wear? Do they wear leotards too?

Do boys wear leotards? Yes, boys do wear leotards but they wear them under shorts, leggings or tights, whereas it is more common for girls to wear their leotard 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 from

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 differences however 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. In fact, you wouldn’t normally wear one with loose shorts either because nobody wants to be seeing up the leg hole when you kick your leg and accidentally catching a glimpse of your bum crack. 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??

Just like a woman’s bra helps keep her breasts all in place, a dance belt does exactly the same for a boy’s crown jewels. Basically a dance belt like a bra helps to keep everything in place and from bouncing up and down and around which is not only distracting for the dancer but can also be distracting for the audience if you know what I mean!

What is a full seat or thong dance belt?

Unlike a jockstrap which has 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 with the most common being the jockstrap. If your son is a bit embarrassed about getting one, there are plenty of sporting references to the good old jockstrap that can normalize him having to begin wearing one.

In dance 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 all his bits 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 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 protective jock straps and cups if they really wanted to, but why would any man take the risk of injurying his crown jewels?

For professional dancers, it might not be written in every contract, but it is a non-verbal requirement that they do otherwise chances are they won’t be given the next leading role or contract with that employer or company.

What is better a leotard with 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:


    • 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.
    • Fewer layers
    • Buy one


    • 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.

    • 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!

Related Questions

How to best clean a male dancer’s white thong leotard?

Ok so a bit gross, but the question was asked so it needs to be answered. How do you clean a white thong leotard? One mom I know of said she throws them out and buys new ones when they get too stained with sweat LOL! But seriously, not everyone can afford that. Another just throws them into her normal washing load and they come out fine! But if your sons white leotard is turning yellow or brown around the groin and thong area you could try a natural solution by soaking the leotard in a solution of 4litres of water and a cup of baking soda for a few hours, then washing as normal and then adding a dose of vinegar during the rinse cycle. Make sure you finally dry them in the sun for more whitening action. If 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? If you can’t get the marks around the groin out you will end up throwing it out anyway, so really your not losing anything!

Do guys wear cups in ballet?

Yes, in the form of a dance belt which has a cup at the front to support and protect the genitals. It is a soft cup rather than plastic like 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.


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 and this site 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!


About the Author

Samantha Bellerose

Samantha is a wife and mother of four kids aged 3-11. She danced and acted from the age of 5 and performed in film clips, on television, and in musical theatre professionally. She also taught dance, but after leaving the profession to backpack through Europe, Canada and the USA with her husband for three years, she then completed an Education Degree and taught within primary schools in Australia. Today she is a business owner with her husband and the creator and writer for Dance Parent 101 where she hopes her previous experience as a dancer, current experience as a dance parent and the research and writing skills she gained completing her education degree will help enlighten parents on their journey with their child through the world of dance.