How to choose your first leotard for an adult ballet class: check-list

Evgenia Budrina
7 min readSep 10, 2020

When I bought my first ballet leotard I made so many mistakes that I ended up wearing it only 3 times. And each time was a torture!

Choosing a ballet leotard — what can be easier than that, right? Well, not exactly.

Many adult ballerinas struggle to find the right leotard from the first time. They end up spending unnecessary time, money and effort buying a second or even a third one before they find the one that fits like “second skin”.

Can you avoid this and guess the right one from the start? Yes!

In collaboration with a Russian ballet wear brand Zidans I prepared a special check-list for those who are choosing their first ballet leotard. I would like to thank experienced adult ballerinas who helped us with their insights (Lilya, Jenia and Lena). Special thanks to Mariana Gomez — a ballet dancer in the Bolshoi Theater, adult ballet teacher in Moscow — who offered her professional opinion on the matter.

  1. Buy it only after you did some classes.

Don’t rush to buy a leotard for your first ballet class. You can easily go through your first classes wearing your running pants and a sports t-shirt. If after 4–5 classes and a good hundred of battements your desire to do ballet didn’t go away, it’s time to think about your first leotard.

2. Focus on comfort.

We know, you would really like something nice and extraordinary. For example, that open back looks so good! Let’s be honest here: comfort is more important than sophisticated looks for your ballet classes. Your goal is to choose something that helps you at your classes, not something that makes you feel awkward or irritates with bold colours.

We recommend putting aside that leotard with a big red flower pattern. And that one, with the open back and lace decorations, too. Instead, choose a basic, well-performing model.

This rule will help you truly focus on the class.


3. Measure your height and weight

To get the right result you need to put in the right data. In our case, weight and height. Zidans has a special chart, using which you can figure out your leotard size in a matter of a couple of seconds.

4. When ordering online, choose options with a try on delivery and return possibilities.

Not all brands offer these options, but we do recommend to use them when choosing your first leotard, to avoid unnecessary spendings. Do add more than 1 item /size to your cart, when ordering online. This way you can try all of them and understand more about what suits you best. At Zidans we do offer a refund option.

5. The sensitive topic: breast support

The second part of any ballet class includes jumping exercises, for example, changements des pieds. A good leotard will stabilize your breasts during those jumps. When trying your leotard, do pay attention to how it feels in the breast area, try to do several jumps. If you have a bigger breast size, consider wearing a sports bra under the leotard. In this case do not forget to put your sports bra on when trying on the leotard, to avoid choosing the wrong size

Strap leotards | basic №1. Bra biflex lining of these leotards matches the colour of the contrasting strap.

Lilya, adult ballerina, does ballet for 8 years: “I have rather small breasts but they also do jump during active exercises. The bra lining is a good solution for me. But I know many girls with bigger breast sizes wear sports bras underneath. For them that’s the only way to do it”.

Jenya, adult ballerina, does ballet for 3 years: “I always wanted an open back leotard, they look so cool! And I bought one. And then I realized that my breast size and shape simply do not allow me to wear a leotard without a sports bra underneath. And if i do wear it, its straps will be just in the middle of that beautiful open back, which I definitely did not want. Because of this I ended up wearing this leotard only a couple of times”.

Lena, adult ballerina, does ballet for 10 years: “I sometimes noticed at classes that some girls wear regular bras under their leotards. In my opinion this does not look nice and is by far not comfortable. I would definitely recommend wearing a sports bra, not a regular one”.

Teacher’s opinion. Mariana Gomez, ballet dancer at the Bolshoi theater, adult ballet teacher at Central Ballet School in Moscow: “Any bra can bring you discomfort. I strongly recommend choosing a leotard that would allow you not to wear anything underneath”.

6. Choose the right fabric

A ballet class is very intense. They say, if you do just a couple of plies according to all the rules, you already start sweating. That’s why it’s very important to choose a leotard made from high-tech performance fabrics, not natural ones. We recommend choosing bi-flex (80% Polyamide / 20% Elastane). At Zidans we prefer to use bi-flex from Lombardia, Italy. Here’s why:

  • two-way stretch to ensure perfect fit and comfort
  • soft and light, feels like “second skin”
  • pilling resistant to ensure durability and excellent look

2 sleeves leotard

Lilya: “When I was a kid, I had a white cotton leotard. My armpits were sweating and it was very visible on the fabric. It really irritated me!”.

Jenya: “My first leotard was made of cotton. It felt very soft but turned out not to be doing its job well: it shrank after several washes, lost its color and was not stretching enough”.

7. Trying on a leotard: tips and tricks

  • Try it on exactly as you will wear it. If you plan to wear tights underneath at your classes, wear tights when trying on. If you want to wear panties underneath at your classes, don’t remove them when trying on. This rule will help you get closer to the real class feel, so you won’t choose the wrong size and type.
  • Move while trying on. You need to see the leotard in action: do a couple of ports des bras, jetées, pliées. This will help avoid bad surprises during your classes.

Lilya: “I always wear panties underneath my leotard, which is why I also wear them when trying on a new leotard. Try to move when trying it on, take your time, walk around for like 10 minutes to really understand if you’re comfortable”.

Lena: “You should not feel tight in your leotard. Do pay special attention if it feels too tight when you’re putting it or taking it off. For me this is the most unpleasant part. If it feels too tight, I’m not buying this leotard”.

Teacher’s opinion, Mariana Gomez: “The cleavage of your leotard should feel comfy. Try to do port des bras back and to the sides. This is a sure way to check how your cleavage performs.

Do take your time when trying a leotard on! Once I ordered online a leotard which I really liked: it had long sleeves and had a long zipper in the front, from neck to belly. When it arrived, I put it on immediately and rushed to my Don Quixote rehearsal. In the middle of the rehearsal I felt that the seam of the zipper started to come undone. Luckily not completely. But I still felt that this was the longest rehearsal in my life! I was only thinking about that zipper, not about the actual dance”.

8. How does a good leotard feel?

It really depends on your body and preferences. But there are a couple of general things that you definitely need to consider:

  • It shouldn’t be too tight in the areas where your body will actively move. The lower part should not be too tight around your hips and your arms should be able to move freely in all directions.
  • It shouldn’t be too loose. It should fit somewhat tight but not as tight as if the only thing you want is to take it off it and to feel free again.
  • If you have doubts if its fits correctly, we recommend trying different sizes, cuts and even brands. The cut and size charts can vary greatly from brand to brand. It might be that you end up buying something totally different from what your friends recommend, as you have a different body.

Strap leotard

Lilya: “My best leotard (strap leotard, stained in print) feels like “second skin”. It fits tight, but I do not feel any stitches or edges. Your leotard should feel loose in the areas where your body will move (arms, shoulders, hips), but not too tight. It shouldn’t be too loose on your belly or back.

Teacher’s opinion. Mariana Gomez: “I always recommend leotards with open shoulders. If you’re a beginner, it’s very important to the teacher to see your arms, neck and shoulder blades. Talking about the colour: I know, everybody likes black, it’s handy. But black also hides too much of your body. Light-coloured leotards allow the teacher to see more and give more detailed corrections.

Author — Evgenia Budrina. I am a dance enthusiast from Russia.

I started doing ballet at 32. In my blog I write about and for those who started dancing as adults and take it seriously. Personal stories, failures, life-hacks and thoughts.

My Instagram@kick_ass_girl_.



Evgenia Budrina

Dance enthusiast from Russia. This blog is about dancing as an adult: starting out, keeping up, motivating yourself. Personal stories, failures, lifehacks.