What you wear, of course, is not as important as how you dance. However, certain things are expected and required. Ultimately it’s up to you but note that some dances just don’t look the same without the right clothes. Here’s the fashion report:

  • For Newcomers, Beginners and Intermediates, the expectations are not that great. Full-out costumes are not necessary and are sometimes not allowed. What follows are guidelines for those levels:


  • Standard/Smooth Dances: Hair: Long hair should be tied back, looking neat. Go for a slicker, more refined look. Looking for a clean- cut appearance. Shirt: White dress shirt & tie, or even better, tuxedo shirt & black bow tie. (Advanced and up wear tuxedo tails especially made for dancing.) Pants: Black dress slacks or tux pants. Accessories: Black vest or buttoned sweater perpetuates the formal look.
  • Latin/Rhythm Dances: Hair: Loose hair is okay, but should not be in your eyes. Refined look is fine. Shirt: Dark-colored (preferably black) shirt. Dress shirt or club shirt will suffice. Pants: Again, black dress slacks. (A narrow cut is complimentary to the dances.) Accessories: Belts with shiny accents attract attention to hips.
    • *Note: Avoid wearing watches, long chains, or large rings that may catch your partner unintentionally.


  • Standard/Smooth Dances:
    • Hair: Long hair should be put up neatly – bun, French braid or twist, etc. Use lots of gel and bobby pins.
    • Makeup: As if on stage, wear more than usual, especially on eyes on lips.
    • Dress: More formal. Want something that is around ankle length but not touching the floor and flows. Many wear a skirt & blouse.  Main thing is that you can move easily. Remember your partner steps between your feet!
    • Accessories: Nice, elegant jewelry – pearls or pearl-like glittery earrings. Sparkles can attract the eye as well.
  • Latin/Rhythm:
    • Hair: Neat & slicked back, tight ponytail, bun or French twist, long braid okay too.
    • Makeup: Theatrical. Go nuts! Put on way more than usual, then add some. Go bright, festive-like. False eyelashes are common.
    • Dress: Cocktail/party dress or two piece. Shorter skirts with flare or fringe for spinning. Sequins and stones are encouraged. Avoid restrictive clothing. Also, black drowns you out; so wear something bright. If you chose something revealing great, but please invest in “dance pants” for modesty. Trust us!
    • Accessories: Sparkle on the floor! Large glittery earning are good if they will stay on. Watches and rings are not recommended. Get creative! Nude or flesh-tone nylons can elongate your legs. Do not wear control top. Overall, be sexy and comfortable.


Ballroom dance shoes are a serious investment, with both men’s and women’s shoes in the $100 range. Although not required, they do severely enhance your ability on the dance floor. Our recommendation: Wait until you are absolutely sure that ballroom is for you before spending the money.

  • Regular shoes: The best dancing shoes for men are flat, non-rubber soled dress shoes. Rubber souls are too sticky and seriously restrict your movement. Ladies should wear heels, as long as they are flexible and stay on the foot while dancing. Also, most competitions will require that ladies wear heel caps on any shoes (dance or not) while on the competition floor.
  • Dance shoes: Both men and women’s ballroom shoes have gray, tan, or black suede souls, for easy traction and slide. Shoes for Standard and Smooth are different than shoes for Latin and Rhythm.
    • Latin shoes for men have a heel. If planning on purchasing one pair of shoes for now and you do all styles, get the Standard shoes. It’s a lot easier to do Latin in Standard shoes than Standard in Latin shoes.
    • Ladies’ Standard/Smooth: Closed-toe pump usually in tan satin.
    • Ladies’ Latin/Rhythm: Open toe sandal. Tan/skin tone most popular, elongates leg.
    • Ladies: If you plan on buying just one pair for now and do not compete in just Standard/Smooth, then buy the Latin/Rhythm shoes. The reasoning behind this is that it is too difficult and painful to do Latin or Rhythm in a closed toe shoe. Dancing Standard or Smooth in a Latin shoe is perfectly acceptable.