Hip-hop dance sits in a unique spot in the world of dance in terms of style. From its origins in street dance it has always been a fresh form of art, sitting astride its twin contradictions of massive worldwide appeal and underdog, outsider status. So imagining that there is a formal costume for hip-hop dance is somewhat counterintuitive: Simply put, hip-hop dance is like hip-hop music, it’s all about style. And whether that style is an homage to the salad days of the 1980’s when breakdancing ruled the streets or the most cutting edge fashion of today, hip-hop fashion can mean a lot of different things. We’re going to cut right down the middle for you and find some sensible gear with just enough swag to make your hip-hop dance class vibe.
While it’s true that you can get away with wearing traditional dance footwear for hip-hop dance, and in some cases it’s even preferable, it’s not a universal requirement. So while you can wear black jazz dance shoes for many hip-hop dance classes, let’s consider those shoes to be the neutral setting to calibrate our tastes. Sneakers are perfectly acceptable, and typically most desirable, for hip-hop dance. You can go vintage with Air Force Ones, old school Reebok Hi Tops, or British Knights, but only if you think the investment and look is necessary. Try investing in some mid-priced basketball shoes that are comfortable and casually stylish. One added benefit to b-ball sneakers is that they are built for active wear with an eye for design, so they balance the world of sports and fashion nicely. A hi-top is always a good choice because you get the added benefit of ankle stability while you dance.
If the fit makes the dancer then a fit check now and then can’t be a bad idea. And in hip-hop dance clothes can be all over the place in terms of budget, style, and color. But you have to start somewhere, so we recommend that you get a basic dance wardrobe together as your beginning, go to gear. We live in a golden age of lycra and spandex, and tights can be appropriate and stylish for some hip-hop dance classes, but for our money nothing looks finer, and feels better, today than jogging pants with a tapered leg. It’s been a reemerging look in the last few years, and your fabric choices of fleece fabric sweatpants to sheer or velour tracksuit poly blends all offer breathability with a wide range of motion. To look your best we suggest you follow the trend of tapered ankles with a looser fit around the waist.
As far as tops go, a timeless option is the tank top, or a plain white or black athletic tee one or two sizes larger than you would consider snug. Be a little baggy with your tee shirts and this will help you move more freely. Sports jerseys and sweatshirts can also be acceptable, depending on the temperature of your environment. Anything worn over like a jacket or hoodie should have a zippered front for ventilation.
As we mentioned in our best gifts article, accessories are pretty clutch when it comes to adding a little style to your dance wardrobe, and style should always be on tap for hip-hop dance. You don’t have to go bling with jewelry like chains and earrings though, that’s a personal touch but it isn’t essential. Start out with something simple like a hat.
As far as the other extras go, here’s where you have to remind yourself that this is hip-hop dance. You’re going to be moving and sweating, so make sure you have a nice clean towel, a rag for the hands and face is nice as well, and a good-sized water bottle to help stay hydrated. We recommend at least a 24 oz container, preferably something durable and reusable. After all, taking care of your body is definitely an essential element of style.
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