Let's say there are two kinds- man pants and lady pants. As you might expect, they perform two very different functions.
I co-taught a seminar a while back on "looking good" on the dance floor and my partner-in-prettiness and I had the hardest time explaining lady dance pants. Think: bloomers. Without the ruffles. Granny panties. Spandex butt covers.
(Thank you, DanceAmerica. My butt was not up to the modeling task.)
Generally, a lady only needs to buy these extremely-modest polyester-wonders if she's wearing an off-the-rack dress for dancing; otherwise, most ballroom dresses come with a bodysuit attached to the dress. Note: "a lady… needs to buy these…" I have too often seen women dancing in their skivvies alone. I don't want to:
- see your entire butt cheek when you spin (a thong? really?)
- lacy pseudo-dance pants (strangely inapproprate)
- nude material (do you even want people to think about that?)
Ladies, I want them opaque, huge, and matching your dress.
Men. Oh, men. Your dance pants are actually pants. They start somewhere around your waist and end somewhere above the floor and have material all over in between.
To tackle your amazing fashion below the waist, I invited the ultra-talented Marsha Wiest-Hines from Made for Movement. She has made several of my swanky ballroom dresses and, more importantly, made the G look fantastic on the floor.
Marsha, take it away!
"I think menswear, pants especially, requires a customized fit more critically than all the stretchy and somewhat adaptable gowns. Since menswear is mostly black, it's fabric choice, cut and fit, and details, that make everything work. I just did some work for "Roy" [names and faces have been edited to protect the innocent] who has a GREAT body, but unique. We had to re-fit his trousers, both for ballroom and Latin, to get them right. But the difference between right and wrong is substantial. And when guys gain or lose wieght, that can really mess with how they look on the floor, if they don't have their things re-fit." [Guys, please get them re-fit. Let's be generous and say that you put on muscle!]
"I personally think there should be a big difference between the fit of Latin pants and ballroom trousers, and purposefully make two completely different products for those purposes. In the Latin, I like a close fit, with a defined backside to feature the Cuban motion. I like them to be snug at the hip, but not scary tight, and with a loose, gently belled bottom. similar to the fit of boot cut jeans. But of course the fabric should be softer and more supple and pliable than denim. I like a fabric with stretch in the crossgrain, but not the length, and always look for a great drape."
"I like seat details, interesting closures, belts, and satin waistbands, but these things are not for everyone, and it's critial that details not only emphasize and flatter the body they are adorning, but that the guy is comfortable with the extra attention. Nothing looks worse on the floor than confidence not equal to the costume, IMHO." [Amen, sister!]
"Now, ballroom trousers, on the other hand, for me are a different creature. They are high waisted to be SURE there is no gap between vest and trouser top, and to allow for the look of a very long leg. And I like to elastically link coats and vests to the tops of the trousers to confirm that the tops stay down and the bottoms up. Sometimes, suspenders are necessary as well. I can often guess whether a new guy is better at ballroom or Latin by looking at his proportions. Guys with longer bodies tend to be much more rhythmical because the extra room there allows better separation between rib cage and pelvis and the lower center of balance makes them more grounded. The ballroom guys either have shorter bodies and longer legs, or really need costume assistance to create that impression! Longer legs and longer stride are such an advantage for the ballroom dances. And speaking of length, pants too short or too long in either style is a huge distraction for both dancer and judge. I look at hemmed trousers on racks, and wonder how often that predetermined length is tragically wrong."
"I also don't like to see hips and thighs as much in the ballroom, so we cut a roomier seat and upper leg. I just had a guy ask me to make him a Bolero jacket for smooth, and I can do that. But his dance posture better be perfect, with his seat neatly tucked beneath him at all times, or that jacket will be a huge disaster. Always tricky to find the diplmatic way to say what needs to be said." [I like the blunt version, generally!]
"And then, there's 'To stirrup, or not to stirrup.' Stirrups are elastics, worn beneath the shoe, connected to the trouser inseams and outseams to keep the pants from flapping about excessively. I am not a fan, because for me, the movement is just a little strange, but many make this choice, and for some, it works."
"Some of my clients like their Latin trousers SOOOOOO much they have an extra pair made for teaching and social dancing. Or some just wear their competition pair. I think this interesting. Since dance pants have NO pockets of any sort to mess with the nice lines, they must be 'murse' users." [I wish. G does use his fancy pants for teaching, but just throws all his stuff in my bag.]
"If a guy can afford only ONE pair of pants, we fit Latin looser than we usualy might and cut a vest much longer... it can work, but it's not an optimum solution. OK, Marsha, step away form the keyboard!"
[Cue thunderous applause]
Isn't she great? I recommend all my man students get suited up by her. And guys? Remember to wear black socks. And black underwear. Just in case.