Swing dance clothing styles

Written by sylvia branch
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Swing dance clothing styles
Swing dancers often dress up before hitting the floor. (passion dance image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com)

Swing dance clothing takes its cues from the styles of the 1920s through the 1950s. The energetic dance requires clothing in which participants can move and be comfortable on the dance floor. Due to its showy aspect, dressing up is a big part of swing.


Proper swing dancing shoes are as much a matter of style as they are function. Shoes with a smooth sole are the most useful when attempting to lindy hop or jitterbug. Specifically made dance shoes in a Mary Jane or oxford style, with a mid-size heel, work well for women while spectator wing tips are a classic look for men.

If you want to wear sneakers, choose a pair made for dancing. Regular rubber-sole athletic shoes make it difficult to spin or make quick turns.

Men's Swing Dance Clothing

Uniforms from World War II sometimes make their appearance but most often if a man is going to dress in vintage swing apparel, that means a zoot suit. The high-waist trousers on a zoot suit are overly baggy in the thigh and have narrow ankles. The suit jacket is extra long, sometimes coming down to the knees.

Lightweight trousers and shirts made of a nylon or rayon blend keep the dancer cool. Add suspenders to keep the trousers in place while doing quick moves.

Women's Swing Dance Clothing

Flapper-style dresses make a nice show on the dance floor. Pin-up-girl looks of the 1930s and 1940s often make an appearance, as do women wearing bobby socks and a knee-length circle skirt.

A practical swing dance clothing style for women is the sailor girl look. Sailor trousers are tight at a high waist and fasten with a panel that has 2 buttons on each side. The legs are loose and hit just above the ankles.

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