The ballroom dancer is ethereal; she floats across the room as if gravity is a concern for other people. This illusion is created in part by the dancers grace and in part by the stunning ballroom gowns.
In ballroom dance there is little need to show off the leg line, so the dresses are long, flowing and cut with flare. It is important for the dress to flare out, as this will emphasize the turns and falls of the different dances associated with ballroom.
Some of the gowns are designed to have the hem "hooped". Hooping is attaching a circular piece of wire to the dress. In ballet hooping is used with the Russian style of classical tutu, but with ballroom, the hooping is added to the hem. This is going to make the gown circle and curl, adding even more elegance to the movements.
The upper body of a ballroom dress is always tight fitting and exposes the back and neckline of the dancer. The sleeves of the dress are either long or have hoops that go through the dancers middle finger. This is to prevent the sleeve from riding upward when the arm is raised.
The classic accessories for a ballroom dress are floats. Floats are long pieces of light fabric, cut from the same material as the dress or from the same color, and attached to the wrist. The floats help dramatize and enhance the dancers movements and will draw the audience's eye to the dancers.
The color of a ballroom dress can be used to convey the character of the dance. For example deep reds and blacks can be used for the more passionate Tango. If you are performing more traditional European dances such as the Waltz or Foxtrot, you will most probably want to have elegant, soft pastel colors.
There is no set dress code with ballroom dancing. The main thing you will want is a balance between elegance and freedom of movement. Silk is a perfect material that balances these two elements. Silk flows easily and will not get tangled up around your partner.
Although the classic ballroom dress is enhanced with crystals and stones, you do not necessarily have to follow this trend. It is always best to go for a subtly elegant dress with a minimal amount of accents. Too much decoration can make the dress uncomfortable, and to successfully project beauty you have to feel comfortable and confident.
The shoes for ballroom dancing are just as important as the rest of your ensemble. You want your ballroom shoe to be lightweight. Dancing in heavy-soled shoes will have you leaving the ballroom with very sore feet. Your heels should be no higher than three inches and the man should wear a heel no higher than one and a half inches.
Consider a closed-toe shoe as well. Most ballroom shoes are open-toed but this is not a good idea, especially if you are a beginner, as this exposes your toes to be stepped on. If your heels are uncomfortable on your feet, you can buy insoles that are specifically designed for ballroom dancing shoes.
Finally, avoid shoes that are extravagantly decorated. These could cause rubbing and pain to your feet that could have been avoided. You shoes will be busy enough performing your challenging routines. As with your ballroom dress, try to keep the accessories and accents to a minimum.