How to Dress for Swing Dancing

Four Parts:Choosing clothing for womenChoosing clothing for menChoosing shoesGeneral dress tips

Swing dancing is a fun, energetic, activity that is best enjoyed in proper shoes and clothing. Whether dressing in modern clothes for a causal dance or vintage clothing styles for a themed dance you will want to follow this advice.

Part 1
Choosing clothing for women

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    Choose comfortable, loose clothes. Women are usually more comfortable in medium length skirts and dresses or light cotton pants.
    • Avoid wearing jeans, wool, or polyester as these may make you too hot.
    • Skirts should be knee length or longer and fit loosely with some "swing" movement to them.
    • Wear bike shorts, slips, or a leotard under the skirt or dress in case it flies up too high on a spin or flip.

Part 2
Choosing clothing for men

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    Wear a comfortable button down shirt and loose fitting pants for a semi formal outfit. Or, wear a t-shirt and pants for a casual dance.
    • Avoid jeans.
    • Wear an undershirt and bring an extra set of shirts to change into if you get too sweat-soaked.

Part 3
Choosing shoes

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    Choose a comfortable pair of shoes with smooth soles. There are many shoes made for "Swing Dancing" that look like shoes of the 30's, 40's and 50's but have smooth leather or suede soles, which make it easier to spin and slide on the dance floor.
    • Avoid rubber bottom shoes, like tennis shoes, because they "stick" to the floor.
    • Choose a heel height you are comfortable in. High heels are not good for fast swing, flips, and jumps. Stick to low or no heeled shoes for these dances.
    • Dance sneakers are another comfortable option for casual dancing.

Part 4
General dress tips

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    Lather on the antiperspirant or deodorant before dancing but don't wear perfumes or strong aftershave. The worst possible turn-off from dancing with a partner is a bad smell. Do your best to stay fresh.
    • Combat sweat with a handy handkerchief or towel. Some people wear sweat bands or bandannas around their heads to absorb sweat. Bring extra shirts to change into.
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    Choose stylish elements for men. It's fun to wear stylish fedoras, flat caps, and bowler hats to themed dances. Just be sure to take them off before dancing.


  • If you are attending a themed event set in the 30's, 40's or 50's then you will want to dress for the occasion. Do some research on fashions for these decades and dress in that style. In general these decades had women who wore mid to long A-line skirts and blouses, or dresses that were wide and puffy (50's). Men wore suit pants and shirts.
  • If you have long hair, tie it back in a bun or gathered ponytail. If you don't, your long hair or braid may hit your partner in the face. Be kind; keep it back.


  • Women: If you wear vintage clothes to a swing dance, keep in mind they will fit more tightly around your torso and arms. You won't be able to raise you arms as high or wide as you would be able to in modern clothes. You may have to alter your dance style when wearing vintage clothes.

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Categories: Country Style & Folklore Dancing | Fashion Styles