Do Ballet Dancers Wear Undergarments With Their Costumes?

Believe it or not, this is a question that many people are curious about. I decided to do a little investigating about this topic to see what kind of information I could find about ballet-related undergarments:

There is a difference in undergarment choice between the ballet student taking class in the dance studio and the professional dancer performing on stage. The following examples pertain only to female dancers.


Ballet Leotard


What Most Dancers Wear Under Leotards

  • Very young ballet students often wear regular panties underneath their tights and leotards.
  • Depending on the dress code of the school, students may not be allowed to show bulk or “panty lines” under their leotards so the teacher can study the lines of the body.
  • Older students often use thong-type panties for a smooth look.
  • Heavier, more developed ballet students may choose to wear a sports bra under their leotard.
  • Dancers with smaller dimensions in the chest area choose leotards with built-in bra shelving for extra coverage and support.
Rudolph Nureyev and Natalia Makarova
Natalia Makarova and Rudolph Nureyev

What Does A Professional Ballerina Wear Under Her Classical Tutu?

  • As you can see by the photo above, a professional dancer needs as much freedom of movement as possible. The last thing any dancer needs to worry about on stage is whether their undergarments are showing each time they move.
  • Ballerina’s can choose to wear thongs if needed, but most just wear tights underneath their classical tutus. This allows for a worry-free and flexible performance.
  • Classical tutu bodice tops are typically boned, shaped, and lined to provide enough coverage and support with no undergarment needed.

What About Other Types Of Costumes?

Dancers who are performing in lyrical or character costumes wear something that is called a “trunk” bottom. This is basically a bottom brief made out of leotard-like material. The dancer will match her trunks to her tights or her costume.

Cheerleaders, Majorettes, Gymnasts and other athletes also wear trunks. Trunks look exactly like the bottom half of a leotard. They are stretchy, comfortable, and make a nice alternative to a regular undergarment.

Leotard Trunk
Leotard trunk bottom

As you can see, ballet is a super body-conscious art form that emphasizes the lines of the body and requires a great deal of comfort in your own skin. Less is more when it comes to wearing undergarments in the dance world. Unless, of course, you are an outdoor stage dancer in the frozen Tundra of Antarctica……


  1. Even I always wondered about the proper undergarments for a classical tutu since the last time I wore one I was 10 years old; and we all know how long ago that was! 🙂

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