Skating dresses 101 May 30 2014, 0 Comments







Where to start?!


It's that time of year again. The season is over and everyone is ramping up for the upcoming season. Chances are you've got your music, or an idea in mind. Maybe you even have your choreography started, or for you lucky skaters, finished. But do you have your dress?


Naysayers about figure skating will say that it shouldn't be about the dress, but a good dress choice can make a program as much as a bad dress choice can ruin one.  Admit it, how many times have you watched a skater come onto the ice and you've thought "What the bleep was she thinking???"  Or the music starts, the choreography starts, and all you can focus on is how much the dress distracts you from seeing what the skater is doing out there on the ice, the very parts you are supposed to be watching.  That's definitely NOT the reaction you want to your dress from the audience, and most definitely not from the judges!


So what makes a good skating dress?


A good dress makes you feel beautiful. It hangs on the hanger in your closet and begs you to put it on and pose in front of the mirror. It makes you think of the perfect hairstyle and perfect makeup.  It makes you want to put your skates on NOW and perform your program, and it makes you never want to take it off.  A good dress makes you a better skater because you love to wear it and show it off.


First and foremost, it needs to fit. Sounds simple, yes?  A good dress should look like it was made for you, even if it wasn't. It shouldn't bag or gap anywhere, no one wants to see elephant wrinkles in a skating dress.  You should never be worried about "falling out" of your dress and giving the audience more than they bargained for. It shouldn't be so tight that it leaves grooves in your shoulders or turns the panty into a thong.  You should be able to skate without feeling like you have to pull down a sleeve, or hike up a shoulder, or tug down the skirt. A bad fit can ruin a perfect dress, so make sure it fits right from the start, or get it altered to fit you like a glove.


A good dress enhances the choreography and music.  A good dress helps the judges to understand the mood you as a skater are trying to convey. A good dress can be simple and understated, or totally blinged out and over the top.  A good dress can be monotone and a good dress can be brightly coloured.    A good dress can be revealing, or modest, with a full skirt, or long sleeves, or sleeveless, or strapless. The dress doesn't have to be a costume for a part, but it does need to fit the music and choreography as well as it fits your body. The last thing you want is the judges distracted by what you are wearing and paying less attention to the elements and choreography in your program. As long as it fits the mood of the music and conveys the same message as the choreography, it's a good dress.

So how do you choose the perfect dress and not look like everyone else?  The good news is that there is no single perfect dress out there just as there is no single dress that will fit every piece of music and every program's choreography.  Every body is different, and every dress would look different on different body shapes and sizes. Even if you happen to come across someone skating to the (oh the horror!) the choreography will have a different interpretation and will lend itself to a different style through a dress. That means there are limitless options for dresses out there, and the right one to fit you and your program is just waiting to be discovered.

There are some general rules of thumb to follow when choosing a dress to skate in.

1) Choose a colour you like. Hate orange? You're probably not going to feel comfortable skating in an orange dress?  Love pink but it doesn't suit the music? Choose something close, like a red with a lot of blue undertone, or a purple bordering on the pink family.

2) Choose a style you like and are comfortable in. Some skaters love sleeves, some hate them. Some skaters love a high neck, others feel like they are being strangled when the dress is on. Feel naked in the minimalist skirts? Go for something fuller. Hate feeling like there's so much fabric on your dress you are going to get caught up in it? Pick something that's sleeker and more body hugging.  Generally, if there's a part of the dress you are always going to be pulling at or trying to hide, it probably needs to change!

3) Choose something that complements your music and choreography. This is a good time to rely on your coach or choreographer. When they designed the program for you, they envisioned YOU out there skating to that piece of music. They didn't imagine you skating in your practice clothes, they imagined you skating in a certain style and colour of dress and will often have a strong opinion on how you should be outfitted for the program.  That's not to say you can't assert your individual style, just keep in mind that the coach or choreographer had a whole package in mind when they were making the program for you.

4) Remember that a dress needs to come to life on the ice and enhance all the movements you make in your program. There are many ways to make a dress "pop" from embellishments to crystals to colour changes and gradations. Even the plainest silhouette of a dress can come alive on the ice with the right accents.


The main thing to remember is that when all is said and done, you have to wear the dress you choose and use it to help show off all your hard work through a program. If you love the dress, and you feel good in it, it can't help but come across on the ice.


Coming soon ... where to find inspiration for dresses.