June 6, 2010

How to: Dress for Figure Skating Tests

Sitting a test, no matter what discipline, often requires a different look than the one you might adopt for competitive participation. Here we will take a look at the main differences between these two situations and talk about what's suitable, and what's not!

Competition usually implies a myriad of clothing rules and we are, for the most part anyway, all pretty excited when it comes to thinking about what coloured rhinestones we could use, and how we could style our hair for the all-important event. To mention but a few important factors in competitive dress; the outfit itself, the tights (glittered, non-glittered, over-the-boot, footed, stirupped, glossy, matte... need I go on?), hairstyles, hair accessories, eye shadow, lipsticks.. the list goes on. But which of these elements cross over into the testing situation, and which most definitely do not?

Generally speaking skaters go for a more sobre outfit for their testing date. Black is seen as an old favourite and shows off the skaters' figure well, without distracting the judges with eye-blazing colours. As a rule of thumb, testing outfits have little to no embellishment, and therefore practice outfits can be worn if the skater possesses such fare.

For girls, hair styling is kept to something simple, on this particular occasion judges are looking for a smart, well-turned-out skater, not a skater who has spent 2 hours curling their locks because it better interprets her Romeo and Juliet music. A bun or french-plait are always nice if the hair is long enough, otherwise simply styled short hair as long as it is clean! (Yes, I have seen skaters turn up to test sessions with greasy hair).

On the make-up end again, simplicity is the key. Some skaters do not wear any at all. I always did however, as it always made me feel more "into it" and less as though I was at a practice session. Bright-red lipstick is optional (and also age-dependant) but a little blusher and some gloss never went a miss and helps the skater acheive a "pulled-together" look.

Tights should be whatever the skater is comfortable in, although flesh coloured is the norm and black is still frowned upon by the more "old-school" judges.

Well all this talk and we haven't even talked about the actual outfit itself. For men, a pair of black trousers (such as competition trousers, or even training leggings if smart) with a nice top is sufficient. I have witnessed men sit tests in practice leggings and a crisp white t-shirt, as well as competition trousers and snazzy shirt. It really is upto you as long as you look as though you have made the effort.

For girls it may be a little trickier. Your outfit should depend somewhat on your testing rink. Why? Temperature!! Don't wear your sleeveless, backless, tiny skirted number if you will be testing in a notoriously cold ice rink. Be sensible, and know what you are comfortable in. If you are testing a programme, dress appropriately as not to feel like you are melting in that long-sleeved velour number half way through your routine.

Trousers are still a 90% no-no. The older style judges do not like to see girls in trousers, although I have gotten away with it in a diabolically cold rink for a moves in the field test. If you are sitting elements or a programme try to wear a dress as it makes your silhouette more feminine. The style depends entirely on your personal taste and comfort. A leotard with wrap-around skirt is more than acceptable and can look very elegant. This option can also save you money in comparison with buying a new shop-bought or custom-made dress, as you can pick up both a leo and a wrap-around from your local dance shop (or even cheaper, online). A fantastic online store for dance fare is: DanceDirect.Com

Finally, don't forget your warmer-upper. Baggy tracksuit jackets and sweat shirts look sloppy on a warm up and detract from your figure and lines on the ice. The judges are looking at you from the get-go and you shouldn't neglect this part of the event - you can only make one good first impression after all!! So opt for a fitting fleece jacket or zipper-upper which hugs your body in a universal colour which you will be able to use time and again for both test and competition situations.

Have any questions, want to know more, don't agree? Please leave me a comment!


  1. Could you add a section on clothing for men who are testing dances? Thanks!

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  2. @Paul Charlesworth I will absolutely try to write that up soon for you! Thank you for your feedback and the great idea for a post :) Happy skating XOXO

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