Whether you are a first-time beginner pole dance student or an advanced poler with lots of skin in the game already, the question of what to wear to your pole lesson today is one that can inspire an existential crisis. Ok perhaps I’m being dramatic, however if you’ve ever spent minutes staring into the void at your wardrobe, torn with indecision as to what to wear to class, or if you’ve trawled halfway around the internet and back again looking at cute pole dance sets, then I hope that this blog will help you to make the right decision for you when it comes to investing in new pole wear.
In short, the best thing to wear to your pole dancing class is the thing that makes you feel most comfortable, so that you can go forth with confidence and focus on your dancing (and ultimately have more fun).
Let’s get more specific about what that means. Firstly, it’s worth considering what kind of pole dance class are you taking and where you are at with your pole journey:
Beginner Pole Dancers
If you’re new to pole, it can feel like a big deal in getting prepared for your first pole dance lesson. “What should I wear to my first class?” is the question that I get asked most often from new beginners, usually followed by “Do I have to wear shorts?” If you’re someone that is filled with dread at the idea of wearing shorts, know that you are not alone. I’ll never forget how uncomfortable I felt waiting on the stairwell of my studio on the evening of my first ever pole dance class back in 2006. I hadn’t worn shorts since primary school, and I didn’t own a pair of shorts. There were no pole-specific dance wear brands in existence back then, so I wore a pair of combat pants that I had cut above the knee and roughly hemmed, teamed with a pair of Converse runners. Those shorts were not at all comfortable, and I do not recommend this.
You will need to wear form-fitting shorts, i.e.: they should fit snuggly to your body no matter what type of body you are blessed with. Your pole dancing shorts should fit like a second skin, so that they won’t impede your movement and grip when you are learning new tricks and spins.
You certainly don’t need to rock up to your first pole class in a booty-licious pair of shorts, as your first classes probably won’t require needing that much skin grip. Wearing shorts with more butt coverage will serve you well, as during beginner pole dancing classes you will typically be learning the fundamental movements such as spins, low flow and pole sits. These beginner pole moves require having skin grip at the back of the knees, shins, ankles, and upper thighs. Something like Cindy or Tess shorts are great since they have good butt coverage without compromising on style and shape.
Low Flow and Dancing in Heels
Similarly, if you’re wearing heels while pole dancing or taking classes that focus on low flow and basework, typically there are no inversions which means less contact points with the pole are required. You can have fun with expressing your personality through what you are wearing, for example a leotard such as the Claudia bodysuit looks unreal when teamed with heels. You might bring some bad-ass flair to your costume, with garter style shorts like Candice, Yumi and Monique. You might even want to go all-out old school style and pay homage to the origins of pole dance, and rock a bikini such as the Butterfly bikini to create that ‘legs for days’ look.
So, what to wear to a pole dancing class for more experienced students? As you progress with your pole dancing and move towards inversions and advanced level pole dance tricks, you will be making use of more contact points with the pole, especially around your mid-riff or the ‘sweet spot’ between your pelvis and your rib cage. This very much requires having as much skin as possible available to you. Again, choose something that fits your body type and will make you feel comfortable and confident.
Having good support is a must-have when it comes to what to wear on top, so it can come down to personal preference in terms of style once you’ve found tops that are supportive. For example, something like the Bettie top is great as it is sporty, but without compromising on shape, and something like the Tess top celebrates curves. My fave top to wear is the Carla top, as it not only gives great support, the shape of the top means that it hugs my lats and doesn’t cut across them, which also give that bit of extra skin grip for advanced pole dance tricks.
If you’ve been blessed with a generous bosom, you might like to choose something that will provide support (especially when working with the law of gravity) such as the Jayne top or Candice top.
All good pole dance classes involve a warm-up. My best advice is to wear your pole wear as a base layer and to wear something comfy on top for your warm-up section of class, which you can quickly take off and stow away when you’re ready to get on the pole. I honestly wish someone had told me that years ago and I would have felt more comfortable (and less cold, I live in Ireland after all) during my early days of pole dancing!
It's worth putting some thought and consideration into your warm-up wear, as you’re probably going to need it for every class (especially if you’re poling in a colder climate). It is worth investing the time and money into something comfortable, durable, and fit for purpose. The Christy pants and long sleeve crop tops are perfect, plus they are just so stylish and smart that you will probably want to wear them as every-day wear!
If you’ve been poling for a while, you’re probably taking flexibility and floorwork classes alongside your pole dance training, since splits and floor flow don’t train themselves after all. This is where having a tried and tested comfy warm-up layer, makes your class preparation easier!
Quality over Quantity
If you are an advanced pole dancer, I’m gonna take a wild guess that you have become overwhelmed by shiny new pole wear designs and Black Friday sales in the past. You might even have a drawer full of pole wear, much of which doesn’t see the light of day after being worn a handful of times, leading to chronic indecision when deciding what you’re going to wear to class. If you feel called out, know that there is no judgement here. This is an invitation to reflect and consider what your favourite items of pole wear are, which ones make you feel most comfortable and confident, so that next time you’re buying you know what to look out for.
It would also be wise to invest in some high-quality items that will bring you satisfaction for many, many classes. Yes, it may cost you more upfront, which I realize is not always within everyone’s means and comes with a degree of privilege. But if you are able, you should consider investing in quality pole wear. In the long run you will save more time and money. You also might like to consider the environmental impact of your pole shopping choices (again no judgement!), choosing pole sets that are made ethically and sustainably with eco-friendly materials and processes can bring you peace of mind when you’re poling, and again, since they are of better quality they won’t fall apart. All the Sway Pole Wear collection is eco-friendly, and I can vouch for the quality having had a pair of the garter shorts for over 4 years now!
The best pole wear for you is the thing that makes you feel comfortable, is fit for the specific style of pole dance that you are doing and expresses who you are. Bonus points if it’s something made ethically and with sustainability in mind!
Go forth and rock your pole dance wear, and most of all have fun while doing so!
PS: Always remember, a pole dancing class is a non-judgemental space where there is no judgement towards what you are wearing or how you feel about your body. If you get a sense that you are being shamed or side-eyed for how you are dressed (on either end of the spectrum), I’d gently suggest finding another class or studio that is more inclusive and body-neutral. You’ll have more fun when you’re not feeling judged!
Arlene Caffrey is an Old School Pole Dance legend, dance artist, writer and award winning Burlesque dancer from Ireland. Find out more about her and all the amazing things she does under this link