What Dancers Want: My Capsule Wardrobe

For dancers (who are often shopping on a budget), capsule wardrobes are the perfect answer for buying smart yet looking professional. Susie Faux’s original idea of the capsule wardrobe—a few high-quality items that you will wear often—helped launch Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces collection, in which women could mix and match outfits out of seven more-expensive yet essential items. These simple ideas of the 1980s have resurfaced in the past few years, appreciated by millennials with low budgets and minimal closet space. We asked four young, professional dancers to list the seven essential items they use for daily classes, rehearsals and auditions.

Skyler Volpe (left) in Barrington Stage Company’s production of West Side Story. Her curly hair is often tied back with Invisibobble hair ties.

Skyler Volpe

Rent 20th-anniversary tour; West Side Story, Barrington Stage Company

Gray Athleta Joggers

“I pair them with a fitted crop top, and I look and feel awesome for auditions!”


Sweaty Betty full-length leggings

“For when I need to look super-sleek. They have fun mesh panels and are reversible!”

Invisibobble hair ties

“Perfect for my curly hair.”

Victoria’s Secret ribbed sports bra

“A bra and crop top combo that I wear in every color. They are supportive with just enough coverage, and they easily transition from class to audition to hanging out with friends.”

Bloch split-sole character shoes in nude, with 2 1/2-inch heels

Lightweight cotton sweaters for warm-up

Dorrance Dance company member Byron Tittle wears comfortable and stretchy yet clean-cut jeans to auditions.

Byron Tittle

Professional tap dancer with Dorrance Dance

White and black K360 tap shoes
and white Jason Samuels Smith
Bloch tap shoes

“The Bloch tap shoe is a bit heavier, which helps strengthen your ankle and achieve great articulation.”

Cotton drawstring sweatpants that cinch at the ankle

High-top sneakers

Cotton oversize, zip-up, drop-shoulder hoodie in black

Stretchy, clean-cut jeans

“A staple for auditions!”

Cotton fitted, round-neck T-shirt

“I wear these in an array of colors for auditions. I love pairing black and white together to feel balanced.”


“Individuality is so important. For me, the jewelry I wear gives me energy and helps me feel like myself.”

Madison Rayn Abeo, pictured with Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Symphony in C, choreographed by George Balanchine. For auditions, Abeo loves a simple Bloch pull-on black skirt paired with a colored leotard.

Madison Rayn Abeo

Corps de ballet dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet

Yumiko leotards

Label Dancewear leotards

“These are super-elegant, breathable and soft, plus they’re hand-sewn. I love boatneck leotards with an open back, in lots of neutral colors like pinks, light blues and light grays.”

RubiaWear romper and legwarmers

“The romper is my go-to item for rehearsals to keep my torso, hips and back warm while keeping my legs free.”

Spenco 2nd Skin

TheraBands and rolling balls

Freed pointe shoes

Bloch pull-on dance skirt in black

“A skirt makes me feel more comfortable at auditions, especially paired with a color leotard and a little lip gloss!”

Point Park dancer Adam Flagella recommends M. Stevens Milliskin Footless Tights for men, due to their opaque yet comfortable fabric.

Adam Flagella

Senior at Point Park University; Newsies, Cortland Repertory Theatre; Kiss Me, Kate, Pittsburgh Playhouse

LaDuca Luigi soft-sole jazz shoe

“I wear these for every jazz class and audition. The thin suede sole and hidden elastic gussets make the shoe more flexible for showing off pointed feet.”

Lululemon ABC Pant Classic in black

Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Surge tank top

“The mesh fabric keeps you cool during class. I like to wear these in different shades of blue to match my eyes.”

Champion Men’s Powerblend pullover hoodie for warm-up

M. Stevens Milliskin footless tights

“These are the best for ballet and modern. The nylon spandex fabric has a sheen to it without being see-through.”

Wear Moi V-neck leo with built-in dance belt in white

Yumiko unitard in gray

“Great for modern class, especially when doing Graham technique. My lines are extremely clear in this outfit, allowing me to correct myself in the mirror.”

Amy Smith is a dance teacher and writer based in Greensboro, NC.


Photos: by Daniel Rader; by Matthew Murphy; by Angela Sterling; by Katie Ging

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