Oct 26, 2011

What not to wear

We actually used to mark down for "VPL" (visible panty line) during auditions. No granny panties under a skating skirt, mkay? Skating tights have cotton crotch linings for a reason. If your squeamish child really cannot bring herself to not wear underpants, please get her "grown up" underpants (i.e. french cut or thong. They have these for 4-year-olds now. I'm waiting for the first thong diaper). If you really don't want grown-up panties on your 8-year-old, then make sure her skirt is long enough to cover the goods.

Skirts should cover your butt cheeks
Shorter is not better. It's unattractive, and unprofessional. I don't care how cute your butt is. In fact, I don't want to know how cute your butt is.

Stationary breasts please
Your bouncing bazongas are extremely distracting. Please wear one of those sports bras that actually offers support, rather than a single layer of the mush 'em flat variety, or worse, nothing at all.

NO breasts please
There's an awful lot of cleavage at ice rinks these days, from girls as young as 12. Don't their mothers see what they're wearing? Even ice dancers cover their breasts, and they barely acknowledge the concept of "fabric".

Laundry detergent
Use it, please. Do you send your kids to their piano lessons, or school, dressed in the clothes in which they have been playing in the mud? (caveat--freestyle skaters who come every day may wear the same tights for several months. Just don't stand too close to me.)

Competitive version
Illusion that isn't illusional. It's supposed to be the same color as your skin, otherwise, what's the point? If your competition dress has illusion from your mid-winter flesh tone, you cannot get a tan during the summer unless you replace the illusion. Corollary--skating tights and illusion need to be the same tone.

Flappy things
I keep thinking your costume is falling apart.

Coaching version
Please, young coaches, do not teach in a practice dress, with your butt hanging out, or skin tight skating pants. Are you trying to teach, or impress the dads in the stands?

The crotch of your pants should be at, well, your crotch. The waist belongs at your waist. It looks stupid enough when your jeans would pass for clown pants. Your floppy bits shouldn't flop either. Get over the "leotards are for girls" and put a leotard bottom on your shirt so that it stays tucked in.

Also? I don't want to see your underwear either.


  1. If you DO wear your tights everyday, drink lots of cranberry juice, ladies. ;-)

    I let kiddo wear pants twice, but tights need to be fresh.

    And actually, if there is a rumor that dainty little girls don't stink to high heaven like two adult rugby players (or one hockey player) it's a lie. Skates, gloves, jackets...PEE-YEW! I'm not saying you have to smell like daisies, but....

    We've seen several deductions for costumes this season in singles skating. Costumes should fit well, cover enough so that your 11yo child looks like an 11yo child and not a horror story from Toddlers in Tiaras, and with costume pants on young ladies, make sure they fit, i.e. we saw an extreme wedgie deduction. Cut outs and such on young girls - even covered with illusion fabric - might be too risque for some judges, no matter personal opinion.

  2. I'd be interested to know if there are similar lack-of-appropriateness deductions for adults. My inclination would be a slightly longer skirt, for example, though I know there is some disdain for "dance" skirts on figure skaters. I'm thinking of a dress for a test at this point, not a competition.

    Also, can anyone recommend undergarment brands that do the trick for a grown-up? Every sports bra I own (for running) is way too bulky to wear under a skating dress.

  3. MommyTime, Victoria's Secret has a fantastic sport bra that offers ACTUAL support, and not, as I said, just mush. http://www.victoriassecret.com/ss/Satellite?ProductID=1265620984623&c=Page&cid=1316658135888&pagename=vsdWrapper&search=true

  4. In my opinion, too long is better than too short, in terms of skirt length. For a test on an adult I don't think a slightly longer skirt will be a problem unless it interferes with the skating (too long of a skirt + sit spin = disaster).

    As for the undergarments.... I have yet to meet a sports bra that will do the job for an adult. I buy a regular bra (of the slightly cheaper variety) and sew it into the dress. Then I cut out all the bits that would show so you don't have the upstairs version of VPL. You want to make sure the bra is as smooth and seamless as possible, so the lines don't interfere with the dress. This way you get more support and don't have to worry about the sports bra showing from under the dress.

  5. Akiko Suzuki's skirt length is a little longer than usual here:


    As is Irina Slutskaya's here:


    And Grace Kelly's...I mean...Kiira Korpi's


    asymmetrical, but lovely and not too short.

  6. I'd add forget the stretchy booty shorts as practice wear. I know the skaters are completely covered because they are wearing tights, but I think they're a bit vulgar. Booty shorts with writing on the butt are a definite no, no.

    1. Ugh don't get me started. Booty shorts- okay for teen's modern dance class where it's in an enclosed dance studio where you change as soon as the class is over, not for 8 year old figure skaters to wear for practice when hockey boys and public skate teens walk past the rink all the time. Might as well not wear any shorts at all, just wear tights if you're going to wear booty shorts.

  7. For bras for adults, try ShopBounce.com. It's an offshoot of Title Nine and has nude undewire uber bras that should work under skating attire.

    The Hallelujah bra and the Wire for Action bra both look great for holding in the girls for jumping.

  8. Hello - skating dad here. Watching DD learn to figure skate I was really impressed with the physical and mental requirements of the sport. And then in her first competition (at the ripe age of 7), a judge came by and checked all the competitors for panty lines. One girl was asked to remove her underpants and her coach ended up cutting them off to avoid disturbing her costume.

    Honestly, what is going on here? Does anyone stop to think about what kind of message this sends to the athletes? To the parents? The casual observer?

    Please, someone explain to me why a skater's underpants should affect his or her evaluation as a skater.


  9. Anonymous dad, it's a fair question, and one that skating coaches and skaters really do grapple with. In the artistic sports--gymanstics, skating, dance--appearance is important. While we'd like to rise above it and just focus on the athletics, the reality is that how you look affects your score in these disciplines. I can't remember which world cup it was where the Chinese gymnastics team lost because of point deductions over their ill-fitting leotards.

    Further, little girls, I hate to say it, are nasty. I can't tell you the number of snide remarks I've intercepted over girls with VPLs, from their better-clothed mates. It's an easy thing to fix to avoid humiliation, so why not just fix it.

    It's a GREAT topic for discussion; I've added it to my queue for future posts.

  10. Anon 1:00 p.m. The booty shorts make me insane, but I think that part of it is that girls today have a very different sense of appropriate behavior and attire than their older sisters, or heaven forfend, their mothers (or like me, their grandmothers!). I have to say, though, having spent some time inside a highschool, that male HS teachers are SAINTS with all that exposed flesh jiggly around them all day.

  11. I'm relieved that ice dance costumes have become less slutty since the Olympics. Some costumes were shocking.

    But as for coaches not wearing tight pants, there are times I wish they would. When a coach is talking about knee and ankle bend I can't see the demonstration due to the insulated pants. They might as well be wearing an ankle length skirt.

  12. Another good point! The heavily padded full length parkas on coaches also make me crazy. I sometimes find myself having to pull off my insulated pants (I used the breakaway kind) for that very reason!

  13. I know there is talk now and again of just having a standard athletic uniform for skaters - no bells, no whistles - but again, yes, it's an artistic sport and right now, it is what it is.

    On one hand, skaters - like gymnasts, dancers, cheerleaders - need clothing that is not going to get in their way, and that means form fitting. Form fitting clothing on young ladies is always going to raise someone's eyebrow. But, yeah, the response to that should be "get over it".

    Underwear showing? In general, my opinion on that is the same for kids whether they are athletes or not: up to a certain age (a gray area), undies sticking out aren't a big deal. Little kids always look like their clothes are barely hanging on anyway simply because they are in constant motion. After that, I become my grandmother: they are called "under" wear. And I don't care that Madonna made bra straps popular.

    Honestly, though, I think it's just a matter of having what uniform we can in the sport. There is a lot of leeway for creativity, but neatness within our cultural definitions counts. In ballet schools, only students at a certain level can wear certain color tights or a certain color ribbon around their waist. In martial arts, you wear a "uniform". Anything outside of the uniform becomes a distraction only because it's not usually seen.

    IOW, if everyone had their panties hanging out and that was part of the uniform, it wouldn't be as big a deal.

  14. Skating tights really annoy me- I think they look funny on almost everyone. I guess there isn't enough money in it to develop more colors? People come in more colors than tan and light tan. I wear them cause everyone else does, but they look extra silly on me.
    I saw an 11 year old girl wearing a lace up backed pvc halter top with matching too short skirt last year at my rink.
    I have trouble finding a sports bra that fits- I do hate the sports bra uniboob. HerRoom.com has some good options. With small ribs and sloped shoulders nothing really fits me. Never seen one that would look ok under a dress for competition. Off to look at shopbounce.

  15. Thong on my nine year-old? Over my cold, dead body. Not happening. Deduct away. It would feel like putting pasties on her.

    Her regular underwear have yet to be identified as a problem, but I'd attempt thin 'VPL-free' microfiber types if it ever got called out. Maybe it's just not an issue at the preliminary test level. Her synchro coach hasn't mentioned it either (Canadian equivalent of the Preliminary team). Maybe Canadians are just prudes, or maybe they don't make an issue of it here until the kids are older.

    Still shaking my head at someone manufacturing thongs for a four year old. *Sigh*

  16. booty shorts....I'm a mom of a skater and I just love the way they look. DD at 10 wore them all summer over skating tights. I guess to each his own.

  17. I am not a fan of underwear showing, either--really at any age. My five year old never wears a dress without little close-fitting shorts under it because she is constantly upside-down, on the monkey bars, etc. HOWEVER, I think there is a big difference between the undies hanging out for all to see--or even being cut so low/loose that they fall below the line of the ballet leotard or skate dress and show up all lumpy in the legs of the tights--and having a simple single underwear line beneath the panty part of the skating dress. On my five year old? There will probably be those panty lines because I will not be putting her in a thong. I think once one gets to a certain level of competition, the professionalism of the look matters -- and then it should just be thongs or simply tights meant to go without underthings. But at the basic skills level? I see no reason to add to the discomfort of both children and parents by making a small child remove her underwear moments before a competition.

    On a fairly unrelated note: many many thanks to you all for the great suggestions for adult undergarments. I really appreciate them!

  18. I look for underwear the same color as her skating outfit and have her wear it the same day as the competition as we leave the house (she usually changes into her costume at the rink)- if she forgets to remove it when she changes there isn't a color contrast that shows below the bottom of her skating outfit.

  19. My girls complain when they can feel a sock seam across their toes. I couldn't imagine asking them to wear a thong. ;-)

  20. I have never thought about underwear showing before. My daughter always wears underwear, skate tights and then her dress for competitions. I am wondering if I should get her used to no underwear now for when she is older. She is only 6.

    In terms of washing - I generally have my daughter wear her clothes one time before washing. The exception is when I have no tights available and then I will have her wear them again (after a smell test). She also only skates for 30 minutes peridically and then will wear the same clothes the next day. I also wash her gloves after one use due to germs. I plan on one "handwash" cycle full of skating clothes each week. She kept getting sick her first year of skating and I think this has helped.

  21. We live in the sub-tropics and I cannot imagine only putting 1 pair of tights on 6 y/o DD when she's on ice. You really can't tell she has regular knickers on under the 3-4 pairs of tights she wears to compete. (But warm dance tights with feet not skate tights).

    PS: I'm still hiccoughing over the hilarity of the bazongas. Thanks for the laugh!!

  22. Mostly the underpants are a problem when kids wear regular tights instead of skating tights. And it drives me crazy to see some little girl in a single pair of white danskins, with the Disney Pixies underpants shining through, shivering away on the ice.

    I don't care about underpants during practice. (Although please please please cover your various mushy bits, top and bottom, always). But for competition, it's kinda like not combing your hair. Why WOULDN'T you make sure this kind of thing is taken care of.

  23. "My girls complain when they can feel a sock seam across their toes. I couldn't imagine asking them to wear a thong. ;-) "

    I agree about the socks- it's why I skate barefoot... they'll figure out the undies as they get older...

    Teach your girls that tights ARE underwear. That's why they have that nice gusset. Wear two pairs for full coverage. (There is a reason we call them PANTY-hose).

    I don't mind visible panty lines- but I mind visible panties, it looks terrible. When I wear tights, I wear no underwear. When I wear practice pants, I do wear them (because I don't wear tights) so my underwear LINES show, but never ever my underwear.

  24. Oh - one other thing, even if you do wear underwear under tights, if your skating dress does not have a panty bottom, wear a pair of matching bloomers OVER the tights.

    If the underwear is under the tights, it looks a bit obscene in spins when all you can see is the nude tight color.

  25. Dd was fine with undies. Her bottoms were cut generously. Then in a new dress, she did her warm up and I saw them just poking out everywhere. She was first so there was no time to text her coach! Luckily her coach noticed and had dd pull them up like a wedgie. Not the most confident situation to take on the ice. :P Now she skates without (comps only) but she also HATES not wearing them. So she just has to get used to it. She has never worn more than one pair of tights at a time though.

  26. "Teach your girls that tights ARE underwear"

    Yup! That's why we wash them after each wearing. :-)

  27. Reading all this makes me very grateful to be male!

  28. @ Gordon

    Ladies don't have to wear dance belts. We think we're the lucky ones!

    Now on to something completely different:

    Skaters and skater parents need to remember that panty hose that are worn under clothes are not the same as skating tights. It happens more often than you think in dance, parades, and skating to see girls with regular panty hose on rather than dance hosiery. The tights should be a single color and not have dark thighs like panty hose. Also, if the tights have a lined crotch, that's usually an indicator that they need to be worn under stage panties (aka dance pants/booty shorts/costume shorts). The only exception for a pair of pants with a lined crotch being used as outerwear is for athletic gear. This stuff is thick and is usually obvious as outerwear by its design.

  29. I am sorry, but teaching a little girl that appearance is so much more important than ability that wearing underpants (!?!) can trump your talent and hard work is just twisted and wrong. And if artistry had so much to do with scant bottoms and no panties then the boys would have to dress this way too.

  30. I have no idea on what kind of bra should be worn wear under backless skating dresses?
    A bra with clear straps?

  31. Clear straps work, or stitch cups into the front of the dress. If you have good heavy illusion, you can wear a regular bra. That said, I'm a little on the fence about backless dresses below the international stage.

    Working on a follow up post, absolutely loving this!

    Gordon--added an update- "Boys"

  32. i dont like tight form fitting pants, but loose, boot cut pants can catch the blades and cause safety issues. what about leg warmers in general?

  33. Alice In WonderlandOctober 29, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Finding tights in a light tan to match the light tan of the illusion in the dress is difficult. When I tried to purchase on-line, the shipping fee was almost the same as the cost of the tights, so I bailed out of the shopping cart. When I was watching the fair skin skaters at Skate Canada, they had those light tights, and I was green with envy. I hate it when DD has "summer" on the legs and "winter" on the arms and face.

  34. I'm quite happy teaching my 6 y/o that the way you present yourself and your routine-thingy inlcudes respectable grooming. Tucking in to make sure your underwear is discreet seems like common sense.
    The bit that baffles me though is make up. I can't find any posts on this so hoping you can direct me or create one? Every time I feel I'm over the top with foundation, lipstick, blush, and light shadow ... until DD is on ice standing next to little girls who looked so heavy/silly in the stands but I confess so much better on the ice.

  35. " And if artistry had so much to do with scant bottoms and no panties then the boys would have to dress this way too."

    Female figure skaters are welcome to wear pants in competition.

    As far as indicating to young women that looks are more important than talent, well, that's a problem for more then athletes. I would say, however, that at the very least dressing within modest norms - whether a skirt or pants - does the most to draw attention away from dress and help to focus on talent. A woman may still choose to wear a dress to an interview, but plunging neckline and panties hanging out are not going to help the interviewer recognize her talent or intelligence. At the most, costuming should be as much as a "uniform" as possible and not be a distraction. I'd welcome anyone fighting that battle with the judges and with society in general, but I also don't blame anyone for picking and choosing the hills they want to die on.

    As for make-up, there is a skating score that takes in presentation and emotional connection with the music and with the audience. It was a note given to quite a few girls at this year's Liberty Open - "project more into the audience". Again, this is a performance sport, and we've seen plenty of skaters with solid techinical scores (the jumps and spins and footwork) lose to skaters who have good tech scored but higher performance scores.

    Theatrical makeup looks nothing like everyday makeup, and there is an art to it. I was in theater for years, and stage lighting - and the lighting in most skating rinks - drains most color from faces. Skaters' make-up doesn't have to be a heavy-handed as theatrical make-up, but accentuating eyes and lips will help project facial expressions to judges and audience.

    We tell the girls that they should be skating for the people in the top rows as well as the judges up front (and sometimes, the judges are actually pretty high up). The expressions on their faces needs to be seen. Theatrical make-up or skating make-up is not supposed to look good up close. :-)

    That said, again, I don't think this should be an issue until kids get to levels - or close to levels - where PCS scores really matter. Even in USFSA, my experience has been that up until test levels, the competitions are very laid back and the judges aren't picky about too much or not enough glitter, or pantylines, or even hair styles. It's good for kids to practice and get into the habits of "the big kids", but I think of it more like rec league in soccer or developmental competition. The judge may point out that it's something to think about for the future and begin the habit, but not something they'd crush someone for, you know?

  36. Judges at non-qualifying events might make a note about make up or costume but unless it's wildly inappropriate it's not going to affect the score. Make up for younger kids should be a little lipstick and a little blush or foundation to keep your kid from washing out on the ice. This goes for all complexions, not just white kids. Older kids can wear no more make up than they might wear to school without looking foolish.

    The thing about "appearance is more important than the sport" is something that some commentors have brought up; it's not anything I said, or that others have said. The key word is "distraction." If your costume or make up are distracting, from the sport and talent part, then they are inappropriate--too much skin, visible undergarments, non-skating tights, sagging butts, too much costume (think Belbin and Agosto), too little costume; these are all distractions from the main event.

    In other words, teach your kids, in all aspects, not just skating, that appearance counts, but not that it's the only thing that counts.

  37. equating having nicely brushed hair and not having holes in your tights (ie grooming and making sure you present yourself nicely) with not wearing underpants or putting a thong on a little girl is a wee bit out there.

    first of all why the heck should it matter if you can see panty lines on a little girl but secondly if it really matters that much why don't they make the bottoms of skating dresses with more generous coverate - then you would not see the girls underpants.

  38. I'm not talking about panty lines, where there's a little dent in the tights showing where the panties are. I'm talking about high cut skating dresses (and they are ALL high cut) over little girl underwear. You can see MOST of the underwear. It is inappropriate. And yes anonymom, people should not put children in skating dresses that expose their bottoms. Not being able to see kids' underwear is EXACTLY like brushed hair and non-holey tights. I don't like thongs on little guys either. So have them wear tights with no underpants, and then the sport panty OVER the tights.

    This is a sport in which bodies are scrutinized. Denying this reality misses one of the key aspects of artistic athletic disciplines-- looks matter.

    I will tell you that just as much as I disapprove of visible undergarments, I don't like it when the little beauty queens show up at competitions, either, with hairpieces, Olympic-level costumes, and Toddlers&Tiaras makeup. However, while it's not a beauty contest, it's not flag football in the mud either.

  39. This has already been stated, but it doesn't really matter on a little girl. nobody's going to mind on a 5 year old. But it's good to get into a practice of taking care of these things, so when the girl is 14 and in Intermediate, where PCS does matter, you don't shock her by saying, "Now you can't wear underwear with your tights." It's a matter of routine.

    And as much as we would like to say appearance doesn't matter, it does when half the score is based on performance. That's not going to change at anytime in the foreseeable future, so for right now, worrying about these things is necessary, and what blogs like these are for.

  40. Xan - great blog, great post, great discussion, great community.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  41. "Illusion that isn't illusional. It's supposed to be the same color as your skin, otherwise, what's the point? If your competition dress has illusion from your mid-winter flesh tone, you cannot get a tan during the summer unless you replace the illusion. Corollary--skating tights and illusion need to be the same tone."

    The point is to focus on skating and not revealing your bare skin tone to arous perverts out there who would love to see the underwear and flesh color tights.
    Furthermore i'd advice every skater to wear black, white or pink tights.

    Last but not least for anyone who's interested
    read this.


    1. If you're that concerned about modesty, then yes, wear a color, or pants. Don't cut out parts of your costume to create, if I may, the "illusion" of skin tone. If modesty is your goal, again, what is the point of illusion?

    2. There shouldn't be any illusions at all, anyways everything's alredy explained very well in the link, it solves the whole underwear problem as well.

      Look below for yourself, at least here you hardly see any underwear showing compared to skaters wearing flesh-colored tights.




  42. And what about when not wearing underwear isn't an option, i.e. if you get your period the same week as a competition and you can't stand tampons? I want to compete one day myself & have always wondered what you're supposed to do in that situation...

    1. You are going to need to wear tampons the day of the competition; pads will shift- count on it. Or talk to your doctor about menstrual extraction (google it), which many athletes take advantage of.

  43. I once had a skating dress where the illusion shade was too dark, I hated that! Now that I'm over 50 I have gone to a slightly longer skirt.