Oct 22, 2011

What to wear

In about a month, everyone with a skater or potential skater is going to be hitting the stores, looking for holiday gifts. And one of the main things they'll be getting is clothes, because man do they have cute stuff for skaters these days. Here's a guide on what you should be wearing, whether gift-giving, or just to know.

The biggest thing that tots need is comfort. It's cold, slippery, and mom is inaccessible. They don't need need pads or elbow pads or giant mittens. The little stretchy mittens, a long sleeve shirt and a light sweater, plus jeans or sweats and snowpants, is a good outfit for a beginner in the 3 to 5 year old range. Don't put them in big bulky jackets as it's too hard to move. Don't tell them they are cold, or that they are going to be cold. It's not that cold in an ice rink if you're properly dressed.

Yes, I like to see tots in well-fitting, flat-back helmets (skateboarding helmets are the best).

Older Beginners
Long sleeve shirt plus sweatshirt or warm sweater, pants in two layers--tights plus sweats or jeans, or leggings plus sweats. Again, light gloves, not bulky mittens (mittens are too warm, and it's hard to hold hands). Younger children are fine in helmets or a soft or padded hat. Please don't put your 6-year-old or younger in low rise jeans (whoever came up with this concept was an idiot). You would not believe the number of baby-butts I see in a week.

Learn to Skate levels, especially tweens
You're going to start getting agitation for the cute skating clothes at this level, and your degree of indulgence is entirely up to you. I like to see kids deliver the goods before they start dressing like skaters, i.e. mastering the first jump is plenty of time for the Chloe Noel pants. In the meantime, your upper body and gloves are the same as the prior two levels--long sleeve shirt plus sweatshirt (a zipper one is good at this level, for easy removal if they get warm), and stretchy gloves. Tights plus workout pants are great; you can get perfectly adorable yoga pants in any size at Target, for a fifth the price of the ones at the skating shops. Personally, it makes me insane to see some Delta or even low freestyle skater in $150 worth of skating clothes, especially when parents then turn around and complain about the cost of lessons. That's 5 privates or two 10-week class sessions that kid is wearing.

At this point, your skater is committed and needs to start dressing the part. Hair combed neatly and pulled into a high ponytail. Yoga or skating pants, or skating tights and dress (you can get inexpensive ones at resale or a Big Box store, or specialty ones at a specialty skating store). Skating pants are usually a little longer than ordinary yoga pants, or come with stirrups or other skate-specific details. Let your budget and frou-frou tolerance guide you. But at freestyle the coach needs to be able to see the line of the skater's body, so body-skimming styles are best.

Some places to get nice specialty skating clothes are Rainbo Sport Shop, Chloe Noel, and Seku Skatewear (my favorite, but oy, the prices).

Years ago at one of the rinks I work at there was an unspoken rule that only freestyle girls wore skating skirts. As time went on, younger and younger, and lower and lower level girls started wearing skating skirts. Low and behold, the high level girls all started wearing pants instead. Now everyone's in pants. I'm waiting for the high level girls to reassert their preeminence and switch back to skirts any day now.

What do you like to wear, or to put your kids in for skating? What are some places to go for good skatewear?


  1. My DD (about FS 3) will only wear skating pants. She has a few skirts but says it's too cold in them when you fall. So she wears the same pair of Chloe Noels almost everyday - guess I should buy her another pair. :) I also invested in a mondor skating jacket recently, as they are tighter fitting than ordinary jackets. Fortunately she isn't very picky about clothes nor is she into the glam aspect of the sport. For myself I like seku or KP skate pants- the flare in most yoga pants scares me as I've caught my blade in them on jumps before. For shirts I recommend flipping through the rack of workout clothes at TJ Maxx!

  2. My 9 year-old daughter (Canadian Beginner 2 Synchro team + taking her preliminary Starskate tests) loves wearing pants to skate.

    She is required to wear a black skirt for synchro practices, but on her individual sessions she usually wears pants (in particular, the Chloe Noel ones I bought her at a recent sale).

    As far as tops go, she normally wears the Chloe Noel team synchro warm up jacket or her Triple Flip skating club jacket. She wasn't familiar with either line until coming across them at her club.

    Triple Flip is a Canadian company whose (pricey but very well made) clothes are highly coveted by the preteen athletic set. Their performance wear is not fleece lined (other than a single pair of black leggings meant for skating and the team jackets), but the quality of their fabric and the fit is exceptional. She usually will wear one of their tanks under her jacket (sometimes a long sleeve tee over that on the particularly cold pad near the condenser). She wears the skorts to skate in as well. They have lots of cute ones and change the fabrics constantly.


    I'm not familiar with Seku - not sure I've seen it here.

    As far as accessories go, the popular items here are Zuca bags, animal blade covers and cute blade covers (the flashing ones are a big hit at the moment).

  3. Juvenile level skater - our rink is super cold. In morning, she wears tights with stretch pants over top (I get them at Target or thrift stores - a lot of lightly used "I gave up working out" clothes there), and then thin layers on top. A compression shirt short sleeve, then long sleeve, then fleece jacket.

    Cotton in general is bad idea because it absorbs water (i.e. "I fell") and then gets cold. Synthetic fibers are better. Fleece also dries very quickly. For really cold mornings, she starts her warm up with a heavier jacket and even a hat...as she warms up, she sheds layers.

    For lessons, she tends toward dresses. Again, our rink is super cold, so she wears tights and then Mondor "fuzzy" tights over the top. I think they stopped making these, but I've found other wool/synthetic heavy tights that I've just cut the feet off. Dresses do help coach to see lines better. Also, there's just something about putting on a skating dress that makes my kiddo put on her competition face, if you know what I mean.

    Glove not mittens for competition program since hands - even finger positions - are important to see.

    And yes, tie hair back. I've heard a few judges now say that they like kids to look neat - even some who say they don't like long swinging ponytails, so a bun is better. (I know some ballet schools require buns, and I think the process of "getting in uniform" helps kids to focus on the task at hand.)

    One thing I saw a lot of the summer as we skated at different rinks during vacation was upper level skaters in those black athletic "hot pants" with tights under. It hasn't hit our rink yet - I think we're a little too close to Lancaster and the PA Dutch for that kind of joie de vivre. ;-)

  4. Some parents are clueless, or they don't care, or they're slack jawed morons.
    Remind parents that public sessions are open to all and people take pictures on ice. They should dress their DD with foreknowledge that their picture may end up online.
    Also skating tights are not the same as pantyhose. There was a teenager at our rink who skated in a dress for months in a skating skirt with panty hose with the dark thighs. Someone finally clued her in.
    I've also seen a 6 year old in a skating skirt that had what appeared to be a thong panty.
    I'm not too thrilled with boys that skate with their hood up and their hands in their pockets. I guess there's nothing parents can do. Just wait for the broken jaw to teach the kid there's consequences for stupidity.

  5. Hoods on jackets (up or down) = not good for spinning.

  6. "holiday gifts"

    For people giving gifts to skater who do not know anything about skating, probably the best bets are lots of cheap gloves and guards. The skater already has them, but they get lost frequently.

  7. DD got these wonderful skating pants, I think in Japan, that have a very light fleece underlining--really nice; don't know why they don't have those here. I also like the jackets with the extra long sleeves with thumbholes. These are especially good for the coach/judge if they have to write stuff down. Your hands stay warm, but you have the use of your fingers!

    Anon 9:26, I will definitely do a post on skating wear "don'ts" my mind is BRIMMING with some of the hilarity/cluelessness I have observed.

  8. I love a make called Gee active but I dont think there in the US over in the UK there the biggest sellers and most skaters in my main rink have a few pairs of these. They are very hard wearing and are very sparkerly however the price tag is not to nice, but to import chloe noel or another make its makes thema simmilar price. http://iceventureuk.com/product_info.php?cPath=32_34&products_id=849&osCsid=5478be3e9dfb7a07bfad043ebc691807

  9. How about a what to wear for overweight adult skaters??? I tend to wear Chloe Noel Skate pants plus a long tunic style top to hide the tum/bum...

  10. I really like NY2Sportswear. Identical to Chloe Noel, but a little cheaper. I've found pants on sale for around $40, on amazon and ebay. I'm a short, overweight (just barely) adult, and the Large fits me well, but is clearly made for someone taller than me. A tall, muscular teen might wear the same size. If another adult would like info- feel free to email me and I will give size specifics, I think my email is in my blogger profile. I'm on skating forums as Skittl1321 if you want to PM.

    My only caution about skating in yoga pants for freestyle skaters is many are bootcut, which is much cuter and than leggings, but you are much more apt to catch your blade in backspins and loops. I've switched to leggings exclusively, no more loose pants around my ankles!

    At our rink, until winter comes around, no one wears long sleeves (and then only rarely). I prefer a baggy t-shirt to counteract the too tight for my age bottoms, but teens seem to prefer racer back, sleeveless workout apparel (much like I'd wear to yoga, where I wear slightly looser leggings than I skate in)

    Teens also seem to like short shorts over tights. Only a select few can pull this off nicely though.

  11. Obligatory cranky male comment here... not all skaters are female!

    Unfortunately there's not a lot of stuff out there for male skaters, and ESPECIALLY not for adult male skaters like me :-(.

    I have some Nike windpants that I've been wearing for a long time, they are windproof, water resistant and lined so they are relatively warm. Unfortunately they don't seem to be making these any more. I've been looking for more stuff to wear but some that I've found is not windproof (= really cold
    when skating).

  12. @ Gordon--I feel your pain. I have a boy to man skater and there just isn't anything out there affordable and good looking.

    I ended up sewing his pants, and can recommend a very good pattern by Jalie (it's the only men's figure skating pants pattern they have). I get the microfiber fabric that wicks (in black) for practice. He has had them in Lycra as well for competition. Pants from this pattern is all he wears. The pattern comes in all sizes in one envelope, so it's economical as well.

    You can explore fabrics out there that are more windproof, the microfiber keeps my son warm, but he is practicing pretty hard and continuously. The wicking will help keep you dry, so maybe you won't need the windproof part. Also recommend Jockey microfiber wicking underwear to keep you dry all the way through.

    If you pay someone who sews in your area, you can get the pants for about as much as it costs for the women to purchase pants, or if you have a friend that sews, you can get them for just the cost of the fabric and dinner out LOL.

    The pants have stirrups, so even though they are like trousers, the blade doesn't get caught in the fabric, and they look sharp.

    Good luck

  13. Chloe Noel actually does have really nice boys' and men's styles.

  14. I bought my daughter pants from Hailey B. skatewear online. They are fleece lined, well made and were cheaper than the Chloe Noels in the pro shop (about $45). She also wears the Chloe Noel black fleece lined pants for synchro, so these were cheaper through the team ($40 instead of $59, so I got a pair for myself.

  15. I'm an adult skater, and I buy Under Armour Cold Gear running tights. I get them, and the Under Armour tops (and other similar brands) at a big-box sports store at the end of the season from the sale rack. I actually have a lot of trouble with overheating, so I wear short-sleeved wicking tops (mostly for runners) in the summer.
    This week I saw 2-packs of the stretchy gloves at American Box Store with the red logo for $2. They usually go on sale throughout the season, but I think these are great for skating. Also, one of the pairs is usually black, so if you lose one, you just get another from the other package. Or you mismatch. I also took them and personalized them with a zigzag stitch in sparkly thread at the cuff because the stitching wasn't super-high-quality.

  16. For adult women I like the stuff at Title 9. Pricey but wears like iron. I think runners and bikers stores have 'gear' that can be useful.
    A clip on pocket for a key, cash, etc.
    Arm warmers are at lots of biking / running stores. A nice alternate to a jacket in summer.
    While extra pairs of tights are always a welcome gift, I wish someone would give me some pairs of microfiber trouser socks. I go through these like kleenex. Absolutely perfect to wear under footless tights.
    For ice dancers a clip on metronome can be helpful. http://www.amazon.com/Seiko-DM50S-Digital-Metronome-Silver/dp/B00074B62A/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1319331617&sr=1-1

  17. For adults: My running tights are microfiber and windproof on the outside and softly vaguely-fleecy on the inside. Perfect. Running tops and cross-country ski tops are also typically very close-fitting and wicking. For an adult who won't outgrow before outwearing clothes, these are excellent investments. I've had my expensive x-c long-sleeve shirt for more than a decade; it is still wind proof, with breathable underarm panels, and a longer back tail that keeps the chill of ice from reaching my skin. It's a perfect skating layer: try online or running/ski shops. I also find that a simple cotton long-sleeve t-shirt works nicely over a wicking tank to keep me warm enough without being bulky.

  18. Skating Designs is another good brand-you can find her stuff on ebay-her website is pricey but the clothes on ebay are reasonable (in the world of skating clothes!)-she uses Polartec and Sportek-Polartec is thicker fleece like and Sportek is thinner w/fleece inside and more nylon like outside. She's local so we see lots of her clothes at our rinks-lots of cute inserts in the pants/jackets. Polartec is good for the little tots b/c thicker and Sportek is a big hit for the older girls.

  19. Yes and yes on being careful in yoga pants. I don't even do very fancy maneuvers, but my hip and elbow have a personal sad story after I got a toe pick caught in wide legged pants.

  20. Another recommendation for Skating Designs. My daughter has one polartec outfit and one sportek outfit. The polartec is nice for when the rink is colder (rainy days). They wash up great. Her sportek outfit she has had for almost a year and it pretty much gets washed every week and looks like new. I do hang them to dry.

  21. Xan -- ChloeNoel? Where? Under Skatewear->Pants, I see 17 choices for girls and 1 for boys. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place?

    Thanks Sk8rmom, I'll look into it!

  22. I'll put in a plug for sandradskate on ebay. My 10 year old daughter has worn her pants almost exclusively for at least a few years now. They're made of the polartec that is smooth on the outside and fleecy inside and nice and warm in our really cold rink. The price is great-much less than Chloe Noel and others even with shipping and they seem to last forever. Most of her pants have a contrasting stripe down the side which I'm not fond of, but when we need a new pair, I'll e-mail her asking for all black in my daughter's size and she puts them up on ebay.

  23. Xanboni, I LOVE reading your reading your blog (never posted though yet). This is the first time I sort of disagree with you. I have a 7-year-old daughter who is now newly at FS1 level and she has been skating in Chloe Noel and Mondor for a year now. Last February she was just a new Beta skater and has now made it to FS1 in less than one year. She is a girl who is not into toys but loves skating more than anything else. We gave her private lessons for her birthday. She got the Chloe Noel pants for last x-mas and that's all she wanted, nothing else! This has been the best gift ever and a good investment as she has worn her skating clothes 2-3x/week for nearly a year now! I really think it depends how serious a child is about skating and how much happiness and encouragement to improve the clothes will provide rather than just the level the child is at. For a little girl dressing up and bling is part of the fun!!

  24. anon 12:01-- As I wrote my rather snarky dismissal of the little Chloe Noels, I was thinking about a couple of girls at the rink, in low levels, who were skating in classes, and then started showing up in the expensive skating togs....Every. Single. Day. I think my main point is to let the skating lead the investment, and not to indulge casual skaters (and their mothers) who use the accessories as a status symbol.

  25. Gordon, sorry, yes, they have one choice for boys. I thought you couldn't find even that. This is what it used to be like for girls trying to buy jeans back in the day. They didn't make them girl-shaped.

    If anybody reading this is a sew-er, here's your next million! A figure skating apparel biz for boys!

  26. "let the skating lead the investment"...

    Very well said. This is an already expensive sport. I think parents need to be in-tune and have their head realistically in the game. I agree that a little kid who is finally showing motivation to get up and move or who has found a passion and for whom a new practice dress is like getting a trip to Disney...well, yes! Absolutely!

    On the other hand, as our skate guy said when my daughter eyed-up a pair of higher level skates: "You don't get these skates until you've earned them. Do the best you can possibly do now, work the hardest you can now on the skates you do have, and then we'll talk."

    I like in Scott Hamilton's autobiography when he talked about finally skating at the level when he was allowed to put crystals on his costume instead of just sequins.

  27. @Gordon
    Blue Skys is still making men's skating pants/trousers/slacks. Custom too.

  28. Thanks Anonymous! I had intended to order some BlueSkys but then they went out of business... had not heard they were back. That's great!

    I like the "let the skating lead the investment" ... makes a lot of sense to me.

  29. My dd likes skate pants. Our pro shop heavily discounts C Noel a couple times a year - when they hit $30 I buy 2 pair and they last about 2 years. She likes skate pants because being a kid it's easier to put pants on vs tights in a bathroom stall. She has to get herself ready for skating right after school(dad takes her). Once a week I make her do tights and a dress or skirt so she doesn't feel strange in comps and I'm there to help.