What to Wear for East Coast Swing

Hello Everyone,

I'm new to the forum (and new to dancing!). I've just started lessons of East Coast Swing/Be-Bop, and I'm the only woman in the class to wear a skirt and heels. Everyone else wears jeans and trainers. Okay, this is just a classroom scenario, but we're about to 'go public' by going to various swing dance nights.
Is there a 'standard attire' for this sort of dance (ie: do most women wear skirts and heels....or do they wear jeans?)

I feel good dancing in a skirt (and I have sort of tango-style dance shoes, with a small heel). I live in jeans in 'real life', but wearing a skirt to class makes me feel more elegant (and less klutzy/rubbish....and let me tell you, I'm a klutzy/rubbish dancer!)

I'd appreciate any advice you can give me!

Thank you!

Steve Pastor

Staff member
I'd say go to a couple of places you are thinking of going to once you feel comfortable with your dancing. Comfortable enough to go out and dance that is. Have a drink or two and see what other people are wearing. Repeat as needed and decide for yourself.
More often than not, what people wear can vary from club to club, or even from night to night.
I have an 80s era book that uses models dressed in clothes from the 30s through the 50s. It's all "swing" stuff, but man are the looks different. Women's shoes span the gamut from high heels to saddle shoes. Guys shoes include "roach killers".
People will notice, of course, if you dress differently. And only you can decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
We are ballroom dancers and occasionally go to swing dances. Attire varies quite a bit and I would do like Steve said, if you want to avoid standing out to much. I have seen everything from tee shirts to vintage clothing. Key item is to wear something you can stay cool in.
I dance a lot of ballroom were people tend to dress a little nicer, so when I go swing dancing I wear the same things (generally a skirt or casual dress). I usually look dressier than the other dancers, but I get a lot of compliments and feel comfortable. So whatever you like, I think!

PS: I love the avatar - Betty Grable is awesome ;)


Well-Known Member
sweet-feet & mickey-jazz... welcome to DF! :)

personally, am not familiar w/ swing events... i tend to dress in black pants when i go to ballroom socials, but i know a lot of ladies who are into swing who love to wear skirts.


Well-Known Member
Don't have any idea of what the trends are in Paris, but every swing dance I've been to was pretty casual as far as dress is concerned.


Well-Known Member
swing...i see quite a few girls in these jeans/tights with a skirt over it. Swing seems more casual than ballroom and latin club dances in my area. I usually have black slacks that I wear to all dances, and start with a long sleeved shirt that is strippe down to a t-shirt as I heat up. (I'm a guy.) IN terms of footwear I wear flip flops...but most people wear shoes. ;-)
I like to wear loose black pants and some fancy little sparkly top to the swing events I've attended. Comps or socials. You usually don't see too many skirts at swing events. I don't wear them because when we east coast, DH might throw in a stunt or two that I am more comfortable doing in pants. That's largely social though. Skirts, bloomers and tights can feel too fussy sometimes for that. The comps I've attended are WCS. But in the end, I would have to say wear what's comfortable for you.


Active Member
As Steve Pastor says check out your local scene.

WC Swing female dancers tend to wear pants and top, Lindy Hop ladys often wear dresses/skirts as an homage to the original style of dress when it was created.

At most swing events I have seen, comfortable casual will fit the bill, but a nightclub atmosphere might ask for a bit dressier wear.
At nearly all of the swing dance events I have attended, there are mostly girls in jeans and a short skirt with leggings underneath--very casual. But there usually are a few ladies in dresses. If you go to place that has a younger crowd it's much less likely that anyone will be dressed up. I doubt that anywhere you go you'd be the only one in a skirt, though. My suggestion is that you wear a dress the first time you go to the place if that's what your comfortabe in, but nothing too flashy. For instance a plain black dress would look fine if the guy's in jeans, but something red and sparkly would stand out a bit more.

As for the guys, the swing dance-obsessed people I usually go dancing with are wearing zoot suits and such, but it seems that everyone else is wearing casual clothes. Jeans or black pants are safest, I'd say.
Ok, I'm late to the party since I haven't been to Dance-Forums in a while! Last time I was in Paris (a little over a year ago) I went to the Caveau de la Huchette (5th district/Latin Quarter) and folks were dressed casually (casual pants, comfortable fitted tops for women). There were lots of local dancers even on a weeknight. Live bands play nightly. Had a great time dancing with the French!

Generally, I find black pants to be appropriate for most places especially if you are not sure if jeans are okay. Sleeveless tops, "baby doll" t-shirts (fitted t-shirts on women) are common for East Coast/Lindy Hop scenes. I did not see skirts or high heels among the dancers, just casual wear like in the U.S.

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