Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What to wear, a rebuttal.

Gonna have to argue with Xan's last post regarding adult skating wear. Black? Modesty? Where am I, Afghanistan?

Weekdays I wear pants. I have a pair of black and a pair of purple velvet. The velvets look great (OMG they are NOT BLACK!) but they have to be cleaned before I wear them out as they attract cat hair. Lots. Of Cat Hair. But after reading this post, I have a sudden and fierce urge to burn every pair of black skating pants I have and never again make another pair. I wear pants not out of any "modesty" but because I practice at ungodly hours of the morning. I don't have the luxury of sensible practice hours, and in the winter I'd wear my jeans over them. I need something I can get on in the dark, and something I can get out of fast to put on my day clothes and get going. Often I'm in a "normal" shirt so I can skip that step when I'm doing my quick change after practice. My jacket is black only because I paid $6 for it at a resale shop. After reading this post, I'm stepping up the search for a colored jacket, and I do have a purple shrug and white shrug for summer.

Which isn't to say I don't rock dresses and skirts. I just save those for the weekends which are more leisurely. I like wearing skirts. It's rare for me to actually get to wear them in real life, because the days I do, I usually end up in the shop, doing shop-type work which is completely incompatible with skirts. Wearing a skating dress or skirt, I can actually feel feminine for a change. I made a practice dress, a few skirts and a leotard. I own one prefab leotard, given to me by my friends at IDS. And wow, does that backline plunge! Sorry, Xan! (No, not sorry.)

Also, I made a pair of burgundy boot covers which I will wear with my black pants (OMG they DO NOT MATCH), and also with my jeans when I am a Rink Guard.

My ice show dress, which was the first true skating dress I made for myself, broke a whole slew of Xan's modesty rules for adults. It was black, because we were told to wear black, (ADULTS MUST WEAR BLACK) but:
It was really short. I mean, short. It rode a good few inches above that mid-thigh. It covered me, but if I did any good extension I'd be showing my ass. The one I literally ran off in before dawn in single digit temperatures.
It had a keyhole back. My back and shoulders were proudly on display. I worked hard for that muscle.
It showed some cleavage. I have cleavage. I had experimented with a supportive inner layer, and had some success. I'll know how to do it better next time, to avoid the Bra Conundrum. Two words: Halter Top. (How's that backline holding up? Ha, puns!)

All these Fashion Rules, written and unwritten, regarding Adult Skating have a theme: Be plain. Be unobtrusive. Skating clothes are for skaters, you're not a skater. Blend in. Black only. For pity's sake, cover up. No one wants to see that. Modesty! The judges like modesty? Well, as every coach I've ever conversed with regardng adult skating is so very fond of pointing out, it's not like we're going to the Olympics. If I hear one more Olympic joke I may snap. They're not funny.

Treating other people's bodies, or your own body for that matter, as disgusting things that do not belong on display is the worst form of body policing. And no, I don't know anything about skating, and if knowing about skating means engaging in fat shaming then I don't want to. Leave me to my practice and stop educating me on this ridiculous culture.

By all means, wear what you're comfortable in. But to be perfectly frank, this habit of Adults practicing in weird amalgamations of workout wear or jeans makes me insane. We're not running, doing yoga or playing tennis. We're skaters and we're skating. They make skatewear in adult sizes, and if it's not what you like or can afford, it's simple enough to make.


This is my pick of leotard/practice dress pattern at the moment. It's not ideal. The binding on the neckline is a total pain in the ass, and I skip it if it's just a practice dress. Also bear in mind Jalie patterns tend to run a scoche small, so make it in a size larger than your measurements if you've got anything less than a 75% four way stretch fabric. Leotards are fun, but be sure to pee before you get them on. My dress is cotton teal with unfinished elbow length sleeves and a gray skirt. The leotard I made is in a red organic bamboo fabric (I splurged on that one) and my IDS leotard is bright purple. To give myself a lining, I've simply been basting in illusion/liner fabric where I've felt it's needed.


Here is a collection of skirt patterns. I've made the full in a burgundy and the A-Line in a lightweight gray for summer. In fact, I have some yardage of *RED* velvet I found on the remnant table to make a new one. I find I prefer the A-Line. I'm simply too squared off physically to pull off a full or froufy skirt without looking silly. (Picture a Clydesdale in a feathered halter.) These go together fast, but again, Jalie runs them small. Make it a size bigger if you're unsure, you can always take it in. I did not make the long one out of principle. To make the skirt longer to your preference, simply draw the tracing out three to four inches on the length. If you can't freehand it, move the tracing paper itself.


This is my pants pattern. Attach the stirrup bottom sans hole for length, and cut it 2" - 3" wider than the pattern on both sides, starting at the mid-calf level so the bottom goes over the skate boot. I'm not trying to make my legs look longer, I'm trying to make my feet look smaller. A toe peeping out seems less bulky than a whole boot on the end of my leg. I'll also add elastic around the bottom of the leg, to ensure it stays on the boot and doesn't ride up.

Kwik Sew makes an assortment of leotard patterns, but I tried two of those and hated them both. Kwik Sew may be fast, but they run really big and fit poorly. I made the first one and vowed never to eat again before I realized the pattern was at fault. I mentioned it to a costumer friend and he rolled his eyes at the mention of Kwik Sew. That having been said, I do like their wrap skirt pattern. Not a lot of fitting required there.

As for Fabric, you don't have to go black. We're not in mourning and we have nothing to hide. Yes, black is slimming, but red can set off your amazing complexion, blue can bring out your eyes, purple can set off your hair, neon green can make sure you get right of way, you get the idea. You're more than a shape, and anyone decrying that you don't look like a skater can get bent. (They're usually in the stands anyway, nursing their lattes and being judgey. Besides, the ones in their expensive clean running shoes, ill fitting yoga pants and massive Louis Vitton hobos posit a bigger fashion disaster than I ever could in a skating dress.) There is a vast selection of fabric in color and pattern at Spandex World. Go Red, Burgundy, Purple, Blue, Teal, Gray. Wear what you want. If these little girls can practice in pajama bottoms (seen it!) and skanky booty shorts, we can dare to wear color. The performance Spandex works well for pants, and cotton spandex makes a good warm leotard that breathes. At $8 to $12 a yard, and one 60" yard yielding a pair of pants, full skirt or leotard for an average size person, it's not that expensive to experiment.

To test for stretch, take the pattern with you and use the handy diagram on the back. It MUST stretch as far as they say in ALL FOUR directions. If you're buying online, the description will tell you 2-way or 4-way stretch, and the company should send you samples on request.

I had the priviledge of exhibiting at a dance tradeshow with IDS, a company that makes Ballet wear, and they are the main supplier for American Ballet Theatre. Across the aisle from us was a large booth selling a healthy array of booty shorts and crop tops in various neons and spangles. If you wanted, you could have things printed across the butt. (And I don't care what the letters are, it says, "LOOK AT MY BUTT.") Crop tops had anything from "DANCE" to "BRING IT" emblazoned on them.

I mentioned to the VP of Customer Relations at IDS that Booty Shorts were coming into vogue at the skating rink, and she shook her head. "If a real ballet student were to show up in those shorts, she'd be asked to leave."


"Yes. No serious student of dance wears anything like that," she had this great crisp British accent. "It's tawdry. Unprofessional." And she pointed to the solid color leotards and gorgeous matching wrap skirts and cardigans her company sold to ABT as the *standard uniform* of the school. Yes, a uniform, and not in the "everyone else has this so I must, too" way. **cough*Chloe Noel*cough** "It sets the tone," she explained. "You're in the right mindset to be serious. Not cutesy. You're there to work, not goof off in playclothes." Say it like Mary Poppins and it becomes an imperative. We talked a lot about costuming and booty shorts, and as a parting gift I got my purple leotard.

The kind VP from IDS is right. Just like the right suit can make you confident enough to speak in a big meeting, the right cocktail dress makes you poised to make a good impression, or the right shoes can help you to kick ass when warranted (I own two pairs of such heels. Look out when I wear them.) Wearing true skating clothing can help put you in the right state of mind. When my mind drifts to office problems or the housework I need to do, I just have to catch a glimpse of myself in the glass, looking like a skater and it brings me back. The real plus side of skating in actual skating clothing and not running clothes is that it's not so foreign when you do have to wear that "real" dress. You've already encountered and solved a lot of those logistical problems Xan brings up.

Unfortunately for my first "real" skating dress, it got a good bloodstain from where I fell and cut my chin open. As I'm terribly superstitious, I don't like to wear anything with physical memories of a bad accident. If I can't get the stain out, it may just be a pretty souvenir. Along with my chin scar. As for my Dignity, I apparently sacrificed most of that when I decided to strap on skates at 35. The rest I usually lose somewhere between mile 2, splits attempts, and crashing into the ground on "isolated rotations" during my off-ice mornings. I can sometimes find it again in the puddle of sweat I leave on my mat after crunches and hamstring/piriformis stretches. But I'd rather have my ice packs over my dignity anyway.

Wear what you damn well please.