Swing dancing

What to Wear Swing Dancing

Swing dancing

It’s hard to believe but swing dancing is almost 100 years old. Swing dancing started in the 1920s and is still thriving today in many area of the country and there are even nightclubs that are dedicated to the athletic style of dancing. Because the style is so athletic and requires a lot of jumping, flipping, and dipping, it is important to wear the proper clothing to get maximum enjoyment out of your next night of swing dancing. Plus it is always fun to look the part.

The say it takes two to Tango and the same holds true with swing dancing. Here is how you can look like an authentic swing dancer regardless no matter what gender you are:


Alright guys, your style of dress for swing dancing is pretty easy. To look like the dancers back in the day you need to get a really comfortable suit. The traditional suits that the swing dancers of old wore where called Zuit Suits and they consisted of loose fitting pants, a jacket, and a traditional swing dancer’s hat. The pants should be baggy and can come up rather high if you wish. The jacket should hang very low and should also be very loose. Under the jacket, go with a white button down shirt and a tie. Accessories the outfit by wearing a feather in your hat, and get a wallet that has a chain or two hanging way down. Remember, when it comes to Zuit Suits, the brighter and louder the color, the better. Greens, purples, yellows, or whatever, really nothing is off limits.


You women out there have it pretty easy too. Dresses, dresses, and more dresses. You too can go crazy with the colors to get that authentic look and really any patterns go too. Back in the day, it was not uncommon to see many swing dancing gals decked out in polka dotted dresses or other cool patterns. The key with a swing dancing style of dress is to go more form fitting on the top and big and poofy starting at the hips. This is not only designed for ultimate comfort, but it also has a certain look to it when the swing dance is being performed.


This is for anyone regardless of gender. In order to enjoy swing dancing, you have to have comfortable shoes. This doesn’t mean to wear sneakers and you certainly want to choose shoes that are a little on the dressy side, but first and foremost they have to feel good on your feet while you are moving and grooving. The bottoms should be somewhat slick as this will help you to twist and turn. If you have a shoe that grips the dance floor too much, you will risk twisting an ankle.

Now all you need to do is grab some of your closest cats and head out for a fun filled night of swing dancing. If you don’t want to go with the traditional look, you can always dress in your own way as there are really no rules when it comes to swing dancing except for comfort and fun.

4 thoughts on “What to Wear Swing Dancing

  1. Lindy Shopper

    This article is inaccurate in many ways. I’d recommend doing a little more research into the swing dance community before giving advice about what is appropriate to wear to swing dances today.

  2. Andy

    Really? I don’t see the guys in the photos you posted wearing zoot suits. Maybe you should go to a swing dance and check out what the dancers actually wear. Sounds like the only swing dance you’ve seen is the dance scene in the early part of “Malcolm X”.

  3. Ali Connell

    If you attend an acutal swing dance, you won’t find the regulars wearing Zoot Suits. Some wear regular tweed, linen or wool suits (always in standard browns, greys, black navy or white), sometimes the waist is higher than we usually see in modern clothing. The jacket length is nearly always standard length, not extra long. In fact it’s more difficult to dance in the long length jacket. Some men wear vests (of similar colors) with or without the suit jacket. Hats are most often newsboy or drivers caps (golf cap). It’s true that women often wear dresses and that skirts that are A line are easier to dance in, but pencil skirts were also popular in the 30s and 40s. Extra poofy skirts weren’t popular until the rock and roll 50s. Plus, we actually wear jeans and t-shirts quite often (some always wear jeans and t-shirts). You’re correct about the shoes, though many people wear Keds or Chuck Taylor All Stars and some wear typical running shoes. If people wore the clothing you’re suggesting to a dance (particularly the Zoot Suit), they would feel VERY out of place.
    A Swing dancer with 8 years of experience who dances in many cities around the country.

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