Figure Skating Wardrobe Hacks (for girls)
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Gymnasts are famous for using hairspray on the bottom of their leotards to get the material to stick to their skin instead of "ride up" while they perform. When swimmers go to put their hair up, the key is to get it wet before trying to put on your cap. Every sport has these unspoken rules that go along with it- tips and tricks that only come from years of experience and wise friends in the same field. What specific spandex do you wear under soccer shorts? What kind of bra goes under a leotard? You get the gist.
Figure skating is no exception- just as in every other sport, they are the bits of wisdom that you earn through the years invested, embarrassing mishaps, and the connections you've made in your sport. I get that- but it also kind of sucks. I can't tell you how many nightmares could have been avoided if I had just known what the heck to do, instead of waiting to be inducted into this secret society. So while some skaters/coaches might get mad at me for sharing the tips that they had to "earn", I think it's time for a new generation of skaters- who we want their competitors to succeed just as much as they do. Because then when you win, you know it is a true victory- not just a mishap on someone else's part. You want to be fully comfortable and prepared in order to skate your best- so here are my secrets.
Wear the right thing.
What do figure skaters usually wear? It depends on what kind of skating you're doing. If you are a competitive skater working on jumps and spins, you'll 95% of the time be wearing a workout top and some black skating pants. If you're still getting your bearings on the ice, any kind of pants/leggings and a sweatshirt should be okay. If you're just learning (or have a young child learning) you'll want some waterproof pants so that the ice doesn't just soak into their pants every time they fall.
No matter what, layer.
I know the name of the game for me was always two layers on bottom, two layers on top. If I was wearing a skirt or program costume, I'd wear two pairs of tights. If I was wearing skating pants, I'd put one pair of tights underneath. I am always cold and can't stand being cold. Speaking of which...
Argue with me if you want, but figure skaters should always be wearing tights AT LEAST on their feet. What the heck do I mean by that? There are three primary types of tights in the ice world that I've already been discussed in a previous post of mine. It details the fastest way to put on tights, the rules of washing tights, and if you haven't read it yet, go check it out!
Don't skate naked.
That caught your attention, huh? It might seem like a "duh" kind of thing, but a few years ago I saw a child skating in just a shirt and tights. No leggings, no skirt, no pants. Literally just tights. I immediately thought:
"this poor little girl was definitely dressed by her dad today".
😂 For the love of God, always put something over the tights. The point of tights is to look naked. That's why they are nude (although they're somehow a shade of nude that matches nobody's skin). So why would you want it to look like you're skating bottomless? Not to mention, with only one pair of tights, there's enough sheerness in the fabric to see the underwear of the skater. Let's not. Speaking of which...
Keep your underwear in mind.
Once you turn, oh, 11, or get to a certain level in competition, it makes me cringe as a coach and as a judge how embarrassed I feel for some kids. You'll have pictures and videos of these competitions that will be shown for decades to come- so you're going to want to make sure your (or your child's) underwear remain invisible under your tights and the bottom of your dress. During jumps and spins, nothing ruins a good photo-opp like a pair of underwear. How do we fix it? Ah, that point in every woman's life when she must learn about types of underwear that don't show under anything. There are so many kinds of seamless "no-show" underwear out there these days that the options are endless. Or there's the kind of underwear that are never show under anything, but that sounds like a parent/daughter talk I'd love to sit out of. Now on the subject of sitting...
Pay attention to that waistband.
I used to get the worst cramps driving to or from skating- sometimes so bad that I ended up just going home. I couldn't figure out why for the longest time. Turns out, if you're getting cramps or stomach aches on the way to or from the rink, there's a simple fix. When you opened up a pair of tights straight out of the package for the first time, you most likely gasped and thought: "these would only fit an elf." While the fabric stretches out, the waistband is something you have to worry about- and often the biggest issue in sizing of tights. Those thick, tight, elastic bands are meant to stay up no matter what kind of zero-gravity situation you get yourself into. But that also means that when you are in a position other than straight up, that band can slowly start to dig into your stomach and mess you all up. For example: every day in the back of the car on the way to skating, I would start to get a stomach ache that was sometimes so bad by the time that we got to the rink that I didn't want to skate at all. My trick? Pay attention to that. When you're sitting, shift where the waistband every few minutes to distribute the squishes. (New vocab word). Or, roll or shimmy the waistband down to your hips where your bones can absorb the squeezing instead of your internal organs. Another option is to hold the elastic by hand so that you can manually fix the tightness. Doing this before you get a stomach ache will make you so much more comfortable. Seems random, and I don't know if that's a problem other people had, but it was definitely a problem for me, and one that can be fixed so easily.
Hate itchy things? Shave your legs.
I am the QUEEN of itch. I must have sensitive skin or something- but either way, itchy pink socks were legitimately the reason I quit skating for a long time when I was 4. You might have read about that in my post about tights. So when I found out that I'd have to wear tights in skating, I was less than enthused. Obviously this only applies to older girls but if you're feeling itchiness, try shaving your legs. Having smooth legs allows the fabric in the tights to sit smoothly on top of the legs instead of brushing against stubble or little hairs, which the tights will tug as you move.
Tights getting stuck under your toenails?
This is another time I might be alone, or maybe we just don't talk about it. If you put tights on your feet perfectly, most companies make the seam right where your toenails are. When you put your foot into a skate and start moving, that seam sometimes has an uncomfortable way of finding its way under your toenails. There are fortunately two easy ways to fix this: (1) keep your toenails cut short, and/or (2) when you put the tights on, put the feet on at a slightly different angle so that the seam will sit right around the cuticles of the toenails. You don't want the seam under your toes as it will create discomfort there, too.
Always bring an extra pair.
This is specifically for competitions and exhibitions. You'll want to have an extra pair of each kind of tights you wear. What? For example, if you're wearing one pair that is in the boot and one pair that is over the boot, have an extra pair of both on hand. I've seen all sorts of mishaps from torn tights to stains and everything in between- and you've got enough stress as it is, the last thing you should be worried about is your wardrobe.
Got any other tricks up your (metaphorical) sleeves? I'd love to add on to this post and share your tips! Feel free to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below and let me know!