Sailing gracefully across the ice, figure skaters make the impossible look easy. With every jump, spin, and turn, the figure skater demonstrates skill and mastery over the ice. Incredibly competitive on the national and Olympic level while simultaneously being fun for kids and adults looking for a hobby, figure skating provides an incredible opportunity to work on physical fitness, dexterity, and balance.
Having only risen in popularity in the United States as well as other developed nations, figure skating is a primary source of exercise and enjoyment for many. Even when it never gets to the competitive level, it is still an engaging and challenging sport to be a part of. Just like any other sport, your success will come in part from the kind of gear that you have. Ice skating costumes are among the most showy and decorative out for any professional sport.
With that in mind, let’s take a moment to review the anatomy of an ice skating costume. Breaking down the overall look and identifying each part individually, we see what makes these outfits so functional and compelling.
The Basics Parts Of An Ice Skating Costume
- Material Choice
There are a lot of different stretch fabrics that can be used in figure skating costumes. Regardless of the exact kind of material used, they will follow a few simple rules. First, they must be tight enough to hold to the body and keep everything in place, even when spinning and moving at great speeds. Next, they must be breathable and allow moisture to leave instead of building up. Another consideration is comfort. How pleasant the material is to wear along with how well it will resist burns and melting due to friction with the ice is important. A final consideration is durability. The outfit must be able to hold itself together without risk of tearing apart during a performance. Costumes are typically made from a blend of spandex, nylon, and polyester. The spandex in particular is responsible for the stretch. Many figure skating costumes will be made out of 4 way stretch fabric.
There are many different ways to decorate an ice skating costume. The most popular decoration beyond the material choice and patterning is crystals. Sewn onto the outfit, the shine and sparkle when hit with light. Many professionals prefer these decorative touches because it draws the eyes to the performance and creates interesting visual effects when the ice skater is moving at full speed. Other kinds of decorations include sparkles and sequins. Over the past few years, the move in professional ice skating has been towards more toned down and minimalist costumes which may not include any form of additional decoration. That being said, they are still really fun to play around with and almost always found on children’s figure skating costumes.
The movement of the body is crucial during a figure skating competition. Bringing attention to the body and highlighting what it is doing can be a great way to improve your score. Having known this for centuries, figure skaters and costume makers have worked on creating elaborate patterning that draws the eyes to certain parts of the body. Narrowing the field of view, these patterns dazzle and emphasize certain aspects of the performance. Next time you are looking at different figure skating costumes, take a moment to look at the patterns and see what visual effects they create.
- Long Vs. Short Sleeved
Whether your figure skating dress is long or short sleeved is entirely up to you. Some long sleeve options include seeing-through fabric for some parts of the arms before ending in a solid band. Short sleeved varieties are preferred by some professionals as they feel less inhibited by their clothing. As a final consideration, many use their longer sleeves to complete the overall look of their outfit, providing an improved visual effect on the ice.
- Skirt Length
In 2004, the Olympics adopted rules that allowed women to wear, trousers, tights, and skirts when performing. Before this, skirts were a requirement. Over the past decade or so, clothes have fallen out of favor offering a wider variety of figure skating costumes to choose from. If you do decide to go with a skirt, then there is the question of functionality. A dress can provide a neat visual effect but also runs the risk of getting in your way.
Nude tights are typically worn during competitions. However, it is not unheard of for colored clothes of different finishes to be brought as well. In the end, it all comes down to comfort and what material you end up deciding to use.
- Color Choice
The Olympics, as well as many other competitions, require that there not be more than 50% nude fabric used in any outfit. Beyond that, the color choice will depend on a significant amount of the music and overall look the ice skater is attempting to convey.