How to dress for a social Swing Dance

Swing Dancing is a fun, energetic and athletic dance so you want to dress stylishly, yet comfortably! You can choose to go super casual in jeans and a tee or look the part in a vintage inspired outfit.


If dressing casual, just avoid wearing anything that would be too hot or too slippery. I wore a silk shirt dancing once and the leaders hands just kept sliding right off my back!

Bringing an extra shirt is usually a good idea if you get really sweaty or the leads sweat all over you while dancing. We sell some cool Swing Dance shirts in our online store! Wearing a strapless anything is cute but probably not the safest to dance in.

Swing skirts are usually knee length or longer and have a good "swish" or flow to them.

Pencil skirts should have some stretch to them with maybe a slight slit up the back or side of the leg to allow movement and some serious swivels!

If wearing a skirt, be sure to throw on a pair of dance shorts/bicycle shorts/leggings underneath for those spins and accidental skirts flying up. It's always nice to dress up, wearing something that you would see in the 1920s - 1950s, especially on nights with live music.

When selecting a dress, make sure the sleeves aren't too constricting & you can raise your arms above your head.

There are a few stores in San Diego (and online) that carry dresses perfect for a night out Swing Dancing:

Check out the website Vintage Dancer for more detailed info on dressing vintage!


Men also have a choice between casual (jeans & a t-shirt), nice casual (jeans or slacks and a button down shirt - vests are a cool addition as well as a neck or bow tie) or nice suits/vintage wear. Dressing nice on nights with live music is highly encouraged.

If you're going casual, bring one or more extra shirts to change into in case you get super sweaty. We sell some cool Swing Dance shirts in our online store!

If wearing slacks/dress pants, make sure they fit properly. Before you go out dancing, try doing some leg lifts or moves you might rock out on the social dance floor. I've seen many leads that accidentally split their pants because they weren't used to dancing in them!

Some iconic elements to a mens suit from the Swing Era:

  • Double-breasted suit (herringbone, plaids, tweed & stripes were popular patterns)

  • Broad shouldered jackets with peaked lapels

  • Wide neck ties (hanging shorter, to about the middle of the ribs)

  • Bow ties (we sell wood bow ties in our online store!)

  • Button vest or sweater vest

  • Muted/deep hues

  • High waisted pants (medium-wide ankled, cuffed at the bottom) held up with a belt or button on suspenders

  • Hats: popular types were Fedora, Trilby, Homburg, Derby/Bowler, Walking Hat, Boater, Porkpie or the "Newsboy" cap

Check out the website Vintage Dancer for more detailed info on dressing vintage!

Here are a few places to find some vintage style menswear:

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