The costumes are a very distinctive part of Irish dancing both historically and in dancing today although they have evolved significantly over the years. Presentation is an important part of any performance.
Modern costumes can appear somewhat daunting as there are a vast array of intricate dresses which can be expensive, but at the lower levels of dancing there are many options available.
Different dance schools have different guidelines for what to wear to lessons. The Claddagh School of Irish Dancing has embriodered class polo shirts and plain black shorts. You can order the polo shirts through me but for beginners there is no need, dancers should wear anything they feel comfortable in. We can talk about class shirts next year when you have decided if you like dancing and wish to carry on to competition level.
Irish dancers wear a special type of sock called poodle socks (or bubble socks) which are made from a thick cotton with a bobbly texture.They tend to be thicker than ordinary socks so it is best to wear these for practice as well or otherwise your dance shoes may be too big. You should always wear your poodle socks when trying on new shoes.
Until the relatively recent advent of Riverdance, boys would wear kilts for feiseanna and displays. This is now very unusual and boys have embraced the new trend for wearing smart tailored trousers instead.
Costume styles for boys vary less by the level of the dancer than those for girls. Boys wear black socks, black trousers, a black, coloured or white shirt, and often a tie, waistcoat or cummerbund (a strip of fabric worn around the waist). These items may be embroidered with Celtic or other designs or embellished with diamante stones for more advanced dancers.
Whatever level it is important that the trousers and shirt fit properly, are clean, well pressed and are as smart as possible!
Generally many dancers in the beginner grade and some in the primary grade will wear a simple beginners costume. This could consist of a short black skirt, a white or black blouse, t-shirt or leotard, and black underwear to ensure modesty when kicking and jumping (school PE knickers are ideal). You can also wear a soft cape/shawl if you wish - pin it to your right shoulder then pin the bottom at your left hip so it does not flap about too much. Whatever you wear make sure it is clean and pressed and your socks are pulled up! - you can buy 'sock glue' to help keep your socks up.
Some dance schools may have specific skirts/tops especially for beginners.