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Glossary of Figure Skating Apparel Terms

Interested in purchasing ice skate apparel but not sure what you need? With so many types of figure skating dresses, skirts, tights and other ice skate apparel available, make sure you’re buying the right items before you order. Use our glossary of figure skating apparel terms to learn about the different ice skating clothing and accessories available, and shop with ease at

Figure skating competition dresses
Figure skating dresses for competition are some of the most elaborate ice skating dresses made. Designed to attract attention and draw out the emotion of the music, they are often embellished with Swarovski crystals, flowing lace and chiffon. Many are also made in bright color combinations. In a field of average skaters, an exquisite ice skating competition dress will leave a memorable impression with the judges.

Figure skating test dresses
Usually dark in color, test dresses are an elegant form of ice skate apparel. These dresses are worn during testing of a skater’s skill level, which dictates the level a skater will skate at competitively. During testing, judges want to judge based on skill and technique only and do not want to be distracted by fancy sparkly dresses. Some coaches also prefer their students to be in long sleeves to accentuate arm movements, so ask your coach for his or her recommendation.

Ice dancing dresses
Ice skating dance dresses usually have longer skirts that drop down to just above the knees in the front and just below the knees in the back. Because dance routines are usually done in pairs, an ice dancing dress usually does not have sleeves, allowing a male skater to more easily grip his partner’s arms. Dance dresses are generally more elaborately decorated on the back, because that is what the audience and judges see the most.

Ice skating artistic dresses
Unlike other figure skating dresses, ice skating artistic dresses are designed to be interpretive. Combined with music, they help tell a story. These dresses need less flashy embellishments than competition dresses and are the most costume-like type of ice skate apparel.

Practice dresses for figure skating
Typically economically priced at around $40 to $90, practice dresses for figure skating are simple everyday dresses worn while practicing. Often made from Lycra, microfiber, Spandex, or velvet, practice dresses are sometimes embellished as well, usually when used for competition practice ice skating. If a judge is watching practice ice, it is important to stand out from the crowd even while wearing a practice dress.

Ice skating skirts
Fun and flattering, an ice skating skirt offers a more casual option in ice skate apparel. However, skirts are worn solely for practice. Unlike figure skating dresses, different skirt styles and fabrics are for fashion purposes only. One benefit a skirt is that you can mix it with many different tops and wear it several times a week, so expanding your skating wardrobe is easy.

Figure skating tights
One of the most popular brands of figure skating tights is Mondor tights, but there are many different options available when you choose your skating tights, including footless tights, over-the-boot tights, and standard footed tights. We recommend skaters use footed tights in their skates. Because skating tights have a very fine weave, they minimize movement in your skate and allow you to feel as if the skates are an extension of your leg rather than an external component. Cotton socks, on the other hand, can be abrasive when they are damp, causing blisters. Skaters who skate in bare feet use footless tights. Although this is a classic skating method, it is not recommended with modern figure skates. Finally, over-the-boot tights cover the outside of your skate. Some skaters like the way these tights elongate a skater’s body, giving the appearance of a faster-looking spin. However, they are more likely to be damaged than standard footed tights.

Thick and thin skating tights
Skating tights are generally categorized as thick or thin. Usually used for practice, thick skating tights are warmer and more durable, while thin ones are lighter and look more like true skin tone. Because of their nicer look, thin tights are the standard ice skate apparel for competition skating.