I mentioned in my last post that I’m starting to take more ballet classes. I go Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. In January my studio is starting a new class on Wednesday night at an even better time for me. Since I’ll only be able to do some Saturday classes (scheduling conflict) I want to try the Wednesday class out. It’s an intermediate level which I’m really not up to, but my instructor said I’m more than welcome. So when possible I’m going to try to do that class. Really I’m always trying to take as many classes as I can, and it’s a rarity I’m able to attend all of them. I think over the course of the next year I’d be lucky to go to class all five days a few times. But that’s okay, and the more classes I have open to me the better. After all, before last week I had never done a Saturday class. And unless I want to get my son (who sleeps till noon or later) up at 7am to feed, clothe, and drive him to the play center before backtracking to the studio there will be many Saturdays that I just don’t get to go to class. Just this week I had things to do on Monday and Tuesday and Thursday was a holiday so I’m happy for these past two Saturdays. And that’s how I’m trying to look at it. I want three classes a week minimum and it’s what I’ll need if I want to progress onto pointe.
My teacher in Hawaii (who I still talk to and see) said if I keep up what I’m doing now I’ll be getting my shoes in the next year. But I want to feel confident in them. My current studio will let anyone with a years training take pointe, so I could be doing it now (I could have been doing it in September to be honest). That’s great and all, and if I really just wanted the shoes I’d schedule a fitting tomorrow. But it’s not just about the shoes. I want to do more than just wear them, I want to be able to dance in them. I also don’t want to hurt myself, so while my current teacher says I have good ankle strength and really good feet (and I can do any foot exercise you throw at me without thinking twice about it, yes I’m a freak) I think I could still be better. So I’m going to keep taking class, and maybe in the spring or summer I’ll start thinking about getting pointe shoes.
Since I’m taking all of these classes I decided to get some more leotards and that’s what this post is really about. Right now I have one Gaynor Minden leotard (the Lyric in plum in case you’re interested) that fits well, as well as two Yumiko’s and two Elevé’s. I do have a few others but they were less expensive and ultimately the quality wasn’t there. Both Yumiko and Elevé are expensive but the quality is so much better than my super basic leos from Discount Dance. However, I’m starting to move away from Yumiko.
This is not to say that Yumiko is bad, or that the quality is lacking. It’s not that at all! I still feel like my Yumiko’s are super nice and they are beautiful. But they’re short, and the arms are snug, too snug. I find I don’t wear my Marieke at all. I’ve tried a few times, but the shoulders just keep popping off and it’s beyond annoying. The Anna is much better, but the arm holes are still a little annoying. I do wear that one a lot though so it’s not annoying to the point of distraction. The Marieke on the other hand… Perhaps if I hadn’t gotten it without the sleeves it would be better. Actually I know it would. I’ve thought about removing them in the past but I feel like it’ll ruin the look because I can’t match the trim. I would probably buy the Anna style again, but forgo the sleeves. That aside, there’s still the issue of length. For some reason the Anna isn’t as bad as the Marieke, but it’s still a bit too short as well. I feel like Yumiko’s are great if you’re under 5’6″, but anything over that and you’re really running the risk of it not fitting properly. Yumiko allows you to customize so much of their leotards, I wish they’d give you the option to pay for extra length. Perhaps this will be an option in the future. Until then I’ll be holding off on ordering any more.
Now on to Elevé, my new favorite brand. This company is fantastic if you’re looking for a longer leotard. It’s just they way they’re built, long. They also have mesh, which is something Yumiko is only now getting into, and with only one style. I find that in terms of quality my Elevé leotards are holding up super well, and I wear the two I own all the time. I hand wash them and hang them to dry, and both still look brand spanking new. There’s been no fading and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve actually decided to branch out a bit and order three new ones, in three different styles. I’m not going to tell you all my fabric choices, you’ll have to wait and see when they come in. 🙂
The first one up is the “Amber”. I initially thought I could never wear this style, I was sure I’d look like a line backer in it. But Discount Dance had some of their new Yumiko knockoffs in stock and one of them was very similar to this. I was actually surprised at how good I looked in it. If it didn’t have the huge cut out in the back I probably would have bought it. But I’m not a fan of cutouts, and the price was $50. If you’re going to compare that to a Yumiko it’s a steal because a comparable style there will cost you $91- before shipping. So it’s half price. But an Elevé is $72 before shipping and unlike Yumiko the shipping charges are only $6-7 and if you spend a certain amount it’s free. Elevé also offers sales (like the 15% I got off this order). So I basically paid a bit over $10 more than the DDS one and got to pick my fabrics and have it made without the back cut out. I also didn’t pay tax on this, and I would have had to pay nearly 10% if I bought the DDS one. So I feel like I made out like a bandit and I’ll be looking good doing it!
Next up is the “Laico With Sleeves”. I was initially wary of this style as well, because of the shoulder thing. But they had some Ainsliewear leotards at DDS that were similar but with short sleeves and that looked good as well. Kathryn Morgan also suggested this when I asker her opinion on styles since she feels her shoulders are broad as well. She wears this style a lot and I think she looks good, hopefully I’ll look good too. Like the Amber I opted for the 3/4 sleeves on this one, I got the longer ones that stop just below the elbow. And I know you’re probably all wondering, yes I’m still kicking myself for not buying that Ainsliewear one. It was so pretty in black and gold, and they have nothing similar on their website right now either but it’s part of their holiday collection so it probably sold out. It’s not available on DDS>com at all. It was less than $40 too (sobs). If I hand’t bought these I’d probably ask my BIL to go pick it up for me.
This last one is the “Lauren”. This is the one I’m most nervous about as I think it has to potential to emphasize my shoulders more than the other two. But I’m counting on the v-neck to sort of cancel out the sleeveless style. Sort of like how the Amber style DDS leo looked fine so long as I didn’t zip it up all the way. Worst case I still look broad and I just suck it up and wear it anyways because I bought it in a beautiful fabric I’m going to be happy wearing. After all, they’re just shoulders and people are focusing on themselves. No one’s spending the entire class staring at me and if they are it’s my feet and arms they’re looking at, not my perceived flaws. If you notice on this one it has a cute little mock turtleneck to it. I thought that would look so cute peeking out under my wrap sweater. Just a fun little pop of color (or pattern, again not telling!) up by my face.
Some other good things I like about Elevé that I’m not getting with Yumiko are the style options. For starters Yumiko has 33 styles to pick from, Elevé has 55. Then once you’ve picked your base style, there are often sleeve styles. Both have the same number of sleeve options, but Yumiko’s cost far more. There’s also the bust panel or full front liners and you can get them on both. However bust panels are free with Elevé and they’re $10 for Yumiko. A full front lining won’t even run you that much with Elevé. Now many dancers will roll the legs of their leotards to make their legs look longer, or you can buy them higher cut. For this service Yumiko charges an extra $22. Yes you read that right, to use less fabric they’re tacking on an extra $22. Elevé leotards on the other hand come with a higher leg standard. Both have options for turning various styles into biketards and unitards but I’m not into the look. I do think it’s weird that Yumiko charges less to make something into a biketard which uses more fabric. But hey, they know what people want and will change for it. There’s also the issue of the cutouts. Both brands offer cutouts on many of their styles, but Elevé unlike Yumiko gives you the option to forgo the cutouts. On many of their styles there’s even an option to click “full back”, though I’m told when placing your order if you don’t want it just add it in the comments section and if it’s possible they’ll make it without the hole. So basically they’re giving you even more style options. Then there’s the mesh. Yumiko is just now moving into mesh and that’s great. But I do wonder what the limitations on it will be. In the promo images it looks like they just have black and white, Elevé has dozens of choices and many of them are prints. They also offer matte or shiny spandex (they stuff they use is called milliskin and it’s really cool) and prints. Sometimes they’ve even offered burnout velvets and lace (Kathryn Morgan has a Laico in Vampire with matching burnout velvet that I adore). Now Elevé leotards are a bit more “edgy” and they don’t do just the solid color with contrasting trim. But they have so much else that I personally don’t miss it. And if you do want to do something simple and streamlined you can, like my simple grey and orchid leo for instance. That one could be done solid color (or spandex with matching mesh or just spandex altogether) with a contrasting trim. And there are a few others as well. So you can get a similar look to Yumiko with at least a few of the Elevé’s, but for less. And lastly there’s length, Elevé has it and Yumiko just doesn’t. That’s fine, shorter dancers need something too and Yumiko might be a better fit for them. But for me I just love the length on Elevé’s leotards. They never ride up, they stay in place, and I don’t have marks on my shoulders when I get home from class.
I have mentioned some of these things in the past but I really feel like they bear repeating. Especially since I’m saying I really only want to buy from Elevé in the future. Again, if Yumiko started offering extended lengths I’d totally try them out. But for now I have so many styles, and fabric options with Elevé I’m not sad to say goodbye to Yumiko. And as I’ve mentioned before, Elevé rotates it’s stock, so once a fabric is gone it’s likely gone for good. So I’d rather buy two leotards from Elevé with cool mesh or crazy spandex before those patterns are gone than get just one really basic leotard from Yumiko that has a so so fit and colors that will pretty much always be there.
I just placed my order yesterday and I don’t expect to see my leotards before January. I am moving that month but something this awesome deserves to be shared. So you can be sure I’ll stop whatever it is I’m doing and take photos of these as soon as they get here. And I’m not making any promises but I might be updating my last Elevé post. Previously I was too self conscious to photograph myself in my current Elevé leotards. But suddenly, my back has stopped marshmallowing out of the cutouts. I don’t know how it happened because the scale insists I’ve lost nothing, but I suspect things are starting to shift. I noticed last years knee high boots are a bit snug, as are my skinny jeans so I think my leg muscles have started to bulk back up (oh dear) and I know my midsection is looking like it has a shape to it. I’m still a rectangle, but I now have almost a waist, I’m not the same measurement all the way down! It looks like this ballet stuff is having some nice side benefits. 😀 So I may take a few selfies and add them to the previous post. It’s fun and all seeing what other people have designed and what the fabrics look like in real life, but sometimes it helps to see them on an actual person. And I want to help anyone who’s on the fence about a style or color.
I know my leotard posts generate a lot of traffic and I still get comments on my Yumiko posts. So please, if anyone out there has something to ask or add please feel free to comment. Even if this post gets old I do read all of my comments and try to answer every question as best I can! Don’t be shy. 🙂