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A Fashionable Side Biz: Meet 5 Dancer Designers Putting Their Own Stamp on Dancewear

Sarasota Ballet principal Danielle Rae Brown modeling one of her RAE Boutique leotards. Courtesy RAE Boutique.

Dancer-made dancewear is tried and true, from Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis' RubiaWear to Ballerina Couture by National Ballet of Canada's Tina Pereira. As a designer myself (@littlebirdskirts), I'm always inspired by how my colleagues bring their unique style into the studio, as many of them also create their own pieces to wear in class and rehearsal. Beyond the bigger name brands, you don't have to go far to find one-of-a-kind dancewear—and you can feel good about supporting other artists' work. Check out these five professional dancers who have developed their own creative dancewear lines—you may even find a new back-to-class look!


Naomi Tanioka, TaniokaWear

Cincinnati Ballet dancer Naomi Tanioka makes rompers, leotards, tights, biketards and skirts, and she can even alter dancewear to fit your body. Actually, I'm pretty sure there isn't anything she can't do. Where some leotard brands feature a few basic styles, TaniokaWear offers plenty of options—from zipper accents and cool cut-outs, to mesh and racing stripe. And she certainly doesn't shy away from punchy prints. Available at Etsy.com.

Victoria Arrea, Toti Dance Apparel

Costa Rican-native Victoria Arrea, a dancer with The Washington Ballet, has come out with her own line of leotards, or "Totitards," as they're affectionately called. Striking a balance between modern and romantic, Arrea's styles have clean lines and sophisticated prints. And with names like Tamarindo, Cahuita and Flamingo, how much cooler could it get? Newly added are shorts and pants in the same classic silhouettes. Available at Etsy.com.

Danielle Rae Brown, R.A.E. Boutique

Sarasota Ballet principal Danielle Rae Brown's collection of vintage-inspired dancewear and true vintage accessories are the perfect match for the retro enthusiast. From leotards, skirts and warm-ups, to tights and shorts, she brings a fresh look to her dancewear. Cutest of all might be her curated vintage items—whether it's an old fashioned tin filled with everything you need to sew shoes, or an assortment of catch-alls and trays for your dressing room. She also does costume commissions for guestings. Available at raeboutique.com.

Elizabeth Barreto, Baretto Dancewear

Unique dancewear is often marketed more towards women, but who says guys can't have cool tights? Ballet Idaho principal dancer Elizabeth Barreto's Barreto Dancewear makes gorgeously sleek leotards and skirts, but her men's tights stand out as some of the most colorful around. With more than 80 color options, including ombre, her line of tights and shorts are sure to make an impression. For more info, go to barretodancewear.com or her shop at etsy.com.

Abby Jayne Deangelo, AJay's Crochet

Bridging the gap between studio wear and daily threads, Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Abby Jayne Deangelo is crocheting her way into studios near you. She mostly focuses on customizable orders, but all of her creations are colorful, durable and made with love. From leg warmers to crocheted crop tops, Deangelo can do it all! Go to AJay's Crochet's Instagram and Facebook pages to order.

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