(especially in Buenos Aires)
Suiting up properly is one of the delights of a new hobby. Part of the fun is shopping for a whole new you, accessories included. But you gotta take it easy; go slow and hold back on any big investments in sequins. Just as plaid pants don't make a golfer, a fedora or fishnets don't a tango dancer make.
Tango's traditional colors are black, black and black--sometimes with red. Classic black is good because we think we look thinner and blend into the background more. Plus it goes with whatever else we have in our closet that is black. But nowadays in the milongas of Buenos Aires, any color goes. Especially now that the tango shoe companies have glomed on to the fact that women, especially foreigners, love colorful and sexy sandals. Passé is the standard black T-strap tango shoe. And men, those two-toned shoes you bought in Buenos Aires? Sorry but they just scream Tourist. (But shoes require a whole other post.)
If you are dancing in a tango show on stage, then these costumes below are perfect. But if you wear them to a milonga, everyone will know you are a beginner. Professional dancers don't come to a milonga dressed like this; they save it for the stage.
Without seeing you dance, experienced tangueros can tell by looking at you what level your dancing is at. The First Stage is the eager and naïve beginner, who wears what he happens to find in his closet. Then comes the Second Stage, the full-blown, Look at me, I am a tango dancer! who buys lots of special shoes and clothes--men black shirts, women beads, sequins and fringe, short skirts with high slits--attempting to dance every dance at every milonga. The Third Stage experienced dancer dresses conservatively with elegance and dances only when he or she chooses to, letting the dancing speak and not the clothing.
By their clothes they are known.
The second-stager sometimes goes for the Tango Drag look, or Tango Disguise, or what they've seen on stage in tango shows. Most of the clothes sold in Buenos Aires tango shops are of the Tango Disfraz type, that you really can only wear to Halloween parties back home. Before we leave the house for the milonga, it's a good idea to check in a full-length mirror. And practice those fancy steps in front of one, too, so that you don't end up looking like the above poor ladies who also forgot to keep their feet on the floor. (Actually the red-gartered lady looks like she's dancing well in the photo, but her outfit says otherwise.)
The young generation of tangueros doesn't want any part of fringe or beads, and go the opposite way: baggy pants and special tango tennis shoes. These super casual tango outfits indicate that they dance a different style as well. The cargo pants and the exposed midrifts show the world that they are dancers of Tango Nuevo. No siree, they don't dance their father's tango and don't dress like him either. But dancers over 30 look a little silly dressed like this at a milonga, no matter how Neuvo they are.
For the tangueras, something like this is What to Wear! Remember that simple elegance is the goal here; what better dress to show off the perfection of your dancing?
And for the tangueros? A jacket and tie is real milonguero, but basic black pants, black long sleeved shirt, and of course black shoes put the emphasis on the dance instead of clothes.
Click the "Link" below to read La Planchadora's posts on Dressing for Success: