Arlene's London Tango Pages

Ask Arlene…About Tango Fashion


Hi Arlene

I have only recently started dancing tango and have noticed how elegantly many of the women dress. I would really like some tango fashion advice from you. I am female 5 ” 2, and a pear shaped size 12 and no matter what I wear I look a bit dumpy. In a class a couple of weeks ago someone mentioned that you always look really elegant AND you have an advice page for tango where we can ask about anything. What tango fashion tricks should I try ?


Gee Littleun,

I am no Fashionista, but I do try to look my best when I go out.  At my age, the trick is to avoid looking like mutton dressed as lamb.

The key to looking good is to feel good in your clothes.  It doesn’t matter what size you are as long as the clothes fit well and flatter the parts they should.  If you are worried about what style suits you, I can recommend going on the Littlewoods website.  Trinny and Susannah have their body shape advisor section there and once you work out your shape you can see what style of clothes would suit. There are a range of undergarments available that can hide and hoik those unsightly bulges if necessary.

As you are a petite lady, I would only recommend that you find dresses or skirts that are not too long so your heels don’t get caught up in them if you ever do a high voleo.  Anything in black is always good and make sure you can move comfortably in your clothes.  Apart from that, here is some general advice that I have touched on in my Personal Hygiene post:

Fabric:  Natural fibres are best as they tend to breathe better, but it isn’t always possible to find them.  For the ladies, I find tops with a mix of cotton and lycra work well as they keep their shape and tend to look flattering.  I have been advised by a few men that the feel of sequins and beads are a real turn off.  Also when women wear a dress or top that has a couple of layers such as lace on a silky fabric, it can be a bit too slippery and the men don’t get a good enough hold.  Silk is out for men and women as it soaks up too much sweat and though initially it feels nice, it can be a bit too slippery and icky after awhile.  The rule on fabric is to work out how it will feel to the other person in hold.  I really love the feel of a freshly laundered and ironed cotton shirt on a man.

Style – Women:  Although style is really a matter of personal taste, most ladies like to dress up a bit when they go out, especially on the weekends.  I try and make an effort not to look too slutty when I go out and enhance my best bits.  If you have great boobs, make them a feature.  Just make sure they are well contained and won’t pop out at every opportunity.  If you have great legs, fine.  Some ladies like to work on the less is more scenario and like to show off everything.  Less isn’t more, it is just distracting.  The men might like it, but the women might think differently.  If you have ever seen a Tango show or exhibition, the ladies don’t wear short skirts that show off their whatsits, they tend to wear a longer skirt with a nice slit up the side.   That is far more elegant and sexy.  Showing a little bit of flesh is more interesting that showing all of it, and if it isn’t firm keep it under wraps.  Otherwise, where is the mystery?   I have been told by some men that a backless top or dress can be a bit offputting, especially when we get hot and sweaty.  Whatever style of clothing you go for, just make sure you can move comfortably in your clothes and that they are clean.

Style – Men:  My personal preference for men is a crisp, clean, cotton shirt.  I just love the feel of it and you really can’t go wrong with it when teamed with a pair of jeans or dress slacks/trousers.   Some men also like to wear a suit and some men go for T-shirts and baggy trousers.  Whatever you wear, just make sure it is clean and smells fresh.

That’s it from me.