Breakdancers wear streetwear-style clothing like t-shirts, track jackets or pants, loose jeans, sneakers, and baseball caps. Dancers pick clothing that matches this urban aesthetic and also provides a practical function, such as allowing the dancer to slide across the floor.
Breakdancing originated in the 1970s and 1980s as part of the development of hip-hop, as dancers focus on the drum breaks in hip-hop songs. Breakdancing is fast and full of wild moves and freezes like head spins, frog splashes, and windmills. It involves sliding or spinning across the floor as well as leaps, flips, or jumps off the floor. One of the characteristics of this dance, besides its urban style and hip-hop music, is that the dancer makes heavy use of the floor, and many parts of the body besides the feet will touch the floor during a dance routine.
Today, breakdancers prefer to be called either “breakers,” “b-boys," or "b-girls” rather than breakdancers. They reserve the term “breakdancer” for a poseur who got into the hip-hop/dance scene to look cool.
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Breakers wear streetwear-style clothing like tracksuits, hoodies, tight t-shirts, or frayed jeans. In the 70s and 80s, dancers typically wore a loose and comfortable version of their everyday clothing for breakdance competitions, which often took place in a club or on the street. Today, you can find dancers cheering each other on in pavilions in your local park as well as in hip-hop-themed clubs.
If you want to dress like a breaker, check out this article about the 20 best affordable and sustainable streetwear brands.
Another key feature of a breaker’s dance outfit is that every part of the outfit must have a functional purpose. B-boys and b-girls commonly wear pants with a loose cut to allow for free movement, for example. Sometimes they pick a fabric that slides smoothly across the floor, or thicker fabric to protect their shoulders or knees from the floor when they do backflips and head spins.
You can learn how to choose the best clothing fabric for you here.
Traditionally, breakers also value wearing brand-name clothing with logos prominently displayed on shirts, shoes, or jackets. This is not always the case today, especially among teams of breakers who often design their own team uniform. But you will still find many b-boys decked out in famous fashion logos.
If you want to mimic this trend but maintain your sustainable wardrobe ethics, take a look at this article on how to check if a fashion brand is ethical.
Track Jacket or Track Pants
One of the most popular items breakers feature in their outfits is a track jacket or track pants. This is because the sleek, shiny knitted fabric in these synthetic pants feels stretchy and loose for the dancer, and also allows them to slide across the floor in dramatic moves. A coarser fabric like denim might catch on the floor, impeding the ease of a slide.
You can find the 20 best sustainable tracksuits and sweatsuits of 2023 here.
Most breakers wear either a baggy t-shirt or a tightly fitted t-shirt as the top of choice during a dance competition. The stretchy t-shirt fabric flexes and moves with the dancer, while also presenting that classic streetwear style that most b-boys strive for.
Take a look at the 20 best American-made t-shirts for men and women here.
Even though jeans may not provide quite as much flexibility as track pants, they offer another key feature for a breaker: protection from abrasion. Because of its sturdy twill weave, denim offers lots of protection, which matters to a dancer planning a move involving spinning on his knees across concrete!
Breakers typically wear jeans with a loose or even baggy cut. Some prefer cut-off jeans, while others wear jeans with frayed edges and holes up the legs. You can find the 10 best affordable and fair-trade denim jeans here.
Most b-boys and b-girls prefer sneakers or high tops for break dancing. Sneakers work well because they offer a good grip and traction on the floor, which is key during this fast-paced dance routine. They also provide padding and support for the foot and feel lighter than footwear like combat boots, which matters when the dancer needs to stand on his hands and lift his feet up over his head!
Take a look at the 12 best brands for sustainable sneakers in Europe here.
Socks Vs 80s Socks
Back in the day, breakers often wore tall or knee-high socks as part of the 80s streetwear style. Today, you do not see tall socks used as often, because more dancers wear long track pants instead (and because knee socks, like terrycloth headbands, largely went out of style once the 80s ended!).
But socks remain an important part of the dancer’s attire because the high-speed dance can often leave your feet feeling sweaty. Good socks inside your sneakers can absorb that moisture and keep you feeling comfortable as you dance. You can find the 20 best affordable, sustainable, and organic socks here.
Breakers commonly wear either a ball cap, beanie, or a bandana tied to their heads during a dance. The head covering serves two practical purposes. First, it helps prevent sweat from dripping into the dancer’s eyes during a performance. Second, it helps smooth out tricky moves involving the dancer’s head. One of the characteristics of breakdancing is that many parts of the dancer’s body come into contact with the floor, including the head!
You can find the 15 best affordable and sustainable hats and beanies here.
Another hallmark of the breakdance style is lots of bling. Chunky gold chains, large cross pendants, or big earrings will not look out of place in this urban dance form. This is also part of the reason breakers often wear brand-name clothes and shoes to dance--this allows them to show off their taste and style ostentatiously.
If you need help finding the best bling for you, take a look at the 15 best sustainable jewelry brands you need to know.
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