Costume choices are a hot subject of discussion and controversy in the figure skating world. People still remember the stir Katarina Witt caused when she wore her skirtless feathered get up that was considered too risqué. Or Johnny Weir with his swan inspired costume with a red glove acting as a beak. Unusual costume choices can be a hit or miss, but there are some written and unwritten rules that shouldn’t be broken, and could actually end up hurting your program, even if everything else was done perfectly. Here are some of the fashion rules figure skaters should follow during competitions.

Figure Skating Fashion Rules: What You Should and Shouldn’t Wear on Ice - skating, skates, rules, presentation, leve, fashion, costumes

Royalty Free Photo

What do the Actual Rules Say?

According to the rules, all costumes should be dignified, modest, and appropriate for competition. They should also not be overly theatrical or garish. No excessive appearance of nudity is allowed either.

Men are required to wear trousers, and tights are prohibited. Women, however, can either wear tights, skirts, trousers and sometimes unitards in singles competitions. Those weren’t always permitted though as per the “Katarina rule” that made it mandatory for women to wear skirts, but it was dropped in 2003. These rules are still in effect in ice dancing, though, where women are required to wear a skirt that covers their entire waist.

What are the Penalties for Breaking Rules

Penalties for costumes will be given if the majority of the judges, which includes referees, feel like a costume is garish. Those, however, are very rarely given out and participants really have to go out of their way for them to get a points deduction.

Also, while these penalties aren’t given out often, skaters take them very seriously and make sure that they’re not in violation of the rules. Most of the time, they have used the same costume in other competitions, so by the time they get to the big stage, they’ve probably had the time to gather some feedback and make the necessary adjustments to not get penalized.

How You Can Score more Points on Presentation

If you want to add some pizzazz to your costume while making sure you stay within the rules, work on the details. For instance, a nice pair of custom boots in funky colors can be a great choice, especially when they’re paired the right way and fit the program’s music and general theme.

Manufacturers like Riedell Skates have figure skates for every level and all sorts of different models and colors. They’ll be able to build the custom boot of your dreams according to your own specifications. You can even bring your own designs so they can integrate them into your boot. In addition to style adjustments, they can also custom tailor the boot to your feet and accommodate people with things like low arch issues, heel spurs, or adjust the toe box to reduce the chance of bunions forming.


Understanding the dos and don’ts of figure skating fashion is not only important if you don’t want to be penalized, but also if you want to feel and look great on the ice. Make sure that you follow the rules but don’t be afraid to let your creativity go and take some risks, as long as they’re calculated.