designing a bellydance costume is not easy. Every body is different, and since bellydancers tend to move around a lot during their performance, a costume should be flexible and flattering when dancing. When I asked a friend about a costume she wore a while ago, she replied:’It was a great costume for pictures and posing, not so much for dancing’. I just nodded my head in agreement. I love my Pharaonics Butterfly costume and the arm decoration that comes with it, but I never wear the arm thingies for performances. The risk of getting stuck when doing complex arm patters is substantial.
Let’s discuss some design elements that work great when you’re in the design phase but that will inevitebly bite you in the proverbial behind when you try the costume on for the first time.
Strategic placement of the belt closure
There is a reason why belt closures are situated at the side, middle front or middle back. The closure has a tendency to move to a place where it sits comfortable. Carefully plan where you want to add the closure or you might end up not wearing the belt because it doesn’t stay in place.
Not enough support
Costuming bra’s are designed to offer support and give a bit of extra oomph to present the girls. Even bras that, on first glance, are strapless or magically float around the dancers body. If you plan a design element like strapless, one strap or ‘the cloating bra effect’, make sure to pay attention to the construction. I once sat through a rather painful performance of a dancer wearing an unsupported strapless top, all the while wondering when her costume would fall off.
The wrong angle
Talking about bras, before sewing your side bra straps into place, try the bra and adjust the angle. It’s amazing how the fit of a bra changes by putting the side straps on a slight angle. It could make the difference between a bra that works, and a bra that fits like a glove. In the onfortunate event that the angle is not working for your body, the bra strap will gap or bulge, distracting from your performance.
Careful of that drape!
I love draped fabric on a costume, as it creates movement and interesting lines. But if the drape is touching the floor and you’re at risk of tripping, it might add a bit too much excitement to your performance. Fabric draped from the bra hanging down can get twisted or attached to jewelry or hair. When using draping as a design element always use a smooth fabric that is easy to untangle and is unlikely to get stuck.
Long, longer, longest
As a tall dancer, I find it nearly impossible to find the right skirt length. Which is also a good excuse to make my own skirts, and since I am a fan of floorlength skirts they tend to be on the long side. But while sketching another costume design with long, flowing skirts, I remind myself that there is such a thing as too long skirts. When the hem is dragging on the floor, I could step on it and fall. Always choose the skirt length that works best for you. If you, like me, have not yet mastered the ninja art of stepping on your skirt and not slipping (or worse, pulling your skirt down by accident) play it safe and go for slightly shorter.
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Thanks for reading, I hope you are having a productive and emotionally fulfilling week.