How to pick out a belly dance costume for Kanz al Sahara belly dance troupe members

All right ladies of Kanz al Sahara, it’s costume time! After much discussion, we are graduating from choli tops and hip scarves to bra and belt (bedlah) sets! Many of you may begin (or are currently) performing solo. Belly dance costumes can be quite expensive or time consuming to make so I suggest making your first purchase/costume project something that can get a lot of use and create a lot of different looks. A bra and belt set in a neutral color like gold, silver, copper, black or white will give you the most bang for your buck. You can wear the set with a rainbow of skirt colors and many different skirt silhouettes including circle skirts, mermaid skirts, 25 yard tiered skirts or even pants for a modern look. Many restaurants require costume changes between sets and using the same bra and belt, you can completely change your look just by wearing a different skirt and different accessories.

Self made belly dance costume ~$75

To keep the look somewhat uniform, Kanz al Sahara will be using gold bra and belt sets. We will determine the skirt type and color at a later time. 

Sizing

Belly dance costumes can be a bit tricky to size. Many just offer measurements of the costume with no real standard for dress sizes. Remember, many of the costumes are made overseas and the dress sizes are not the same. Take detailed measurements of yourself and write it down so you can refer to it as you are shopping.

Measure: 

Underbust – under the breast, around the ribcage, where your bra band sits
“Upper hip” – where the top of the belt will start
“Lower hip” – the widest part of your hip
Skirt length – from where you want the skirt to sit on your hips to a little bit off the floor
Bra cups – take your best fitting bra and measure across the cup pressing the measuring tape inside, vertical and diagonal
If you are between bra cup sizes, order the next cup size up. 

Fringe on the bra

I love costumes with tons of fringe, but have to be careful with too much fringe because I have a short waist. If you also have a short waist, pay attention to how low the fringe hangs under the bra and how much of it is there. Too much fringe on the bra bands will make you look heavier than you are.Though fringe only from the center of the bra can have a slimming effect on the torso.

Copper Great Loop by Pharoanics of Egypt ~$400

Belt shape

If you have small hips, you want to look for a straight belt to add width to your hip line. For those with large hips wanting to minimize them (why? hips are beautiful!) a “V” shaped belt will to the trick. A “V” shaped belt is also good for those with short waists because it elongates the torso. 

Cupped butt?

This is just a term used for an Egyptian style of belt that covers more in the back. To keep the belt from pulling away from the hips, costume designers sew darts in the belt to have it hug (or cup) the butt.

Here is a great blog which explains in much better detail how to pick a flattering belly dance costume for yourself.

How much to spend

You could really go crazy with costume buying, but it is totally unnecessary. Professional belly dancer Nanna makes all of her costumes and always looks fabulous. A more expensive costume will not make you a better dancer, but on the other hand, if you feel better in one and can responsibly afford it, then it is up to you. If you see belly dance in your future for a long time and want to make the investment, then go for it. Otherwise you can start small and get a different costume later. Many websites like ebay exist where you can buy or sell used belly dance costumes. I started with one turquoise self made costume and added to it every time I performed. When I began restaurant dancing, I saved up my earnings to invest in a second pre-made costume, then later sold that one and added some more of my earnings to buy two more to cover my increasing gig load. If I were rich, I’d have a garage full of belly dance costumes, but I am a graduate student and have to face the reality of my bank account. It is easy to want a super high end sparkly costume, but be responsible and don’t get yourself into financial trouble.  

To make or to buy?

Making a belly dance costume is very time consuming. If you are good at sewing and making crafts, you will love this option and the individualism you can put into your costume. I’ve made many costumes and wish I had time to make all of my costumes, but grad school will not allow me to do that anymore. If you have never made a costume before, I suggest you start simple and add to it over time. After sewing on your 1000th sequin, you’ll know what I mean!

Designer custom made costume ~$500

Read here for information on how to make a belly dance costume:
Make a belly dance bra and belt
Belly dance bra construction 
Coin bra
Shira’s collection of costuming advice

If you don’t have time or the skills to make a costume, don’t fret. Buying a costume is just fine. 

Here are some websites where you can purchase costumes:
Dahlal International
Belly Dance Store
Miss Bellydance
ebay.com (type in “belly dance costume” to search)
Belly Dance Costumes
Dancing Rahana

If you ladies need any help or need an opinion, shoot me an email at nyla@nylacrystal.com

• Meet the Author • Nyla Crystal


Sacramento belly dancer


1 comment… add one

  • Picking up the best dance costumes is very difficult part for every team and as well as for performers.

    Reply

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