So you’ve been practicing exciting choreography and you’ve got a performance coming up, now it’s time to adventure into the world of ballroom fashion! Whether you’re interested in a smooth gown or a rhythm dress, we’re here to help you find the perfect costume so you can stand out on the dance floor.
Choosing a ballroom costume can be a daunting task but with the right ensemble every dance is more magical. Before purchasing a costume, there are a couple crucial things to consider that are going to make finding the right dress much easier.
1. SMOOTH vs. RHYTHM (Or Both) How do you see yourself on the dance floor? What is the image that you are trying to create? Are you smooth and elegant or do you want to add some spice and sass?
Smooth: The elegant sweep and style of these gowns reflect the grace of the smooth dances like Waltz and Foxtrot. There are plunging necklines, open backs and asymmetrical skirts or tops for added drama. When choosing a smooth dress, keep in mind that you don’t want the skirt to be too long so you can show off all your fancy footwork and so you won’t be tripped up by unnecessary fabric.
Rhythm:The costumes are much shorter and designed for all the twists and turns of the rhythm dances like swing and salsa. They are cut to show off hip movement and are often decorated with fringe, feathers or drapes. If you plan on using this costume for multiple events, choose a versatile dress that will look good for spicy Latin numbers and playful swing dances too.
2. COLOR: One of the hardest choices is deciding on the color of the dress. A big mistake people often make when picking out their first costume is choosing something muted and subtle. The point is to stand out on the dance floor. Think vibrant and flashy colors that catch the eye like bold neons. You can also add some flair with additional contrasting colors that make your costume pop. Or you can even get wild with exotic patterns and animal prints. The choices are endless. But keep in mind, this is something you are going to be performing in and it is better to get something that you will not feel self-conscious in so you can focus on your dancing.
3.STYLE & CUT: When shopping for the right costume, pick something that highlights and accentuates your best features. Play up those features with the right kind of cut. If you have long legs, get a costume with a dramatic slit or if you have a great back, get a backless dress.
On the flip side, if there are some imperfections you would like to cover up, there are plenty of ways to distract the eye. It’s all in the shape and construction of the dress. Fringe is a great way to distract the eye on rhythm costume and a drape of fabric in the right place is also flattering.
4. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
Make sure that you can move comfortably in the costume. There’s nothing worse than a wardrobe malfunction out on the dance floor. To prevent this, check to make sure the shoulder straps are secure and the dress fits properly while moving. Is the skirt too long? Have it hemmed so you will not be tripped up. If you have drapes on your arms check that they do not get in the way of dancing with your partner. Before performing in any costume, always rehearse in it a few times to get a feel for the way it moves and to make sure it is part of the image that you are trying to create.
The general consensus on embellishments is the bigger the better. What might look garish from up close will make a splash on the dance floor. You want to go for a stage look that can be seen from far away. No one is going to see tiny little patterns across the dance floor, so pick something that will look dazzling from far away.
There are lots of different options when it comes to embellishments. You can have appliques which are usually large patterns of sequins or you can go with stones like Swarovski crystals or rhinestones. And if you want to look really stylish, add some rhinestones to your dance shoes on the heel or the straps too.
Let’s talk about bling. You have got to throw in some sparkly bits of glitz. To complete your ensemble, you can add arm bands or bracelets and hair clips to match. Pick something that is going to add more sparkle to whatever you are wearing. Crystals are a great way to catch light. If you add earrings or a necklace make sure that it will not get tangled up in your costume or on your hair. If you plan on wearing longer earrings do a few spins with them to make sure they do not smack you in the face or hit your partner.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to look fantastic out on the dance floor. There are a ton of options for any dancer. If jumping straight into getting an over the top costume is not something you are ready for, you can always opt for practice wear or something simpler and less expensive. Just make sure you pick something that you are going to feel great in while dancing.
Even though the costumes for men are not as involved, there are still some really fun options. As with the ladies, make sure whatever you choose will play up your best features and shape. You can never go wrong with a classic look.
For smooth costumes, pick out a tuxedo top paired with a bow tie. You can never go wrong with a vest or a jacket as well. Throw in a dash of color to match your partner. For rhythm costumes, the fashion is a lower V with dynamic cuts and styles. Just make sure whatever you chose, that you will be able to move freely in it. When trying on the shirt and jacket, raise your arms to make sure it will have the proper look while in dance frame.
As for pants for smooth dances, choose either tuxedo pants or dress slacks. In rhythm, the pants are fitted at the waist and flare out towards the bottom. Add a shiny belt to draw attention to your hips during some fancy Cuban motion steps.
9. PLACES TO BUY
If you would like something custom made just for you, you can check out Lenique or Artistry in Motion. Both go to our local events and will measure you and design it on the spot with you.
Or if you would like to save some pennies, ebay and other online stores are always an option. You can usually pick out the color and the type of embellishments to go along with the dress. The downside to buying a dress online is that it might not fit as perfectly as a custom dress would and might be made with cheaper fabrics.
If you purchase a costume online, keep in mind that it will take about a month to make and ship as many of them are made overseas. Shipping fees and customs can be an issue, so make sure you shop around and pick a trusted seller.
Whatever you pick out for your next performance, the most important thing to remember is to be comfortable and to pick something to suit your personality. If you have any questions or would like some advice, ask one of our amazing teachers or ask us in the comments below.