One of the more exciting moments of dancing comes with being on a stage and dazzling your audience with your amazing moves. But this raises the question of what you wear when you perform! There are so many options out there; from creating your own, 2nd hand costumes, off the rack and custom creations, and that’s even before you pick a colour or a style! In this blog post, the first of two, we will be looking into all your options for costumes so that you can approach the decision with confidence (just like your dancing!).
For each type of costume, you’ll find a rating for
- Cost range – from $ inexpensive to $$$ very expensive
- Ease of getting a good fit – from Easy to Hard
- Longevity of the costume – what level of quality materials and processes can you expect that means the costume will survive many appearances on stage.
A.k.a custom made costumes. This is where you work directly with a dress maker or costumer to create a unique, one of a kind costume designed and made to fit you.
Ease of getting a good fit: Super Easy – the costume is made for you to your size.
Longevity: High quality materials and finishes.
A custom costume is the ultimate dream for many dancers. In terms of fit and quality of the fabric, a custom made costume from a reputable dressmaker is truly a very worthy investment. Depending on the level of investment you’re willing to make, many dressmakers will custom design the costume to suit your shape, and you will have a perfect fit every time.
A.k.a “Off the rack” costumes.
Ease of getting a good fit: Difficult – costumes are made to preset sizes.
Longevity: Varies but generally lower quality materials and finishes.
Many off the rack costumes are mass produced, this means they are cut to specific sizes and don’t really allow for the wide variations that most of us come in. This means you are most likely to need some level of sewing to be done to get these costumes to fit you – be it something as simple as moving the hooks through to more extensive updates such as padding the bra or even changing the hemline or buying 2 different sizes of costume so that you can fit your upper and lower body shapes.
2nd Hand Costumes
Ease of getting a good fit: Difficult – you are limited by what is available to you.
Longevity: Depends on the costume.
Second hand costumes are awesome for the bargain hunter who knows what they are looking for. You can find absolute bargains as dancers who have bough high end costumes choose to sell them off at much less than what they paid for. However on the other side, you also have the potential to come across poorly made (but very well photographed) costumes or ones that have been so well used that they require a full overhaul before you can use them.
Depending on your skill level with a sewing needle, you could definitely make any costume fit you, but you do need to be very careful in what you’re purchasing as you are often restricted by what the person before you has purchased.
Take care to look over the whole costume as best as you can looking for the quality of the fabric and the way that gems or sequins/beads are attached to be sure that you’re getting a better quality costume if you’re paying good money for it.
Self Made Costumes
Cost: $ *
Ease of getting a good fit: Super easy – assuming you have the sewing skills
Longevity: Depends on what you purchase.
Self made costumes are a minefield. If you have amazing sewing and creative skills, you could end up with something totally mind blowing – of the level of the custom costumes. However, if you’re totally going it alone and you’re unsure about anything… it could be trouble!
One spot where a lot of sewers come unstuck is on fitting a costume to your body – it’s not quite the same as fitting a skirt or tshirt to yourself. Having a friend to help is essential to make sure you can get hem lengths perfect and to have a second set of eyes to make sure things line up or look right.
Another spot were things don’t quite compare is in the cost. We often count cost as the phsyical cost of the materials to make the outfit and forget to cost in the actual time and effort to make the costume as we consider this being done “for the love of the costume”. So really if you add up the time it takes, often a home made costume could be equal to the custom costumes level – but not necessarily with the same level of quality materials and processes (again depending on how comfortable you are with sewing!).
How do you choose?
Well, that’s always the question. Everything has a trade off, so it all depends on what resources you have to hand and what you need the costume for.
In terms of value for money, 2nd hand costumes can yield both amazing finds but also big time sinks in terms of costumes that need a lot of work to be amazing or a lot of care to be usable. Off the shelf costumes again, could be fantastic but also could require a lot of work to truly fit your body. Custom made costumes will always look amazing, but will definitely cost you lots of coin. And self made costumes can be great – if you’ve got the time, energy and skills to really put together something show stopping.
Do you remember at the start of the post, I mentioned that we hadn’t even touched yet on things like colour, styles or fitting a costume to your body yet? That’s the focus of our next blog post on costumes – coming soon!
Do you need a costume? Check out the range of 2nd hand costumes that we have for sale. All in amazing condition and ready to come to you.
Check out a few same ones below or click through to view them all here.