How to Choose the Right Belly Dance Costume
So you’ve been taking belly dancing classes religiously and are about to perform for the very first time…or maybe you’ve already been dancing with a troupe but are about to start a regular gig. Either way, wearing a choli top and street skirt with a hip scarf just won’t do…so you need to get a new belly dance costume… stat! 

A tried and true costuming concept that works for beginner dancers as well as for new professionals is to get a well-fitting basic bra and belt in a “neutral” metallic: either silver or gold, or a mixture of both.  Fringe or coins - it’s your choice. With a neutral base, you can stretch your performance wardrobe by swapping out skirts and veils and all accessories in different colors and styles, and it will look as though you have many more belly dance costumes than you actually own.
Another thing to consider is where you’ll be wearing your new costume. If you are going to be working at a restaurant or dancing primarily at festivals and haflas, go for bright strong colors that will get you noticed, like scarlet, royal blue, emerald green or deep purple. For close-up performances at restaurants and showcases, professional belly dance costumes in unusual colors or those with small designs on the fabric (why hello leopard print!) will also look great.

Before you make a belly dance costume purchase, be sure you know your bra size (for the both the band and cup), your high and low hip-sizes, as well as the length measurement from your lower hip to just below the ankle. Straight-cut skirts always appear to be shorter than they actually are, so make sure they touch the tops of your feet-if not the floor itself - when trying one on, especially if you dance on demi-pointe, or the balls of your feet. Circle skirts are usually cut on the bias, and over time, can stretch out from the weight of the fabric itself, so a skirt that once fit well length-wise can actually become too long for you.  Check your skirts before you wear them, and make adjustments to the hem if necessary. Also, take a look at some of the coupons we offer to save you some money on your next purchase!

Many off-the-rack bellydance costumes are made to fit multiple sizes, and adjustments can be as easy as taking up a hem, moving a few hooks, or adding or subtracting padding from the bra. If you are small-busted, a costume with too-large cups will look awkward. If the belly dance costume is one cup-size larger than you are, padding can and will work- but don’t be tempted to buy a costume with huge cups just because you like the style or color.

Your costume should fit you well and look flattering on you. Don’t ever wear anything too tight or too loose - if the alterations are minor and you don’t sew, pay a professional to make the small adjustments you need, like re-setting hooks, taking up straps, or shortening a hem.

Last but not least, make sure you buy or make the best looking and most well-made belly dance costume you can afford.

Remember that your costume is a very important part of your performance, so you should always try to buy or make a costume that will make you look and feel stunning...’cause we all dance better when we’re feeling good about ourselves!

About the author: 
Internationally acclaimed dancer Princess Farhana has been performing, teaching and writing about belly dance since 1990. Her new book, “The Belly Dance Handbook” and many of her instructional DVDs are available right here on Bellydance.com.