Home About Us Catalogue Mid-Bits Articles Testimonials

Mids-Bits Articles

Hints for Making a Simple Costume   How to Make a Costume  Costume Style & Shape  Costume Design  Simple Skirt Styles  Tight Skirts  Veils  Mixing & Matching Costumes   Face Veils  Body Coverage  
What Costume to Wear  American Tribal Fusion  Costume Patterns & Ideas   Bellydance Costume Cheat Sheet  Costume Alterations   Keeping Costumes in Good Shape  Questions & Answers  

Costume Style & Shape

People keep asking me if there is a standard style or shape that oriental style costumes, specifically belts, should be? They've heard that Egyptian style costumes consist of a very small front (usually straight line) or a small v shape with thin, high sides and a larger back. That's true for some Egyptian costumes, but not all.

The traditional Egyptian costume consists of a beaded bra, matching belt, mesh body suit or torso cover and circle skirt. There doesn't seem to be one specific style or shape for the belt. They can be "v" shaped at the front, curved slightly or deep at the middle, or a simple 4-5 inch wide band straight around. Pretty much anything goes for the shape of your belt and bra as long as movement is unrestricted. Skirts can also be sewn into the belt and there can be lots of sequins and designs on the skirt. Newer costumes have less fringe on the bra and have more intricate beadwork, while the skirts are narrow with a slit worn at the side or centre.

So, what do you make or buy? I don't think there's anything wrong with adding your own "flare" to a costume. If you are going to spend roughly $600 to over $1,000 for a costume, that costume should not only look good on you, but should flatter your shape, size, colouring, etc. It should reflect your personality and you shouldn't be limited to what is "authentic" or the norm. Let's face it, we live in North America, not Egypt. In most cases the audiences we are dancing for are not Arab and are not going to know if your costume is "authentic" or care. If you want to stand out, then go for it!

Read any fashion magazine and there's bound to be an article about the right clothing for your body type. Well, those same hints should be used in constructing your belly dance costume. The three body types used in this article are: straight (small hips or H), pear (big hips or A) and apple (no distinct indentation at waist to separate upper and lower bod or O).

So, if you have small hips, no "v" shaped belts for you! You want to draw attention from side to side, not vertical. You could make a straight 4-5 inch belt, or maybe add a slight, not strong curve. You could add extra fringe (tassels!) or appliques to the sides of your belt. Maybe tuck in your skirt (where the slit is) or a scarf at your hips for some flare. Your belt attaches at the sides anyway, so the added "stuff" will help cover the overlap as well. A small-hipped person can wear circle skirts, straight skirts, handkerchief skirts, pretty much any style would look good on you. You can also wear more than one circle skirt for added fullness.

If you are pear shaped, you should do the opposite. A "v" shaped belt would look great on you, drawing the attention up and down and lengthening your body. You could go with a strong curve at the front as well. Do not use a straight belt or slight curve with very little definition that draws attention horizontally. You want to draw the eye towards the centre, so accent the middle of your belt with extra fringe, bold appliques or v shaped fringe. Circle skirts are better than straight narrow skirts. A variation of the two would be good, maybe a fish tail or mermaid like skirt which is close fitting at the hips and flares at the bottom. Make sure the bra and skirt connect so the eye is drawn up the body as well.

For the apple-shaped woman, you want to create definition by separating the upper and lower body. Try the belt shapes suggested for small-hipped women above. Attract attention to your upper body with fringe, beading, sequins and other eye-catching trim to your bra, but don't go overboard. If you are slender add, shoulder accents, but if you look like a Dynasty Star, please skip them! Use drapes of light fabric or even wrapping your veil around you to cover your stomach. You could also try mesh covers, fringed scarves or any of the other stomach drapes available. If you feel uncomfortable in an oriental style costume, try wearing a baladi dress, which isn't too tight or loose.

If you are small chested, you can pad your bra, but only one size larger please. People can tell when a bra is overly padded. Make sure you use bra inserts that go below and at the side of the breast and push it up and in. There are so many options out there for you to choose from, with gel cups and so on. My best advice is to have one of the sales associates at the lingerie store help you out. They will show you the most natural "fake" look for your body. Fringe on the cups will help to add fullness, but don't add so much that it drags your "boobs" down.

If you are big on top, try to avoid too deep a 'v" shaped or cleavage revealing bra. You don't want the audience focusing on your chest only. If you are larger than a C34/36, avoid halter straps because they won't be able to support you properly. Try T-backs and criss-cross straps that have more support, even padded shoulder straps can work. You can also add an extra band at the bottom of your bra for added support. Don't use too much fringe because that can make you look top heavy, especially on the bra cup. Try to make your belt more elaborate to balance your top and bottom by attracting attention to it.

If your problem is flabby arms, try adding loose arm sleeves or bell sleeves to your costume - totally non-traditional, but for North America you can go for it. They can be puffy or the mesh type sleeves, but again, make sure they aren't too tight creating bulges. The new shoulder shrugs are also a great option. If you have slender shoulders, you can get away with handkerchief shoulder drapes for something different. Please be careful if you are solid on top, because you can look formidable with shoulder accents!

Everyone should make sure that all parts of your costume are not too tight. Make sure your belts are not pushing your flesh up and over the belt top for that dreaded muffin top. Check that your bra is not creating folds at the sides and back because the rib cage band is too tight. Double check that arm bands, especially those metal ones aren't pinching the flesh on your arms. If you have a protruding stomach make sure you wear your belt below your stomach so it's soft and not squeezed out around the belt. If you are trying to look slender, avoid shiny materials such as lame, sequined or glitter-dotted material and even some types of satin.

Whatever your figure shape or perceived body problems, your aim should be a balanced look. Try to achieve the so-called perfect figure 8 or hour-glass shape. Use whatever it takes, whether it be designs, added trims such as fringe, ruffles or sleeves and don't forget to use your hair and shoes (for height). Remember, no-one has the perfect body. We are all unique and wonderful women.


AboutUs | Why Bab's | Catalogue | Articles | Testimonials
©2000Bab's Designs. Questions or comments? Email: Bab'sDesigns | Contact Info