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Look Good: no matter your budget.....

No matter your budget, you can look great for a performance. This is something I belive so strongly in. When you go out and perform in public you are representing all bellydancers, if you don't look professional you are making us all look bad. BUT I also understand that not all of us have a lavish bank balance to indulge in all our costuming wants, nor earn money through bellydance to justify splashing out, but that is NO EXCUSE. You can look good on ANY BUDGET I have a mix of homemade and professional costumes (make your own greek bellydance costume)– some that cost me only a few pounds to those that cost me nearly £500 but what do they all have in common? They all follow my top 5 costuming tips:

1. Comfort and security 

Above all, you MUST feel comfortable and secure in your costume. Trust me, if you think anything like, “Oooh, this costume might ride up/ the straps might pop/ I look fat in this / will my knickers show/will the sleeves get caught/will I trip up the skirt???”  Then TRUST me it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE having any of those doubts when going out to perform and still be able to lose yourself in the music. And, if you have the doubt, it is probably true /will happen.

If you have any concerns - sort them out before hand! Adjust the straps/zip/length – JUST DO IT! Rehearse in it a few times before the performance. Get a friend to watch and make sure you’re not flashing anything when you spin around.

2. Get your sewing kit out 

DON’T BE SCARED TO ADJUST YOUR COSTUMES. I have always had to adjust my costumes even those I have had made for me. Just show no fear and grab that dusty sewing kit – honest it is easy. A lot of my adjustments are to do with the first point – making me feel more secure. I often add more clips on the bra/ or sew the straps together, or add more elastic to the skirt so it doesn’t fall down. But, I also often do things like adding stuffing to the bra – not so my boobs look bigger but so they sit in the right position and the bra sits well.  Adding slits to skirts or adjusting the length can make a big difference too.

3. Do you feel good!?! 

You should ALWAYS feel like a QUEEN when you perform. Bellydance is an all empowering, beautiful dance for women. It embraces the women’s form and figure – NO MATTER what that be. Think of all the famous dancers there have been and their figures, size and age - All are worshiped as goddesses and look stunning. So look in the mirror before you go out and really ask yourself the honest question: DO YOU LOOK GOOD IN THIS OUTFIT? Or are you wearing it because you think it is what you should be wearing? If you don’t honestly think you look great then change or adjust your choice. If you don’t you are robbing yourself of an opportunity to look, feel and embrace this amazing dance performance. You are beautiful - make sure your costume is embracing, complimenting and showing that!

4. Respect and appropriate costuming 

Above all, how you feel when you perform is the most important thing.  The whole reason for dance is joy, expression and self-discovery – especially bellydance and if you are enjoying yourself that’s good J

However, here in the West we do have to bear in mind that this is a dance from another culture and though there is soooo much scope for your own artistic interpretation and development don’t forget to truly understand the art form – the art form you are using to express yourself. Hence do your research. What style of dance are you doing? What is the traditional type of costume for that style? For example, oriental styles are usually done in a 2 piece costume or cabaret dress whereas folkloric styles are usually performed in more simple dresses and kaftans. Also, don’t just look at the history of the dance, look to modern times and how the dancers of today are dressing. What are the up to date fashions in Cairo? Not only check if the costume is right for the style, ask yourself  if it is appropriate for the audience you are performing to. Respect and invest time finding out about this dance  – Love it and it will love you back.

5. FINISH the look

Finally – you have a comfortable costume. You have made all the adjustments. You know you look great in it and that it is appropriate for the performance. PLEASE, don’t do all this and then not finish the outfit off by not bothering to do proper make-up and accessories! It just isn’t professional (whether you are a professional or not, when you perform you are representing all bellydancers and hence you should aim to be as professional as possible!) All too often I see dancers not bothering to do proper make-up?! And hair!! I am sorry but you are going for the complete look – make sure that your make up and hair is to the standard of everything else. Remember you are performing and regardless of your level, the audience, whether in a group or as a solo – you should be projecting yourself as a Queen / Goddess so don’t be lazy - COMPLETE THE LOOK.

Hope these tips were useful. Such are my passions for costuming (let’s be honest it’s the reason most of us started bellydance, lol) that I run an online bellydance shop, so do check us out at  Finally if you are ever passing through London and would like to check out the stock in person with no pressure to buy – do book an appointment to drop in!

Love and shimmies, Zara x

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