Bling – Bringing A Sparkle To Your Dance Costume

by Danielle Hernandez on June 01, 2018


What to consider while designing your dance costume and how to customize and transform your dancewear with embellishments!

As a performer, your dressing room routine- applying makeup, doing your hair, wearing your jewelry- is part of the immersive experience into your role. A dance costume that is usually put on last can complete this transformation and help you get into your character completely.

Even though you as a dancer have the same technical ability, being in the full costume makes you feel different. The complete look that you have been working so hard to perform is staring back at you and you feel a renewed confidence.

Typically, dance costumes are designed to be in tune with the dance and not hinder the movements of the dancer; so while looks are important, do remember that comfort is tantamount.

The Creation of a Customized Dance Outfit

A dance costume is often custom designed, especially when it is for a specific production or it could have a traditional design when used in ceremonial and folk dances. When created for a specific work, a costume may be designed to expose or enhance the lines formed by the dancer's body, or to express the choreographer's artistic vision, or to engage the audience, or combinations of these.

A costume may portray or relate to some characteristic, mood, or theme of the dance. It may fit loosely, or it may be form-fitting to emphasize the form of the dancer's body.

Several factors go into designing costumes; aesthetic requirements, the anticipated movements of the dancer, and budget. Creating a costume involves collaborating with people like a choreographer, costume designer, costume maker (seamstress), and dancer. Decisions relating to the material selection, color combination, texture, and pattern are worked on jointly by this group.

Dance Costume Material Selection

On stage, how much light a material absorbs and reflects is a critical factor in material selection (see these skating dresses).

Selection of Dance Costume Material

Also, dance is about movement, so the way a piece of fabric hangs or moves on the dancer is important. Silk being a lightweight fabric allows for faster movement and tends to flow around the body.

Other fabrics like jersey, silk, chiffon, georgette, and lycra are used for their ability to stretch. When costumes need to be dyed in just the right shade, natural materials such as cotton or silk are used as they take the dye well. Stiff fabrics are typically used to create a boxy, square, or immobile look.

Fabric Colors in Dance Costumes

Costume color plays a huge role and goes beyond just aesthetics.

A smart costume designer and choreographer use color to isolate a dancer as costume colors usually contrast with the lighting, accessories, and props used in the dance.

Selection of Dance Costume Colors


Colors are used to influence emotions in the audience and to help the dancer express certain feelings. For example, violet may impart a cold feeling; red may evoke a warm atmosphere and gold color dancewear is a perfect choice for opulent stage sets.

Costume colors are also used to highlight body line and form, and they may be chosen to complement the dancer's body shape or skin color. Darker colors can make the dancer appear slimmer, whereas lighter colors tend to make the dancer appear larger.

Texture and Pattern in Dance Costumes

Dance costumes with texture and patterns can highlight or take the focus away from certain parts of a dancer's body. For example, vertical lines visually lengthen and thin the body, and horizontal lines shorten and widen it.

Texture and Pattern in Dance Costumes

When costumes are created, textures and patterns are incorporated into a costume using a variety of techniques and tools; from shading, patching, tie-dyeing, and appliqué techniques such as drawing with a fabric pen or painting on the fabric to using stencils while spraying on the fabric, or stitching onto the fabric.

Transform Everyday Dancewear

Transform your everyday dancewear with embellishments and take your dancewear from the ordinary to a stage-worthy masterpiece.

Embellishments for Dancewear

Costume designing options and styles are infinite, and limited only by your imagination or resources. But if you want to begin small and leave a mark for trailblazing costume designs, start by making small but unique touches to dancewear pieces you use for daily classes.

Use the leotardsskirts, shorts, and tops you already have and know well and transition them to customized performance wear just by layering or styling with accessories.

By introducing new fabrics or embellishing sequins, rhinestones and a whole host of other options that are at your disposal, customized daily dancewear will set you apart and fill your workplace with beauty and even brighten tedious practice sessions.

You can turn your basic dancewear styles into complete costumes, just by adding a skirt, a frill or a few accessories like beaded lace mesh. Here are a few essential dancewear items that you use in your daily class or rehearsals that can be transformed with the use of just a bit of customization.

  • Sweatpants and tights are perfect for warming up or lounging around. When embellishments are added, it pumps up the cool factor by adding just a bit of flash to a comfy staple. Choose elasticized waistband and leg cuffs on your favorite staple to make them ultra comfortable.
  • For a recital or other stage performance, choose an open back dress in a shimmering sparkly fabric. With a sturdy snap closure at the neck, a banded back to give support and an attached chiffon skirt with a dip back, these dresses will wow the judges at any recital and competition.
  • A tutu with a little scroll skirt overlay of glittery fabric coupled with a contrasting body leotard makes for a one of a kind outfit. Princess seams are excellent for slimming and flattering fit and a pinch front sewn-in bust and sweetheart neckline add to the beauty of the tutu dress.
  • Crop tops come in a variety of styles and are perfect for showing off the toned abs that dancers sport. Large multi-color sequins layered on a crop top create an eye-catching look. Create this look on an off- the- shoulder top or one with the flattering halter neckline and pair it with a ruffled skirt or fitted jazz pants.
  • If the previous crop top idea captured your imagination, take it further by designing a glistening silver and black sequin top that features mesh sleeves and a mesh back. Make the top an asymmetric one and pair it with a long flamenco skirt!
  • An outfit in pure white bounces light but can be so dynamic on a stage. Adding crystal is a natural choice for embellishment on white, as it is unfussy, streamlined, polished. Keep a rhinestone trim around the halter neckline and shoulders of a long sleeved top and you can easily eliminate the desire for accessories.

You can infuse your dancewear with a few of these embellishments and stamp your personality and style and fashion sense all over. Why settle for dancewear just off the shelves when you can make it truly a piece you crafted? They will make your stage presence that much more compelling.

The beauty of customizing your dancewear with just a few select embellishments is that you can easily stick to a budget, spend as much or as little as you want.

Customizing your dance outfit lets your ingenuity shine through, so go ahead, get creative with the stars of embellishments - Appliques and Rhinestones. They are gorgeous, versatile, available in various price ranges and so accessible to all.


Costume trends come into vogue and fade away before seasons roll, but if there is one trend that just isn't going anywhere, it's that of appliqués. Appliqués are immensely popular because of the layer of texture and depth
that they add to a costume thus giving it an incredibly feminine touch.

Before you reach for appliqués for the creation of your next dancewear, consider these technicalities and of course the fact that they are delicate and how much they cost. Here are the types of appliqués and some ideas of how they can be used in dance costumes!

Types of Appliques for Dance Costumes

From floral and feminine to embroidered and military, appliqués come in a multitude of designs. Listed here are the some of the most common types:

Fabric and Lace ($3-10) - The softer, more flexible, and machine stitch-ready qualities of these appliqués make them a favorite with costume designers. This type of appliqués can even be made by cutting up lace fabric yardage.

Sequin and Beaded ($6-20) - These appliqués feature sequins and beads stitched into floral and leaf designs, which add sparkle and texture. They are also the most delicate.

Rhinestone ($25-45) - The most dazzling type of appliqué - rhinestones is added to fabric or beaded appliqués for extra sparkle. They are also the most expensive, especially when Swarovski stones are used (just use one of these clip-on earrings as a brooch!)

Patches & Iron-On ($2-8) - Typically embroidered, you'll recognize this type of appliqué as stars and stripes on uniforms or as patches on a classic punk rock jacket.

A Bit More on Decorating with Rhinestones

It's the rhinestones that give the ultimate showbiz -ready look to dance costumes. Designers carry loose rhinestones in the easy to glue-on flat back style and in the pointed back style which has the maximum sparkle. Loose rhinestones come in a variety of colors, and you can never go wrong with the clear crystal or crystal AB for the fabulous sparkle!

Decorating Dance Costumes with Rhinestones

Rhinestones covered in real gold, called Aurum Rhinestones are also available. Rhinestones are available in dozens, half gross (6 dozen) and full gross (12 dozen) packages. You can match your rhinestone color to your dress color if you want.

Rhinestone trims, rhinestone appliqués, rhinestone buttons, rhinestone hair pieces, and rhinestone pendants and pins are also available. These are incredibly versatile and will work on shoes, handbags, hair bows, and accessories just as well as on the dresses.

The flowing or stiff lines of dance fabric and the shimmer of clear rhinestones, chunky sequins, and other embellishments add style to life's most memorable dance events and gives that coveted WOW factor under stage lights.

Scour the market for available materials and have fun while custom designing your dance outfit. After all, you are the one who will bring a dance costume to life so why not infuse your dance outfit with life through the use of one or more embellishments!

What’s your favorite embellishment to use in dance costumes?



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