By Melanie Austin

When looking at Belly Dance costumes over the internet you may wonder…will it fit? You need to keep in mind a few things when deciding to purchase - Are all the appropriate measurements listed, are there a few photos of the costume. Listed below are a few things I look at when buying a costume over the internet (and I have bought a few)
Most of the time, even if you couldn't sew to save your life, you can adjust a costume yourself, though sometimes if you absolutely fall in love with one that is not your size (and the costume allows it) you can get it altered by either a dressmaker or a friend or family member that is handy with a sewing machine.

First - Take all your measurements and keep them handy for future reference.
Second - Remember that these costumes are made to fit a variety of sizes and as such may need to be adjusted in some way, sometimes a lot and sometimes you only have to move hooks.

You will need:
Cup Size
Under bust
Upper Hip (Where skirt will sit)
Lower Hip (Widest part, usually the Bum)
Length from Upper Hip to Ankle

Now to the nitty gritty….

Cup Size - I find that Most Egyptian costumes have hard to semi-hard cups, These can be a blessing or a pain in the a***! If you have a small bust you can get away with a bigger cup size (though not too big) in a costume as you can pad it or it sometimes comes padded. Also it depends on the way the cup is made, sometimes you don't even need to pad it and it will hug your upper chest and not gape (known as a costume malfunction ha ha). Experiment between a halter neck or an over the shoulder strap as sometimes gaping can be fixed by either.

Unpick the lining on the cup to insert padding Cup afater some heavy padding

Another thing about some costumes is that they look pointy or the cup is a funny shape in the front, personally it doesn't worry me if they look a bit funny, (unless they have motifs that look like nipples or tassles/beads hanging from the nipple area) as people are looking at you as a whole, not just your bust.
If you are busty you can take the padding out. If you find that you are falling out over the sides or front of the bra, you can add material (modesty panel) to keep everything in. You can then bead simular designs onto that material or use motifs, fabric paint or leave as is. Obviously though you cannot always fit a melon into an egg cup (lol).

Side view of cup Front view

Under bust - This is taken from just under the breast where your normal bra sits. Most Egyptian Costumes have long straps so it is easy to adjust the hooks that do the bra up by unpicking and resewing them. Another alternative is to remove the excess strapping (as sometime there can be a lot of excess) and making the bra join as a normal one would or using some elastic to make the straps flexible so it moves with your body. Just make sure that when you are removing beads to secure the ones that are staying before you resew.

Straps (shoulder or halter neck) - With most Ready made costumes the straps are either halter neck or over the shoulder like an everyday bra. With halter neck straps it is easy to use hooks to clasp them to size and either leave the rest dangle or cut them off or if they are a bit short you can add elastic and cover with simular coloured material or leave as is if you are not going to be wearing your hair up. With over the shoulder straps you may need to unpick them and either shorten them by cutting or lengthen them by adding elastic at the back or at the shoulder so any difference is not as noticeable. You can remove any beading by unpicking and removing any excess, then resecuring the line of shortened beads so they will not fall off. Then rejoining the shortened length to where it was removed.

Underbust strap hooks Halterneck straps

Upper Hip - With this measurement I like the costume to be a close - if your upper hip measurement is 90cm and the costume stretches to say 110 cm then it would be too big for you but if it is only 95cm, then it is more likely to fit. Of course you can add elastic (Image 1) or (Image 2) on the inside or your costume to make it tighter, though sometimes this can lead to an unattractive puckering of the material if you have to make it a lot tighter.I have a couple of costumes that have elastic right the way around the top so adjusting is easy, either let out the elastic or take it in. There is the option of cutting the skirt down but as the decoration may be over the join most of the time this is not possible. With making a costume bigger, you may be able to take the elastic out and make it wider if the costume allows or unpick the joins and add more material of a simular colour, though this again only works if the beaded decoration hasn't gone over the joins.

Image 1 Image 2

This costume has elastic right around the top so is easy to adjust

Length - With the length sometimes you may have to have it taken up or you can wear high heel shoes. It depends on whether there is beaded decoration at the bottom or the costume as to how high you can go. Usually there is beading (Image 3) around the hem of the costume…this can be removed completely and you can resew new beads (or unpick and use the original ones) on after hem has been adjusted. If there is a motif (Image 4) you can sometimes remove what you need then resecure all the sequins, beads etc then hem. Or you can remove motif completely if length is way to long. You can lengthen a skirt by adding a ruffle at the bottom or maybe adding material of a simular colour then beading it like the skirt. You could also add it at the top as well if the costume allows it.

Image 3 Image 4

The inner workings of a costume. This costume does not allow any adjustment of the material at all

So hopefully this is a help when you see that "must have" costume on the net, whether on E-bay or a private web site.

Below are some costumes that I have had adjusted:


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