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An introduction to various style of belly dance costumes

Belly Dance Costumes

By: Salome 

To the uninitiated Belly dance costumes may seem all the same. But in fact the costuming, along with the music, essence, and expression of movement are regionally distinct. This paper is devoted to identifying the current characteristics of mass produced and designer costumes from Turkey, Egypt and America.

Please keep in mind that the information is a loose frame work of commonalities. Crossover influences and individuality is plentiful. ALSO mention of Belly dance costume designers, manufacturers and importers is not an endorsement. Conduct business at your own risk.

Clarifying terminology. "Bra" is used to describe a costume garment, not lingerie. "Belt" is used to describe a costume garment that encircles the hips. "Veil" is used to describe a three yard length of lightweight fabric.

Turkey, A Foreword

The Turkish Belly dance costume consists of bra, belt and skirt. Also prevalent among current designs are hip accentuations built directly onto the skirt in lieu of a separate belt. Accessories can include headband, necklace, wrist or arm cuffs or unattached sleeves (either form fitting or flowing), and veil. Gowns are not common. Neither are pants, Turkish dancers often show legs to full advantage. Shoes are a possibility.

Mass Produced Turkish Belly Dance Costumes

Commonalities among mass produced Turkish Belly dance costumes are: 6 to 18 inch beaded fringe attached half way up the bra cup, with a center piece draping between the cups. Alternatively, the fringe may be attached at the base of the bra and extend around the back or only across the front. In either scenario the fringe on the belt attaches at the base.

The surface of the belt and bra are stitched in one color of sequin with a contrasting color used to create a design on each cup and in the center (front and back) of the belt. This is often a flowing abstract design, though sometimes recognizable patterns such as clam shells, diamonds, flowers etc. are used.

The edges of the bra and belt are often crafted in scallops, points, or curlicues etc. The belt (front and back) is cut in a sharp V shape. The V can be dainty or quite large.

A full costume will come with either a sheer pantaloon or skirt with no, or minimal, decoration and may also include a veil. Fabrics tend to be an industrial strength polyester/chiffon blend.

Higher end mass produced Turkish belly dance costumes share similar characteristics as lower end sets but are of superior quality. For example, the design patterns on the bra and belt will be in equal proportion and perfectly centered. Fringe will be the exact same length, and strung to last. Stitch work is sturdier. There will be more detail work on the skirt and veil. The shape, form and fit of the bra and belt are better.


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Belly dance with Jenn

"When I dance, the sun sails safely through the night;

When I dance, the future is formed by my feet;

When I dance,the stars move through the heavens;

When I dance, Venus shimmers the desert;

When I dance, dust becomes silver, stones are made of gold!"

Cosi Fabian

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