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A Review of

The Costume Goddess Tells All:
Flattering Costume for Bellydancers

by Dina Lydia




In this book, Dina Lydia, the self-proclaimed "Belly Dance Costume Goddess", provides guidelines for belly dancers on how to select costume items that will be flattering to their individual bodies. Cover



Fact Sheet


The Costume Goddess Tells All, Volume 1:
Flattering Costume for Bellydancers


Dina Lydia




Dina Lydia & Blair Johnson


Nonfiction: Costume Instruction



Number of Pages


Published In





This is Volume 1 in a series of books about belly dance costuming written by Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess. It provides a starting point on how to choose a flattering belly dance costume design. It talks about the different styles of costuming such as tribal, folkloric, fake Gypsy, and others, with comments to differentiate between them, then goes on to provide advice on how to design a costume that will work well with your particular figure type.

Flattering Costume begins with an introduction to the general concept of belly dance costuming, with a tour of the various styles of costumes that are popular with belly dancers. From there it discusses the various individual garments that are utilized in each. It also addresses the basic elements of color, fabric, and trims.

My favorite section of the book focuses on how to choose costume designs that look attractive for various figure types: tall vs short, plus-sized versus thin, etc. Whether you are slender and petite, queen-sized, or somewhere in between, this book probably contains some useful tips for your figure type. These are structured in the form of do's and don't's. This section talks about how to emphasize your good features while drawing attention away from others.

The book is extensively illustrated with Dina's artwork, and also includes some photographs of dancers in costume.

Dina's writing style is very playful and direct. I find it fun to read and often smile at how she expressed things, but it's not for everybody. I've heard other people complain about her straight talk when describing their particular figure type, so if you're particularly sensitive about some of your body issues, you might not care for it. I didn't mind because she picks on everybody equally: she makes comments about short dancers as "standing in a hole", and tall dancers as "legs look a mile long". She warns thin dancers of the risk of looking "bony or scrawny" and ample ones of looking as though they have "hundreds of square inches of flesh" and then goes on to discuss how to avoid these effects.

Dina is also very opinionated, and you may disagree with some of her pronouncements. In the section titled, "Costumes That Suck" she identifies several costume designs that she feels wouldn't look good on any body type. Some of the items discussed in this section are things I've seen on many dancers, so I suspect some people will take issue with some of her opinions here.

The book does not provide instructions for drafting patterns for specific garments, and it does not provide sewing instructions. Dina has produced other books which address specific how-to's. This book is focused exclusively on how to combine different types of costume pieces in different colors, styles, and fabrics to create a look that is flattering.

In general, Dina slants her examples to the "beads and sequins" style of costuming. However, since the book is about the lines created by costume design details, much of her advice can apply to Tribal-style dancers as well.



Is It Right for You?


You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You would like an introduction to the variety of costume options out there for belly dancers.
  • You would like advice on choosing a costume that looks flattering on your particular body type.
  • You're looking for inspiration and new ideas for belly dance costuming.
  • You enjoy a bit of playful humor woven into the text.
  • You like the idea of a book that is 100% focused on recommendations for flattering costumes.
  • You enjoy Dina's Ask the Costume Goddess column here on the web site, particularly the ones on flattering costumes. (The ones related to flattering costumes are listed in the "Related Articles" section at the bottom of this page.
  • You found the costuming section of The Belly Dance Book edited by Tazz Richards to be valuable. (That section was written and illustrated by Dina.)


This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You would be offended by having your body type described in somewhat humorous terms (even though Dina equally discusses others the same way).
  • You're looking for a book that contains instructions on how to create your own patterns and sew your own items.



What I Liked, What I Didn't


What I Liked:

  • This book provides a solid introduction for new dancers to the many belly dance costuming options that exist.
  • It offers many ideas for creating your own unique costume design.
  • The section titled "Bellydance Costume Pieces" describes a wide variety of hip belts, tops, skirt styles, dresses, and pantaloons to inspire costume designers of all skill levels, from the newest student to the most experienced professional.
  • The entire book is beautifully illustrated with many detailed drawings.
  • All the drawings provide a useful function of helping clarify whatever the text is explaining.
  • Since the drawings are all done by the same artist, they maintain a consistent look and feel throughout the book.
  • The ideas and advice that this book offers for a wide variety of figure types should help people choose costume styles that look flattering on their unique body types.
  • The text is well-written. It is easy to read, and explains its points well.
  • I personally find the humorous approach to be entertaining.


What I Didn't Like:

  • There is some very helpful advice in the sections titled, "Larger Ladies and Bellydance" and "The Plump Dancer", but these sections would have been stronger if they had been illustrated with photos of a couple of plus-sized dancers who had made good costume decisions.
  • All photos in the book show slender and medium-sized models - there are no photos of plus-sized dancers. It would have been nice to have more diversity in body types.
  • Like many other self-published belly dancing books, this one is bound with plastic spiral binding. Although this helps keep the cost of the book low, it takes more space on my bookshelf than other binding types and it's hard for me to tell which book is which when I'm looking at the spines of several spiral-bound books side-by-side.




An unusual aspect of this book is that it focuses solely on choosing flattering designs, with no historical lore and no instructions on how to make costume pieces. By focusing in this way, the book is able to provide extensive advice and detail on this narrow subject matter.

I like the book very much, and I think it would make a particularly valuable resource for belly dance teachers who may need help in guiding their students to flattering costume choices. I also think the book would be helpful for students who feel uncomfortable with the costume advice they receive from teachers who may not know how to deal with body types different from their own.

You can get some idea of whether Dina's writing style and advice and costume design suits your personal aesthetic by reading some of her design suggestions in her "Ask the Costume Goddess" column on this web site. If you like the articles she has contributed to, then you'll probably like this book.




My association with Dina (the author) began when she offered to write an Ask the Costume Goddess column for this web site. She is a valued contributor, and I much appreciate the many articles that she wrote for me.



To Buy It


Contact Information

Dina Lydia
P.O. Box 30878
Seattle,WA 98103-0878

Web Site:



Related Articles

These articles were written by Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess on the subject of choosing flattering costume designs. If you find these useful, then there is a strong chance you would enjoy an entire book written by her on this subject.




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