Photo of Shira



PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

The Costume Goddess Tells All:
Thrifty Chic for Bellydancers

by Dina Lydia




Dina Lydia provides instructions on how to convert garments found in thrift shops into belly dance costume items. She provides examples of a variety of garments she has found in thrift shops, accompanied with step-by-step descriptions of her process for modifying them. Cover



Fact Sheet


The Costume Goddess Tells All, Volume 6:
Thrifty Chic for Bellydancers


Dina Lydia




Dina Lydia & Blair Johnson


Nonfiction: Costume Instruction



Number of Pages


Published In





This is the bargain-hunter's guide to converting thrift shop, flea market, and yard sale finds into belly dance costume pieces. For anyone who loves both belly dance costuming and treasure-hunting, this book brings both activities together into a single opportunity for fun. Possibly more importantly, it offers a variety of ideas for creating low-cost belly dance costume pieces suitable for student recitals, belly dance haflas, and other amateur performing environments.

The book opens with a 37-page photo gallery displaying designs by both Dina and assorted guest contributors. The designs encompass not only costumes suitable for adult women, but also some items for male dancers and young girls. Some of these pieces are suitable for Tribal-style costumes (cholis, hip scarves with tassels, etc.) while others have more of the sparkle suitable for a nightclub-style look. The collection also includes a few novelty costumes just for fun.

The instructional segment of the book opens with tips on bargain shopping – thoughts on why people get rid of certain types of garments and why those discards might be just fine for costuming purposes. It then moves into a section on what types of garments to look for, to help open the reader’s eyes to possibilities. Photos of a variety of dresses, shirts, skirts, and lingerie offer concrete thoughts on what to look for.

From here, the book moves into the main "meat" of the matter: how to convert some typical second-hand garments into costume pieces. Each project is identified as to its level of difficulty. The instructions offer how-to's for pants, skirts, tops, jackets and vests, dresses, cover-ups, bras, sleeves, and other accessories. In each case, the instructions begin with a photo of the original garment, then proceed to describe how to re-cut or re-shape it and decorate it to convert it to a costume piece. In some cases, a photo of the finished garment appears at the end of the instructions, while in other cases it's necessary to turn back to the photo gallery at the beginning of the book to see the finished costume item. The book closes with three pages dedicated to children's costumes.

Most of the ideas in this book seem well suited to student costumes, either for class, practice, or student recitals. Most of the resulting garments would be great for such appearances, but not for professional shows in restaurants or private parties. However, some of Dina's ideas for reworking old dresses intrigue me as being appealing options for the "evening gown" style of costume for professional shows.

There are many examples of thrift shop finds that I would never have seen as having belly dance costume possibilities hidden in them. Dina shows step-by-step instructinos for modifying these into attractive results. For example, she converts some rather boring blouses and dresses into cute tops.



Is It Right for You?


You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You enjoy "treasure hunting" in thrift shops.
  • You have a knack for seeing the possibilities of what could be made from the materials at hand.
  • You take pride in finding great bargains when you go shopping.
  • You need ideas for belly dance costuming that can be created on a tight budget.
  • You enjoy Dina's Ask the Costume Goddess column here on the web site.
  • 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 don't have the patience to explore thrift shops in search of something that might actually fit you.
  • When making a garment, you find it difficult to imagine how fabrics and materials could look in the final result.



What I Liked, What I Didn't


What I Liked:

  • This is a very content-rich book, with a wide variety of ideas for converting second-hand items into attractive belly dance costume pieces.
  • I am particularly impressed with the way Dina shows examples of typical garments that might be found second-hand and explains how to transform them into something an aspiring dancer could be proud to wear in a show.
  • The photos are inspirational, and the instructions detailed enough to provide guidance on what to do.
  • The book is richly illustrated with both before/after photos and how-to diagrams demonstrating the key steps.
  • Most importantly, this book teaches how to view thrift shop clothing in a whole new way, how to see the possibilities hidden in old cast-off garments.
  • It offers a wide variety of ideas for practice outfits and student costumes.


What I Didn't Like:

  • It is aggravating that many of the photos do not appear next to the text that discusses the garment in question. I really dislike this book's format of placing many of the photos in a gallery in the front, rather than arranging them next to the relevant text.
  • Like many other belly dancing books, this one is bound with plastic spiral binding. Although this binding does help keep the cost of the book down, 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.




Between Thrifty Chic and Easy Costume (volume 2 in her series), Dina has offered a pair of books that provide an excellent resource for belly dance students and hobbyists who would like to create low-cost costumes for performances in student recitals, belly dance events, and other environments suitable for up-and-coming dancers. For dancers who enjoy exploring thrift shops, yard sales, flea markets, and similar places Thrifty Chic is a “must-have”, while those who prefer to pick up new materials at the fabric store will be more inspired by Easy Costume.

Thrifty Chic offers many ideas for converting a wide variety of garments and jewelry pieces into costumes. It does what it intends to do very well, starting with advice on what type of items to look for, and then offering a wide variety of suggestions on what to do with them. I am not a thrift-shop bargain-hunter myself, but Thrifty Chic made me feel tempted to set foot in one for the first time in decades to see what treasures it might have to offer.

Every now and then, I receive suggestions from people that it might be nice to have an article on my web site offering ideas for inexpensive costumes. Now that I've seen this book, I know I don't need to do it - Dina has written a comprehensive book on the subject! All I have to do is steer people to it.




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:


Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.



Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Product Reviews >
Index to Book Reviews


Share this page!

On Facebook


  Top > Belly Dancing > Product Reviews > Index to Book Reviews

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |