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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Bosom Support Under a Choli

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

I love the look of backless choli and halter tops, but unfortunately as a 36D, I cannot imagine dancing comfortably without support. Is there a way to add bra cups to a backless choli top? Do you have any alternative ideas?

--Seeking Support



The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Seeking,

This craze for the backless choli has caused no end of headaches. Most women with B or C-cup and larger bust prefer not to dance without a bra, nor is it flattering for most. The breasts will be bouncing, and this is distracting for the audience, as well as uncomfortable for the dancer. Those with an A-cup bust might be comfortable, but will appear completely flat-chested - which is fine for some.

Here are some alternatives.

Dina Wearing a Choli

Low-Backed Choli

The East Indian choli more often than not does have a back, so there is no traditional reason to wear a backless one, that I know of. A choli with a wide, deep back neckline, in a scooped, square, or V shape, still shows a lot of back, and will cover a bra underneath, as in the photo. If it tends to slip off the shoulder, add ribbon ties to the back neck, just as with a backless style, to avoid that problem.

Back View of Dina's Choli

Bra Cups In Choli

Bra cups can be sewn inside of the choli on a band attached at the side seams and/or tacked to the choli front. But since there's so little holding the back and the back neck of the choli together, it's difficult for these cups to do their job, which is holding the breasts firmly in place while dancing.


Elastic-Like Choli

If the choli material is stretchy but firm, and really snug, it might function like a bra for those with moderate need for support. (You have to make sure there's enough decoration on top so no nipple shows through when a stiff breeze blows.)


Ribbon-Back Bra

Some dancers cut the back out of their bra and replace it one or two sets of ribbons attached to the side of the bra, thus having both choli ties and bra ties visible in the back. That might work for you.


Decorated Bra

You might decorate the back of the bra to look like part of the costume. Start with a bra that's black, or close to the choli color. Don't leave any spandex or hooks visible; cover the entire back with fabric, if necessary. (See "How To Cover A Bra.") Ornament it with shisha mirrors, coins, or beads to match the choli or coin bra in front. Cover the closure with a decorative pin or other ornament.

--The Costume Goddess



Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to bustline support include:



About the Costume Goddess

Dina has been sewing for more than twenty-five years (yes, she started as a toddler!)

She's also an artist (Maryland Institute of Art) and perfected her sewing techniques apprenticed to various designers, freelancing for small theaters, restyling vintage garments, and altering wedding gowns.

Dina fell in love with belly dancing costumes upon her very first lesson. Now the pleasure of wearing her own designs, and seeing others wear them, offers as much pleasure as dancing. She's become expert as well in altering those troublesome ready-made Egyptian costumes, and modifying designs to flatter individual figures.

She holds workshops in Seattle to teach design and construction of cabaret costumes, and analysis of figure characteristics. She will also give private lessons, or resize or repair a secondhand costume. She's thus earned her Costume Goddess title.

Photo of Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess

The Costume Goddess Tells All Costuming Books

Dina has published six books of her own on belly dance costuming as well as writing nearly all the costuming section for The Belly Dance Book. For information on her series of books, The Costume Goddess Tells All, see her web site at For reviews here on of some of her books, see:

Photo of Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Costume Goddess Photos

To view a photo gallery featuring pictures of Dina, costumes she has designed, and her friends, either click on the choices below or visit her web site:


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The contents of this page are copyrighted 2009 by Dina Lydia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is forbidden.



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