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

Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Flattering Looks for Short Dancers

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

What would be a good costume for me? I'm 5 foot 1 inch, aboout 115 pounds, brown hair and blue eyes.

--Clueless In Ohio



The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Clueless,

Since you don't give me any information about your personality, dance style, or tastes, I'm only slightly less clueless than you. But I see that you're close to my size — very short and of medium or sturdy build, neither tiny nor chunky. So any of the costumes in my photo gallery would probably be flattering on you.

Click on the photo to the right to see the costume in more detail.

Since first grade I've been the shrimp in the front row. I feel I should've been statuesque. One of my priorities when I design a costume is creating the illusion of more height, or at least not emphasizing the lack of it. I've addressed this issue in my answers to the 95-pound dancer and the short pear-shaped dancer and apple-shaped dancers, but they bear repeating if you're well-proportioned, but concerned about appearing short onstage.

You want to keep the eyes of the audience high, away from the floor and your feet and lower body. You want to keep your silhouette simple and narrow, with small, elegant details and important center motifs. Make your head attention-getting with ornamented headbands or scarves and jewelry. A bare costume is fine, as is a sheath or fitted beledi dress, like the one pictured in the column on stretch marks.

Photo of Dina in Turquoise Costume

Things to avoid:

  • Big balloony harem pants or sleeves
  • Circle skirts
  • Borders or ruffles at or near the hem
  • Horizontal stripes
  • Wide straight belts with a horizontal edge
  • Thick, straight-edged fringe
  • Big patterns
  • Heavy, chunky details that make the costume appear to be wearing you

Consider a shoe with a heel of a few inches, if it suits your style. Some super-duper hair mousse gives me an extra half inch on my head (every bit helps).

--The Costume Goddess



Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to flattering costume ideas for short and/or thin dancers 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:


All about belly dancing! Explore belly dance!

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



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