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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Costuming For A Young Dancer

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

I'm fourteen and just starting to belly dance. I really don't feel comfortable running around in a bra and skirt. Any suggestions?

--A Little Too Young To Bare



The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Young:

For a beginner of any age, a midriff top in a stretchy form-fitting style as I've illustrated, or a loose peasant blouse style is perfectly charming, teamed with a skirt and/or pantaloons.

The close-ups below show how to make a simple midriff top more Arabic-looking with a few simple adjustments and choice of edge ornaments. If even this seems too bare, you can decorate a leotard or dress in the same fashion.

If altering the sleeve as I've shown is beyond your sewing ability, choose a top without sleeves.

Use any long skirt you like. I've shown a handkerchief skirt, which is one of the easiest to make: just a square, the full width of fabric, with a circular hole in the middle slightly larger than your hips. Use two squares for a layered skirt. Sew a casing with elastic to this edge.

Wear a purchased coin belt, or make one with a strip of decorative trim and ornaments. To get the angled look in center front, sew a seam right sides together at a 45-degree angle. If the trim is not stretchy, don't forget to make a opening at side or back.

Diagram of Suitable Costume

A midriff blouse like this provides a more covered look for a beginning dancer who would rather not wear a beaded bra to perform.

Click on the drawing to the right to see it in more detail.

Drawing of a Coin Top
Pick one of these ornaments to decorate the lower edge and the sleeve edge of your midriff blouse.
Ideas for Ornaments

--The Costume Goddess



Related Articles

Other articles on this web site which may be helpful to dancers seeking a more covered look 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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