You’ll always remember the day you decided to enter your first dance comp. You feel proud to be judged ready to compete. You’re excited but you’re nervous at the thought of being marked on your dancing. I bet you’re not thinking about how much it’s all going to cost! Dance competition dresses are not cheap, regardless of dance genre.

You’ll hear arguments from many dance genres as to which has the most costly outfits, but it also depends to some extent on what level of competition you’re in.

Long, heavily embellished ballroom gowns are probably the highest cost competition dresses, due to the yards of material and pounds of Swarovksi crystals used to make them. Second would be top quality professional belly dance dresses, because belly dance designs use just as many sequins and beads but much less fabric. Bringing up the rear are Latin and Street Latin dresses, which are often covered in “bling” but are also extremely brief!

Of course, it’s not just the materials used that determine the price. Designing and putting together a dance costume requires specialist skills. I once found out the hard way, when I had a dance dress made by a regular dressmaker. Making a dance costume which is figure-hugging yet lets you move freely is easier said than done, and it’s not a skill all high street dressmakers have. You should expect to pay a premium for a competition dress made by a top dance dressmaker.

The other consideration is design. If you don’t want a mass-produced costume, you must expect to reward the designer who creates an original work. For instance, you will pay a high price for the latest bellydance dress from top Egyptian designers, even though they aren’t heavily beaded. You’re paying for something original.

In a dance competition, your dance ability is all that should matter – but we all know appearance counts. Rightly or wrongly, dance judges are only human and first impressions do count. So investing in something unique could pay off.

Of course, you can achieve originality by making your own competition dress – but don’t even think about it, unless you’re experienced at dressmaking. Your dress needs to be perfectly finished – not an easy task if you’re just a beginner at sewing! Also take into account that applying rhinestones, crystals, beads and sequins will take many, many hours. There are so many good quality, reasonably-priced competition dresses coming out of China these days, you have to ask yourself whether it’s worth devoting all those hours to DIY.

If you do decide to order online, do check the actual measurements of the dress (don’t rely on the size) and do some reference checking. Ebay can be a great place to buy, because you can check the supplier’s feedback rating. To be on the safe side, buy only from sellers with a feedback rating of 98%.

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