Ottawa Dancers’ Blogletter 2018/03/03

A Dancers’ Guide to getting the most out of the Ottawa Souk Part 2 – The Costume!

Nothing is more fun than shopping for a costume to accentuate the moves you’ve worked hard to learn to music you listened to countless of times; well unless you’re a veil-oholic, like myself that is!   Welcome to part 2 of getting the most out of the Ottawa Souk, the costume edition.

Before you dive for that blue sequined two piece bra/belt set or salwar kameez, here are some of the things you should consider when looking for a costume:


What is the costume for?

Student shows don’t typical require you to purchase a professional costume, so unless you’re planning on performing a lot or becoming a professional you may not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a costume.

New vs Used?

Used costumes can vary in condition.  Excellent condition usually means that the costume may have only been worn a couple of times and treated with the upmost care.  Fair condition may mean that the costume has been worn more than a couple of times and will most likely have imperfections, such as missing beads, jewels, loose threads, worn edges etc.  New costumes, are exactly that, new and never been worn; it is still good to check them as not everything is made to a standard quality.  One thing to check for all costumes is the beadwork.  If there are strands of beads (looped or straight), check how they are finished as this could tell how strong they may be.  Thing string could be potentially problematic for vigorous dancing; no one likes to lose beads when they dance.  Now this is not to say that you should to tug on the bead strings like you’re pulling on a sound cord of a your childhood toy.  A gentle swipe of the hand along the bead fringe, or a lift of the costume and twisting it in the air will give you a general idea of the base durability of the beadwork.


Price can vary greatly depending if the costume is used, new, material, craftmanship, quality and designer.  Here are couple of examples of prices that you can expect for used and new costumes:  I have a white and silver costume (as show in the photo above), that I’ve worn a few times and had some alterations done to it do to my preferences.  I paid around $300-400 brand new.  I had an underskirt made which was around another $75 and I’m now looking to sell it.  Because, it’s used and I consider it to be fair to good condition I’m looking to sell it for $100.  The beadwork on it is solid and I’ve kept it clean, but I know someone will probably have to alter it to fit their body so I want to give a good deal since alterations are an additional cost.  I have another costume, my first one or maybe second one, that I had made by a local artist.  It’s peach and purple and very simple.  I did the beadwork on the bolero style top and had it tweaked a couple of times.  It’s a great beginner costume and I paid, I think around $400 dollars (fabric and someone else’s labour).  I’m looking to sell it for $50 dollars because, I consider it a beginner costume, as it’s really not fancy and I want it to get more use than sitting in my closet.  When Aziza was at the last Souk, she brought not only some of her used costumes but a designer line by Aida.  A used designer costume in good to excellent condition was around $400 while a brand new costume could range from $600 to $800.  The designer costumes were made from good quality fabric and depending on the beadwork pretty solid.  Designer costumes usually have some moniker informing you of the designer, but it’s always good to ask.

Try on the Costume!

Local shopping events give you this option and it’s a great way to learn your measurement and see what styles work with your body type.  Trying on a costume also allows you to see if you’ll require any alterations. 

Do you need to make alterations?

Unless you get lucky, you’ll most likely have to make some alterations to your costume to get it to fit, like a comfortable glove to your body.  If you’re handy already in doing alterations and/or are comfortable with sewing then great.  If you’re not great with a sewing and/or just can’t find the time in your schedule to make the alterations yourself then look for someone else that you can do it.   We have a few ladies in our dance community that may be able to help you out, should you need alterations.  They are:

  • Tracey Vibert of TAV Creations, who use to run the Souk under its former name, the Ottawa Dancers’ Bazaar
  • Gailene Green
  • Roxanne Kirkman

Each of these ladies are familiar with what it takes to make alterations to a dance costume.

Like something but even alterations wouldn’t be easy; get it made for you!

If you’ve tried, or attempted to try on costumes and nothing seemed to fit just right, then, you have a couple of options.

Ask the vendor if they can get the costume in another size, or;

Make a note of the style (ask to take a photo) and contact someone like Tracey, Gailene or Roxanne to see if they can make you a costume from scratch.  Pricing for a tailor-made costume varies based on the complexity of the design, the fabric and decorations (beads, sequins, etc.) you want to add to it.

Love at first try or Love it but leave it!

At the Souk you never know what you’re going to find.  Maybe you’ll find a costume that will not only will fit wonderfully but will at the price you budgeted for or maybe there will be a co

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