These days, everybody wants to look like a million bucks without breaking the bank. That’s why I’ve put together a couple of my favorite tips for recession-proofing your belly dance wardrobe without compromising style.
- 1. Get to Know the Bhuz Swap Meet: This is the industry’s official best kept secret and may be your greatest ally in the search for affordable costuming. (As long as you resist the temptation to give every set of sparklies a loving home!) If you’re OK with buying costumes gently used, you can find some exceptional steals. Typically, you’ll save as much as $300 off the price of some serious designer costumes – Emans, Pharaonics, Bellas, Sims, you name it! Most of the time, you can’t even tell that the costume has been worn.
- 2. Sell Something to Justify Buying: This is a common joke among Swap Meet regulars. If you’re looking for an easy $300 to buy a new costume, simply find a costume that you never wear anymore and send it off to see the world. Then, use your new funds to splurge on something new. It’s hardly like spending money – more like an overall changing of hands!
- 3. Cut the “Dead Weight:” What’s the use in hanging on to costumes that make you look and feel like a princess? Try on all of your costumes and evaluate their cut, color, fit and practicality. Sell off the ones that no longer flatter you and the ones that you never wear anymore. Now might be a good time to sell off your Dina-style miniskirt and…
- 4. …Invest in Something More Versatile: The easiest way to keep your wardrobe feeling fresh is to have one decent silver or gold bedlah (or one of each) that matches a variety of different skirts and can be dressed up or down. One of my first teachers only had about 4-5 silver, gold and black sets, but she was so creative with the way she styled them, she looked like a different dancer at every show! Her wardrobe was the talk of the town. Looking for a good place to get started? Cruise over to Dahlal and check out the Great Loop, American Icon, Fame & Fortune, or Beyond the Basics I, II or III.
- 5. Buy New Skirts, Veils and Accessories: This is a great way to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Many bedlahs can be dressed up or down. Even clingy Egyptian sets (like the ones I love) can be revamped with different jewelry styles, a new veil or set of gauntlets, or even a new way of doing my hair or makeup.
- 6. Pimp Your Wardrobe: Hit your favorite craft store, get some rhinestones, silk flowers, appliques, sequin trim and beads, and get ready to bling out your existing costumes. This adds tons of fun and excitement on the cheap. If you’re feeling ambitious, add a ruffle, an underskirt or a sheer panel – or have a seamstress do it for you.
- 7. Go Shopping in Your Own Closet: Maybe you’re like me and acquire way too much “stuff” for your own good. In which case, cleaning your closet can be like Christmas morning. It sounds awfully silly, but you just might surprise yourself!
- 8. Go the DIY Route: Not for the faint of heart, but sewing your own skirts and creating your own costumes is 100% cost-effective and can be incredibly rewarding. Nobody will show up at the hafla wearing the same thing! That’s what dancers did before Dahlal came along. (And that’s also why so many of us have a soft spot for vintage costumes!)
What are your favorite tips for getting the most bang out of your costuming buck?