by Dina, The Costume Goddess
Dear Costume Goddess,
How about advice for short, apple-shaped bellydancers? I have a large bust, but my waist and hips are almost the same diameter! Thanks.
Dear Costume Goddess,
What are the most flattering costume options for a plus sized apple shape?
--No Waistline In San Francisco
Dear Apple Annie and No Waistline,
First, I'll repeat the advice I gave to "Tummy Troubled" in a previous column: don't feel any obligation to bare your midsection. You want a glamorous cabaret costume, yes, but you have some lovely options that don't require you to reveal vast expanses of flesh that might make you self-conscious and distract the audience's attention from your dance moves and pleasing stage personality.
Luckily for those of us who dance Middle Eastern, we have an unusual wealth of costuming options that include the artful use of veils, scarves, jewelry, ornamentation and cosmetic adornment. Of course, these are useful as beauty enhancements and tricks. But they also fool the eye of the viewers and get them to notice what we want them to notice and overlook what we don't want them to notice.
You have already analyzed your figure type and decided that you are of larger than ideal proportions through the midsection. Baring this section, as shown in the "Don't" illustration, calls attention to it. Other mistakes that give the illusion of even greater girth are halter straps, horizontal design details such as fringe and trim, a tight skirt, a saggy bra, and small hair.
The "Do" illustration shows a dancer using layers of sheer veiling to disquise her exact body shape while still keeping the look of little covering. The belt is a curvy shape, and has a strong center medallion and fringe, drawing the eye away from the width of the body. (Don't worry--there will still be plenty of hip action!) The sparkles on the veils, and the layers of sheer skirt and pants further blur the body shape. Of course all these veils would be in harmonizing colors that enhance your complexion.
Details that catch the eye and distract it from the midsection are sparkly wristbands with tassels, hair ornaments and pretty hair, earrings, perfect manicure/pedicure, and dramatic but tasteful make-up.
Another excellent costume option illustrated here is a baladi dress or evening gown in an eye-catching fabric such as a sparkly stretch lace, which reveals and covers the skin at the same time. (Again with the sparkly, Dina? --Yes! I'm insisting that you sparkle!) The dress is not loose enough to appear baggy, nor tight enough to reveal rolls of flesh. You can go completely glamorous with this: pretty shoes, jewelry, cleavage, glittery makeup--yes, glittery--etc.
If possible, make this dress or have it made for you. However, if you buy ready-made, choose a larger rather than tighter fit. It can always be altered if necessary.
My theme is: if you must be an apple, think of yourself as a Golden Delicious!
Hope I've inspired you to play your own version of dress-up!
--The Costume Goddess
About the Costume Goddess
To learn about the Costume Goddess and her bellydance costuming books, please visit the Costume Goddess' own web site.
Examples of Dresses
The dresses below are not the "baladi" style of dress, but rather an evening gown style of dress. In the decade following the year 2000, evening gowns have become popular as a costuming option in Egypt, particularly those made of slinky lycra fabric, such as the ones shown below. Cutouts are a popular design feature of these costumes, such as those on the dress to the right.
Click on any of the above three photos to see the costume in more detail.
These photos show dresses from Shira's collection that disguise excess weight around the abdomen and draw the eye to other parts of the body. Techniques that these dresses use to achieve this effect include:
- The placement of the sequin designs with vertical lines and resting lower on the hip
- Asynchronous style of the garment's cut, employing diagonal lines
- Use of bare skin at the chest and shoulders to draw the eye away from the abdomen
- Use of cutouts to draw the eye away from the abdomen, down to the hip
- Use of a slit in the skirt to create a vertical line and draw the eye away from the abdomen
- Decoration at the hem to draw attention create balance for a larger middle
All three of these dresses were designed by Egyptian designer Hanan Mahmoud.
The center photo was taken by Andre Elbing, and the other two photos were taken by Kaylyn Hoskins.
The contents of this page are copyrighted 2008 by Dina Lydia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is forbidden.