Baladi Dress with Veil?

by Dina, The Costume Goddess

Dear Costume Goddess,

I am a full figured woman who wears a size 16, and I have decided to either make or purchase a baladi dress for performing raks sharki. I no longer want to battle the "marshmallow stuffed into a teacup" look which is how I feel inside when wearing the bra/belt set. However, I like to dance with a veil - I enjoy using the veil in both the traditional Egyptian entrance style, and in the North American veil dance style. Is it appropriate to dance with a veil while wearing a baladi dress? Would a highly sparkly dress be better than a plainer one? Is a baladi dress REALLY an acceptable replacement for bedlah? Thank you!

--Full-Figured Faux-Pas


Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

Dear Faux Pas,

Yes, a baladi dress really is an acceptable substitute for a cabaret costume. But it must be a dressy style and fabric; something with a sheen or sparkle or ornamented border, not a folksy-looking cotton. It can be form-fitting or loose, whatever is most flattering. If loose, the fullness usually is pulled in at the hip with a suitable ornamented hip scarf or small belt, and this can match the dress fabric for a more slenderizing look.

Don't wear a big, chunky cabaret belt in a contrasting color on top of the dress; this will make you look wider. If the dress is semi-sheer, a simple matching bra (no hardware showing!) and harem pants can be worn underneath.

A compromise is the Ghawazee-style dress, which is cut out in front so you can wear a glamorous cabaret bra with it. If you like to use veil a lot, the dress is fine, but you may want to go sleeveless so the veil can drape over your shoulders and arms nicely. This photo shows a Ghawazee dress and bra of mine.

Dina in a Ghawazee Jacket

--The Costume Goddess


Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

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Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

Further Comments from Shira

Typically, a baladi dress is a folkloric style of dress, based on the Egyptian garment known as a gallabiya, which includes sleeves and a looser fit. I concur with Dina that a more theatrical interpretation of a baladi dress made of sparkly or sheer fabric, perhaps with a lower neckline and slits along the legs could be used with a veil.

The photo to the right shows Leyla Lanty, a dancer from California, wearing a typical theatrical version of a baladi dress. The loose sleeves of a baladi dress make it less than ideal for dancing with a veil, due to the risk of the sleeves becoming entangled with the veil.

Photo by Marcia Morris Conklin. Click here to see other costumes in Leyla's photo gallery.

Leyla Lanty Wearing Baladi Dress

This photo shows Melodi, a dancer from Texas, using a veil with another theatrical variation of the baladi dress by L. Rose Designs. Melodi's dress is more fitted to the contours of the body than the traditional Egyptian gallabiya, and the neckline is cut low to expose the costume bra. The sumptuous velvet fabric and chiffon sleeve drapes represent further theatrical modifications.

Despite its made-for-the-stage adaptations, Melodi's dress retains certain features of the original garment upon which it is based - the long sleeves, the mostly straight line, and the mostly-covered look.

This photo was taken by Melodi's husband, Dean Pentico. Click here to see Melodi's photo gallery of more costumes.

Melodi Wearing Purple Dress

Although baladi dresses can work with a veil, as Melodi's photo above illustrates, I'd like to suggest for your consideration another option for dancing with a veil: an evening gown style of costume.

One of the popular costume options in Egypt is that of an evening gown made of a slinky fabric such as lycra, and decorated with beads and sequins.

This photo of me in this type of costume was taken by Kaylyn Hoskins. The dress was created by the popular Egyptian designer, Hanan Mahmoud.

These dresses often feature cutouts lined with see-through mesh as a design detail, as can be seen over the left leg in this photo. Sometimes the mesh is beige to create the illusion of bare skin, and other times (as with this dress) it is a color that coordinates with the costume fabric.

Midnight Blue Dress by Hanan

Evening gowns are well-suited to dancing with a veil, as they are used by Egyptians for the Oriental dance style that employs veil entrances.

In Egypt, an evening gown such as the one I am wearing is actually called a bedleh (the Arabic word for "suit" that is typically used to apply to bra/belt/skirt sets), even though it's a dress! So this style of dress certainly can be used as a substitute for a bra/belt/skirt set.


Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

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