There isn’t a single answer as to what ballroom dress would suit you best. The first and probably the most important condition is that you have to feel comfortable both emotionally and physically in the dress of your choice. Take some time and think – how do you see yourself on the dance floor? Are you chick? Romantic? Passionate? Flirty? You should choose a design that would appeal to your inner self and to your style of dancing. In my experience the time spent on finding your own style pays off much better than any designer-made dress stuffed with stones from head to toes.

Be sure to discuss your preferences with your partner. Ideally you should develop a common image of you as a couple. A couple where the girl looks like a high-class sophisticated lady while her partner plays a hot Macho man looks somehow weird.

Basic Fit

Take a few simple precautions to ensure you will feel ok in your costumes during the competition. Raise your hands, make a couple of moves in front of the mirror, and observe the skirt motion. For standard dresses – make sure not to choose a very long skirt or you risk catching your heels in it. For latin gowns – its important that your top stays in place while you are dancing. The straps should be elastic and strong enough not to fall off your shoulders, and your bra or the sewed-in bra cups shouldn’t move from your breasts. Take some time to practice dancing together with your partner in your competition costumes. Your skirt should allow enough room for motion for both of you, and your sleeves should not impede your partner to hold your hands or change places.

Every competition follows a certain dress code, which might not allow some fabrics or decorations for your dance level. It’s better to learn them in advance not to get banned from the dance floor only for wearing latin competition gown decorated with feathers which were not allowed.

Colors – safe black or blatant pink?

Choosing dull colors is probably the commonest mistake a beginning performer makes. Being scared away by the bright colors, he would never wear in the real life, like pink or bright-green he ends up choosing something absolutely plain like grey, charcoal or brown.There’s nothing wrong with choosing dim colors, but any dancing competition – is still a show and it is important to stand out. If all the other dancers are in red, your black dress will look gorgeous. But if you have no idea what other competitors wear – my suggestion is to bet for brighter colors.

Of course this doesn’t cancel the need to choose the colors that suit your complexion and compliment your figure. Not everyone can safely wear bright “electric” colors, like orange or fuchsia. Orange would look great on dark haired tanned girls while a blond girl would look greenish in it. Pink shades suit many skin types and are quite popular among dancers, yet they can add you several extra kg’s, so pick the design carefully.

Black always looks elegant and sophisticated, but it usually requires some bright accessories or a lot of sparkling stones to help it stand out. Otherwise, since your partner is usually wearing black it is likely you will blend on his background. Brown and sand colors should be picked carefully for the same reason – they tend to blend you with the floor. White looks great on most people, it gives a fresh and rich impression, yet it is quite impractical.

Summarizing the above said – besides matching your taste and complexion – the color should not be dim or “dusty”, it shouldn’t blend with your face, your partner’s clothes or the dance floor. If you are picking a popular color, which many dancers are likely to wear, such as flame red or pink – try to find an unusual ballroom gown design that would let you stand out. Or, ask your tailor to design a special ballroom dress just for you.

Stage look

Another little thing you should keep in mind while choosing dress fabric and design. It mostly matters how you look at a distance. You dance for the audience, which sits quite far from you (5-10-15-20 m away). Any small pattern would either go unnoticed or would look silly. And vice-versa: If the dress you are looking at looks vulgar to you – put it on the rack and get a second look at a 10m distance. You might change your mind then. 🙂

Say no to small dots, little flowers, and the like. The only exception is probably animal print, but again, make sure it’s visible from a 10 m. distance. My personal opinion is that it’s always better to buy a fabric with no patterns and decorate the dress with stones and appliqué work after that: this method leaves you with more space for improvisation.

A final platitude for a summary

No matter how gorgeous your dress is – it does not guarantee you the finals. But a well chosen dress – one that fits your figure, has an interesting design, right colors, topped with a good makeup – will definitely make you stand out. Wearing it, you will feel comfortable during your performance and will get the biggest prize for any dancer: the audience applauses.

To be continued with “Get the ballroom dress that flatters your shape”. Pictures and sketches included. Check back soon for the update.


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