Trends in dance costumes mirror trends in regular clothing. Fashion is meant to change and naturally moves on to new silhouettes, colors, textures and fit. Trends may last a long time, or they may be short lived, but always, an old trend will be replaced with a new trend. Eventually, you will notice the cyclical nature of trends.
Hemlines go up and then drop and then go up again. Shoulder pads start small, get extreme and then disappear again. Leglines raise and then drop, and then start raising again. Waistlines migrate from the natural waistline to an empire styling to a low-slung hipline and then back again. A very minimal study of fashion will show you the progression of trends.
In the dance world, trends are great to follow (if you aren’t already leading them) and can keep your wardrobe looking fresh and can possibly keep you looking great for several seasons. If you succumb to fads, however, you may find that you will need to replace your dance wardrobe much quicker. Only very confident, daring individuals buck the norm and set new trends. Are you one of our trend pioneers?
Everyone can watch and determine the trends in their competitive dance neighborhood by simply being observant at dance showcases and competitions. Be aware of the fact that, even with the fast paced photo sharing of today’s social media, trends in one geographic local could still be different from another. Just because everyone at your dance studio is wearing neon colored fringe, for example, doesn’t mean that ‘everyone’ across the country or the world is keen on neon colored fringe.
If you’re in need of stretching your dance costume wardrobe dollars as far as possible, you should consider the trends that you see at your studio, your competitive region and across the country. In the ballroom world, it also depends on your level of competitive dancing. What is appropriate and stylish for the consummate professional may look over-the-top and garish and overwhelming on a more novice dancer. ‘Less is more’ is a more appropriate mantra for beginners and nearly ‘anything goes’ can work for the elite professional or highly competitive dancers.
In thinking about trends, I’m recalling some very unfortunate trends from the past. Remember that just because something is trendy, this doesn’t automatically confirm that this is the best choice for you. Didn’t our Moms always tell us “just because everyone is jumping off the bridge, doesn’t mean you should”, right?
I am a firm believer in observing the trends at any given season, but then considering our own persona, body shape, pocketbook, as well as our personal likes and dislikes of certain colors, textures and silhouettes. Unless you have unlimited funds, you should strive for buying or making costumes that will remain ‘in style’ for as long as possible, in order to get the most for your money. This is important even if you only plan to wear your costume for one season. Keep in mind that if you plan to sell your costume to someone else, in order to fund new costumes for your closet, your costume will resell much easier and for more money, if it remains ‘in style’.
And, do consider a ‘classic’ look. Classics are given the name for a reason – clothing that is deemed ‘classic’ doesn’t generally follow trends, but rather, they transcend them to remain stylish for many years or seasons. And, with classics, you can update and follow trends minimally, with your accessories or the addition of embellishment.
Be aware that some trends may not be good trends. One recent example, in my opinion, was back a few years when EVERY ballroom costume had a drape or many drapes that attached to the dancer’s wrists or back or wherever. To me, you could no longer see the dancer’s silhouette – with so much excessive and redundant pieces of fabric tacked onto the dresses. I am so glad that this trend was finally replace with more minimal shilhouettes.
Another unfortunate trend has been for extremely low-cut skirts, shorts, pants, or briefs. When you are embarrassed to watch, the costumes are cut too low. Of course it goes without saying that only extremely well-toned bodies (no matter what size) could even think of wearing this style of costume. Moving forward, for those who love the low-rise, there are costumes with the same low-rise cut, but then paired with a belt at the wearer’s natural waistline. I’m seeing less of this design detail, and I’m happy with that. After many decades, the natural waistline has found a renewed home with dance costumes. Thank goodness!
What is currently trending in the dance world?
- The continued use of many narrow straps to accent other design features
- Textured laces of all types, either plain, with beading or with minimal or extreme rhinestoning
- Rhinestones everywhere
- Feathers continue to be an important accent for all types of dance costumes – either minimal touches or with lots of coverage at hemlines
- Embroidered appliques with various amounts of rhinestone and beaded embellishment have made a huge comeback
- Sheer mesh continues as a staple and less expensive replacement for woven chiffon
- Sheer mesh cutouts in bodice and sleeve areas
- Ombre visuals whether created by dip-dying or sublimation
- Nude and nude-toned, naked looking costumes
- Blush, light pink colors, along with gunmetal tones with silver and gold metallics
- One-shouldered and asymmetrical styling on bodices and skirts
- Sublimation printing for lots of graphic decoration
So, keeping your dance costumes ‘trendy’ is a good thing if the trend is suitable for you, but only if you can afford to buy new when you feel the need to keep very current on new trends. Otherwise, you will never go wrong with classic looks!
(Submitted for October 2017 issue of Minnesota Dancer)
© Deborah J. Nelson/Satin Stitches Ltd.