Want trade secrets on making Dancesport, Country & Skate dresses?

Get the Sew Like A Pro™ newsletter!


One of my Sew Like a Pro™ members posed the question on how to avoid overwhelm when choosing a dress:

“There are thousands of design ideas out there.  How do I make a decision for myself or my daughter without getting overwhelmed by all the options?”

This is an awesome question that pertains to all of us ladies in the competition Dancesport, Country and Skate worlds.


Avoid overwhelm when trying to buy or design a competition Dancesport, Country or Skater dress

Whether you are buying a new, off-the-rack dress or bargain shopping for a used one, there are a lot of choices on the market.

Local vendors and online dress sources have hundreds of options — making it very difficult to decide which dress is the “right” one.



Avoid overwhelm when trying to buy or design a competition Dancesport, Country or Skater dressMy personal opinion is that it’s even worse trying to decide on a design when you make your own dresses because it’s so difficult to narrow down the choices.

With Pinterest, Instagram and all the dresses-for-sale websites, there is an infinite number of ideas that could become your next competition costume.


Avoid overwhelm when trying to buy or design a competition Dancesport, Country or Skater dress


Talk about feeling overwhelmed with too many choices!

P.S. Be sure to check out my Sew Like A Pro™ Pinterest boards for Ballroom, Country and Skate dress inspiration ideas.





Avoid Overwhelm while choosing a Dancesport, Country or Skate dress!

I have five action steps to help you more easily narrow the choices for your perfect ready-made dress and custom designs.



#1  Know which colors look best on you & in your performance arena to avoid overwhelm.

I covered these two topics in different blogs. I hope you'll check them out.

Teresa Sigmon uses a color wheel to help choose perfect colors for competition Dancesport, Country and skate dresses

Choosing Perfect Colors For Dance And Skate Dresses. I give you clever, simple ways to find color inspiration for your next dress.

Discover your best styles and colors. In this blog I offer resources for companies that help you determine the best colors for your skin and hair tone.

Bonus in this blog: resource info about how to know which necklines and skirts look best on your body shape.

Once you narrow your color choices from nearly infinite to only 6 to 10 options, you will only wear colors that help you look and feel energetic, youthful, vibrant.

Once you know these two basics, you'll have less dress styles and less color choices to overwhelm you.



#2  Know which styles look good on your body shape and size. 

Ten perfect necklines for competition Ballroom, Country and Skate dressesThis homework assignment can be time consuming, but it is well worth it to avoid overwhelm!

When you know how to dress for your body shape and size, not only do your Ballroom, Latin, Country or Skate dresses look better, but so do your street clothes.

For instance, which length and style of skirt (straight, ruffled, flared, etc) makes your legs look long and lean?

Which necklines look best with your face and bust size?

What kind of waistline looks best? Does a rhinestone hip belt accent your figure or make your hips seem too straight?

For example, once you narrow down these styles you’re able to immediately rule out those dress designs that don’t flatter your unique, beautiful body shape.



#3  Set a timer for your internet searches.

Seriously. Set a timer for a maximum of thirty minutes to avoid overwhelm. 

Unfortunately, our human brains get overwhelmed and overly saturated when we have too many choices and options. This is called “decision fatigue.”

When the timer goes off, stop looking, and do something unrelated for a few hours to let your brain digest everything you saw.



#4  Narrow your "favorites" down to only five, or even three, choices.

5 steps to avoid overwhelm when trying to buy or design a competition Dancesport, Country or Skater dress. Teresa Sigmon.This is the hard part, I know!

I bet every dancer or skater has hundreds (if not thousands) of inspiration dresses saved on Pinterest or Instagram or from old-fashioned magazine clippings.

If you're researching ready-made dresses, you also have dozens of dresses-for-sale saved in your search folder.

However, after doing steps 1 and 2, you should be able to eliminate, oh, say about 80% of what you think you like. Really.

If you make your own dresses, cry. Scream. Procrastinate. Whatever it takes, but narrow your "favorite" inspiration dresses down to 15 or 20.

Give yourself some time to settle down (maybe a few hours, maybe a week) and then slash more options so you have only 3 to 5.

Exception for dressmakers: You can keep 1-2 additional inspiration dresses in your active file if they have a special accent such as large flower, or a rhinestoned accessory. The extras are things you wish to incorporate into your design, not your primary design.

       For skaters, sometimes choosing a dress is easier because you want to wear something that matches your routine and the song you are dancing to. You can  watch my interview with figure skater Kylie to see how she chose a dress that matched her routine and looked good on her body shape at the same time.

If you're in the market to buy a dress, you can save a lot of  ordering-online-only-to-return-it-because-it-looks-icky  if you have done a solid job on steps 1 and 2.

In addition, once you know which styles look good on your body, feel free to try on more dresses if you're at a competition (and take photos while you're in the dress), but don't waste your money ordering anything online that does not meet your color or style criteria.




For dressmakers, once you’ve chosen your three to five designs to make your dress, stop looking for other options. I'm serious.

No more internet searches. No more looking in stores or magazines. Set aside these options and wait 3-5 days, and then make choose a final sketch based on only these 3-5 options.... Yes, it's a great idea to combine several inspiration dresses to create your perfect dress!

If you're buying a ready-made dress, when you reach the stage in which you feel frustrated with the search, take a break for a week or more.

If  you ordered a dress online or decided to have a custom dress made, I suggest stop looking. The more you look, the more likely you are to be dissatisfied with what arrives in the mail.



These five steps have saved me sew much time, stress, and anxiety when I needed to choose or design a dress.

I know they’ve helped my Sew Like a Pro members as well. 

We all want this dress-making and dress-purchasing decisions to be easier. I promise if you follow these steps you will save yourself a lot of time, money and  "overwhelmed" feelings from too many choices and options.

As a bonus, you’ll also end up with a dress that looks fantastic on you because you’ve carefully considered what looks best on your body and what colors or designs help you feel great about yourself.



Check out the video for more details.

If you have a dress search tip you'd like to share so other women can avoid overwhelm, leave a message at the bottom of the page.




Never Miss a Dress or Design Tip! Get the SLP™ newsletter.

By leaving my name and email address, I understand I will receive 3-8 emails a month, including the Sew Like A Pro™ newsletter and occasional promotions about the sewing school. I understand my information will not be given or sold to anyone else.



P.S. Here are the links I promised you in the video.

Please, take time to watch these videos and do the homework. You'll be glad you did!

Discover Your Best Colors And Styles


Perfect Colors for Dance and Skate Costumes







    2 replies to "Avoid Overwhelm When Buying or Designing A Dress"

    • Lesley Watts

      Love this! I’m actually a designer and sometimes have to limit myself as I get brainstorming. I have years of sketchbooks filled with ideas. But I heard the best advice about searching for wedding dresses that applies perfectly to this too. “When you fall in love with the one, stop looking. You’re just going to confuse and second-guess yourself, waste everyone’s time and in the end not enjoy the process nearly as much.” 💝

      • Teresa Sigmon

        Excellent advice, Lesley! I think we can all benefit from “stop looking” whether we stop because we found what we wanted, or from fatigue overwhelm.

Leave a Comment or a Question