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When shopping for a ballroom dance costume do you feel overwhelmed with choices?

In today’s post, we see Carlye in her fourth video. She is a professional competitor and ballroom dance instructor at Overland Park Ballroom in the Kansas City area

Carlye has a lovely, curvy, average figure.  She says this is a “curse”.  Since so many dresses fit her body, it is difficult to choose the right costumes.


shop for a ballroom dancing dress, competition ballroom dance costume, Smooth Dancesport ballgown


I know there are a lot of you who have the exact opposite problem in that few dresses fit you.  I have a lot of blogs for you too.

Today’s post is for the “average” woman who may have too many competition costume choices.  Even though a dress technically fits your body (probably because it is super stretchy), does not mean the dress is appropriate and flattering for your shape and size.

Read on and watch the video to get tips on how to rule out costumes when you shop for a ballroom dancing dress.


When shopping for a ballroom dancing dress, it is important to know what looks good on your body.


Just because the Dancesport costume - or the adult figure skating dress - you like is pretty and kinda-sorta fits, does not mean it actually suits your body shape and size. I talk more about this in my interview with Duffy Betterton, the co-owner of a dance dress consignment shop.


SEW LIKE A PRO™ DRESSMAKER’S TIP #1:   Make a written list of what your body needs to look the best possible, and therefore what your competition costume needs to offer.

  • Do you need bust support?
  • Do you need a double layer leotard that offers body smoothing?
  • Do you need a lightweight dress because you get hot and sweaty when performing?
  • Do you want to cover your arms?
  • Do you want to make your legs look longer?
  • .... you get the idea, right?

If you need a costume soon, make your list based on your current body shape.  Not when you gain or lose those 10 # or 10 kilos you've been meaning to adjust for years.  If your body shape changes and your requirements shift, make a new list.



Dissect the dress to determine the design elements.


Taking time to do this is one of the best ways to rule out a dress that feels like it fits.

Below is a breakdown on the white ballgown Carlye models in today's video.

when shopping for a ballroom dancing dress, competition ballroom dance costume
Dress Design Elements = General Red Flags

1) The symmetrical back on this dress is pretty.   However, my opinion is it should not be symmetrical when the front of this gown is so drastically asymmetrical.

This is my personal artistic preference.  Be sure to consider your own personal preferences when dress shopping.


2) I like the bell sleeve and the leotard cover on this Smooth Dancesport ballgown.  However, the very stretchy Cabaret mesh used for these items is probably fragile.  My guess is it would be easy to accidentally snag and rip the mesh.

When shopping for a ballroom dance costume, consider whether you need a dress to last for a long time.  If you do, then does the fabric seem durable? 



when shopping for a ballroom dancing dress, competition ballroom dance costume, Smooth Dancesport ballgownDress Design Elements =  Do Not Fit Carlye’s Body

3) One of the cool features of this white ballgown is the loose stretch fabric over the leotard.  The drape is designed to add movement to the ballgown with the extra fabric free to swish back and forth.

  • While the drape is a neat design, it would hang more (and therefore move more,) on a person who is has a smaller waist and ribcage than Carlye.  While the ballgown technically fits, this particular design element does not function properly on with her body shape.
  • Carlye is a little fluffy in the tummy area.  The overly-snug drape draws attention to her tummy.  Ditto with the large diagonal opening that goes right over her breast and belly.

4) The gathers at the hips and ruching in the back are once again lovely features.  Unfortunately, they don’t look good on Carlye's body shape.

  • Sewing gathers at the hips is a good technique to make your hips seem curvier and your waist look smaller.  Carlye has a lot of natural curves and the ruching does nothing to accentuate her positive attributes.

5) This shade of white, or rather creamy white, is not good with Carlye's blonde hair or gorgeous skin tone.

  • There is nothing wrong with a white ballroom dancing gown.  It looks great on many dance floors because it shows up well against the wood. 
  • NOTE: White is not a good color for anyone who wishes to look thinner.   This is true for most light colors.



avoid overwhelm when shopping for a ballroom dancing dress, competition ballroom dance costume

SEW LIKE A PRO™ DRESSMAKER’S TIP #2:   Knowing which colors look good on you is very important when dress shopping for street clothes or dancing/skating costumes. 

To learn more about how to choose proper colors for your hair and skin tone so you look more youthful and vibrant in all your clothing, check out this blog:  Perfect Colors for Dance and Skate Costumes.



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A Photo Is Worth A Thousand Dollar Dress


SEW LIKE A PRO™ DRESSMAKER’S TIP #3:  Whenever you try on a candidate costume, take several pictures of yourself in it from all views - front, back and each side if the dress is asymmetrical.  Doing this allows you to look at them later with a clear mind so you can study how the competition Dancesport costume or figure skating dress looks on you.

avoid overwhelm when shopping for a ballroom dancing dress, competition ballroom dance costume



P.S. If you want tips to avoid pulling your hair out, check out my video with five fabulous tips to avoid feeling overwhelmed when shopping for a ballroom dancing dress, or a costume for country dance, ice skating or roller skating.


Lastly, thanks sew much to Carlye for modeling ... again ;).   Also thanks to Amy Castro, the owner of OverlandPark Ballroom in Overland Park, Kansas for letting me film on location in her beautifully appointed space.

If you are a Country or Dancesport competitor, contact Amy if you are interested in learning more about several dozen ballgown and Latin dance costumes she has for sale.  All the dresses Carlye models are also for sale.



Do you have a difficult time shopping for a ballroom dance costume? 

Type your tips or troubles below after you watch the video.


As always, please share this post with all your dancing, skating, sewing friends!



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