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 5 Key design elements for long, lean lines 

  1. Steep asymmetrical neckline that begins on the shoulder.
  2. Vertical lace detailing in a bright accent color that pops against the dark dress.
  3. Dangling handkerchief that adds verticality and movement around the legs.
  4. A second steep asymmetrical line where the fringe attaches to the skirt hem.
  5. Finally, lots of fringe – which always adds visual height and creates long, lean lines.

The original blog post was created June 2018 and updated with more photos and Sew Like A Pro™ dressmaker tips in May, 2022.

Long lean Latin Dancesport dress with lace appliqués and fringe skirt. Filmed at Arthur Murray Dance Studio

Our guest model today is Maria, a student at the Arthur Murray Dance Center in Temecula, California.

In 2018 I had the privilege of meeting her at the Arthur Murray Studio in Phoenix, Arizona where she performed a 6-dance show with her instructor, Tavio Morales, as part of the Arthur Awards for the Phoenix studio.

Afterwards, when Maria finished her 6-dance show, I chased her down and talked her into modeling her Latin dress with long, lean lines for this video.

Seriously.

She had no idea what she was getting into, but she was fabulous on camera!

Maria is a wife and a grandmother, but loves competitive ballroom dancing for the challenge as well as the chance to dress up. 

She competes in American Rhythm and Smooth.  Additionally, at the time of filming in 2018, Maria had been dancing 6 1/2 years and braved her first competition after only six months!

Long lean Latin Dancesport dress with lace applique and fringe skirt. With Tavio Morales. Filmed at Arthur Murray Dance Studio

 

Maria is much shorter than her teacher Tavio.  Like me, she needs all the help she can get adding visual height.  Fortunately, Maria is fashion-conscious, has a designer’s eye, and knows how to create long, lean lines that look good on her body.

“I love fashion, it gives me a huge self-esteem and self-confidence, which is also part of the package when you are competing.”

Maria

As a result, her dress, made by LeNique – but partially designed by Maria – has five key design elements and three bonuses effects that help her look longer and leaner than her petite frame.

  1. Steep asymmetrical neckline that begins on the shoulder.
  2. Vertical lace detailing in a bright accent color that pops against the dark dress.
  3. Dangling handkerchief that adds verticality and movement around the legs.
  4. A second steep asymmetrical line where the fringe attaches to the skirt hem.
  5. Finally, lots of fringe – which always adds visual height and creates long, lean lines.

 

“I think a dress is incredibly important — even though my teacher gets upset when I say we win because of the dress.  But I do think a dress makes you feel in a different body, in character.  And it’s such a good escape from the world and everything else.”

Maria

 

Long lean Latin Dancesport dress, with lace appliqués and fringe skirt. With Tavio Morales. Filmed at Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

 Let’s talk about the fringe skirt! 

The aspect of this dress that most surprised me is how well the white fringe works on this black Latin dance dress. 

Maria said this was an alteration she had LeNique make to the dress after she bought the dress and tried it on. Excellent decision, Maria!  The white fringe is one of the key design elements that help her look long and lean.

In truth, if I was designing this dress for a client, my immediate reaction would be to make the fringe match the dress just like the designer at Lenique did.  To my mind, it seems like that would create the longest lines for her.  How boring that would have been!  I’m glad Maria was creative and willing to take a chance.

Above all, the reason the white fringe skirt works perfectly here is because:
  • It is a strong contrast color which creates visual interest.
  • The angle of the skirt is very steep, creating a long line all by itself.

Meaning, the accent color fringe would not look as fabulous if the colors were not a strong, bold contrast, or if the angle of the skirt was more shallow.

 

Sew Like A Pro™ DRESSMAKER TIP #1: 

If you make your own dress, be extra careful to cut the angle of the skirt very straight so the fringe attachment line is stick straight and doesn’t have small curves. 

However, this can be mighty difficult if the skirt fabric is really stretchy.  Therefore, you may have to pin and re-pin (or baste, rip and re-baste) the fringe to achieve a nice, straight stitch line.

For another example of using angled fringe to create long, lean lines, check out a stretch velvet Latin dress made by Tammy, a Sew Like a Pro™ member.

 


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  Lace appliqués help Maria look taller 

As a dressmaker, I think lace and lace appliqués are a wonderful way to decorate any style of Dancesport, Country or Skate dress -- especially if you get them on sale! 🙂

If you do a search on my website for lace, you will come up with a lot of blogs because lace is so commonly used.  You can use tone on tone lace or an accent color like Maria did.   99 times out of a 100, the lace look is luscious.  Lace also makes your rhinestoning easier, faster and less expensive because you already have a pattern.

lace applique beaded fringe Latin dance ballroom dance costume, Duffy Betterton Dance Dress Couture

Check out this post featuring a Latin dance dress with two-tone lace accented with beaded fringe.

Decorate your competition Dancesport dress, Latin dance costume, Country dance costume, Ice skating costume or roller skating costume with lace, ballroom dance dress

This post shows how I decide where to place the lace for a ballgown.  Of course, the principles work on any style dress.

Sew Like A Pro™ DRESSMAKER TIP #2: 

If you’re not a fan of black and white, use a different contrast color. 

For example, change out the white lace and fringe with a color: hot or pale pink, blue zircon, aqua or pretty much any color that suits your personality will work.  Get creative.  The only caveat is to make sure the color you choose is rich and saturated so it shows up nicely against the black.

Long lean Latin Dancesport dress with lace appliqués and fringe skirt. Filmed at Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

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 3 more ways to look long and lean 

  1. Asymmetrical back neckline with a graceful drape that softens the look and camouflages her fleshy back.
  2. One sleeve that gives her more visual height and covers her upper arms (which she prefers to have covered whenever possible.)
  3. Lastly, a loose "overdress" bodice (attached to a built-in leotard) with ruching at the shoulder, tummy and hip.  This soft, feminine look disguises her classic female tummy and gives her plenty of breathing room while keeping her slim-looking.

 

Sew Like A Pro™ DRESSMAKER TIP #3: 

If you want to create long leg lines without using fringe on your skirt, you can use long handkerchiefs or spirals to create visual height.  Handmade " beaded fringe" made of ribbon and rhinestones  would also work well as accents.

Or use godets in an accent color!  Check out another blog also filmed at the Phoenix Arthur Murray Dance Studio.  This post features a new dance instructor on a budget who purchased a ballgown that uses an accent-colored godet to create height.

 

What is your favorite feature on Maria's dress?

Of all the dresses you've worn, which design element looks best on your body and why?

Leave a message at the bottom of the page!

 

 


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Thanks again to Maria for modeling - as well as to her amazing coach, Tavio Morales. 

Also, many thanks to Holly Udy-Meekin for inviting me to attend her studio’s Arthur Awards event and for letting me take over her studio with lights and cameras.

 

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    2 replies to "Latin Dress with Long Lean Lines"

    • tam davis

      I think Maria looks wonderful in her dress! The contrasting panels and colors look outstanding on the floor and I agree with you that the ruched detailing is flattering and feminine. I also think the slanted neckline helps elongate the neck and I really like how the lace accents the ruching and creates a continuation of the skirt’s asymmetrically long line. However, just a tiny thing, I think maybe a shorter person might benefit from the longest point of the skirt being just a smidge shorter than she is wearing here, so as to not actually fall over the dance shoe. But a fabulous look altogether!

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