Today’s video was filmed in the elegant Overland Park Ballroom in Overland Park, Kansas at a studio created by my long-time friend, Amy Castro. (Fun fact: back in the 1990s, Amy and I taught at Jim and Jenell Maranto‘s studio, The Academy of Ballroom Dance in Phoenix, Arizona.)
Amy’s Overland Park studio not only offers ballroom lessons, but serves as the premier wedding venue in the Overland Park area. No detail was left undone. It is a beautiful studio complete with spacious ladies changing room.
One of the dance students at Overland Park Ballroom recently retired from competition and has twenty or more fully decked-out dresses hanging in the studio she hopes to sell. Boy, did I have a good time shuffling through all those to find the right ones for Carlye, dance teacher and wedding planner extraordinaire, to model for several blogs!
Let’s get started with the first of four dresses you’ll see Carlye model. If you’re interested in buying this dress or others, please message Amy Castro directly on the Overland Park Ballroom contact page.
CONTRAST IS EYE-CATCHING
To begin, even though this dress was not made for Carlye, it fits her really well. One of the benefits of using fabrics that are super stretchy is they will often fit a myriad of womanly curves and still look great.
Three strong design elements on this dress make it appealing to the eye so it looks good on the floor or in the rink:
1) The contrast between the dark blue, matte (non-shiny) dress material and the shine of the rhinestones.
The depth created from contrasting matte and shine is a fabulous look on every body shape. Whereas shiny fabric used for the entire bodice almost always makes the human figure look larger and heavier.
2) Accent color rhinestones.
- I really like the contrast in color and I love that the stones are a “color” instead of the classic crystal AB stones that look white.
- Be creative. Use any combination of rhinestones that you like and that compliments the color of your dress.
3) The contrast between the shiny rhinestoned areas and the matte ruffle really makes the skirt stand out in a subtle, sophisticated way.
The satin hem, which covers crinoline/horsehair, is a lovely detail that brings a touch of sheen to the matte fabric of the ruffles.
5 KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS
This dress has several other characteristics which make good talking points.
1. Unlined stretch lace
There is no lining under the stretch lace of this dress. This particular stretch lace is a very open mesh-type material. As with all fabrics, there are pros and cons to using it.
A) PRO or CON? This dress is a lot cooler than it would be if it were lined.
Cooler may be good for ballroom or Country dancing, but perhaps not warm enough for ice skating – especially for the little ones who don’t move fast enough to stay warm.
B) CON: The lack of a lining fabric makes the dress more fragile.
For ballroom or skate that does not have a lot of lifts, the unlined fabric would last for a reasonable time. If it tears, you can cover the accident with a cluster of rhinestones or patch it with left-over lace and then add rhinestones to blend it in.
For pair skating or theater arts routines in which the man handles the lady in a lot of lifts, an unlined stretch lace will likely not last long.
The more open the fabric weave, the more susceptible the man is to getting his finger caught in the material during tricks – which is not good for the fabric or his finger.
Sleeves are an asset to many dance and skate dresses for warmth or to cover the upper arm area a lot of women wish not to show. If you choose to have sleeves, you want them snug fitting to allow movement and flatter the shape of the arm.
The sleeves on this dress are quite a bit looser on Carlye than I prefer.
If you make dresses yourself, I recommend taking the time to tighten them. If you pay for alterations, the choice is yours. On this particular dress, tightening the sleeves is not a high priority.
3. Open back
Carlye has beautiful skin, and this open back looks fabulous on her.
However, from a design perspective changing the shape of the back neckline changes the way she looks in the dress.
The back has a slight rounded V-shape. Rounded necklines are easier to make than a strong point and one of the main reasons dressmakers do them instead of a true “V” shape or dramatic points.
If the open back extended 2″ or 5 cm lower, and tapered to a sharper V-shape instead of being rounded, it would make her back look less fleshy (see image above.) However, since the bodice is already very long, a longer “V” back opening is perhaps not a better design element – just different.
DESIGNER’S NOTE: You can also make someone’s back look leaner by narrowing the amount of skin that shows on her ribcage and shoulder blades. So rather than going lower with the “V”, going more narrow is good for women who want less skin to show. Or for times when the design does not improve by having a lower opening.
4. Long bodice
This dress style, with an elongated bodice, is rather popular right now in the Dancesport and Country worlds. I’m not sure why; it almost always makes the women look like they have a long body and short legs! Who wants that?
On this particular dress, the long bodice is counter-balanced by the super short ruffle. Because Carlye is tall and has long legs, this look is so-so okay.
In general, though, I recommend avoiding the long bodice/short leg look.
5. Fitted over the stomach
This dress is a fitted over Carly’s stomach. As you know from watching previous videos of mine, I don’t like this look because it exaggerates the tummy roundness. Ideally, this dress would drop straight off Carly’s belly instead of hugging the curve.
Check out this video if you’re interested in more details about how to create a flatter looking tummy.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS
What would you do if your dress had long body/short leg syndrome?
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Thanks again to Carlye for modeling!
Thanks also to Harrison for behind-the-scenes help (what a rare treat!). Also to Overland Park Ballroom owner, Amy Castro, for your friendship, laughter and for letting me take over your space to film.
If you’re interested in buying this dress or others, please message Amy directly.
If you like this video, you may want to watch these.