Big Girl Costuming Woes: Possible Solutions

So, I sort of lost the plot a bit on the last post. Understandably so too, I think, since it seems to happen quite often. However, since I don’t believe in whining without offering a possible alternative, I’d like to go over what *can* be done when costuming woes strike.

Let’s start with the simplest: find someone willing to cater to your shape and size. Depending on what style you dance, there are vendors out there that do some OUTSTANDING costumes for plus sizes. There are some downsides, though, main ones being price and time. Usually made to measure pieces do take a LONG time to do, and they will be more expensive than something off-the-rack. And if the creator is not there to take your measurements, you will also need to be extremely careful with what measurements you send, because an error there could ruin your whole costume! If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to go to a seamstress or tailor and ask them to take your measurements.

Another possible way: have the outfit made by a seamstress, and finish off the details yourself. This will probably be quite pricey too, and quite laborious to you if what you’ve chosen has rich beading, like the usual cabaret dresses. You can sort of get away with it if you pick pre-made appliques, but even then you will have to stitch these to the finished product. Or you can do this with “normal” items from stores, although I would advice against buying pre-existing bridesmaid dresses, for instance, if you wanted a Fustan Raqs, simply because the kind of fabrics we use for dancing are very different than the kinds used in formal wear. Remember: there’s a reason most dancing clothes are made with certain fabrics and not others. Reinventing the wheel is usually a waste of time.

Another obvious one: make your own. This is part of what this blog is about, and if you’ve got specific questions, I will be happy to try to answer them. Original costumes fuel your creativity and make you look unique, so bonus points for that!

But what happens if you just have to wear that galabaya or you did find a dress that fits you but you have some issues with the fit? Some things you will be able to fit. Some you won’t, some will vary. I know I’ve mentioned in the past that you shouldn’t “settle”, but sometimes you get hand-me-downs or have the chance to purchase items from fellow dancers that are *almost* right. Let’s take a look at possible issues and solutions:

  • Problem: galabaya or dress do fit, but the skirt is too tight and the sides open too much.
    Solution: close the opening at points, creating a “peek-a-boo” effect, then back the full opening including the newly created “cut-outs” with power mesh in a similar colour to the dress, or in a colour used for the embroidery; this will cover you and keep the lines of the outfit; if it’s a galabaya and you don’t want the extra mesh, create the peek-a-boo down to where you’re comfortable showing. Or wear pantaloons underneath.
  • Problem: dress fits great but cups are too big:
    Solution: Chicken fillets are your friends. Get some cleavage booster, even if you are a DD cup. Make sure to cover them with fabric and sew them into the cups, to avoid embarrassing accidents.
  • Problem: Dress is perfect including cups but two sizes too small
    Solution: this solution is most definitely not for the faint of heart: open the side seams and add mesh panels all the way down, (or lycra panels) and continue the embroidery. This will only work if you can find the exact same sequins and beads and fabric, or a contrasting colour that will work a bit as an illusion dress, so it is not something that I would recommend you attempt unless you really, REALLY have no other option.
  • Problem: you found a two-piece set that you like and does fit you well, but you’re not sure about showing your tummy
    Solution: get a body stocking; there’s at least one manufacturer I could heartily recommend, and you could get it in a colour that combines with your 2-piece to make it look like a dress, and even add decorations to it to add to the full-coverage feel. Or get a simple dress, and use the bedlah set to create the illusion of a Fustan Raqs combining both
  • Problem: the dress fits at the bottom but not at the top
    Solution: if the cups fit, you could attempt to remove the zipper, and create something similar to a corset lacing, although you will need to add a modesty panel to cover up the opening. Like the panels solution above, it is rather extreme and not for the faint of heart, I would only attempt it in extreme cases.
  • Problem: the skirt is too short
    Solution: this depends a lot on the style. Cabaret? Leave it; there’s no way to rescue it. Tribal? You could use the skirt hitched up, or add a thick sari trim around the bottom, or add a fitted waist around the top to add extra length
  • Problem: the skirt is too long, but there’s embroidery along the bottom that you don’t want to loose
    Solution: Not much you can do. if it’s a straight line skirt (or the ubiquitous galabaya) you might be able to get away with hitching up the area *just above* the embroidered edge; you might also be able to hitch up the skirt from the top seam if there is a waist seam, for instance, as long as there is no embroidery involved. If the embroidery is more decorative and goes past the actual rolled hem, I would try to minimise the damage and re-create sections killed after the trim, but again, this is not a fix to attempt unless you are pretty damn sure of what you’re doing

Any more possible issues and solutions that you’ve found? Leave it in the comments!

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