How To

How to Keep Your Dance Costumes Looking as Good as New

(Courtesy Costume Gallery)

Competition season is here, and you've finally received your beautiful new costumes. But how can you keep these ensembles looking stage-ready through Nationals next July? Here are the tips and tricks you need to prevent and troubleshoot costume problems.


It's All in the Bag

According to Rhonda Bass, who has been making costumes by hand for DC Dance Factory in Franklin, TN, for years, keeping costumes in their best shape has everything to do with storage between competitions and while traveling. "You want to make sure costumes aren't just wadded up in a bag," she says. "Keep them hung up nicely using garment bags." And as tempting as it can be to keep every part of a costume stored in the same garment bag or on the same hanger, Bass suggests separation. "Each costume should really have its own bag, because parts of one costume might snag another. Keep hair accessories, jewelry, and tights in separate baggies, and even wrap individual parts of costumes that could catch on material with tissue paper."

Thinkstock

Patty Sutera, director of merchandising and design at Costume Gallery, agrees that proper hanging is essential to costume longevity. "Hanging prevents wrinkling and snagging," she says. "You especially never want to fold a costume that contains sequins. When it folds in on itself, the sequins can get caught on other parts of the fabric, or on each other, causing a plethora of issues." Additionally, Sutera suggests using dry-cleaning bags to separate costumes with sequins. "This is an easy way to keep costumes separate while storing them within the same garment bag for ease while traveling. The costumes can hang directly beside one another and never actually touch."

Odor Control

One of the hazards of wearing costumes over and over again is a build-up of sweat residue. No one wants to compete in a foul-smelling outfit, but you can't just throw these duds in the washing machine. Sutera suggests handwashing carefully, and only when absolutely necessary. "Turn the garment inside out and use very gentle detergent," she says. "Make sure you always use cold water, because heat can cause colors to run and stains to set."

If you aren't sure that your costume can handle handwashing, Febreze it or wipe it down with a baby wipe. According to Bass, "Febreze is a great tool for freshening costumes between uses. Spray it on, then let the costume hang in the open to air out." Even if they don't already stink, allowing costumes to hang outside of a garment bag between competitions will also help.

Rhinestone Redo

Dance competitions and an abundance of rhinestones go hand in hand, but those sparkly pieces often become loose or fall off your costume altogether. Keep extra rhinestones and a tube of E6000 glue (a very strong craft glue) in your competition kit. "Put some kind of protective layer between the two sides of the costume so the glue doesn't bleed through one side of the garment to the other," Sutera suggests. "Carry toothpicks, too, to make application easier." Place a dab of the glue on one end of the toothpick, apply it to the back of a rhinestone, and carefully place the rhinestone on the costume.

Thinkstock

Some costumes include jewel-bedecked appliqués, and those stones can be trickier to replace. Bass has a hack to keep those stones from falling out of their metal encasings: "Applying clear nail polish to pieces like this and to other jewelry keeps stones in their settings," she says. "It'll also prevent those jewelry pieces from snagging sheer materials or other delicate parts of a costume."

Stain Solutions

Despite your best intentions, makeup, dirt, and sweat are all likely to leave their mark on costumes—but there are simple solutions for most of these stains. According to Bass, all you need to remove a lipstick stain is a baby wipe, and Sutera says saliva on a makeup pad followed by a little cold water will quickly remove blood.

When a costume is worn multiple times, sweat is to be expected, but Sutera has a classic trick for treating sweat stains. With the help of an adult, "mix three parts water and one part vodka in a spray bottle, spray it lightly on the stain, and pat it with a towel," she says. "The stain should lift right out of the material." (Bonus: This mixture is also known to absorb odors.)

The Bottom Line

To avoid competition costume emergencies, it's important to give attention to each costume piece at the end of every competition weekend. Check carefully for loose or missing rhinestones, make sure straps, hooks, and snaps are all secure, and take care of any cleaning needed. And always make sure your competition kit is stocked with safety pins, glue, a sewing kit, and any extra items you might need to fix costumes while on the go.

Thinkstock


A version of this story appeared in the October 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Costume Conundrum."

Show Comments ()
Giveaways

You can never go wrong with a classic black leotard. Discount Dance's long-sleeve mesh leo will add a sleek edge to your studio style. Pair it with tights and a skirt for ballet class, or layer some leggings and sweats for contemporary class. Enter below for your chance to win it!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
via @kyle_vanny on Instagram competing on World Of Dance

Kyle Van Newkirk is a tap dancer you probably remember from the premiere season of NBC's World of Dance. In case you missed it, he is also one of Showstopper's incredible convention teachers. What makes Kyle stand apart from some of today's other incredible tappers? He isn't afraid to change what tap means to his audience and even himself. This modern view of tap dancing is important because it shows us that tap dancers are just as versatile and dynamic as dancers of any other genre. We sat down with Kyle to get his advice on bringing tap dancing into the 21st century.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
What did I just hear you say? You think all dancers are weak and delicate? PLEASE SAUT DE CHAT OUT OF MY LIFE. (Giphy)

Sure, dancers definitely have some unique identifying characteristics. (We're all obsessed with Center Stage? FACT.) But we're also subjected to all kinds of annoying, inaccurate stereotyping. Here are 10 dancer stereotypes that we never want to hear again.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
University of Minnesota Dance Team (courtesy University of Minnesota)

They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.

Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.

These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Jenna Johnson and Adam Rippon competing during the "DWTS: Athletes" finale. (Photo by Kelsey McNeal, courtesy ABC)

Last night was both the best and the worst night of "Dancing with the Stars: Athletes." The best, because one lean, mean, dancing machine of a couple got to take home the Mirrorball trophy. The worst, because we won't be able to tune in to "DWTS" each Monday to get our weekly dose of dance mania until the fall. But all good things must come to an end, and "DWTS: Athletes" was certainly one of the best seasons yet. The remaining three couples all brought their A-games to the dance floor for the finale, showcasing two dances: a traditional ballroom routine and a freestyle. Here's the final recap.

Keep reading... Show less
Ema Peter

The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center is the 54,000 square foot home of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, one of the largest facilities dedicated to dance on a private university campus. Designed for their innovative new curriculum, that supports a range of dance styles, the school's staff designated Harlequin to provide wall-to-wall flooring for the large 3,500 square foot Performance Studio as well as five dance studios in their new state-of-the-art building.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
via YouTube

Our favorite funny lady Tina Fey gave quite the performance this past weekend, and lots of our Mean Girls Broadway favorites also made appearances (heyyy Kamille Upshaw and Demarius R. Copes!).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

DancerPalooza, America's Largest Dance Festival, is moving to sunny SAN DIEGO, California from July 24-29, 2018.

Check out all of the NEW Intensives DancerPalooza has to offer this year!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
They got to live out their dreams onstage with Jackson during last night's Billboard Awards. (NBC)

When Janet Jackson puts out a call for new dancers, basically the ENTIRE WORLD responds. More than 75,000 people entered Jackson's epic #DanceWithJanet contest, announced earlier this spring, which let hopefuls from around the globe audition via social media for a chance to perform with the icon.

So, out of those tens of thousands, who became the newest members of the #JTribe? Meet Phillip Galbert and L'Vala "Lala" Moss, the winners of the competition. Last night, they joined Janet onstage at the Billboard Music Awards. And they more than earned their place in the spotlight.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin (courtesy ABT)

Last May, we told you about a special exhibition of the Mark Ryden artwork that sparked Alexei Ratmansky's sweet-treat of a ballet, Whipped Cream. Well, hold on to your tiaras, bunheads, because there's a brand-new exhibit featuring actual costumes from this megahit production. The Nutcracker's Land of Sweets has some serious competition!

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored