Tip: 11-year-old’s costume

I have an 11-year-old daughter that has been attending belly dance classes for over a year. She also takes ballet.
Next year, the school will be participating in a dance competition in USA, and she will be doing a solo on ballet and belly dance with veil.
I am trying to make her a costume suitable for her age, but at the same time sensual enough.
The teacher already told me that she wanted a skirt….I would really appreciate any suggestions you may have. ~ Gloria

Eleven is a tricky age for costume wardrobe, isn’t it? No longer a little girl, but not adult either.

Belly Buttons
Sisters with appropriate simple costumes for girls age 8-12 – or anyone, really!

Is her figure developing yet? If she does wear a bra, I would advise she NOT wear a costume bra on the outside; there is plenty of time for that later, when she is a teen. I’ve seen a 5-year-old wearing a pink bellydance outfit complete with pointy little bra cups. Oh no! You are right to be concerned what might be appropriate for her age, especially a school-sponsored event.

SKIRT SUGGESTIONS: Best would be a half-circle skirt, or handkerchief skirt, or a gauzy “broomstick”-style gathered skirt.
A veil dance means a lot of spinning. Her skirt should NOT have high slits that fly up to expose the entire leg – or even underpants!  A pair of lightweight harem pants or pretty pantalettes UNDER the skirt is a good idea to prevent accidental overexposure.
The skirt might be shorter than for an adult, to reduce the chance of her accidently stepping on it and stumbling.
The veil might be a bit smaller, so easier for her to handle, less chance of it tangling on something.
Don’t wear a multi-tiered “gypsy” skirt – that is too voluminous and will compete with the veil.

Sleeveless tie-front, sweetheart neckline
Sleeveless tie-front

Tie-front with short set-in sleeves
Tie-front with short set-in sleeves

midriff tank top
Midriff tank top with tie ends

1. A sleeveless or short-sleeved midriff top with sleeves, that ties in the center front. The girl will not feel she’s dressing like a small child because lots of adult dancers wear this as a “Gypsy” or Tribal look. If the tie top seems too low-cut, she could wear another top underneath, a short tank top or camisole – that will cover the lower chest area.

2. A short tank top or spaghetti-strap top with coins or fringe sewn along the hemline and around the neckline. Hanging drapes would be a nice touch; either light costume coins on a chain, or strands of beads.
The back could be cut low as pictured; add a back neck tie to prevent it slipping off the shoulders.

3. A short “peasant” blouse with elasticized neckline, sleeves, and midriff.

4. A one-shouldered top. One bare shoulder is a charming touch, but the neckline is not low-cut.

5. A halter top, but not one that’s very low-cut in front.

NOTE: Do not wear long drippy sleeve drapes with a veil routine – sleeves could get tangled in the veil.

Peasant top with drapes
Midriff top
Midriff top with drapes

One-shoulder top
One-shoulder top

IN GENERAL: A tie-on hipscarf is preferable to a constructed hipbelt that likely she’ll outgrow very soon.

Make sure coins, trims, or costume fabric are SMOOTH. Any rough edges can and WILL get caught on the veil and possibly snag the fabric, or create an awkward moment onstage.

And most important, make sure she is comfortable in the costume, pleased with it, and rehearses in costume to make sure everything works well together.

Many examples of these types of costume pieces in Book 2, Easy Costume, and Book 6, Thrifty Chic for Bellydancers.

~Dina Lydia