To find the perfect competition-dress is as difficult as getting the right gown or wedding dress. Well, it is probably worse to make the wrong decision concerning the wedding dress…
Realize your own requests and preferences
To begin with: No matter how great a dress might look, if you don’t feel comfortable in it, it’s a waste of money. Therefore, you should first of all find out what you are really looking for! Everyone has a different, individual taste and prefers certain colors, designs, and fabrics that he or she feels comfortable with: e.g. “Pink is a no go”, “I adore lace”, or “I want to accentuate my beautiful waistline”. Afterwards, you should try to figure out how you can realize your request in a competition-dress. The internet offers numerous examples for doing so. My current favorite is Pinterest where I can spend hours rummaging. I can also highly recommend videos on Youtube or WDSC’s website. First and foremost, a competition-dress should look good in motion and support the quality of your dancing. Short fringes on a Latin-dress emphasize the fast solo rotations whereas a voluminous skirt made of soft cloth lets spins appear slower. If you order a custom-tailored outfit in a ballroom-dancing-studio, don’t hesitate to accept the designer’s advice. He has already been doing the job for some time and is therefore able to assess cut and style.
The dress has to fit your shape
All of us have a best side and different ones that we would like to conceal. While dancing, the risk of forgetting these principles is relatively high. Of course, a Latin-dress should look sexy and show a lot of skin, but only if you an appropriate shape. The rules of ballroom dancing don’t require presenting your ‘love handles’.
Choosing eye-catching colors
I assume that you take part in a competition in order to win. However, the judges will have to take notice of you in the first place, which is not that easy at large tournaments with 15 couples on the floor for only one and a half minutes. An eye-catching color of your dress will help a lot. If olive, brown, burgundy, grey, and more muted colors count to your favourites, attracting attention could become quite difficult – especially, if others next to you are wearing neon green, pink, and orange. Hence, courage for color! Even if the top ladies chose decent colors from time to time, I dissuade from imitating in this case. These dancers perform so well that they will attract attention even if they are wearing a flour bag. Moreover, they will probably dance in these kinds of dresses only once and for a change this can be a good idea.
When it comes to the competition dress, it’s mainly all about the look. However, the dress also has a function: supporting your dance perfectly. Here are some examples that deserve closer attention:
On the one hand, your clothes should be body-hugging and tight in order to improve showing our inner-body movements. On the other hand, clothes have to allow extreme movements like splits without bursting at the seams. The most suitable textiles are stretchy ones like lycra, net fabrics or flexible lace. For most tops, they are irreplaceable. Another important aspect is the correct skirt length, for Standard- as well as for Latin dresses. If they are too long, the dancers’ heels will get caught in the seam or they step on it. Stretchy fabrics are particularly captious and give in until they tear apart. In this case, inflexible materials works better, because heels rather slip off. Attention when it comes to “free floating embellishment”: fringes in the form of loops have a preference for interlocking in the buttons of men’s shirts. Veils at the arms of Standard dresses easily wrap around the lady’s head while turning and rhinestone chains that have been attached at the wrong place, can not only hurt the competitors, but also your own dancing partner.
There are trends on the dance floor, too! However, they often last much longer than just one season (since you use a competition dress for a couple of years, generally). Some stem from the world of fashion from Paris, Milan, and New York. Other tendencies rather arise out of the ballroom dancing. A prime example is the feather boa for Standard dresses. Sometimes, only single feathers decorate the skirt, other times the whole feather boa is attached to the seam of the skirt, and sometimes the boa is out of fashion. If most of the dancers at the GOC don’t have feathers on their dresses, it’s obvious that an investment in a “boa-dress” is not appropriate. On the contrary, if all of the finalists are wearing piles of feathers, you can assume that they are having a comeback. But beware of second hand dresses! Buying an ancient dress only because of an attached boa does not pay. Vintage does not work for ballroom dancing. Unless you take apart the whole dress, which is rarely worth it.
For everyone who likes to set trends in their life: Our dancing would not develop if there weren’t people who were brave enough to bring along something new on the floor. But, we are practicing ballroom dancing and it’s the performance that sets the tone. Therefore, important note at this point: don’t go immediately for the short-sleeved suit in the C-class. The judges and the audience could be overstrained. As soon as you’re dancing in the GOC final, you’ll definitely have a lot of imitators.
Up to now, all that has been said can refer to “taste” in the broadest sense. You can justify nearly all for this reason. Now, we get to the point where there will be no more room for interpretation: the dress code of the TSO (chapter F, paragraph 8). It determines in detail what you may wear in which age- and start category. Even if the guidelines do not always seem to be coherent and useful, they are no recommendation, but rules! Who does not stick to the rules, will be referenced at first and then disqualified – and justifiably so.