This is Volume 1 in a series of books about belly dance costuming written by Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess. It provides a starting point on how to choose a flattering belly dance costume design. It talks about the different styles of costuming such as tribal, folkloric, fake Gypsy, and others, with comments to differentiate between them, then goes on to provide advice on how to design a costume that will work well with your particular figure type.
Flattering Costume begins with an introduction to the general concept of belly dance costuming, with a tour of the various styles of costumes that are popular with belly dancers. From there it discusses the various individual garments that are utilized in each. It also addresses the basic elements of color, fabric, and trims.
My favorite section of the book focuses on how to choose costume designs that look attractive for various figure types: tall vs short, plus-sized versus thin, etc. Whether you are slender and petite, queen-sized, or somewhere in between, this book probably contains some useful tips for your figure type. These are structured in the form of do's and don't's. This section talks about how to emphasize your good features while drawing attention away from others.
The book is extensively illustrated with Dina's artwork, and also includes some photographs of dancers in costume.
Dina's writing style is very playful and direct. I find it fun to read and often smile at how she expressed things, but it's not for everybody. I've heard other people complain about her straight talk when describing their particular figure type, so if you're particularly sensitive about some of your body issues, you might not care for it. I didn't mind because she picks on everybody equally: she makes comments about short dancers as "standing in a hole", and tall dancers as "legs look a mile long". She warns thin dancers of the risk of looking "bony or scrawny" and ample ones of looking as though they have "hundreds of square inches of flesh" and then goes on to discuss how to avoid these effects.
Dina is also very opinionated, and you may disagree with some of her pronouncements. In the section titled, "Costumes That Suck" she identifies several costume designs that she feels wouldn't look good on any body type. Some of the items discussed in this section are things I've seen on many dancers, so I suspect some people will take issue with some of her opinions here.
The book does not provide instructions for drafting patterns for specific garments, and it does not provide sewing instructions. Dina has produced other books which address specific how-to's. This book is focused exclusively on how to combine different types of costume pieces in different colors, styles, and fabrics to create a look that is flattering.
In general, Dina slants her examples to the "beads and sequins" style of costuming. However, since the book is about the lines created by costume design details, much of her advice can apply to Tribal-style dancers as well.
Is It Right for You?
You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...
This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...
What I Liked, What I Didn't
What I Liked:
What I Didn't Like:
An unusual aspect of this book is that it focuses solely on choosing flattering designs, with no historical lore and no instructions on how to make costume pieces. By focusing in this way, the book is able to provide extensive advice and detail on this narrow subject matter.
I like the book very much, and I think it would make a particularly valuable resource for belly dance teachers who may need help in guiding their students to flattering costume choices. I also think the book would be helpful for students who feel uncomfortable with the costume advice they receive from teachers who may not know how to deal with body types different from their own.
You can get some idea of whether Dina's writing style and advice and costume design suits your personal aesthetic by reading some of her design suggestions in her "Ask the Costume Goddess" column on this web site. If you like the articles she has contributed to Shira.net, then you'll probably like this book.
My association with Dina (the author) began when she offered to write an Ask the Costume Goddess column for this web site. She is a valued contributor, and I much appreciate the many articles that she wrote for me.
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These articles were written by Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess on the subject of choosing flattering costume designs. If you find these useful, then there is a strong chance you would enjoy an entire book written by her on this subject.
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