This is the bargain-hunter's guide to converting thrift shop, flea market, and yard sale finds into belly dance costume pieces. For anyone who loves both belly dance costuming and treasure-hunting, this book brings both activities together into a single opportunity for fun. Possibly more importantly, it offers a variety of ideas for creating low-cost belly dance costume pieces suitable for student recitals, belly dance haflas, and other amateur performing environments.
The book opens with a 37-page photo gallery displaying designs by both Dina and assorted guest contributors. The designs encompass not only costumes suitable for adult women, but also some items for male dancers and young girls. Some of these pieces are suitable for Tribal-style costumes (cholis, hip scarves with tassels, etc.) while others have more of the sparkle suitable for a nightclub-style look. The collection also includes a few novelty costumes just for fun.
The instructional segment of the book opens with tips on bargain shopping thoughts on why people get rid of certain types of garments and why those discards might be just fine for costuming purposes. It then moves into a section on what types of garments to look for, to help open the readers eyes to possibilities. Photos of a variety of dresses, shirts, skirts, and lingerie offer concrete thoughts on what to look for.
From here, the book moves into the main "meat" of the matter: how to convert some typical second-hand garments into costume pieces. Each project is identified as to its level of difficulty. The instructions offer how-to's for pants, skirts, tops, jackets and vests, dresses, cover-ups, bras, sleeves, and other accessories. In each case, the instructions begin with a photo of the original garment, then proceed to describe how to re-cut or re-shape it and decorate it to convert it to a costume piece. In some cases, a photo of the finished garment appears at the end of the instructions, while in other cases it's necessary to turn back to the photo gallery at the beginning of the book to see the finished costume item. The book closes with three pages dedicated to children's costumes.
Most of the ideas in this book seem well suited to student costumes, either for class, practice, or student recitals. Most of the resulting garments would be great for such appearances, but not for professional shows in restaurants or private parties. However, some of Dina's ideas for reworking old dresses intrigue me as being appealing options for the "evening gown" style of costume for professional shows.
There are many examples of thrift shop finds that I would never have seen as having belly dance costume possibilities hidden in them. Dina shows step-by-step instructinos for modifying these into attractive results. For example, she converts some rather boring blouses and dresses into cute tops.
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:
Between Thrifty Chic and Easy Costume (volume 2 in her series), Dina has offered a pair of books that provide an excellent resource for belly dance students and hobbyists who would like to create low-cost costumes for performances in student recitals, belly dance events, and other environments suitable for up-and-coming dancers. For dancers who enjoy exploring thrift shops, yard sales, flea markets, and similar places Thrifty Chic is a must-have, while those who prefer to pick up new materials at the fabric store will be more inspired by Easy Costume.
Thrifty Chic offers many ideas for converting a wide variety of garments and jewelry pieces into costumes. It does what it intends to do very well, starting with advice on what type of items to look for, and then offering a wide variety of suggestions on what to do with them. I am not a thrift-shop bargain-hunter myself, but Thrifty Chic made me feel tempted to set foot in one for the first time in decades to see what treasures it might have to offer.
Every now and then, I receive suggestions from people that it might be nice to have an article on my web site offering ideas for inexpensive costumes. Now that I've seen this book, I know I don't need to do it - Dina has written a comprehensive book on the subject! All I have to do is steer people to it.
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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