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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Buying Coins For A Costume

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

Your costumes are beautiful and inspiring. I have dibbled and dabbled in belly dancing since 1975, but I have never had the guts to dance in public. But it is time to "come out of the tent". I want to perform in public before the turn of the century!

Eighteen years ago I bought a beautiful ethnic style coin belt that has over 250 coins. I would like to make a coin bra to match. Do you know of any place where I can buy coins?




The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Laura,

I applaud your desire to perform in public and overcome your shyness. That's a big hurdle and it feels good to get over it.

You asked how to make a coin bra to match your belt. "Match" is the key word. A variety of coins and ready-made coin bras are available, but the type of coin varies. If you chose the wrong type of coins for your bra it would clash with your belt. The coins need not match exactly in design or size, but they should be compatible in weight, color, and style. Thus if your belt used "real", heavy ethnic coins with drilled holes in a dull finish, and the bra was covered with little shiny, tinkly aluminum coins available in costume supply stores, that wouldn't do at all.

Many Arab import shops have several types of brass and nickel coins with a medium weight, as well as ready-made costume pieces. Coin shops might have foreign coins suitable for the purpose. Surf the web — there are many vendors who sell either real or imitation coins for use on belly dance costumes. Obviously, you'll have to do some shopping with your belt and compare the look and feel of the belt with the coins you're considering purchasing.

Example of Bra/Belt Set With Coins

In the meantime don't let the lack of a "matching" bra stop you from practicing or performing. Wear a choli (backless Indian top), or midriff shirt with ornate trim, or other ethnic style of top as a co-ordinating piece and add draped veils if you like, as shown in the above ensemble from the catalog of a company called Magic Circle that used to sell such costume items. (Magic Circle granted permission to use this photo back when they were still in business.)

--The Costume Goddess



Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to coin and chain costuming include:



About the Costume Goddess

Dina has been sewing for more than twenty-five years (yes, she started as a toddler!)

She's also an artist (Maryland Institute of Art) and perfected her sewing techniques apprenticed to various designers, freelancing for small theaters, restyling vintage garments, and altering wedding gowns.

Dina fell in love with belly dancing costumes upon her very first lesson. Now the pleasure of wearing her own designs, and seeing others wear them, offers as much pleasure as dancing. She's become expert as well in altering those troublesome ready-made Egyptian costumes, and modifying designs to flatter individual figures.

She holds workshops in Seattle to teach design and construction of cabaret costumes, and analysis of figure characteristics. She will also give private lessons, or resize or repair a secondhand costume. She's thus earned her Costume Goddess title.

Photo of Dina Lydia, The Costume Goddess

The Costume Goddess Tells All Costuming Books

Dina has published six books of her own on belly dance costuming as well as writing nearly all the costuming section for The Belly Dance Book. For information on her series of books, The Costume Goddess Tells All, see her web site at For reviews here on of some of her books, see:

Photo of Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Costume Goddess Photos

To view a photo gallery featuring pictures of Dina, costumes she has designed, and her friends, either click on the choices below or visit her web site:


All about belly dancing! Explore belly dance!

The contents of this page are copyrighted 2009 by Dina Lydia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is forbidden.



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