Ask the Costume Goddess
Ask the Costume Goddess:
Hair Style Ideas for Long Hair
by Dina Lydia
Dear Costume Goddess:
I think this falls under 'costuming', so here it goes... where
can I find pictures of different belly dancers hair styles??
I have long hair, and don't really know what to do with it for
--Just A Dancer
Dear Costume Goddess,
I don't know if you answer hair questions, but here goes:
I have very straight, long hair (down to my butt). Everyone loves
it, but I don't know what to do with it for performances. I've
tried putting some of it up in a ponytail on top of my head (like I Dream of Jeannie),
but it just falls flat. Any suggestions? My body type is short
and very pear-shaped, which is why I'm trying to go up with it).
The Costume Goddess Responds
Dear Dancer and Long Locks,
Very long hair has its advantages and disadvantages for a
dancer. It can be an asset because it's dramatic and feminine,
and moves around a lot when you do. Most long-haired dancers
I see do wear it loose.
On the other hand, it gets hot and sweaty during a long performance.
And it hides a lot of your face and body. When a dancer turns
her back to me and all I can see is a curtain of hair, I'm frustrated
because I want to see her costume and her moves.
You're right that hip-length hair will bring the eyes of the
audience to your hip level, which you might not want if you are
short and/or hippy.
A beautiful headdress will get you even more attention and
admiration than long hair unadorned, and show off your costume
I like what Yemaya does with her long hair. She makes a single braid in the back, sometimes entwined with a string of pearls or silk flowers.
With her hair out of the way, the beautiful back view of this costume with its ropes of draped pearls is displayed. She transfers attention to her face by wearing a headpiece with pendants and looped strands of pearls at the sides, and long earrings.
You might also make several tiny
braids on each side and tie the rest back or wear it loose, as
in this picture of Jazmine from Angelique's
web site. (Used with permission by both Jazmine and Angelique.)
If your hair is very long, the tiny braids could be looped or
brought to the back.
Click on the image to the right to see Jazmine's hair style in more detail.
I see some clever-looking devices for twisting, rolling, and
holding up hair in the drugstore. Try these.
With hair fastened in some fashion, braided, pinned up, twisted
or tied back, experiment with headbands, headpieces, ponytail
holders, and barrettes decorated with beads, beaded fringe, coins,
flowers, pendants, or glittery fabric. Your earrings will be
more important now too with hair out of the
See my Headdress article for suggestions
and illustrations for some simple headbands.
--The Costume Goddess
Additional Comments from Shira
The Costume Goddess gave me permission to add some suggestions
of my own to this article. Here are a few more ideas for you:
- For The Nightclub Look. Try this idea from Morocco,
one of the leaders in the worldwide Oriental dance community.
Braid your hair into a single long braid in the back. Coil it
into a bun and secure it to the nape of your neck. Then put on
a glittery snood. Morocco's hair reaches the bottom of her hips,
so she often wears one of these to prevent her fine hair from
tangling in the sequins and beadwork of her costumes.
- For Either Tribal Or Nightclub. Purchase a glitter
scarf (or use a piece of any fabric that coordinates with your
costume). Place it over your head, then anchor it in place with
a pretty fabric headband worn over your forehead. This look was
inspired by the keffiyeh worn by Arabic men. You can either let
your hair hang loose under the scarf, or braid it and put it
up in a bun to keep the back of your neck cool, whichever you
- For American Tribal Style. Put your hair up, then cover
everything with a turban. Although female nightclub dancers in
the Middle East wouldn't wear a turban, it has become widely
accepted as part of the "tribal" look that originated
in the U.S.
Click on the photo of the dancer Morocco to the right to see her costume and snood in more detail.
No matter which of the ideas on this page you decide to try, always be sure to practice dancing with a given hair style before you perform in it. Be sure to practice whatever dance moves or props you plan to use (veils, canes, balancing, hair tosses, backbends) in this hair style before you take it on stage.
Other articles on this web
site related to hair styles and costume pieces 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
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
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.
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 www.costumegoddess.com.
For reviews here on Shira.net of some of her books, see:
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:
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