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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Hair Style Ideas for Long Hair

by Dina Lydia



The Question

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 dancing.

--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).

--Long Locks



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 originality.

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.

Back View of Yemaya

Yemaya Front View

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.

Photo of Jazmine with Braids

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 way.

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 prefer.
  • 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.

The Dancer Morocco

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.



Related Articles

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 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:


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



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