Costume Tips for Mature Belly Dancers
Belly dancing is a wonderful exercise for mature women. It's gentle on the body and doesn't require the flexibility of youth!
Belly dance class is a non-judgmental, supportive environment where dancing ability is more important than size, shape or age. Within the belly dancing community, you have as much right to wear hip-hugging, belly-baring costumes as your younger, skinnier classmates. Other belly dancers don't give a little extra weight or a few wrinkles a second thought - but when we're performing in public, it's wise to think about how others see us.
Dressing for Your Shape
The reality is that as we get older, bits of us get flabby and unattractive. Look critically at yourself and identify your best (or least worst) points, and choose your outfit accordingly.
For instance, no one minds if your stomach hangs over your hip belt in class - but your audience really doesn't want to see it. If the tummy flab isn't too bad, you may find a good body stocking is enough to hold everything in. Lace will disguise scars better than a plain sheer.
If your mid-section has definitely seen better days, then the current revival of folkoric styles of belly dance is a Godsend, because it means you can wear a beledi or saiidi style dress. These long, figure-hugging variations on the traditional galabeyah are good for most figure flaws, especially if they've got plenty of Lycra content. You can even wear shapewear underneath for a smooth silhouette (make sure you can dance in it, though!).
Due to the modesty requirements in Egypt, dresses are also becoming popular for classical belly dance. Those dresses usually have cut-outs at strategic places, which can either show bare skin, or be filled in with sheer fabric (either flesh-coloured or toning with the main colour). The ideal is to get the costume custom-made for you, so you can choose to have the cut-outs in places that highlight your best features. If that's outside your budget and you can sew, you might consider buying an ordinary evening dress and making the cut-outs yourself.
Ranya Renee shows how it's done!
Costume photos thanks to Toast to Life.