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Figure Skating on a Budget

Updated on October 23, 2013

My daughter wanted to ice skate!

A few years ago, in an effort to get my daughter active and involved, we had her choose one activity that she would most like to try. She chose ice skating! I couldn't have imagined a more inconvenient choice. The rink was about 30 minutes away, the lessons were long, it was cold sitting in the rink watching her lessons and it was expensive! Little did I know it would become such a hit with my daughter. She took lessons for years. It helped to make her more self-assured and she made life-long friends. And, I learned to ice dance as well.

But, it was expensive! Every time I looked for a dress for her to compete in, I had to rethink whether this was worth it or not. I simply had to come up with some ideas for some cheap dresses. I don't know how to sew. I don't know anyone who knows how to sew. Here are a few ideas I found to cut costs so she could look good on the ice without making us go bankrupt!

My Daughter's First Dress

This was very similar to my daughter's first dress.  It has a double layered sheer skirt and the body of it is made of soft velvet.
This was very similar to my daughter's first dress. It has a double layered sheer skirt and the body of it is made of soft velvet. | Source

My Daughter's First Skating Dress

When my daughter started taking lessons, she wore -yikes-- jeans! That was ok for the first few lessons, but she quickly needed to transfer to something that would allow more ease of movement. We went to the pro shop in our local rink where there was one rack of dresses. She found a dress that was very similar to the dress pictured and found a pair of over-the-boot skates. All of a sudden she was transformed into a beautiful ice skater! It's amazing how just a change of clothing can inspire a person to want to achieve more on the ice!

While it was nice finding a dress that fit her relatively well, there were also some drawbacks to finding a dress in the pro shop. There wasn't much of a selection. There were only three dresses to choose from in her size. And, the price was over $100 at the rink, and it didn't even have any crystals! For a beginning skater, that was an enormous price to pay!

We began looking for other places to buy dresses! We began asking other skaters. Before long, the local skate club had a "skate swap" which was a day that all the skaters and skater moms brought all the items they wanted to sell or trade with other skaters to the rink. This was a nice opportunity for skaters to trade skates and dresses with each other by buying and trading for the things they wanted. It was great because the skaters could see the dresses and try them on to see if they would fit, and they could have the dress to use the next time they came to skate. But, it wasn't ideal because sometimes there weren't dresses that fit or that were in the right style for the songs she was going to compete to.

Skating Dress Measurements

  • Bust - at the widest point
  • Waist - at the smallest point of the waistline
  • Hips - at the widest point
  • Girth is measured from the shoulder through the crotch and back up to the same shoulder

Importance of Measurements!

When you are able to purchase a dress in person, you have the advantage of being able to try the dress on. Most skaters first purchase from local pro shops, skate swaps and even from vendors at skating competitions. However, most skaters will eventually try to order a skating dress online. When you are unable to try the dress on, measurements become very important to make sure you get the proper fit! Skating dresses do not fit the same as regular street clothes. They are supposed to fit snugly against the body to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. Make sure you don't just guess on the sizing according to the size you normally wear in street clothes and make sure you purchase from a seller that has a recommended size chart or clearly written measurements.

There are four measurements that are very important in getting the right fit. These are bust, waist, hips and girth. Girth is measured by starting at the shoulder going through the crotch and back up to the same shoulder. This measurement is important because it will determine how long the dress is through the torso and will make sure the dress fits snugly on the skater.


Skating Dress Poll

Where have you purchased a dress?

See results

Ice Skating Dress Purchases

Wouldn't you like to know where skaters are buying most of their skating dresses? Please register your vote and compare where you have bought most of your dresses as compared to other skaters!

Dresses with Crystals

Dresses can be purchased with crystals already attached
Dresses can be purchased with crystals already attached | Source
Crystals are also on the back of the dress
Crystals are also on the back of the dress | Source

Figure Skating Dresses with Crystals

When a skater first starts out, the dresses don't have to be very elaborate, but as the skater moves up, she will want something that really sparkles on the ice.

One option when buying dresses is to buy them with the crystals already attached. One thing to keep in mind is that the price of a skating dress is relative to how many and what type of crystals are on the dress. Swarovski Australian crystals are one of the favored crystals because they are high quality, sparkly gems. These crystals can be really expensive though and really raise the price of a dress. To keep costs down, Korean rhinestones are often used which are sparkly, but are less expensive than the Swarovski Australian crystals.

Another option that a lot of skater moms are doing is to add the crystals themselves to keep costs even lower. You can buy a dress without crystals or with just a few crystals and add as many crystals as you want to the dress. Crystals can be purchased at a craft store or online in various sizes and colors and quality. Just pick whatever kind you want and add bling to the dress yourself!

When it comes to adding the crystals, there are two different ways of doing that. You can buy crystals that are glue-less and get a good adhesive glue like E-6000 to keep them firmly attached to the dress. Or, you can buy hot-fix rhinestones and crystals that have glue on them that is activated when you use a special heat tool which can also be purchased at a craft store.

Another way to save money is to attach sequins to the dress, but this is very tedious hand work that will take a lot longer to do, but is a lot cheaper.

Red Sparkly Ice Dance Dress
Red Sparkly Ice Dance Dress | Source
Metallic Skating Skirts
Metallic Skating Skirts | Source

Ice Skating Dress Styles

There are so many different dress styles to choose from. There are long sleeved, short sleeved, cami spaghetti straps, and those that have mesh at the top to make the dress look strapless. There are also different lengths. The longer lengths are usually for ice dance. Styes vary by the type wanted to go with a specific song that the skater will skate to. If you are in doubt about what style would be best, ask your skating coach for advice on this matter. Your coach may have some good ideas and sources for getting good dresses!

There are also various types of fabric used for skating dresses. Skating dresses should have some give to them to make them easier to move with the skater, so choose a fabric that has some spandex. Dresses are often made of polyester, velvet, or metallic fabrics. Some of the long sleeved dresses have a loop at the end so you can slip a finger in to keep the sleeve in place on the arm.

Some skaters like to practice in skating pants and a top, and some will even cover up with a jacket. It probably depends on the skater's level and activity level how cold they will get on the ice. Some skaters prefer fun little skating skirts.

The one thing that is important in choosing skating dresses is what is under the skirt! Skating dresses and skirts are made especially with an attached panty which provides complete coverage during jumps and spins. Some skaters prefer to wear a leotard with a dance type dress or skirt over it.

There are so many fun, colorful styles to choose from that skater's will have fun choosing the perfect skating dress! There are even holiday styles to choose from!

Please leave a comment!

What kind of skating dresses are you looking for? How long have you been skating? Who is your favorite skater? Do you put your own crystals on?

© 2013 Sharon Harrison


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