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Choosing the Right Costume for your Solo Dance Competition

Having a really good dance solo, rehearsing and practising as much as possible at home are all going to ensure your child does well at the competitions but a vital part of the solo is the costume and deciding what and how to get a costume is quite daunting especially if you are doing this for the first time.

You must carefully consider the dance genre, choreography, storyline or character. Style and tempo of music is also important. Discuss with the choreographer if they have any suggestions or preferences. For example, a classical ballet solo for a small child with a predominantly soft music would look good in any of the pastel colours that suit the child rather than say a vivid red that would look great for a Spanish style of music. Jazz costumes full of sequins might not suit Lyrical or Contemporary dances.

As soon as you know your style of dance, music and choreography and have spoken to the choreographer you need to decide whether to (1) Buy a pre-made costume for your dance, (2) Have one custom made by a costume dressmaker, (3) Hire from a reputable dance costume hire business such as Tutu for You.


Buying a new costume can be costly - good quality tutus can easily cost $500 or more so it is important to know whether you are going to perform the solo enough times to warrant the cost and also acknowledge how quickly your child might grow out of the costume. Second hand costumes can be sourced online but can be risky in that the fit is SO important and you usually have to buy before trying on.

Costume shops are very rare to find but the good news is that there are a huge amount of dance costume shops online with a vast array of costumes in each genre and to suit all bank balances. Beware as not all will deliver on time, the sizing can be erratic and often the costume that arrives will look very different to the picture online with cheap fabrics and shoddy sewing. However, reputable online stores such as Weissman in the USA will give definite delivery times and accurate information on which fabrics have been used.


  • Try and choose a costume with special lines of fastenings to allow for growth.

  • Always choose a store that allows you to give your precise measurements or has measurement and sizing charts.

  • Watch out for hidden costs in postage, exchange rates or import taxes.

  • Be careful paying online - use Paypal or similar facilities that assist you in the event of the costume never arriving etc.


Finding a reputable dance costume dressmaker is often a matter of word of mouth. Find out at your dance school or at the competitions if anyone has used one and if they were happy with the outcome and price. If you are researching online look for the dressmakers in your area as you will want to have several fittings and make sure you find one that specialises in the type of costume you are looking for. A good costume designer will ask you all about the style of dance and most importantly the choreography. They will take precise measurements, draw up a design, choose all the fabric components with you, possibly make a rough prototype and call you back for several fittings as the work progresses. A skilled dressmaker will make sure your wishes are paramount to their design, the costume stays in place throughout any moves in your dance, enhances your figure and will allow you freedom of movement throughout the solo. Discuss the financials and completion times before committing and have payment details in place so that the final payment is after you are completely satisfied with the costume.


  • Find out whether your dressmaker will actually be sewing the costume her/himself or an assistant, trainee or outsourcing to other sewers.

  • Have a contract in place or write down all the costume details you require and be clear on all your wishes.

  • Don’t change your mind half way through the sewing process.

  • Be mindful that your child may have a growth spurt before the costume is finished and discuss possible options with the dressmaker.


If you are new to the competition scene, only performing a few times or don’t want a large financial outlay then hiring a really beautiful costume is the perfect solution. We are incredibly lucky at The Dance Centre Peregian Springs to have ‘Tutu for You’ on the premises. The owner, Trisha Stephens has a perfect eye for sourcing beautiful costumes to suit every style of classical solo and every dancer. She will assist dancers to find exactly what they need and what suits them best. Many hire shops have quite shoddy and old costumes and charge very high prices. Costumes need to look new and feel clean and fresh and it is important to hire the costume beforehand so it can be worn at least once before you perform in it. Find out the hire terms and pay on collection day or before to ensure it is not hired out to someone else. Make sure a contract is in place as soon as you choose your costume.


  • Be very careful of the costume as it will have to be given back in the same condition it was hired out in.

  • If the hire shop has multiple costumes of the same design it is worth asking whether the others are being hired out and worn at the same competition in the same section as you have entered.

  • Have a contract with dates and keep to the terms.

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