What’s a belly dance costume?

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The belly dancer’s costume is important and often custom made. The bedlah is popular in western countries, while the baladi dress is preferred in Egypt. Shoes and props are also important, but some dancers prefer to focus on the dance itself.

The belly dancer’s costume is considered by many dancers to be just as important as the dance itself. In many western countries, where belly dancing is more popular, the bedlah is the costume of choice primarily for most belly dancers. A bedlah is a belly dancer costume with a fitted bra, hip belt, and skirt. Some may include harem pants instead of a skirt. The costume is often richly decorated with fringes, coins, beads, or other ornaments.

While the traditional bedlah is generally the preferred style among belly dancers, other types of costumes may be worn. For example, in Egypt, it has been illegal since the 1950s for belly dancers to show excessive amounts of skin or reveal an exposed midriff. As a result, the baladi dress became a popular belly dancer costume for Egyptian belly dancers. This one-piece sheath dress often includes sleeves and is typically worn with a fringed scarf or belt at the hips. In most other countries, the bedlah is still the preferred style of belly dancer costume, although some dancers may choose to wear separate skirts, haram pants, bras, sequence tops, scarves and other belly dancing outfits.

The shoes worn with a belly dancer costume can be simple or elaborate, depending on the dancer’s preference. Some belly dancers may even choose not to wear shoes. Ballet slippers and sandals are commonly worn with belly dancer costumes.
The props used in belly dancing are also considered to be an important part of a belly dancer costume. These can include items such as tambourines, snakes, fire sticks, fans, swords or finger cymbals. Belly dance props are often used to add variety to a dance and attract the attention of the audience. Some professional and trained belly dancers, however, prefer to keep the emphasis on the dance itself and may frown upon the use of belly dance props.

Many professional belly dancers choose to have their costumes made to order. The belly dancer’s costume is often considered an extension of the specific personality of the dancer. Professional and skilled belly dancers often prefer to seek out a stylist who can custom make a costume designed especially for the dancer. Most belly dancer costumes are made from form-fitting fabrics and often include loose or flowy overlay material. Some belly dancers choose to avoid using elaborate decorations on a costume so that the focus can remain on the dance and the belly dancer’s skills.

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