How To Take Care Of Dance Costumes

At this time of year, most dance students are preparing for May and June recitals, and will begin to get their costumes in class.  It is important to take good care of costumes, since they will be used several times in dress rehearsals and performances, and dancers may be called on to perform their routines again the future, whether at competitions or showcases.

Most students will try on their costumes during class, so that the teachers can make sure they are properly fitted and include all the accessories needed for the performance.  They may also perform the routine in class to be sure that the costumes will work for the piece.  Any issues with fit should be brought up to the teacher during this class, before the costume is taken home for storage.  If something does not work, a teacher or studio owner can replace a costume or repair it more easily while costumes are still being delivered and altered, rather than waiting until the costume is put on again at dress rehearsal or studio pictures.

After it is determined that the costume fits properly and all pieces are included, make sure the costume is stored carefully at home.  It should be put in a safe place, inside where humidity and temperature can be controlled.  The best place would be in a closet, where it won’t be faded by direct sunlight.  Make sure there are no signs of water or mold in the storage area.

Costumes should be kept in clear plastic bags, so it is easy to distinguish between each costume.  If opaque garment bags are used, attach a note to each bag with a description of the costume and/or accessories inside.  Wire hangers can leave marks or pinch costumes, so place them on wooden or plastic hangers.  Costumes should not be folded, so as to avoid wrinkles and creases before performances.

Never, ever try to wash a costume before a performance.  Cleaning a costume can cause noticeable damage that may not be easily repaired.  Dancers should try not to eat or drink anything but water while wearing a costume, so as to avoid stains.  If, at the end of a season, the costume needs to be cleaned, hand-washing is usually the best idea, or place the costume inside a pillow case and run it through the gentle cycle in a washing machine.

Very delicate, hand-painted, or hand-stitched costumes should never be cleaned; use odor-eliminating spray after each performance to keep the costume fresh, but make sure that the spray will not discolor the costume first.

By taking care of costumes before and after each performance, dancers can look their best and enjoy their costumes for many years.

-Written by Terry Finch

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