Bellydance costumes are amazing things. Whether you are looking at a hipscarf used for practice, a fully beaded cabaret costume, or some of the confections that the tribal style dancers put together, you are looking at a work of art. Heck, even the basic hipscarves that students like to wear to class are amazing works of beaded artwork.
This is just a quick overview of the field. There are several major designers out there, from Sim Moda Evi in Turkey to Bella and Madame Abla (may she rest in peace) in Egypt. You can see a beautiful selection of designer costumes at www.dahlal.com .
There’s a beautiful article at the LA Times about the designer Ahmed Diaa Eddin. In addition, there are some absolutely drop-dead creative people in the US creating their own costumes, and guaranteeing that they will be unique in the process. The Costume Goddess (Dina) is a guru of hand-made costumes on the cheap.
And that’s just the cabaret costumes. When you get into American Tribal Style and Tribal Fusion you get funky pants, coins, folkloric patterns and so on and so on. Tribal costuming is still more likely to be made by the individual than purchased, so examples can be seen on the sites of the various dancers and dance troupes.
The costuming Blue Moon Dance company wears at the Renaissance Fairs is typical of ATS costuming (they are a fusion group and wander out of “traditional” tribal costuming quite often) and the Indigo for Tribal Fusion (their myspace site) costuming ideas can’t be beat.
Dance costuming is a treasure trove of needlework and embellishment techniques, as well as basic costume design. Exploring them can become a hobby in itself!
Later I’ll go into some of the dance costume styles in more detail, but this shoud get you started on some eye candy!