It is believed....that each region or tribe would adapt the costumes to their own cultural and religious customs. So it is difficult to pin point an actual original costume. In North Africa tribal women would dance in the marketplace earning coins for their dowries. This is similar to Romany Gypsy. The coins would later be sewn onto the dancers’ costumes for safe-keeping and added musical accompaniment. Today’s belly dance costumes still have coins attached to them. Below are some vintage pics and paintings of various ethnic and original costuming.



A belly dancer can dance wearing any kind of clothing in a casual setting, and may simply tie a beaded hip scarf about her.  However, on stage, in a restaurant, or at a party, a dancer will wear  a flashy cabaret costume. These colorful, beaded costumes are as important and necessary to the dancer as the music she chooses for her dance.  The costume in itself is like a musical instrument.  A costume is an extension of the dancer's personality and her abilities.  An ill fitting costume on the most technically correct dancer can make her look like a beginner, while some belly dancers will wear blatantly sexy costume to redirect the audience's attention to their body and away from their poor dancing.  However, some dancers do prefer to wear a much more  plain costume, to prove their dancing ability without relying on the costume decorations to enhance their movements. 

 But a dancer enjoying her dance and dressed lovely and for herself and appealing to the audience will always be beautiful! 

 The foundation of the modern belly dance costume is the bra or a choli top and the belt.  An "oriental" costume contains several pieces, including a bra and one-piece belt, a skirt, which may or may not be attached to the belt, and a veil. The "Turkish" design contains three or four pieces which include a bra, vest and a two or three piece belt with a skirt and veil.  Again the skirt may or may not  be attached to the belt.  Other matching accessories available are gauntlets, anklets, wrist cuffs, upper arm bands, head and hair bands, necklaces, earrings, etc.  However, some dancers just buy a bra and the belt separately to match other skirts and veils they may already own.  Acquiring a dance wardrobe is an on-going project, particularly for professional dancers. And it can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want depending on your talents and creativity!


There are also "ethnic" style costumes.  The Saidi (Upper Egyptian) balady dress or galabya falls to the ankles.   It is made of one piece of fabric with long wide sleeves and is open at the sides. From the gulf area there is the "thobe', which is a long, wide, flowing, highly decorated, somewhat shapeless dress.  Nevertheless, if used properly and creatively it is the feature of a stunning dance routine.

The pics below were borrowed from the website 

www.moondancebellydance.com  which has amazing costumes and  ideas. I personally have made alot of my costumes and bought a few pieces off eBay. I have found scarves, shawls and dresses at thrift stores and altered them added sequins etc to make them fancy. This site as well www.costumegoddess.com has amazing costume design ideas!




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