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​ How to size your students correctly for recital costumes
December 08, 2016

Preparing for recital can be stressful. From choosing music to choreographing the dances themselves, there are a thousand details to consider. After all that hard work, you want to be sure your students are costumed well in clothing that fits.

Dance Informa spoke with Patricia Sutera, director of merchandising and design for Costume Gallery, to find out what you need to know in order to size your students correctly.


1. What you should know before you start.

Like most clothing retailers, how dance costume companies size their clothing can range from company to company. This makes buying one costume for a whole class challenging.

Sutera likens it to buying jeans. “Usually, a person can try on the same size in numerous brands,” she explains. “She may find that one brand out of 10 fits her perfectly, but the others are a bit off. That person will probably always use that brand when buying jeans in the future. But another person may find that another brand fits her body type and will always use that brand. Now, imagine 20 of your friends trying to fit into the same brand and type of jeans. It is a difficult task to fit so many varying types of bodies into one costume.”

According to Sutera, Costume Gallery tries to make sizing close to the standard body type used by regular clothing retailers, and the company recently adjusted its fitting chart to reflect today’s children’s bodies, which are larger than they were in the past.

When choosing costumes, Sutera recommends that you consider your class carefully. If there is a student who doesn’t fall into typical size proportions, consider choosing a costume with a forgiving silhouette.

2. Measure your students correctly.

When using a tape measure, it should comfortably fit around the area you are measuring. You don’t want to have too much slack in the tape, but it shouldn’t be too tight either. It’s best to measure your students in their form-fitting dancewear to avoid measuring over baggy clothing.

3. Take down the measurements you need.

1. Girth (the circumference of the torso). “This is the most important measurement, as it affects the entire costume,” Sutera says.

Measure from one shoulder, down the front of the body, between the legs and back up the back of the body to the same shoulder.

2. Bust. Around the back and across the apex of the bust line.

3. Waist. Around the natural waistline.

4. Hips. Lower hip around the largest part of the buttocks.

5. Inseam. From groin to ankle. This is only relevant for costumes with pants or long skirts.

4. What if your student grows?
If you are ordering costumes early, you’ll want to take potential growth into consideration. As you take measurements, you can put a finger under the tape measure to account for growth, or you can add one inch to the girth measurement.

Remember to consider the material of the costume you are ordering, and know whether it will stretch. Many costumes use stretchy fabric, so there can be some room for growth, but if your student is at the high end of a size range, it is safer to order a bigger size.

5. Call customer service.

When in doubt, call customer service. They can always guide you as to which size may be better for a student. That’s what they are there for!

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.