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Friday, November 11, 2016

Ballroom/DanceSport Dresses for Mature Women: How to Look Sexy as You Age!

Being in the dance world most of my life, one of the complaints I hear most often is how difficult it can be to find the perfect dress, especially as you age. Finding a dress is difficult at any age, but as we age new challenges arise making finding the perfect dress an even more daunting task. Likewise, we don’t all have bodies like Yulia Zagoruychenko or Daria Chesnokova, which means not all of us want something as provocative as the costumes most top-level competitors opt for. While competitive ballroom dancing, or DanceSport, used to be dominated by young athletes with svelte bodies, shows like Dancing With the Stars have drummed up a more diverse consumer base. Dance-based reality shows have made an older population realize that it’s not too late to pursue their lifelong dream of being a dancer, and while studios have cleverly latched onto this new market, many other vendors have yet to fully embrace this diverse new population of competitors. This reluctance among venders to accept DanceSport’s newest additions has made it difficult for them to find costumes in which they feel confident and beautiful. However there are ways to get the perfect, sexy costume at any age and this post will walk you through some of my best tips for looking sexy at any age or size!

It’s important to keep in mind that most ballroom costumes are custom made, which means you can request any alternations/modifications you need to make you comfortable. It’s important to select a designer with whom you can communicate well, because communication is the key to getting the right costume, especially as you age. Regardless of if you choose something already for sale or opt to have something custom designed, the one-of-a-kind nature of these dresses means you have the ability to make alterations, which is key to looking smoking hot regardless of your age.

Tip 1: STRETCH NET IS YOUR NEW BFF!
Almost any design can be made more body-friendly with a bit of stretch net. If you don’t know, stretch net, as the name implies, is spandex netting that provides semi-sheer coverage. Stretch net is great, because it allows you to keep all of your bits tucked in while still giving the illusion of bare skin. Stretch net comes in every color from neutral skin-toned colors to neons, giving you the option opt for a skin-baring illusion or take a more modest route with sheer splashes of color. Either way, it lets you show off a bit of skin while still keeping some level of modesty. Stretch net is particularly popular among mature women to create sleeves on otherwise sleeveless dresses. It holds in the batwing effect most of us get as we age, but it still gives the illusion of being sleeveless. Likewise, stretch net is a great option for covering an open back or filling in cutouts if you’re not comfortable showing a lot of skin. If that’s still too sheer for you, you can rhinestone over the stretch net to get a bit more coverage. If all else fails… nude lycra!

Tip 2: BE SPECIFIC ABOUT LENGTH.
Another common complaint I hear from mature women is that they’re uncomfortable with the length of dresses or how high a dress is slit. It’s a sad fact that as we age our legs just don’t look quite as sexy as they used to. Even most of us younger competitors don’t have thighs like the aforementioned Latin goddesses, so sometimes we’re not comfortable showing as much skin. A quick solution is to be specific with your designer regarding exactly how long you want the skirt and how long you want the slit. Most designers include skirt length in their required measurements, but you can always say “I don’t want the opening to be any longer than X inches” if you’re worried. Similarly, when you’re looking for inspiration just keep in mind that when you see a dress on your favorite professional you can always ask your designer to make something similar, but a little longer and/or with a shorter slit. That’s the beauty of everything being made to order  - you get to make small changes that make a big difference. Likewise, with pre-designed options designers are usually more than happy to stitch up a slit to make the costume a little less leggy.

Tip 3: KEEP IT TIGHT!
When ordering ballroom dresses a lot of women think that going for flowing or voluminous options, especially over the stomach, are more flattering. Unfortunately for them, this usually isn’t the case. The most flattering dresses usually stay tight from the neckline though the top of the hips, which tends to be more flattering than having it flare at the waist. The added flow and volume starting around the waste can bulk up trouble areas, such as your hips and stomach. So even if you’re not comfortable with those areas, keeping your dress tight though your trouble spots will look better. Adding more fabric just adds more bulk, which ends up making you look larger. Also, the lycra material used to make ballroom dresses sucks you in like nobody's business! It's like a Spanx dress! And one last added bonus of keeping things tight in this region: we won’t see your butt every time you turn or make a sharp movement.

Tip 4: GET VOLUMINOUS… IN THE RIGHT PLACES!
As I said in Tip 3, the mistake a lot of mature and curvy women make when selecting their dress is their use of volume and its placement. While volume can hide a multitude of sins and can be a huge assess in emphasizing your dancing, the key is knowing where to place the volume. A good rule of thumb is that volume should be used as a counterbalance. In other words, don’t put volume on fuller parts of your body, but rather on your narrower bits. The exception to this is your thighs. Since most women carry the bulk of their weight in their chest, stomach, and hips, it’s best to start building volume around the lower hips/upper thigh area. Full skirts help balance a heavier top half and also cover the majority of your bum and thighs, if those are problem areas for you. An added bonus of a fuller skirt is that it helps emphasize your hip motion, so if you’re not a hip motion rockstar the full skirt will help with that. This being said, it’s important not to place volume where you already have volume, which brings us back to Tip 3. Never add volume across the bust or waist, regardless of your size.

Tip 5: AVOID THE BLACK PLAGUE!
While black dresses may be flattering on a daily basis, the opposite tends to be true in the ballroom. The biggest misconception is that black dresses are slimming, which may be true in daily life, but this doesn’t transfer into DanceSport. The issue in ballroom, especially in Smooth and Standard, is that black dresses prevent you from seeing where a lady ends and her partner begins. Since it’s hard to tell where one partner ends and the other begins, it often gives the illusion of added bulk. In other words, because we can’t see your shape we may end up perceiving you as larger than you actually are. Another issue with black is that as we age our skin loses some of its vibrancy, so black often looks harsh and washes out many mature women. Finally, your goal on the dance floor is to stand out, and unfortunately black dresses often blend into the background. In sum, black dresses are underwhelming and can often make you look heavier than you are.

Tip 6: RHINESTONE DISTRACTIONS 
Like volume, rhinestones pack a one-two punch when it comes to designing flattering dresses for mature women. First, since women want to show less skin as they age, rhinestones compensate for a lack of skin. Since part of the goal of provocative costumes is to draw audience and judges’ attention, a heavily stoned costume can do the same job. When it comes to ballroom it’s all about flash, and it’s up to you if you want to flash skin, rhinestones, or both. They key is to keep your costume interesting, and a heavily stoned dress does just that. Additionally, rhinestones can help hide problem areas. Since rhinestones reflect the light, thus dulling one’s ability to differentiate exact shape, intricate and heavily-stoned patterns do an excellent job of distracting from your trouble spots. If you have trouble spots, and we all do, never cover them with fabric – opt for rhinestones instead.

Tip 9: GIVE ‘EM THE COLD SHOULDER!
Shoulders are sexy! Shoulders are a part of the body that never really age and they’re subtly provocative. Cold-shoulder designs draw attention to your shoulders, which arguably feels a little naughty because it makes guys imagine what goes from there. It’s a play on the less-is-more and leave-something-to-the-imagination mentality, and it works!

And last but not least…

Tip 8: PROVOCATIVE DOESN'T EQUATE TO SEXY!

Just because a woman wears a provocative dress doesn’t make her sexy. Being sexy makes you sexy! Being confident makes you sexy! And you bitches have literally decades of practice on girls like me! Be you and own it – THAT is fucking sexy! What this means in regards to ballroom costumes is to pick a dress that makes you feel comfortable and smoking hot! If you’re uncomfortable it shows, and that’s not sexy. Showing less skin doesn’t make you less sexy, especially if you would be self-conscious in a skin-baring number, because sexy is about attitude. Along those same lines, an older woman trying to dress like a twenty-three year old isn’t hot – it’s desperate. You’ve got practice on exuding sexy from with in, so you don’t need to try the same provocative tricks that younger women might need. Be you and be confident; that’s all you need to do to look smokin’ hot on the dance floor!

If you need inspiration, check out my Pinterest board, which includes designs that are particularly well-suited to mature competitors. And keep in mind, with a little creativity most designs can be adapted to make you feel comfortable and beautiful.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this article, and agree with every one of your tips. It's so good to hear someone acknowledge that we don't all have great thighs. :/ For some of us spider veins are an issue too. Depending on the dress and how I'm feeling, I sometimes cover them with makeup (regular foundation works OK but I will sometimes use concealer, which is a thicker consistency.)

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