What To Look For When Buying An Irish Dance Dress (What's Hot & What's NOT For 2009)


If you're looking to buy your first real Irish dance dress the most important thing to know is that, just like regular everyday clothing, styles change. You want to find something in a style that is modern. An Irish dance costume that you will be able to wear for a long time and not get strange looks from the other girls because your dress is 'so two years ago...'

I'd like to note that I am making this blog in January of 2009, so If it's like 2011 or later while you're reading this, I'm sure it is not longer accurate. In my experience a dress style has a life of about 2 years if you buy it just as the style is taking off.

Now you're probably thinking (if you're new to the Irish dress buying world), 'What a load of bull! Any dress will work as long as it's to feis competition regulations!' That is true, but only to a point. The problem is, if you have a 1998 style dress and are competing with girls who are wearing 2009 style dresses, to the judges, and everyone else in the Irish dance world, you look like someone wearing stretchy bell-bottoms in 1989 (just asking for ridicule and even a beating).

Really the biggest issue is that the judges don't take a dancer as seriously if they aren't dressed to compete. Ya you can get an old style dress cheaper, but that just shows how little you care about your presentation to them. No not every judge is sure to react that way, but is it worth the risk? Besides, I've never seen a first place winner in championship wearing a dress that was out of style.

So all that being said, and now that I have you all wondering whats in right now and what's not, let me give you a few recommendations to get you started. Again, these tips are for January 2009. This is what's hot and what's not in Irish dance competition dresses right now.

Hot: Tutu underneath skirt with split stiff panels
Not so hot: Entirely stiff skirts are going out.

Hot: Loose or flying panels
Not so hot: Lots of applica covering the dress was huge 2 years ago, but now, not so much

Hot: Soft capes
Not so hot: Stiff capes are still ok if done the right way, but the stiff diagonally hung style is very old

Hot: Centered split line on bodice creating a resemblance to a corset
Not so hot: Crazy miss-matched colors did have their time, but I'm glad to see that trend going fast

Hot: New puffed lacy soft skirts with loose panels
Not so hot: Old soft velvet skirt style

Also keep in mind that certain colors just don't look good with certain complexions. For example I always look dreadful in lavender and since my hair is light, I like to make sure I have black around the shoulders to compliment my hair.

Some designers can always be depended on to keep up with the styles for you. In my years of searching for great dresses, these designers always had something that caught my eye, and would no doubt catch and please the judges' eyes too.:)

Gavin Doherty (visit site)
Elevation Design (visit site)
Aunt Stacy's Dressmaking (visit site)
Kilkenny Creations (visit site)
Paul Keith (visit site)

Before making a purchase, I recommend going to a feis or two and checking out what you see the other dancers wearing. Guaranteed you won't like everything you see, but when you do see features you like, make a note of it. Every dress is unique and yours should be just right for you!

I hope these tips help you in your quest to find that perfect dress!

Article written by Shelly Allen
Photo by Shelly Allen Photography

TAGS: Aunt Stacy's Dressmaking, beautiful, best, buy, championship, competition, corset, dance-again, dancing in celtic, dress, dresses, elevation design, feis, frill, gavin doherty, hot, solo, Irish Dance, Kilkenny Creations, lace, latest, leap, modern, not, paul keith, purchase, slip jig, stand out, standard, style, tulle, v-neck, where

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