A lot is spoken and written on the intricacies of belly dance, carefully articulated movements of the hip, neat depiction of the dancer’s feelings through her body, etc. But when it comes to the costumes, there is only a general idea that is prevalent among the people. There are not many that actually seem to know the dressing customs of belly dancing in the indigenous way. What is portrayed in movies is only a common costume and it may or may not be worn by the professional Egyptian or Turkish belly dancers.
Costume is an important part of any dance and has an equal role to play in the performing arts. In the instance of belly dancing, it is pertinent that the costumes are well-defined and eye-catching. That is why there are different styles of costumes used in belly dancing by dancers worldwide. Although the basic design remains the same, there are a few alterations done to enhance the vibe. The main parts of the costume includes a bra top and a skirt. The belly needs not to be covered. Instead, the movements of the torso should be completely visible in any type of costume. That’s probably why the belly dancers wear a bra top and a skirt.
Belly dance skirts are available in a lot of variations. The fish tail skirt is made of velvet/chiffon, the chiffon skirt is long and flowy, gypsy skirt that is made of a heavier material and is popular in tribal style. The skirts can be more or less revealing; they are made of light and almost transparent material with long slits or the ones of thicker fabric without any slit.
The tops come in various styles and designs and are decorated with coin or beads. Some are short like a bra while others can be long enough to come just above the navel, or a short top that is tied on the front with a knot. These tops have long sleeves that are in a bell shape opening midway through the arm.
Instead of a skirt, belly dancers can also wear pantaloons. These are pants that are wide enough in a bell shape. Usually, they are tied around the ankle with an elastic band. They are left open in the tribal style. When tied, these are called harem pants or chalwar in Persian.
The cabaret costume is referred to as Bedleh. It consists of a beaded bra top, bare midriff, beaded hip belt and long skirt. The costumes made in the past were heavily beaded. But the modern fashion in Egypt has replaced it with a lighter version by using rhinestones rather than beads.
Other types of less-common costumes include the Sarongs, Beledi, etc. The dancers also wear accessories like headbands, turbans, shoes, hip scarves, wrist and arm cuffs. Just like the main costume, the accessories are decorated heavily with beads. This shimmer and glitz further adds to the beauty of the mesmerising and erotic movements of the female body and enhances it.