Dance Costume Fabrics Explained

Posted by Charismatico on 27th May 2021

Dance Costume Fabrics Explained

When it comes to designing a dance costume, there are plenty of fabrics to choose from. The fabrics you use will have a huge impact on how the costume looks and feels, thus making it important to pick the right one for your needs. In this article, we’ll discuss a variety of fabrics so that you can design your dance costume in the best way possible.

Let’s highlight a couple points on design before we get into fabrics, it is important to note that the outfit design is equally important as the fabric(s) your outfit is made from. You need to choose a design that suits your unique figure. Long or short, lose or body-hugging? Something with a waist cutout to create the look of curvaceousness? Halter or spaghetti strap? These are just a few examples of questions each performer must consider before choosing a dance outfit that will really make them look incredible on the dance floor because different designs will either enhance or detract your natural physical assets.

Also to note is the colors you use in your outfit. You want to make sure that the colors you choose, firstly, flatter your natural skin tone so you can be sure the outfit looks its best on you. Secondly when performing, or especially competing, whenever possible, you want to make sure that the colors you choose really make you stand out in the crowd to ensure everyone notices your performance. With that said, let’s jump into some of the more popular types of fabrics used in dance costumes.


Many dance costumes use Lycra as a base fabric for at least a portion of the outfit. The beauty of lycra as a dance costume fabric lies in its significant elasticity and strength. This gives the fabric the ability to retain its shape which is why many designers use it as a base for their dresses. When designing skin-tight garments, lycra is an excellent choice. It complements the contours of the body perfectly and allows for generous body movement, which I crucial when doing a dance routine.

Dance costumes need to be comfortable and lycra fits this description since the fabric is 4-way stretchable.

Sequin fabrics

Sequin fabrics are great for making your outfits pop as they offer sparkling details when viewed from afar. These fabrics are decorated with sequins which are tiny, circular discs that come in a wide range of colors and finishes. Fabrics with matte sequins work well on simple costumes while the pearl/hologram ones are better suited for more intricate designs.

The fabric itself is usually made of a woven or knit mesh in which the sequins are sewed over. This can feel scratchy in a costume, but thankfully this can be alleviated by adding a lining or fabric trim underneath for a more comfortable feel.

It’s easy to go overboard when using sequin fabrics as the shine can prove appealing, but this can make your costume look more like a mirror than a dance costume. One tip is to use sequin fabrics on your sequin gown as accent pieces to highlight a specific part of the outfit (i.e. the torso, pants, arms, etc.) for a more balanced look.

Hologram and foils

Hologram and foil fabrics feature micro-embossed patterns or designs that bring a unique look to your dance costumes. From sparkling patterns that create a glittery look to shattered glass that provides visual texture, hologram and foil fabrics add a touch of creativity to your outfits that no other fabrics can match.

We suggest using these fabrics as accent pieces just like sequin fabrics as the “robotic” look doesn’t look too appealing when used as an overall costume. Collars, waistbands, and trims look great with hologram and foil fabrics, especially if you want to add visual interest to those parts of your outfit.


Lace is one of the most popular novelty fabrics used in dance costumes and for good reason. It provides a feminine touch to your outfits which is great if you’re looking for that romantic look. Lace fabrics feature different cut patterns along with some intricate handwork. Because of these, lace fabrics look amazing on lyrical and contemporary dance costumes.

Keep in mind that even high-quality lace fabrics can be delicate so it’s best to handle them with care. You may also want to avoid using them on areas like the knees and elbows as they can potentially tear up mid-dance. The fabric should have enough stretch to make the costume comfortable and should be lined with sheer to make it more durable.


Velvet fabrics add depth and opulence to your outfits thanks to their fuzzy and dense surface pile. You’ll often see velvet fabrics used in modern and contemporary dance costumes to create a luxurious look. With velvet, you can achieve deep, rich jewel tones that you won’t get with any other fabric type.

One thing that’s great about velvet fabrics is that they look different when viewed at certain angles. This is due to the pile of fuzzy fibers that make the fabric look rich in one direction and reflective in the other. Because of how dense this fabric is, it absorbs stage light which can help contribute to a slimmer appearance.


Mesh is one of those versatile fabrics that can be used with almost any costume. It’s lightweight, breathable, and easy to incorporate into any outfit design. Whether you’re looking for an edgy appeal or an airy vibe, mesh fabrics can seamlessly be integrated with other fabrics of your choosing.

Mesh also comes in a variety of textures, each with its unique characteristics. The micro-mesh is a basic, lightweight mesh with solid colors and micro-sized holes while fog mesh has a foil-treated surface that creates a metallic look.

When using mesh fabrics, avoid pairing them with sequin fabrics as the sequins can snag onto the mesh holes and potentially tear them. You can use mesh fabrics in belly dance costumes, ballet costumes, and modern/contemporary dance costumes thanks to its versatility.

Fringe and Sequin Fringe

Fringe trims add interest to a particular dance outfit thanks to the fringe that sway as the dancer moves. Typically, fringe trims are added as ornamental trims and are mainly used around the waist or torso. Designers add fringe trim as a way to make the dancer’s movements appear more energetic. Cha cha cha, samba, and jive are good examples of Latin dances that use fringe fabrics to further emphasize their innovative choreography and movements. Commonly seen on sequin gowns and sequin fringe dance dresses.


Organza is a lightweight weave fabric that’s woven in low density, commonly used with organza gownsorganza coats and more. This creates a relatively flimsy textile that boasts high breathability and transparency. Organza fabric is mainly used in stage costumes like skirts and tutus because they catch the stage lighting and create a dreamy flow while the dancer moves.

Each time of fabric adds a different look to the outfit, and as a performer, you need to understand your performance and/or dance style to ensure you costume has the right types of fabric to really make you stand out! This is the reason why many Latin dance costumes, for example, use fringe and sequin generously because the lively movement of the fringe hides mistakes while making your movements look larger than life. The sequins adds the sparkle that Latin dancers often need to stand out on the dance floor.

Now you should have a basic understanding of dance wear fabrics a few things to consider when choosing your next outfit at!