Bring a friend.

Pierre Balmain working on a dress for Ruth Ford. I wish that this was the face I made when trying things on 100% of the time.

So you guys, here is some exciting news – I totally bought a dress! I was just sort of browsing and then I found an AWESOME and PERFECT and sort of WEIRD dress that I love. Added bonus? I got a great deal on it, and the designer is going to add a removable underskirt so it can work as a smooth OR a rhythm dress. Fabulous fabulous fabulous.

(Hey, wait! you say. Aren’t you having a dress made? What is up with that, Imelda Marcos Ballroom Dancer? To which I say, I am totally having a dress made, and it is going to be super awesome and amazing BUT it is my professional competitive dress which means that it is going to be not a lot of fabric? It is not really dancing-with-students appropriate, especially when you bear in mind that some of my students are like, eleven years old. Also a lot of people will change dresses between Rising Star and Open divisions, or even between semis and finals, and it would be nice to have that option. So in addition to my super serious professional amazing dress, I need kid-appropriate dresses that are still fun and awesome and could work on the pro floor too. That’s a high bar! But man, thanks for asking.)Yeah, so anyway, the dress-buying process made me think about all the bad choices you see on a regular basis in the ballroom world. It is unreal how many people wear clothes that do not fit or flatter them, or that do not highlight what they do well, or that emphasize the wrong thing, or that simply do not suit the choreography they are doing AT ALL. Like, on any given Sunday in a competition ballroom the bad choices outweigh the good choices by a landslide.

It also made me think about the amount of hot air that gets blown up your skirt…people will tell you that ALL KINDS OF HIDEOUS CRAP looks great, either because they are terrible at looking at things with their eyes, or because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, or because they would really like to sell you said hideous crap.

Oh my gosh, you look awesome! Wow! This ugly ass gray-green-brown is TOTALLY YOUR COLOR! You’re so pretty! (Give me two thousand dollars, please.)

Which brings me to my main point: my darlings, if you are trying to buy a costume, BRING A FRIEND. It is easy to get flustered or upsold or to think that something looks good when it does NOT.

But not just any friend. You need a very specific kind of friend. I am fabulously lucky in that my friend who is my dress buddy is a dancer, so she knows what will and won’t work on the floor, but she is also a brilliant visual artist, so she has just the best eye.

(Me: “Hey, is this the shape dress I am allowed to wear?” Her: “Dude, no, remember what we said about this shape skirt?” Me: “Ohhhhh right. It was yellow and sparkly, so I got confused.”)

Plus she’s been through the hassle of dealing with her own ballgowns and their associated bullshit, and we have worked on a fair number of dresses together, so we can figure out what dress modifications are and aren’t possible given our current level of dress-fu. (Nor is this her first rodeo; she is good at recognizing danger signs and pulling me out of the line of fire so that I do not, for example, drop four grand on a dress I do not really need.)

Another great thing about her is that she does not filter her reactions to dresses AT ALL. They are right there on the face. So I know if I have put on something wacky and awesome or something just wrong. (The moral of this story is that my friend is the greatest person ever and you are all sad that she is not your friend. I know! That sucks for you! She is a lot of fun!)

SO, when I was trying on dresses yesterday, the lady who reps the design house (who is also a friend of mine, and whom I’ve worked with on many occasions) was doing her job really well, which meant she was telling me how great I looked and how slammin’ my bod was and how every damn dress I put on was fabulous and looked amazing and could be altered to look even MORE amazing.

Which was confusing! I am easily confused by people saying nice things to me! Happily my dress buddy was there and could look over and go ‘eh’ or ‘oh, interesting,’ or ‘take that ridiculous fucking shit off right now’ with her face.

And when I put on the good dress, the dress selling lady was right in there telling me how awesome it was BUT THIS TIME my friend was like, oh, oh yes, this dress is a winner. And I believed my friend, because I knew that she was totally right and that she would not let me look stupid.

Thank you, Ballroom Fairy, and thank you, dress selling lady, but most of all, thank you to my dress buddy, who is the shit.

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7 thoughts on “Bring a friend.

  1. I was with you all the way. Photos, please.

  2. My, God, woman – you are SOOOO funny! I almost wet myself reading this entry and the one from May. Very timely advice, as I need (want, actually, but it’s so hard to tell the difference) a smooth costume for a comp that’s coming up in March. Can anyone recommend an online vendor that has consignment costumes that can be mailed for a try-on? Also, was interested in your comment that a “friend of yours” sells costumes and tells you they all look absolutely great on you. I guess there is a category of friendship that covers that – situational or commercial friendship, maybe. The parties involved may actually like one another, but the one who sells is still totally willing to will take advantage of the one who buys – sorta like dance teachers and their students. LOL. In that vein, had a fantastic coaching session with Agnes Kazmierczack, an actual ballroom goddess. She was fabulous, and I’m glad my teacher talked me into it.

    • Um, no, I don’t think that my dress-selling friend was trying to take advantage of me. She knew that I wanted to buy a dress, because I said, hey, I need to buy a dress for such-and-such purposes. Was she blowing hot air up my skirt? Sure, a little – welcome to the arts. That’s all anybody does. It’s 90% bullshit 90% of the time. But she genuinely tried to find options that fit my budget and my person; and if she was being nice to me, well, she is a nice lady. And also good at what she does, because the dresses I tried on DID look amazing. There were just some that looked better than others. I don’t have an issue with her doing her job!

      For rental or consignment, google “Rhythmic Rentals”, “Encore Ballroom Couture,” and/or “RentBallroomDresses.com”.

  3. Lisa Walter says:

    Just found your blog by googling “make ballroom bracelets”. Lucky me! Then I started perusing this fabulous and entertaining blog and WOW, I love it.
    I’m an amateur smooth/standard gal with a wonderful coach. I’m hooked. I’m happy to find a blog that reflects the real, sometimes bitchy, sparkly nature of the ballroom world. I love it despite its flaws, despite the bullshit.
    On my own blog, I sometimes write about ballroom with that rosy glow of an amateur.
    Thank you for the detailed instructions on accessory making! I will be making them and attributing their creation to the wonderful instructions from a mysterious ballroom/blogger.

    • Thanks, darling – visited your blog, and how awesome are you?! Good luck at your upcoming comp, and if I can help with any accessory tips, just let me know (pretty sure I’ve made 98% of the mistakes one can make, and invented a few new ones as well). Mwah!

  4. L Bennett says:

    Just attended the Ohio Star Ball and I agree on the dresses… Oh, and I have a dress that I could make a skirt for so it can go from Smooth to Rhythm.. and since I’ve made dresses (yes ball gowns) in the past a skirt would be easy peasy.. And yes.. I had my dress buddy with me and we made faces at each other. I was looking for jewelry (and YES.. I make jewelry for the regular people out there) and that is how I got here… made me laugh!

  5. […] Try on your selections with your dance shoes, and a friend. A friend who really likes you. A Dress Buddy. […]

Cha cha cha.

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