Where to buy plus size belly dance costumes

written by Andalee on June 29, 2013 in Costuming for any size and Plus size belly dancers with 4 comments
Plus size bella costume

A Bella costume that I sold on a Facebook swap meet for plus size belly dancers

We’ve talked a lot about the unique challenges plus size women face when trying to find (and wear) belly dance costumes. There is a lot to consider: cup size, hip, length, etc. Despite these challenges,  I want you to know that it is possible to have the amazing belly dance costume of your dreams no matter your size or shape. To help you, I have put together a listing of places to find new and used plus size belly dance costumes along with any appropriate notes about each link. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any experience with a resource listed, or if you think I should add one!

New costumes

Buying or ordering from a vendor

A lot of people assume the best way to buy a belly dance costume is to buy new from a vendor or designer. This is great if you have a decent budget and are sketched-out by buying used. However, it can be a tricky task because 1) plus size belly dance costumes can be hard to find, and 2) it’s hard to tell if the costume is really plus sized.

BellyDanceStore.com

This is a good place to start for affordable costumes in a variety of styles. The have a great sorting mechanism for finding costumes by size. They even often use curvier models. The only downside is that the stock is not updated very often and many of the costumes aren’t very attractive or are cheap imitations of name-brand designers. Be sure to search the site beyond the “plus size” category as they aren’t always diligent with labeling those items. Inserting your measurements is the best way to find a match. This site does not take custom orders.

The Belly Dance Shop

The Belly Dance Shop also has a special category for plus size costumes. However, I find their stock to be small and their website tedious to navigate (not sortable by size). Even if they do not have a large stock of full oriental costumes in plus sizes, they still  have lots of skirts and other costume pieces. The owners are extremely knowledgeable about costumes and are very willing to help out. Some custom ordering may be available.

Bella Costumes of Istanbul

Bella is the creme-de-la-creme of belly dance costumes for the Oriental dancer. These Turkish designs are made with meticulous care. I have found that Bella is the best Turkish costume designer for plus size women, mostly because they know how to make an ample-sized bra. Their website passwords are notoriously hard to get and communication via e-mail can be worrisome, but it’s usually worth the wait. E-mail bella@bellacostumes.com with your desired costume idea (send pics if you have them), price range (if you have one!) and sizes. I send my sizes using centimeters instead of inches, and I actually measure myself in centimeters as to avoid any potential conversion errors.  The costumes in the ready-to-ship collection on the site are not often plus size, so plus sizes are only available for custom orders. I am unsure as to whether or not there’s a surcharge for plus size orders as prices are based on what you ask for.

Dahlal Internationale

I hesitated about whether or not to include Dahlal because of their practice of charging more for their plus size costumes and costuming items.  I realize that many costume designers do this, and they are passing that extra cost off to the customer, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it! The truth is Dahlal offers a range of designer costumes for plus size women and offers the option of custom ordering (some designs, not all). I find Dahlal to be pricier than some other US retailers, but their customer service is quite good. They’ve also made some recent improvements to their site to make finding costumes easier. Custom orders are available for some designs.

Disclaimer: I am not receiving a financial incentive from any of these companies. I have chosen companies that I have found to be reputable and that I have personally purchased from. I intentionally left certain vendors off of this list because I’ve had bad experiences with them, or they don’t offer adequate plus size costumes. Many vendors will sell plus size costumes, but there will be something off with them like the proportions, cup sizes or quality.


Used costumes

Buying from other belly dancers

If you’re not squeamish about buying pre-owned costumes, then that is best way to go for your wallet, and believe it or not the selection is a little better. I’ve been buying gently used costumes for several years. But where do you buy used costumes from other than local swap meets? There are a number of online forums that dancers use to buy, sell and even swap costumes.

Buyer beware! Just like there are sketchy retailers who sell new “authentic” belly dance costumes, there are also less than honest sellers on swap meets who lie about the condition or value of the costume. They can also take your money and not ship the costume. That being said, I believe there are more honest people in this world than dishonest and that the number of trustworthy online sellers outweigh the scammers. Always use your best judgement before purchasing from someone you don’t know. Sometimes a simple search for their user name can uncover posts about unhappy customers or deals gone wrong.

Bhuz.com Swap Meet

This is another one I hesitated about including. I used to love Bhuz and I have purchased many things from its Swap Meet. However, the site owner recently put in place a new program called Enthusify/Panjo that operates kind of like Ebay or Etsy. I stopped using the Swap Meet after this change took effect. I don’t want to get into all of that, but I will tell you that it’s possible to by-pass the built-in payment system, but you still have to create an account and use their interface to post items. As a buyer though, it’s a pretty nice setup!

Facebook

A lot of belly dancers moved to Facebook swap meets after Bhuz started changing things up a little too much. I find Facebook harder to use than Bhuz, but I have had pretty decent luck buying and selling costumes through the swaps. There are several different boards and I will post a few that I think are good. You have to be a little more careful here to make sure the seller is trustworthy.

Belly Dance Costume SWAP

The Biggest swap on Facebook. There are a lot of great things on here, but it doesn’t specialize in plus-size costumes. You’ll find the random sketchy vendor from China, but a lot of the people who left Bhuz, now sell on this swap meet.

The Curvy Belly Dancer Costume Swap (This group is currently secret. If you would like to join, find me on Facebook and I’ll invite you to join)

This is the best costume swap for plus size belly dancers. It’s not super active, but it is a great place for plus size women to buy and sell from other plus size women.

D & DD Belly Dance Costumes (This group is currently secret. If you would like to join, find me on Facebook and I’ll invite you to join)

This is a great place for busty women to shop but I will warn you that not everyone has the same definition of a D/DD cup. There are a lot of smaller costumes on here with moderate sized cups that people try to pass off as D cups. However there are some seriously cute costumes on this group.

Plus size Bellydancers/ Dangerous Curves (This group is currently secret. If you would like to join, find me on Facebook and I’ll invite you to join)

This isn’t really a swap meet, but there are some costumes posted from time to time.

Tribe.net

Tribe used to be the place for artists and performers to get their social networking on before Facebook took off. However, years of instability have seen it’s numbers dwindle. I am not sure how active the swap meets are on tribe but you can find a few of them below.

Other options

L. Rose Designs – Custom and tailor made belly dance clothing and costuming items (no full bedlah)

Shimmy Sista – Belly dance clothing for plus size dancers & divas!

 


About Andalee

Andalee is the founder of Belly Dance at Any Size. She is an Oriental dancer and instructor based in Durham, NC. She has been dancing since 2005 and teaching since 2008. Her mission is to promote Oriental Dance (a.k.a. belly dance) as a respected and valid performance art.