Clothes Make a Statement; Costumes Tell a Story

Costume day can be the best of days for so many jubilant students! But if the costumes don’t fit, it can become the worst day. Students are sad, parents are frustrated, and I breath a little heavier unsure if we have the right sizes or that the costumes will return in time for photos or recital.  We worry that they don’t get here in time for the Dream Catcher Showcase, Photos, Competitions and Recital.  It is a stressful time.

Sizing dance students of so many shapes and, sizes, can be a tricky process.  Getting it right starts months before the deadlines loom up.


We take a couple of weeks early in the season to size the students.  Measurements are taken for girls in the chest, waist and girth. The girth being the most important measurement as many costumes are one piece and the length of the body is critical.  If however, the costume is in two pieces, then we want to follow the same plan as we would for the boys. And that is the chest, waist, hips, and pant inseam.


Once the measurements have been taken, we select a size of the costume  This is a bit tricky as every costume catalogue is different, therefore, each child’s measurement has to be cross referenced with individual catalogue sizing charts.  

Sometimes a judgement call is necessary based on where the child’s measurements fit in.  For example, when a measurement is taken in October and a costume is ordered in November, will it still fit in May?  And, if a child is a tween it can be difficult to size because they could be in a child costume or an adult costume and many of the companies, cut their materials different depending if it is a child or an adult.

Every measurement for each child is documented in a database program to help with ordering.


The costume coordinator chooses over 100 costume ideas for the teachers to choose that would appropriate for lyrical, jazz, tap, hiphop, etc.  Each teacher goes shopping for their class and chooses the perfect costume for them, the song, and student consideration.

Once selected, all information pertaining to that costume and class is placed onto a spreadsheet to ensure that all costume information is accurate.  The costume name, style number, catalogue, page number, color, and price are all noted.


Once all the sizes are in, each costume must be documented under each child.  We call this assigning costumes to a student. In many cases students have more than one costume and therefore it is important to assign the specific costume, where is it coming from, the color of the costume and the size.


A report for each company used, we use 6, is printed off will the information you have added above minus the actual measurements.  It is very important that all the information posted is correct as it can give us the wrong costumes and sizes to order, therefore, each costume is cross referenced with this report to ensure the right number and its accessories are all ordered.

All orders are done online.  Each costume is then transferred onto an order form, tallied up, and then paid for.  In the event that a costume won’t come in time, the coordinator has to quickly look through the catalogues to find a costume close to what the teacher has selected.  Barring that there are no issues, the costumes are slowly and carefully ordered.


After approximately 8 - 10 weeks your costumes should arrive.  Once arrived, each costume is checked off the list to ensure that all are accounted for.  Once, this is done they are hung up on hangers awaiting a label that indicates who each costume belongs to, what class, what size, and what show.

All these steps take close to 1 month to order with all the information indicated.  With the number of costumes ordered, we have very few errors, however, it can happen and we assure everyone they will have a costume on the stage on time.

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