For the amount of sparkling embellishment and sizzling silky fringes in every figure-hugging costume, an outfit can cost any amount from $500-$4000 or even beyond. Even those which cost a couple of hundreds still require a hefty sum when we account for the number of costumes needed by a dancer.
In each competition, our costumes need to survive through a lot and if we're hoping to wear it again or resell it on to someone else to adorn... how on earth can we keep our costumes clean and smelling good so that the next person can wear it with pride?
After layers upon layers of tanning cream, bronzing powder, makeup, deodorant, and perfume - we take our costumes to the dancefloor for hours and hours of dancing. No matter how much deodorant we may use with our beautiful and expensive costumes, let's face it. There's always sweat and lots of it. Sometimes, our costumes just stink.
If you're nodding right now, then read on to learn how to wash your ballroom costume and keep it in near-perfect condition for the next wear.
1. Preserve and prevent damage from your spray tan, body oil and sweat as soon as the costume is off
Always keep an anti-bacterial spray with you. After the competition, change out of your costume and spray it down with anti-bacterial fabric freshener (e.g. Febreze), kill odour-causing bacteria from growing.
Be sure to wipe off the armholes to avoid deodorant stains. After this, you need to prevent mildew by keeping your costume in a dry place without restricting air circulation. Meaning, do not seal your costume in a ziplock bag or completely zipping it up in a plastic garment protection bag until you have air-dry it.
2. Never-ever wash or dry clean without consultation
Most of the decorations used such as sequins, rhinestones, fringe, beads and sometimes feathers are glued on rather than sewn on. This, plus the fact that some of the fabrics are really delicate and transparent, it makes machine washing and dry cleaning detrimental. Contact the original designer or your dance studio for the best, safest way to wash your costume.
3. Always do a swatch test to check for colour run
Choose a small concealable spot on your costume to test out if the fabric dye may run. Wash it with a dash of soap and rinse it to see if the dye comes out before submerging the whole costume into water.
Be very careful of fringes and feathers when washing, you don't want to end up dyeing your white fringe into the colour of your costume if the colour runs!
4. Handwash your costume in warm water
Wash and rinse out your costume after each competition to get rid of the tanning lotion, makeup and sweat. Take note step 3 to test your costume for colour runs before you wash them.
Mild soapy water can be used as well when you wash the costume. Soak the costume in a pail of water and gently rub and cleanse the area where it is stained. Rinse the costume in several pails of water till the brown tan comes off and the water remains clear.
5. Dry your costume on a flat surface
Make sure to dry your costumes lying flat vs hanging it down. Your costumes are heavy with embellishment and you don't want to hang it up vertically as it will stretch it out, making it out of shape. You can dry the costumes over a clothes dryer horizontally.
6. Never store your costume on a hanger for long periods of time
While your costume looks the most pristine draped on a hanger, leaving your costume on a hangar will cause the dress to lose its shape when it sags and stretches from the weight of itself.
For women, you can choose to use two hangers to hang the costume, one to hold the dress from the hip and one to hold the top so that the weight of the costume can be distributed evenly.