To rent or to buy a costume? That is the question! Here are a few pros and cons of each option to help you choose the right costume for your first salsa or bachata competition.
Renting a Costume
The Pros: Renting a costume for your first few competitions or performances is great because it will allow you to try out different styles and see how each one makes you feel on the dance floor––do you like a lot of fringe that bounces up when you twirl? Or do you feel more confident in a longer skirt with a high slit?
The Cons: Consistently renting costumes can add up quickly! If you’re planning on competing more than four times throughout the year, it will probably make more sense financially to buy a costume and commit to using it for the entire competition season.
How to Rent a Costume: The best way to rent a salsa or bachata costume is directly from a dancer. Simply message the dancer on FB or Insta, or send them an email, and ask them if they are willing to rent it to you for a period of time or a specific event. If you really like a dancer’s costume and haven’t seen him or her wear it in a while, chances are they are no longer using it and are willing to rent, or even sell it.
If you ask and the dancer says “no,” don’t take it personally. Sometimes dancers just don’t feel comfortable renting out their costumes, even if you promise to be careful with them. Other times a specific costume may hold sentimental value and the dancer doesn’t want to part with it.
Expect to Pay: $100 for a weekend rental
Buying a Costume
The Pros: It’s yours and all yours! You can wear it as many times as you want and never have to worry about finding a costume if a last-minute performance comes up.
The Cons: Buying a well-made costume is expensive and can cost anywhere from $400 to upwards of $1000 depending on the type of fabric and the number of rhinestones it has.
How to Buy a Costume: Buying a costume from another dancer is a lot less expensive (and faster!) than having one made from scratch. The best way to buy a costume directly from a dancer is the same as renting––message the person directly and ask them if they are looking to sell a specific costume. If their asking price is too high for your budget, ask them if they are willing to negotiate the price at all. Again, don’t take it personally if the dancer says ‘no’ to either buying in general or dropping the price.
If you want to have a dress made, find a designer or tailor that specializes in dance costumes and has experience working with fabric that will move as you move. Even the best costume designers may not know how to work with dance-specific fabric and you don’t want to end up with a dress that looks great, but you can’t actually move in.
Making a dress from scratch takes time and it’s the most expensive option, so make sure you know what kind of design you want and are committed to competing or performing at at least five events throughout the year before you start the process.
Finally, some people buy dresses from online retail sites that sell dance costumes or specifically latin dance costumes. While fine for a team performance at a local event, personally I don’t recommend buying a costume from an ‘internet site’ for competition because the costumes are made from lower quality materials and won’t stand out on a competitive dance floor. When you’re competing you want to look and feel your absolute best, and you want to stand out, so invest in a costume that will do all those things for you!
Expect to Pay:
$150 – 300 for a dress you order off most ‘internet sites’
$400 – $800 for a dress you buy from another dancer
$800 + for a dress you get made from scratch
Do you rent or buy your dance costumes? What are your tips?