Irish dance costumes are an essential part of performing traditional Irish dance, whether in a competition or at a local heritage festival.
Costumes for Girls and Women
The basic dress is meant to emulate traditional Celtic looks. It is a long-sleeved dress with a skirt that falls slightly above the knees. However, an underskirt makes the skirt flare out. Where the dresses really stand out is in embellishment. Dress designers create intricate patterns with sequins, velvet, lace, and satin. Irish dance costumes can be incredibly expensive, costing as much as $1,000 for a custom-designed dress.
Costumes for Boys and Men
Much attention is paid to Irish dance dresses, as they are the most visible and showy aspect of Irish dancing. However, males also participate. The basic male costume starts with dark pants. They should offer room for movement while not being so loose that they take away from the leg movements of the dance. In addition to a long-sleeved shirt and tie, men may add a vest or cummerbund to complete their ensemble. Some men wear kilts and blazers for a more traditional look.
- Dancers may wear hard or soft shoes, depending on the style of dance.
- Curled hair is expected of girls in competition. Some performers turn to wigs to avoid the hassle of preparing their hair.
- Some dancers wear tights under their dresses, while others simply wear white socks.
- Headbands and tiaras can complete the overall look of Irish dance costumes.
Irish Dance Costumes Online
- Irish Dancing is a website designed for the parents of beginning dancers, explaining the ins and outs of everything from dress styles to the history of the dance.
- Dance Again offers an online marketplace for new and used Irish dance costumes and accessories. Sellers pay a percentage of the asking price for the dress as a listing fee. Each listing includes a picture and description. Dresses are available from sellers around the world. While the majority of the dresses are solo dresses, there are also listings from schools selling team dresses.
- Listowel Celtic Art designs custom Irish dance costumes for individuals and schools.
- Lowland Design also offers custom-designed Irish dance costumes. The site also offers used dresses for sale and has plans to create a line of ready-to-wear dresses.
- Dancing in Celtic is an English company providing dresses, wigs, headbands, tiaras, and other dancing access to customers in any country. They also sell fabrics for those looking to create their own costumes.
- Fays Irish Dancing Shoes specializes in both hard and soft Irish dance shoes, hand-made in Ireland.
- Rutherford Products sells hard and soft shoes for Irish dance costumes, including their unique Hytech heels and tips.
- If you are designing your own dress, make sure you create an original design. Don't try to replicate the design of a dress you find online or see on another dancer. It is considered in bad taste if not outright theft to take another designer's work as your own.
- Beginners may not need to wear an actual Irish dance costume in their first competitions. Check with the event organizers or your school for guidance. There's no need to purchase an expensive dress when your daughter is still testing out a new hobby.
- Buying used dresses can save money. If you are a parent, you can also sell your child's dresses as she outgrows them.