How Should Dance Teachers Measure Up?

Measuring For Dance Costumes

Your dance shows are being prepared and the costumes have been shortlisted, but there’s still a lot to do… including taking the measurements for all your students. To help you out, here are a few tips to help you ensure all your students’ costumes fit like a glove!

General Tips

Make sure your students are wearing a leotard or other tight-fitting garment (with empty pockets!) when you are taking their measurements.

Have your students stand with their feet apart slightly and their arms straight out to their sides.

Be sure not to pull the tape too tightly and remember that younger students will continue growing throughout the year. You can ensure there is sufficient room for growth by inserting two fingers between the body and the tape measure itself.


First, measure the chest. The measurement here should be taken around the back to the chest around the fullest part. Ensure your student is not holding their breath as this will make the measurement larger than it should be. Ask your student to take a deep breath in and out – recording the measurement once they have exhaled, which should help!


Next, the waist. You should be aiming to measure the “natural waist” of the student. To find this easily, ask your student bend to one side and measure from the spot their body naturally folds at. Try to make sure your student is not sucking in his or her tummy… as with measuring the chest, the breathing trick works here too!


Now it’s time to measure the hips. Take a measurement around the widest part of the hips.


The girth is probably the most important measurement to think about for all costumes built around a leotard base. If your students are not wearing a leotard when you are measuring them, ensure their trousers are pulled all the way up! Measure over the shoulder, between the legs and back around to the centre of the shoulder where the strap of the leotard will sit.


Last but not least, take the inseam measurement. Ensure your students are standing straight and looking directly ahead. Have them hold the measure between their legs at the innermost upper-thigh and then measure down to just below the ankle.

That’s just about it! For further guidance you can refer to our size chart and please bear in mind we always recommend going up one size if a particular student is between sizes. Of course if you have any questions you can always give us a call on 0845 330 1 330!

Hollywood Costume

Victoria and Albert Museum Hollywood Costume Exhibition

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s major autumn 2012 exhibition, Hollywood Costume, is set to be a fabulous and incredibly insightful event. The landmark show will open after five years of sourcing and identifying items to be part of the treasure trove of exhibits.

During the Golden Age of Hollywood (from the 1930s to 1950s), costumes would be removed to vast costume storage once the filming was complete and were subsequently rented, remade and re-styled for new productions, rather than maintain their significance for the original production they were intended for. When the Hollywood studio system declined in the 1960s and 1970s, costume archives were sold making the curator’s job for the V&A exhibition even more challenging. However, some iconic costumes have been tracked down for showcasing with even some private collectors loaning their treasures to the exhibition for the general public to see up close.

The earliest costume in the exhibition is from the first MGM sound film, The Broadway Melody, which was released in 1929, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture and the film was followed by many successful sequels. The costume displayed was worn by Bessie Love as one of the Mahoney sisters as a vaudeville act, complete with character shoes and shiny show tights. The film A Broadway Melody was a huge catalyst for change in the film industry in the transition between silent films and sound. Another iconic costume on display is the gingham pinafore dress worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, having been held in a secure bank vault in London’s Fleet Street. One of the pairs of Dorothy’s sparkling ruby slippers are in demand for the exhibition, having taken on mythic status since 1970 when MGM sold a pair for $15,000, and it is unclear how many shoes remain in existence.

Other costumes which will be creating the sum of the V&A exhibition include those from Vertigo (1958), The Birds (1963), the mink and sequined dress designed for toe-tapping Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark (1944), Hello Dolly! (1969), Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Moulin Rouge! (2001), along with the musical Chicago complete with stylised black costumes, such as Renée Zellweger’s floor-length gown for her performance of Nowadays.

For more information about this exhibition, visit the V&A website.

Image courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum.