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Baladi Dress

by Dina, The Costume Goddess

Dear Costume Goddess,

Okay, you have mentioned hiding the tummy... What is a baladi dress? I am a very excited beginner, but I have very very bad stretch marks. I want to show skin but "it is bad". I can't find any pictures or patterns to help. Any suggestions?

I appreciate anything you can do to help!

--Stomach Stripes

 

Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

Dear Stripes,

This picture shows a typical baladi dress. It's a long sheath style that's worn with a beaded hip scarf or fringed belt, and usually has sleeves. It's an alternative to belt and bra cabaret style that is glamorous in sparkly stretch lace, sheer knit, or velvet, or more folky in an ethnic pattern or assuit (hammered metal strips in the fabric).

If you are an accomplished seamstress, a basic fitted sheath can be used as a pattern--cut the neckline as low as you like, in front and back, but keep a small strap across back neck to avoid shoulder slippage while dancing. Zipper could be at back or on the side. The "Arabic" cut-out sleeve and semicircular sleeve ruffle are modifications.

If you have a nice figure but need to cover stretch marks or scars, the dress could be form-fitting. If you need to camouflage a protruding tummy, the dress could have a roomier fit.

Baladi Dress

--The Costume Goddess

 

Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

About the Costume Goddess

To learn about the Costume Goddess and her bellydance costuming books, please visit the Costume Goddess' own web site.

 

Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

Examples of Baladi Dresses

Leyla Lanty is an Egyptian-style dancer who is featured elsewhere on this web site in the photo gallery. Three of those photos show her performing in baladi dresses:

Performing in a Baladi Dress
Leyla Lanty Performing in a Baladi Dress
Leyla Lanty Performing in a Baladi Dress

The above photos were taken by Leyla's dear friend, Marcia Morris Conklin. For more photos of Leyla in Egyptian-style costumes, see her photo galleries:

 

Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

Further Comments from Shira

In Egypt, the word baladi literally means "home town", as in the home town someone's family came from before they were forced to move to the city and work in the factories of Egypt's Industrial Revolution era. Today, the term has taken on the broader meaning of the culture of traditional values and traditional lifestyle. Whether still living in rural areas or now living in an urban center such as Cairo, the word baladi carries a connotation of wholesomeness, tradition, and simple lifestyle. It is similar to how the word "country" is often used in the United States to refer to a "heartland" or "salt of the earth" culture.

Bellydancers often use the term baladi dress interchangeably with gallabiya, the Egyptian word for a dress in the traditional style, whereas an Egyptian person would use the term gallabiya.

The image to the right is on the envelope for the "Egyptian Shirt" pattern sold by the Folkwear pattern company. A dancer who wished to make a traditional style of gallabiya could use this pattern, choose opaque cotton fabric, and make the dress long enough to reach the floor.

A traditional gallabiya or baladi dress has a high neckline, wrist-length sleeves, and no slits in the skirt.

Folkwear Egyptian Shirt

In contrast, a dress used for purposes of a dance costume may be modified from this basic style for theatrical purposes. It may have a lower neckline, be made of a sheer fabric worn over a slip, have sleeves that come only to the elbow, have some embroidery, and have slits on the sides.

 

Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

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