Dressing the Music

I watch Dancing with the Stars for the stirring Sambas and jumping Jives. But a lot of the time I find myself concentrating more on what the dancers are wearing instead of their sweet dance skills.

I can’t help but wonder where pro dancer Cheryl Burke’s flamboyant metallic dress came from (salvaged parts from a UFO, maybe?) or where Kristi Yamaguchi picked up her sultry Tango costume dress?


So I went searching for the secret behind the costumes on Dancing with the Stars. Here’s what I found out (with the help of some online articles posted by ABC News).

Ballroom dance costumes add to the attitude and style of the dance. They are a key factor in drawing the audience and judges into the flavor of the dance.

Costumes that would, under normal circumstances, take weeks or even months to complete are made in three short days. The dancers meet with designer Randall Christensen on Wednesday, after the DWTS broadcast, finding out their next dance and deciding upon music, to discuss costume concepts. On Thursday, Randall’s design team purchases fabric. Friday is sewing day. The costumes are fitted on Saturday and Sunday is reserved for applying rhinestones and other finishing touches. The dancers don’t actually get the final product until a few hours before the show…so costume malfunctions are likely.


Underwear or elastic straps are sewn into the men’s pants to secure their shirts in place and elastic stirrups keep their pants from riding up. For women, dresses are basically built on top of a body suit. Not only are the costumes uncomfortable, but they’re very tight so they’ll stay on.

By the end of the show’s season, about 1 ½ million sequins will have been used on costumes. Each costume can cost upwards of $3000-$5000 dollars and will probably only be worn once!

The next time you catch an episode of Dancing with the Stars, take some time to admire the costumes that set the tone of the music and dancing. Admittedly, some of the costumes are fashion don’ts, even for the dance floor…but hey, that’s why they’re so fun to talk about!


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