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How to Get Started on Your Dance Costume (Even If You Don't Have Your Team or Funding Yet)

Posted by Meagan on Mar 22, 2018

how to get started on your custom dance costume design early

Competition season has wrapped up, your team's hard work has paid off, and it's already time to begin planning for next season.

Starting early on your custom dance costume design can save you time, stress, and money, but one of the main constraints we hear is, "I don't have my team or money yet!" 

No worries, there may be a solve for you! There are ways to get started even without your team assembled OR your funds in place for the year. Read on to find out how.

You Can Start With Your Design and Prototype, Even Without Your Team or Funding!

You can get started with a design and a sample garment, even without your team or funding!  Here's how:

  • Design: At many custom dance costume companies, you can get your initial design for your dance costume done for FREE. You don't need to know your quantity or team to start designing!   
  • Prototype: Once your design is confirmed, a sample garment will be made. Typically, a 50% deposit for the cost of your order and prototype is required. However, some companies may be willing to let you order the prototype first and pay for the group order later. This means no big deposit is due. 

Once your design and sample are done, the last step is production. For your order to move to the next phase, production, your full payment, confirmed sizes and quantities will be due. This part can be done at a later date once you have your team and funding established!   

Why get your sample garment done early? You'll have peace of mind, sizing can be worked out at auditions, and your delivery date will be secure! 


4 Basic Things You Need to Get Started Early with Your Custom Dance Costumes

Ready to get started? Here are four things you need for design:

1. Your Theme or Concept

A theme or concept will give your costume a clear focus, and every design decision can relate back to that vision. This is essential to begin starting your dance costume design - and often the most fun part! Organize your ideas in a Pinterest board or mood board to effectively communicate with your designers what your custom dance costume vision is.

Looking for inspiration? Check out this post: How to Design a Custom Dance Costume: Finding Inspiration!

2. Your Budget

You don't need to have your funds together yet, but a budget is essential for your designers to begin. They'll want to know what you can afford, so your costume isn't over designed and out of your budget! 

If you don't have your official budget set yet, you can base it off the cost of last year's costume. As long as you and your designers know a rough estimate of what you have to work with, you can get started on design. 

3. An Estimated Number of Performers

If you can provide an approximate number of dancers, this will help determine what discounts are available to you, as well as help with budgeting your estimated cost per costume. Know that you can still get your design AND your prototype finished before your team is assembled. Then once your team roster is finalized, your final order quantity and invoice can be adjusted with your confirmed numbers.  

4. Your Estimated Time Frame 

Knowing your time frame is the last thing you need to get started. Not only will this secure your "spot" in your costume company's production schedule, you'll be able to confirm that your costumes will get to you on time and avoid any rush fees! 

how to get started on your custom dance costume design early

Aitkin Dance Team in a custom dance costume.

Why Start Designing Early?

We know it's often difficult to plan ahead, but there are a number of benefits to getting your costume design done early: 

1. It'll Save You Time and Money

It will allow you to take advantage of Early Bird discounts, which can save you up to as much as 5-12%. These discounts don't sound like much, but combine that with quantity discounts and the savings add up fast (up to 30%)! You'll also save by avoiding rush fees.

2. It'll Save You Stress

It will leave you more time to focus on your team practices, events, fundraising, and competition during the rest of the season.  

3. You'll Get Your Custom Costumes Faster

Get your costumes early and with plenty of time to spare - and secure your spot in your dance costume company's production schedule! Most costume companies get booked fast from August through December (when everyone wants their costume!).  If you plan ahead, you may be able to shave 4-6 weeks off of your lead time!  

4. You'll Have Time to Rhinestone

DIYing your rhinestones is a great way to save money.  If you order earlier, you'll have plenty of time to tackle this project! 


So there you have it: starting early can save you so much stress, time, and money.  And it's possible to do, even if you don't have your team or funding yet! 

You can begin planning as soon as your competition season comes to an end. All you need is your concept, budget, a general number of performers, and your time frame.

Once you confirm your team and secure your funds, you can confirm your final order for production!  


how to get started on your custom dance costume design early

Totino Grace Dance Team in a custom dance costume. 


Free download: Top 2024 Dance Costume Trends



Topics: Coaching Tips, Costume Design Resources, Planning Tips, Budget Tips

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