June 22, 2010

How to: Get a Competition Outfit

So your coach thinks you're (or your child is) ready to compete! Congratulations, and welcome to the world of competitive figure skating.

Many thoughts are probably currently buzzing around inside your head, such as what about a programme, how do I sign up for a competition, how do I choose music (see post below), and of course, what will I wear!? That's where this post comes in handy!

I will be adding a "competition checklist" post very soon to help beginner competitors get to grips with all the essential (and some not so essential) items they need to take along with them on the big day {EDIT: The competition check list is now available here!}. Here however, we are going to concentrate on getting you looking great!

As you are probably well aware, men usually wear either a looser pant, or quite skinny-fitted pants with an assorted top, and never venture (for good reason!) into skirts! Women virtually always wear dresses although we have seen the odd trouser-suit for ladies, as seen below on Irina Slutskaya of Russia in the 2005 European Championship;

©J. Barry Mittan ( www.jbmittan.com )

Chances are though, if you are a lady you'll want a beautiful dress, one that will make you feel like a princess and give you that sparkle of confidence which will shine through on C-Day.

There are a number of ways to go about procuring yourself a dress (or pants/shirt combo, if you are a guy). You can buy ready-made outfits, many brands exist (the range of choice is larger if you live in the USA but most companies ship world-wide). Two of the biggest names are Jerry's ( www.jerryskate.com ) and Sharene! Skatewear ( www.shareneskatewear.com ).

Prices vary and depend heavily on the amount of adornment on your garment. These embellishments can range from glass beads, to plastic sequins, right through to crystal rhinestones and it goes without saying that these have to be applied by hand (with an exception for the "sequined" types of fabric, click here to see what this means ).

Another option is to have someone design and make an outfit for you. This guarantees your outfit is unique, but can cost more. Most ice rinks (and clubs) have a sort of "resident" dress maker, usually a skating mother and someone who has been in the "business" for years. Ask around at your rink (coaches and other parents) to find out if such a personage exists at your watering hole, and how to get in contact with her (or him). Sometimes costumes can be whipped up in a matter of days, others can take a very long time, especially if several drawing and designing stages are to be done. In addition to your local "skate-dress-maker" there are some very well known bespoke skating costume designers, such as Tania Bass, but these creators are to be thought of as couture designers for skating and generally have much higher prices than your local person may offer.

You can of course also buy second-hand outfits. You may recoil at this idea at first, but if you need to be thrifty this can be a great way to give a costume a whole new leash of life, and nothing is stopping you from sprucing it up with hand applied embellishments of your own, or changing it's style by accessorising (imagine a sleeveless dress originally designed to suit any piece of classical music, add long satin gloves and a pearl necklace and you have the perfect waltz dress). To find second-hand pieces ask at your club, talk to parents and simply ask if they are looking to sell any pieces at this time. You'd be surprised how happy a parent can be at the idea of being able to pay for a few lessons just by letting go of that item at the back of the wardrobe! If your club has a website with a forum don't hesitate to post on it, and more classically, if your club has an information board at the ice rink ask to place a small card with your details on it.

Last but not least there is the option of making your outfit yourself. No, don't panic!! Obviously you need to be of a crafty nature and also own a sewing machine and know how to use it if you are going to churn something out which will be comfortable and elegant enough to be worn in your competition. I will be posting a new entry solely on the topic of making your own skating outfit in a very short while, so check back to find out more about this exciting and thrifty solution!

Have any questions, want to know more, don't agree? Please leave me a comment!

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