It’s hard to do.
Especially when I broke up with my first “real” costumes….which were made for me by a lovely designer in the UK (Lulu Designs). This was the first time I didn’t have some sort of budget ebay find that I had to alter and then add stones—-similar to how many dancers start out in the costuming department.
Lulu was amazing and a real pleasure to work with. We had discussed style ideas, and shortly thereafter, sketches with some fabric samples came in a couriered envelope. I brought them to the studio to show my instructors(s) and we drooled over the drawings as we discussed what would work for my movement, body, and personality. Soon these sketches and ideas would turn into fabulous flowy and sparkly gowns. It was wonderful, fun, and dare I say… a heady experience. I was hooked on the process.
(i can’t seem to locate the drawings for my smooth gown)
Later my gorgeous dresses came and I danced–this time not in a showcase, but in my first competition feeling like a supserstar. I joked that my smooth dress was my wedding dress, since I had used my ‘wedding dress fund’ for the purchase. Although realistically, I would get much more wear out of the costumes than a wedding dress, so it was an investment I could live with. On a side note, I would have been happy to get married in it too but my husband appropriately felt like it was “too costumy” (i suppose the black/leopard/teal combo wasn’t quite traditional enough for him either).
Many competitions later, and switching to international style, I credit hours of jive practice (since our jive really sucked) for getting me to a point where these costumes no longer fit. Major alterations would have ruined the architecture of the dress and these costumes sat in my closet for the next couple of years. I would pull them out and look at them, touch the gorgeously unique ombre fringe and remember all those wonderful feelings of my first competition and my first custom-dress adventure.
I eventually tried to sell them to local friends to try and give them a new home (but keep them close so I could see them again) but no luck. Back in the closet they went.
Then we moved and I had the necessary (and long overdue) task of sorting through my closet (which is always an interesting experience—sometimes I wonder if i’ll end up in Narnia). As attached as I was to these dresses, they weren’t really living their potential by hiding out in the back of a closet. It was time. I had to break up with them.
I said my goodbys and neatly packed them into a box and sent them as a donation to a University Dance Club in Massachusetts.
I received a lovely message back from them describing how excited and grateful they were to have such a donation. It was very touching. Now these costumes have a new life and lots of action and can be enjoyed by so many more people now. It also reminded me ofa long time ago, when I was a broke university student, just how far a simple gesture could go.
There are many more schools and teams that also would be grateful for any donations…which prompted me to also sort through my old practice-wear that is still in good condition (great for those dancing in syllabus) and even slightly-used shoes. More boxes went out to other locations since. And now, I have much more closet space.
If anyone is inspired to make a donation and may not know who to contact, please feel free to send me an email. I would be happy to pass along some contact info of teams looking for stuff.
Bonus: you’ll get extra good dance-karma points. Those always come in handy.