Anyone who has studied with me can attest that I am a stickler about cover-ups. My students know that I expect them to wear cover-ups over their costumes when not onstage at an event. I was recently talking to a student about what to look for in a cover-up for her first performance. Over the years I’ve had lots of different cover-ups, and through my experience I’ve got a pretty good list of requirements and considerations for buying one. You don’t need a cover-up that ticks all of the boxes all of the time, but some of these may be points you hadn’t thought about.

  1. Opens in front so you don’t have to pull it off overhead. (**This is the single most important consideration right here. Seriously. Caftans that go on and off overhead are a pain.)
  2. Opens quickly – no messing with a zillion tiny hooks right before you go onstage (zippers or well-sewn snaps are good).
  3. Has enough closures to not fly open and show your costume when you are walking down a hallway (a single snap or tie won’t do this, unless it’s a wrap style). If you’re wearing it outdoors it needs to not whip open with the breeze.
  4. No hook fasteners, velcro, or general fuzzyness that could get caught on your costume. (I have a gorgeous unlined Egyptian caftan that is fine with beaded costumes, but I have to keep away from rhinestones because the soft loose threads inside will catch and make it impossible to get off quickly.)
  5. Light and breathable enough that you won’t sweat to death at an outdoor gig in the summer. (I found this to be more of an issue than being cold backstage – your mileage may vary. Or you may want a warmer cover-up for winter months as well.)
  6. Pretty enough that you could talk to audience members while wearing it (no raggedy bathrobes please).
  7. Long enough hem to hide most of your skirt/pants underneath (mystery is one of the reasons for wearing a cover-up).
  8. Long enough sleeves to hide costume arm pieces (not always a requirement but if I’m wearing gauntlets I feel like showing them gives away too much of the aforementioned mystery).
  9. For shows in theatres: black. This isn’t important at club or street faire events (and you may specifically prefer a colorful one for those), but in a theatre you want to be invisible like a stage hand backstage.
  10. Rolls or folds up small – doesn’t take up too much space or weigh too much in your dance bag.
  11. Washable or dry-cleanable. You’re going to get sweat on this thing, and wear it in close proximity to other people.
  12. Doesn’t wrinkle. I’ve never had a cover-up where this was a problem, but it’s something to keep in mind.
  13. Roomy. Don’t buy a beautiful close-fitting robe only to find it won’t fasten over your ornate bra or full fluffy skirts.


Did I miss any points? Let me know in the comments. 🙂