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.
- 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.)
- Opens quickly – no messing with a zillion tiny hooks right before you go onstage (zippers or well-sewn snaps are good).
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Pretty enough that you could talk to audience members while wearing it (no raggedy bathrobes please).
- Long enough hem to hide most of your skirt/pants underneath (mystery is one of the reasons for wearing a cover-up).
- 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).
- 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.
- Rolls or folds up small – doesn’t take up too much space or weigh too much in your dance bag.
- Washable or dry-cleanable. You’re going to get sweat on this thing, and wear it in close proximity to other people.
- Doesn’t wrinkle. I’ve never had a cover-up where this was a problem, but it’s something to keep in mind.
- 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. 🙂