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Alan and Thuy Golombek dancing elegantly at the 2024 USA Dance Nationals.

How to Care for a Ballroom Dress

By Julie Michelle Wilson – Creative Director with Callie Maginnis and Abigail Bruggeman
Contributing Author
Photo by Eamonn Knights
A ballroom dress is an investment that requires special care.

Editor’s Note:  USA Dance Members Julie Wilson and Callie Maginnis, with Abigail Bruggeman, have again translated more world fashion trends into ballroom creations for our USA Dancers!  

We all love our ballroom gowns, with their glamorous crystals, feathers, and fringe! However, after dancing around all day at a competition, sometimes our dresses could use a refresh to get back to their original, off-the-rack glory! Or maybe, you are ready to buy your first dress but are overwhelmed with the idea of caring for such an investment. With their fabulous and delicate fabrics, ballroom dresses can require a bit more attention and care than our everyday wardrobes.

Luckily, the team at Encore Ballroom Couture knows a thing or two about how to keep your ballroom dresses shining and sparkling. Here are some best tips for caring for your ballroom gown:

-After a competition let your dresses air out for several hours before packing them away. This will help them dry out and the fresh air will help remove odors.

-For particularly strong odors, a quick steam after wearing a dress can help release some odors before airing your dress out.  Make sure your dress is fully dry before storing it.

-To store your dress, put it in a dress bag to protect it from dust, sunlight, moths, or anything else that can damage your precious dress. Make sure it has plenty of space, so it doesn’t get creased or wrinkled, and hang it in a way that doesn’t stretch the straps. A padded hanger, hanging the dress from the crotch of the bodysuit, folding the dress over a hanger, or lying it flat may be helpful to keep your dress from stretching while in storage.

– Before you put on your dress, make sure your tanner is DRY. Tanner and body makeup can be difficult to remove and will stain your dress if you aren’t careful.  This can both ruin the look for you and make it harder to sell your dress in the future.

– While wearing the dress, do not eat, drink, or use anything that might stain it if you can help it. If you must eat or drink with it on, wear a robe over your dress to protect it.

– When your dress needs to be cleaned, do NOT dry clean it! Many dry cleaners can damage the stones and embellishments, which is not a risk you want to take!

– The best way to clean a dress is by hand washing using a gentle cleaner (like E by Encore) or sending it to a professional ballroom dress cleaner (like Encore’s Dress Spa). They can professionally clean it, as well as make repairs to missing crystals, damaged feathers, and anything else you need to make your dress like new again!

-If you clean your own dress, be sure to spot test first to make sure is is not likely to bleed! If a part of your dress does bleed, which many feathers and fringe components are prone to do, it is best to spot clean or send it to a professional cleaner.

-The best time to clean your dress is after a competition so that any stains or scents are not lingering on your dress while it is in storage. Cleaning it at the last minute before a competition is a stress nobody needs!

– If your dress is starting to lose stones, you can replace them yourself with gem glue and Preciosa crystals. These can be purchased online from many sources, including Encore House of Fabrics, along with replacement feathers, trims, or fabrics for any repairs.

Follow these tips and your dresses are sure to be the star of the show and will last you years and years! Presentation is so important in Ballroom, and you want to make sure your dresses are always helping you to put on your best performance! 


Do you have a knack for fashion?  Why don’t you share your views with the readers of American Dancer?  There is so much for us all to learn.  Send your ideas, stories, and commentary to:

About Julie Wilson:

Julie Michelle Wilson is the owner of Encore Ballroom Couture, the leading consignment and rental dress company in the ballroom dance industry. She has been a professional dancer for almost 20 years.  She enjoys creative expression on and off the dance floor! 

About the Callie Maginnis:

Callie Maginnis is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a double major in Fashion Design and English. She is the dress manager at Encore Ballroom Couture and loves the sparkle and shine of the ballroom dance industry!

About Abigail Bruggeman:

Abigail Bruggeman, a senior at Marymount University, is pursuing a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Public Relations. With a keen eye for aesthetics and a deep love for fashion, she stays on top of latest trends and is able to translate the latest fashions into elegant ballroom attire. 

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