Frequently Asked Questions are listed below our customers’ reviews.  We have only one question for our inquirers: What is your budget? It determines the level of detail, fabric types, and embellishments.

F.A.Q. About Sizing:

Ready-Made Sizing Chart

Item Specific details affecting size will be indicated on the individual listings.

When You Believe 2017
Standard Sizing of Ready-Made
Can you elaborate on ContenderWear™ sizing and pricing in general vs. catalog costumes?

Absolutely! ContenderWear™ pricing is much lower than our competitors, where one averages $800-$900, and another is well over $1000.  We compare our products to designers who actually sew the products in-house because that’s what we do.  Also, we don’t just build on a “base” product, items are sewn in with the progression of the so-called base.

Sure, you can buy a manufactured costume from a catalog for anywhere from $100 to $200.  They usually will come in standard sizes, not necessarily to your dancer’s measurements.  Add to this the expense of altering the catalog costume, adding accessories, props, perhaps some appliques, and of course several gross of name brand rhinestones.   Since the costume is not an original, be prepared to see others, particularly groups, utilizing the same costume at competitions; this can be kind of disheartening as a soloist’s costume is supposed to be revered.  Throughout the year, we gain business from catalog costumes needing to be repaired: buttons that come off, snaps that won’t stay snapped, epaulets that become unattached at points and just flop about.  After several performances, you will find that the catalog costume is ready to be put to rest.

Some dancers take very good care of their costumes.  For example: some of our used costumes sell for within $100 of their original purchase price.  In our humble opinion, $100 to use a custom, one-of-a-kind costume, created just for their body, their music and mood of the piece, is a bargain.

When you consider sweat and other bodily fluids that come in contact with dance costumes, we would not personally put our own dancer in a used costume, but that is entirely up to the individual parent.

On average, ContenderWear™ soloist and duo/trio costumes run between $350 and $475 NEW.

About the sizing, catalog costumes usually only come in generalized sizes i.e. S, M, L, etc.  The size we make for a custom order is specific to the measurements of your performer.

Will my custom ContenderWear™ costume fit properly?

Yes, after the design is developed, you will receive very specific instructions for taking and submitting your measurements.  We can set a time to walk you through the measurement process via a video call if you have Google Hangouts; alternatively, Skype.  These measurements will be used to ascertain the correct sizing for your body type, and a pattern will be made to fit those measurements.

If you live in the Southern California area or will be traveling through the area, we can meet with you in person to take measurements and/or to discuss details of your order, including sampling of fabrics. For those ordering by mail, we like to ship the base to you for a fitting. Not to worry, we are right here through Skype or Video Chat to assist you.

We’ve been sewing since the 1970’s; so we’ve had lots of practice!

Do you make specific sizes of dance costumes and clothing?

Yes, we make your size.  Since our dance costumes are custom, and you send us or we take your measurements, we make them to fit your measurements.

When we are invited to participate in special events, such as recitals, we prepare many HotMess Dance Apparel™ leotards, Tees, skirts, shrugs, etc. in “generic” sizes to be sold as concessions. Those types of products are for a range of measurements within a given general size, i.e. Child Small, Adult Small, Child Medium, etc.  However, made-to-order custom costumes and custom dance wear is made specifically for your measurements.

F.A.Q. About Pricing:

What are your prices for a Halloween Costume?

Halloween costumes fall in the same billing and preparation category as recital costumes with a couple of considerations:

  • They are both limited use costumes and are prepared under the HotMess Dance Apparel™ label.
  • Recital costumes start at around $85 for groups of similarly sized members within the group of 6 or more.  They share the cost of pattern creation.
  • Soloist costumes, regardless of brand and including Halloween, have a pattern manufacturing charge per item, from $16 per item.

Pricing does not include props, shipping, or tax.

What are your prices for ContenderWear™ Brand One-Of-A-Kind Costume?

Your invoice will be a line-item invoice. You will know exactly what is being charged for what.  It is not an all-encompassing, blanket fee.  The general aspects of our billing can be found on our quotes page here on our Site and on ContenderWear Facebook page in the Notes section.   Our prices will be directly affected by the amount of time required to create your masterpiece.  Time involved is directly affected by detail, whether it be lace, embroidery, rhinestones, and/or custom appliques.

The Estimate:  a ContenderWear™ brand custom, all-encompassing quote for a soloist’s costume on average is approximately $375-$550; the final cost will be adjusted to a lesser amount if the desired “look” is achieved with less embellishments or if discounts are available on the wholesale purchase of the embellishments, which has happened quite frequently.

The Actual Price: Our average ContenderWear™ custom costume final cost runs about $350-$475, whereas the average “Special” usually runs slightly lower, provided that no change orders nor rush orders are given.  These prices do not include shipping & insurance and tax.

The “Special” is our way of offering you a more affordable custom dance costume.  A discount is offered on the total billed on your invoice before tax, shipping, and insurance and is available only on ContederWear™ All-Encompassing, Ready-To-Go custom costumes. There are various levels of discounts.  Give us a call to find out more.

As much as we want to create your masterpiece, please understand that we cannot do so at a loss. Each project requires one or more trips to our suppliers, who are located in Los Angeles, requiring time, gas, and money, whether our trip is fruitful or not in securing all materials needed for your project. In the industry, our pricing is among the lowest for custom costumes, using top-quality materials and enhancements.

Costume pricing varies by type and quantity of materials used and labor. These are some examples of pricing, but with how varied costuming can be, it is not an estimate or a complete listing of expenses that go into your costume. Please use this information as general information, non-specific as to project.

When we feel particularly creative, we create one-of-a-kind costumes as sample products.  These new items are put on our Web Site as well as 3rd party stores for sale.  Purchases that are made direct, with payments in cash or check, will always result in the costume being less expensive than going through our 3rd party affiliates, where mark-up is taken for their cut and credit card processing fees.

Please note that pricing may change without notice. The best way to lock in your project’s price is to obtain a written estimate and place a deposit on your order.

Can you elaborate on ContenderWear™ sizing and pricing in general vs. catalog costumes?

Absolutely! ContenderWear™ pricing is much lower than our competitors, where one averages $800-$900, and another is well over $1000.  We compare our products to designers who actually sew the products in-house because we do.  Also, we don’t just build on a “base” product, items are sewn in with the progression of the so-called base.

Sure, you can buy a manufactured costume from a catalog for anywhere from $100 to $200.  They usually will come in standard sizes, not necessarily to your dancer’s measurements.  Add to this the expense of altering the catalog costume, adding accessories, props, perhaps some appliques, and of course several gross of name brand rhinestones.   Since the costume is not an original, be prepared to see others, particularly groups, utilizing the same costume at competitions; this can be kind of disheartening as one would expect a shiny new costume to be revered, particularly a solo..  Throughout the year, we gain business from catalog costumes needing to be repaired: buttons that come off, snaps that won’t stay snapped, epaulets that become unattached at points and just flop about.  At the end of the year, you will find that the catalog costume is ready to be put to rest.

Some dancers take very good care of their costumes.  For example: some of our used costumes sell for within $100 of their original purchase price.  In our humble opinion, $100 to use a custom, one-of-a-kind costume, created just for their body, their music and mood of the piece, for a year is a bargain.

When you consider sweat and other bodily fluids that come in contact with dance costumes, we would not personally put our own dancer in a used costume, but that is entirely up to the individual parent.

On average, ContenderWear™ soloist and duo/trio costumes run between $350 and $475 NEW.

How much and how long to get some of your fabulous fit booty shorts?

For HotMess Dance Apparel™ shorts, we have made many of the booty shorts on a regular basis. If we have your size pattern, it would cost the usual, which is between usually $23-$30 for each pair. Depending upon the quantity ordered, we may discount that for you.

If we have to make a pattern for your size, add $16 to the order.

Once we have your order and provided we have the fabrics and colors that you want, we could have 10-20 pair ready within that first day, depending on when order and payment are received.

Just a note on fabric and colors available: If specific fabrics and colors are needed that we must procure, extra time and fees would go into the cost of the final goods.

Can you give me an example of effect/pricing between HMDA & ContenderWear™?

Certainly!

Our first question to our customers pertains to budget. Budget is going to dictate which brand is going to be made for you. However, the customer is pretty much in the driver’s seat.

Example:  A customer wanted a sleevelet and a crop top, if pricing permitted, shorts to match. They made it clear that they did not want to spend much on this costume.  They opted for an altered, ready-made crop-top, and custom sleevelet, and while they wanted shorts with a higher waist, they did not want to pay for a pattern to be created specifically for their dancer’s measurements and shape nor did they want a more detailed look of a high waisted garment with a waist band.  They opted for a previously used, simple, pull-on, shorts pattern cut higher at the top.

As the competition year progressed, they had to replace the shorts because, while the shorts were made to fit the size of the dancer, they were not of a cut that would have been best suited for their dancer’s shape.

The cost of the shorts pattern ($16) may have been a better option for them, but as previously noted, our customers are in the driver’s seat and the choice is theirs.  HotMess Dance Apparel™ is our brand for our most affordable products, recital costumes, and activewear. Still we make recommendations along the way, but it is up to the individual customer what they want to go with.

Our ContenderWear™ brand would not allow for options of the pre-fab crop top nor the shorts, as all patterns and parts are made to each specific dancer and their very individual shapes…not just size. These individual charges are indicated on our quote and invoice.  ContenderWear™ is our premium label.

F.A.Q. About Time Line:

How long does it take to get a ContenderWear™ custom costume made specifically for me?

We are very fast to respond and put the wheels in motion for your custom order.

-If we have all elements needed to create your ContenderWear™ custom costume, it could be made as soon as 1-3 days, provided that we do not have orders scheduled ahead of yours. Shipping priority mail takes longer than the time to create a costume.
-If we have to procure items for your ContenderWear™ costume, the time frame to create your product will increase, depending on both availability of products, and/or if we have to visit the LA Textile District to obtain it. We only visit the District once a week. Delay of other items would be if they are shipped to us.

We have many, many fabrics, colors, rhinestones, trims, feathers, and embellishments, on hand.

How much and how long to get some of your fabulous fit booty shorts?

For HotMess Dance Apparel™ shorts, we have made many of the booty shorts on a regular basis. If we have your size pattern, it would cost the usual, which is between usually $23-$30 for each pair. Depending upon the quantity ordered, we may discount that for you.

If we have to make a pattern for your size, add $16 to the order.

Once we have your order and provided we have the fabrics and colors that you want, we could have 10-20 pair ready within that first day, depending on when order and payment are received.

Just a note on fabric and colors available: If specific fabrics and colors are needed that we must procure, extra time and fees would go into the cost of the final goods.

When will my ContenderWear™ custom dance costume be done?

We are booked out about 8 weeks twice per year: In winter when we are creating the masterpieces for soloists and groups for the new competition year; and in Spring for summertime recitals under our HotMess Dance Apparel™ label.  Other than that, we can typically create your custom costume within 1-3 days, depending upon availability of materials and of course your place in the queue.

It’s always best to get your order placed as soon as possible with your deposit. Depending upon our existing schedule, you may possibly have an option to have your costume expedited at a nominal fee, but again, that depends upon our existing orders and their scheduled due dates.

F.A.Q. About Order Processing:

Can I order a ContenderWear™ costume to be created from a photo?

All ContenderWear™ costumes that we create are custom, unique costumes.  You may send us a photo or link to an image so that we can get an idea of what you are leaning toward as far as the various costume aspects. However, another designer’s costume will not be replicated.

Your costume will be made specifically for you, your measurements, the genre, music, and mood of the piece.

Will I get an invoice?

Yes, you will get an invoice for half of the order along with the payment instructions regardless of which brand of merchandise that you are purchasing.  Once you have paid the initial deposit directly or through our Web Site, we will either schedule or begin your order, depending on the workload at the time of order.  When production is complete, you will receive notification with a final invoice.  The order will be released for shipment or pickup when the invoice has been paid in full.  If your final invoice is paid by check, it must first clear the bank before the order is shipped.

Why must I pay a deposit before seeing a design?

Our first question will be about your budget.  That will be the first step in determining whether or not we can even do your project within your budget.  We will then ask you for some thoughts and ideas on colors, style, likes, dislikes, etc.  The next step is to submit your deposit and the signed agreement/quote.  After receiving a deposit and signed agreement, we will prepare a rendering (design) for you. Sometimes when we are feeling particularly inspired, we may prepare multiple designs or variations, whereas you may select one of them.  We do not share our renderings with you prior to receiving a deposit for the obvious:  1. we work for you once a deposit has been made; 2.  we do not release a design as a measure of protection from counterfeiting until a deposit has been received.

How are payments handled on Custom Costumes (Dancer Measurements Specific)?

On all custom orders, a minimum of 50% deposit is required. We will collaborate throughout the process on selections; notification is sent out when the garment is complete. Final payment is required within 45 days of the completion notice. If the item has not been paid for in full after the 45 days, the item will be be put up for sale to recoup the unpaid balance. If your costume is in the higher price brackets, you may be required to pay a 25% installment  of the total order before rhinestoning and other embellishments begin.

Shipping of orders over $50

When the order is over $50, the parcel will be insured. This will require a signature upon delivery. USPS will leave notification that they tried to deliver if you are not home. You will be able to go online to usps.com & reschedule the delivery at a time that you will be at the address used for shipping.  The Post Office will hold your parcel for two weeks from their initial attempt to deliver before sending the item back to us.

If your order gets returned to us, please contact us to issue a postage invoice for you to pay. Once you pay for this, we can reship the item to you.

If you decide not to accept your shipment, you will be responsible for actual shipping, insurance, and a 20% restocking fee for ready-made items.  Custom items, specific to your measurements, are non-refundable.

Do you have a return policy?

Monies paid, whether deposit or final payment, on our custom costumes are not refundable. Our custom products are both nonrefundable and nonreturnable.   If you submitted the wrong measurements, and based upon those measurements the costume does not fit, we will make the necessary changes for a fee or you may choose to take them to your local seamstress.  We are here to assist you with the measurements so that you take them correctly. Before we finalize your costume, a fitting is offered, either in person, or via mail.

If changes are made to the design of the costume after the design agreement has been made,  we will need to re-evaluate the cost of the detailed changes, which usually start from $75.

You will be responsible for shipping charges, and your invoice will reflect that, and you will be responsible for future shipments should the product need to be altered due to inaccurate measurements, including dancer’s weight fluctuatuations,  and/or changes to the design.  These additional shipping charges will also be your responsibility.

If we goofed, that would be a rarity, and we would take full responsibility to make it right.

I'd like to see fabric samples. Is that possible?

If you would like to be involved with the actual selection between multiple fabrics, we can send you fabric samples for a fee.  Another option would be to receive photos of the fabrics. However, photos are not always an accurate depiction of the actual colors due to differences in digital hardware/processing/video cards.  If you have a specific color in mind, it is usually best to send us sample color cards that match your costume color of choice, using several cards to indicate the possible variations in shade.  You get these color cards from your local paint store or paint department at large retailers.  If you live in the Southern California area or are coming to the area, you are welcome to schedule a meeting with us. Please keep in mind that with the back and forth fabric exchange if mailed, it will delay creating your masterpiece, and when we match the paint swatch with a fabric, the fabric may be gone on our next visit to the manufacturer.  Finally, the exact color of the paint swatch may or may not be available, and that’s why we request a range of hues or shades.

Questions About Products:

Are your ContenderWear™ and HotMess Dance Apparel™ items hand-made?

All our ContenderWear™ and HotMess Dance Apparel™ items are handmade…even the Archerciser™! We suppose, however, that depends upon what your definition of handmade is.

All ContenderWear™ and most HotMess Dance Apparel™ and Plain Brown Label™ creations are born out of quadrilateral pieces of fabric, yards and yards of trim, etc. purchased from various wholesale outlets in the Los Angeles Textile District. When we say hand-made, it means that we do use sewing and overlock machines, and yes they are electrical. We also use power tools to make our elements for our Archerciser™ products. Without these tools, we would probably still be working on the first item.

We use modern electrical appliances and tools to create our masterpieces.

Are your products new?

Yes, all our items are new, and they come from a smoke-free environment. The young ladies that model our apparel and costumes wear undergarments and panty-shields.

To date, all the fabrics that we have worked with have been washed prior to starting a project with them. The fabrics that we use are mostly procured from the the Los Angeles Textile District, which means they are stored in warehouses and shops.

Upon washing the textiles, we can better determine the fabrics’ or trims’ suitability for our specific needs.

We realize that used costumes can be purchased at great discounts on various sites.  These costumes are sometimes sold as “professionally cleaned.”  Dry-cleaning generally loosens and/or removes rhinestones, washing can result in some colors bleeding, spot cleaning can leave rings around the area.   Personally, we would never put a body into a costume that has been “soiled” by another persons sweat, fluids or “discharges.”

We provide our customers with the details about how to clean your LSC costume.  We know what processes went into creating your costume; we know what will work best, giving your product longevity and maintaining that resale value.

Can you work with my fabric that I bought?

Sure, but with caution.  We have many times been brought fabrics from sheets (cotton) to other limited stretch items.  As long as the type of fabric correlates with the intended use of the final product, purchasing your own fabric is fine.

Do you make your own costume bases?

Yes, all our ContenderWear™ costumes are made from the bolt of the fabric to stage ready.  We do not farm out the work, and there are several reasons why we do not do this for our ContenderWear™ products.

Many of our ContenderWear™ costume elements are sewn-in while constructing the garment base.  This includes but is not limited to designer clasps, hooks, closures, buttons, zippers, straps, etc. We want consistency in our products, and we find that subcontracting out parts of the process would tend to not meet our high standards.

With HotMess Dance Apparel™, we sometimes work with customer provided parts and embellishments.  These types of items would be dependent upon the customers’ standards, and we would only be setting the standard for the application, and sometimes deconstruction & reconstruction.

With Plain Brown Label™, we sometimes purchase bases.  These bases are national brand products, where we know the quality to have good consistency in both quality and sizing.

Standard Sizing of Ready-Made
What brand are your rhinestones that you use in your applications?

We’re glad you asked that! We have worked with both Swarovski® and Preciosa® brands of Rhinestones extensively.  We started out decades ago only using Swarovski®, and we still offer them as an option for our customers. However, our brand of choice is currently Preciosa®.

Preciosa® rhinestones have developed their high quality crystals virtually lead free, making them safer for our customers and their dancers.
Preciosa®’s Rhinestones have a beautiful cut and have superb brilliance.
Preciosa® Rhinestones do not protrude as much as their Swarovski® counterparts, making them more comfortable for the wearer when sitting, rolling, sliding, etc.
As a bonus, Preciosa® rhinestones are less expensive than Swarovski®.

NOTE: There are knockoffs of both brands. We use the real deal.

What are the care instructions

Generally, our HotMess Dance Apparel™ items can be washed under gentle setting or by hand with mild detergent (i.e. Zout, Woolite Gentle Cycle) and line dry.

ContenderWear™ items are spot clean only on a performance-to-performance basis, however, you will receive care instructions with your order. All fabrics are washed before use. Items that are dyed, depending upon the color, may bleed.  Dye, bleeding fabrics, trims or fabrics that cannot be washed may not apply to your masterpiece, so with your ContenderWear™ product, you will receive very specific, detailed instructions for cleaning. We recommend “Fresh Again for Uniforms and Costumes” to keep your costume fresh smelling until the end of season cleaning. We do not recommend any alcohol products, which may facilitate color bleeding of otherwise colorfast fabrics.

Regardless of which brand you purchased, we recommend a steamer for smoothing out the fabric rather than an iron, which may easily burn or leave marks or residue on the fabrics.

All Archerciser™ products are spot clean only.

Can I dry clean my ContenderWear™ product?

No.

Understand what dry cleaning does:  it cleans and presses.  Dry cleaning involves the use of a chemical solution, usually perc, petroleum or hydrocarbon, silicon or D5, Liquid CO2 or the new and very green Solvon K4, instead of water. As such, garments that smell of body odor, smoke, mold or even perfume need special attention in addition to the normal dry cleaning process.

The following fabrics should be dry cleaned only:

  • taffeta
  • silk
  • wool
  • nonstretch velvet
  • acetate
  • and fabric blends that include rayon and silk
  • Garments made of suede or leather also should be dry-cleaned.

Dance costumes are usually made of lycra, spandex, tulle, organza, and various decorative fabrics that may contain rhinestones and/or sequin.  Never use high heat on any of these!  We recommend end of year cleaning, which will be outlined with your order.

What is your PBL (Plain Brown Label™ ) brand?

Plain Brown Label™ (PBL) is a brand that we came up with for inexpensive costuming, usually $250 or less and can be either custom or “semi-custom.”

Semi-customs get custom additions to factory name-brand items such as leos, crop tops, shorts, and briefs. These custom additions are any one or more of the following:

appliques
rhinestones
metal
pearls
lace or trim
skirt
sash

Can you tell me what LiturgyWear™ and NuptialWear™ are all about?

Sure can!

LiturgyWear™ was developed as a response to the many inquiries that we get around Christian Holidays such has Christmas, Easter, etc. The Praise Dancers require skirts, leotards, etc. for their praise dance worship. These garments are usually a solid color and without any rhinestones.

NuptialWear™ is everything for the wedding that needs to be altered, rhinestoned, and so on. NuptialWear is mostly semi-custom, meaning customized alterations and additions on existing product. The garments that we make under the NuptialWear Label, i.e. dresses, lingerie, etc., are very sleek and made of 4-way stretch…no poofy stuff.

Do you work with existing costumes or separates?

Yes, we regularly spruce up separate tops and bottoms to create a cohesive look for group numbers.  We refer to this as alterations, tweaks, and add-ons under the HotMess Dance Apparel™ Label.  We encourage the use of additions in such a manner that the existing garment does not have to be disassembled before adding the new components.  Having to take apart an existing costume will dramatically increase the price of the work being done.

ContenderWear™: Added Bling!
We have also unleashed our bling and changed the look of ready-made costumes for the purpose of enhancing a pre-fab costume to be used for a soloist or group in the competition arena under the ContenderWear™ label.

Can you order a catalog costume for me?

Certainly, but with conditions.

Many catalog companies only sell to studios. They do not participate in direct sales with customers nor do they offer wholesale to retail shops. With that in mind, we can order costumes for you as long as we are affiliated with a studio.

With how varied sizing can be across the different manufacturers, the customer must take responsibility for measuring according the manufacturer’s instructions, which may be different from ours. Their instructions for measuring will be sent to you.

We will invoice you at your provided email address, and it will include Cost of Goods, Shipping, Tax if applicable, and a Processing Fee. You may omit the 4% processing fee if paying in person with cash or mailing a check, processing fees apply to PayPal and credit/debit transactions.  Shipping costs depend upon the urgency of your order.  Also, keep in mind that some items may be or may become back-ordered by up to 8-12 weeks.

The invoice must be paid in full (checks must clear) before we order from the catalog company.

Once the order has been placed and tracking number issued, you will receive this information.

You will be notified when the item has been received and is available for pickup.

The ability to return or exchange products varies from catalog company to catalog company.  If returns are available, be prepared to pay shipping back to them within 7-10 days as well as a 20% restocking fee.

Our business is to create new items from our own labels and embellish products.  Ordering from a catalog is courtesy service.

Payment Did Not Go Through
[accordion-item_inner] [/accordion-item_inner]

We use PayPal for our credit processing. They get a little inquisitive about it if your email on your order does not match the email on your PayPal account. If this happens, we will send you a direct invoice from PayPal.

Shipping Costs and Options
[accordion-item_inner] [/accordion-item_inner]

Domestic: Most of our items are automatically charged by the USPS link. However, this is not always the actual price. You may select this calculated price or you may choose to be billed later when the actual postage charge of your parcel is verified. Choosing the latter will result in being billed and this bill must be paid prior to the parcel being sent.

International: Due to trade “issues” and new laws pertaining to internet sales, all our international orders MUST go through Etsy.com/shop/ContenderWear.

OPTIONAL: Select all your items and arrange an order. Do not go through Checkout until we manually look up and add shipping and insurance.