Frequently Asked Questions About…

Custom Dance & Cosplay Costumes
And Custom Orders & Processes

Please scroll as our FAQ’s are listed below our fabulous customers reviews.

Info we need from our customers:

  • Budget
  • Date Needed By
  • Measurements
  • Your Costume Desires…if known.  Otherwise…
    • Music
    • Choreo Style/Genre
    • Stunts

Your budget determines the possible level of detail, fabric types, and embellishments.

Charts & Diagrams

Ready-Made Dance Costumes and Apparel Sizing Chart

Item Specific details affecting size will be indicated on the individual listings. This chart represents the basic sizing that we use when creating active wear for events, i.e. recitals, to sell as concessions. You may also order these generalized sizes if it helps reduce the number of patterns needed for your group costume order.

When You Believe 2017

 

Imperial & Metric Standardized Sizing for Dance Costumes & Apparel

Standard Sizing of Ready-Made
Custom Dance Costume Brand Comparison

Comparison of ContenderWear, Plain Brown Label, and HotMess Dance Apparel

2019-2020 Competitive Season Estimates/Averages

ContenderWear™ Exquisite Custom Costumes

ContenderWear™ is LSC’s flagship brand for custom dance costumes, and products bearing the ContenderWear™ label are the highest quality, top-of-the-line, over-the-top stage and performance wear to captivate your audiences.

Plain Brown Label™ Beautiful Performance & Competition Costumes

Plain Brown Label™ is our edgy competition and performance costume label for budget friendly designs. PBL are also sold as complete costumes to cosplayers and competitive dancers. Costumes may have some bling.

HotMess Dance Apparel™ Custom Recital & Base Costumes & Separates

HotMess Dance Apparel™ is our go-to-brand for class-wear, recital costumes, alterations, and add-ons. Items can be sold as separates.

Lock In Your Quoted Costuming Price

Pricing is subject to change without notice. Please keep in mind that the only way to “lock” in a price is to obtain an official quote and place a deposit on the order within a specified time frame. Time frames are given at the time of the quote, however during busy times, the time may be eliminated once other orders have been received.
 

Terms of your Custom Costume Agreement

It is the customer’s responsibility to read the pertinent information on our Web Site: Quotes; FAQ’s; Privacy Statement; Terms. 
 
Deposits are nonrefundable as are final payments on any custom or made to order items.

 

Basic Measurements for Dance Costumes & Apparel

Measurements are key in getting a great fit.

We are here to assist with measurements via Google Hangouts, Skype, or other forms of video chat. Once you pay your deposit, we can also give you access to our Measurement Instruction page as well.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Proper measurements are key in making a costume just for your dancer. Inaccurate measurements result in poor fit no matter how well made the garment is.  There will be a fee for fix or exchange  if you submitted inaccurate measurements.

Others who sew may use generalized sizes, we only use generalized sizing for group costumes under the HotMess Dance Apparel™ and Plain Brown Label™ Brands when explicitly requested by the customer.  ContenderWear™ brand is made to EXACT measurements.  We like a smooth fit on the body, without wrinkles, puckering, or excess fabric.

This diagram depicts three basic measurements. There are many more measurements that can be taken.  The measurements required for your job may also include:

  • Girth
  • Chest
  • Neck
  • Inseam
  • Outseam
  • Crotch Depth
  • Head
  • Wrist
  • Ankle
  • Arm
  • Arm Inside
  • Hip Bone
  • Bicep
  • Wrist-Elbow
  • Elbow-Shoulder
  • Back
  • Shoulder
Depicting Hip for measuremtn

F.A.Q. About Sizing & Fit:

Ready-Made Dance Costumes & Apparel Sizing Chart

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

While our sizing chart is intended for ready-made products to be sold on our site and as concessions at events, you may order select pieces from this chart.  These items are limited to some basic pieces i.e. booty shorts and variations thereof; specific crop-tops, etc.  It saves money on the creation of a custom group costume because many people within a group could share a single pattern size. Products tailored to a specific size in girth, waist, hip, bust, etc. outside of the measurements in the chart would not apply.

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

Absolutely! ContenderWear™ products are made to specific measurements and is always custom from the quadrilateral piece of fabric to stage.  Also, we don’t just build on a “base” product, items are sewn in with the progression of the so-called base. Our ContenderWear™ “bases” are all custom designed just for our customers’ projects.

Catalog or off-the-shelf products usually will come in standard sizes, not necessarily to your dancer’s measurements.  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. 

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 ContenderWear™ one-of-a-kind, custom dance costume fit properly?

Yes if measurements were taken correctly.  After you make your deposit, you may request access to our instructions for taking and submitting your measurements. We can also 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.  It is up to our customers to request assistance with this and make an appointment with us to verify that measurements are being taken correctly.  You can also log into our measurements page to view instructions and diagrams for correct measurement taking.

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.  Better to be safe than sorry.

If you are submitting measurements that someone else took, i.e. at the studio, please verify the measurements.  Measurements given should be exact measurements at the time of measure.  They should not be bumped up 1/2 or 1 inch as we found that one studio had done.

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

If however, you give us the wrong or larger measurements, hoping to get a larger costume to “grow into”, no your costume will not fit.  It will not fit for your fitting, and most likely, you will have problems pinning it if we are doing a remote fitting.  It is better to make a costume that fits the current measurements, possibly with growth options.  After a deposit is made, we are here to assist you with your measurements whether in person or video call.  Please schedule this measuring meeting with us, whether in-person or remote.

As your child grows, most of our products do stretch, some more than others.  Possibilities include altering slightly for growth, and the use of Topstick Men’s Grooming Tape for keeping areas in place.  We mainly work in high-end, 4-way stretch fabrics, which are great for growing dancers.  However, sometimes customers request the use of non-stretch fabrics, appliques, and other embellishments.  We will give options for the non-stretch items, but ultimately the customer is in the driver’s seat.  

Please make sure that you know the ins & outs of measuring as we are not responsible for ill fitting garments due to incorrect measurements.

Do you make specific sizes of custom 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 the measurements provided.

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 Custom 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 coincide with the published pricing for HotMess Dance Apparel™.  If the costume is for a group of similarly sized wearers with identical design of costume, savings incurred will be in pattern creation.
  • Soloist costumes, regardless of brand and including Halloween, have a pattern manufacturing charge per item, from $21 per item.

Pricing does not include props, shipping & insurance, tax, or customs fees.  

The only way to lock in a price is to contact us for a quote and place a deposit toward that quote invoice.  

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

Both your quote and invoice will be line-item. 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 the spreadsheet noting the differences in our brands near the top of this page.   Our prices will be directly affected by the amount of time and materials required to create your masterpiece. Time involved is directly affected by detail, whether it be lace, embroidery, custom appliques, feathers, beading.

The Estimate:  ContenderWear™ brand custom, stage-ready costume quote for a soloist’s  on average runs more than the final cost.  We like to include everything and anything that we may use on your product; however your invoice 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.  Please note that there may be a charge for items that were initially requested and purchased specifically at your request, but you changed your mind (i.e. colors, embellishments, etc.).

Prices do not include shipping & insurance and tax, these items are estimated with the quote, but updated to actual at the end of building and finalizing your product for shipment.  If this is out of your budget, we recommend opting for our Plain Brown Label Brand™ or HotMess Dance Apparel™.

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. 

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 commissions 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™ pricing in general vs. other costumes?

Absolutely! ContenderWear™ pricing is much lower than our competitors.  We compare our products to designers who actually sew (manufacture) the products in-house because we do.  We want to maintain our quality standards; thereby work is not farmed out.  Also, we don’t just build on a “base” product, which is what many decorators do.  Our frill and extras 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 if worn for a solo.

You get what you pay for: 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.  Long before the end of the season, 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.

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 $21 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, and, of course, your place in the queue.

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™?

Yes, please see the comparison of brands chart located near the top.

Getting Various Quotes for Your Custom Costume

If you were to get various quotes, LSC  is not going to be the cheapest.  LSC is not going to be the highest priced either.  

We don’t want you to waste your time and energy or ours.  If you are doing it for price comparisons for the cheapest, we can save some time right now.

Our quotes are line-item, thought provoked, bids for quality products.  Bids take time.

We have a great product that we wholeheartedly believe in; we offer great perks, including customer service and meeting deadlines.  

Simply put: If your need is for a cheap product, at the cheapest price…hit the back button on your browser because you have arrived at the wrong place. Godspeed!

Can you tell me why you need 50% deposit?

A Deposit Is Required For Your Custom Order

We ask for a 50% deposit before we start work because we start procuring top notch textiles and embellishments for your product even though your order is not currently the one we are working on “actively” in our queue.  As long as we are going to our suppliers and placing orders, we may as well purchase items as we come across them for all orders.  Also if any items for your project are back-ordered, we can order them promptly, and we usually have them in time for when your project is active in the queue.

We expect the balance to be paid when we notify you that your project is complete; however, we fully understand that life throws all kinds of curve balls at us, and with that in mind, we offer a specified period of time after the product is complete to pay your final balance.  Be mindful that future orders may require a higher deposit percentage or other arranged payment terms as a result.

Some have compared our terms with seamstresses who only charge perhaps $50 up front.  If you like the terms and services of someone else, by all means order from them. 

At any rate, $50 wouldn’t cover materials for most our products…Godspeed!

F.A.Q. About Time Line:

Can I reserve my to-be-determined custom dance costume?

Yes, even if you are unsure what music, style of dance, etc. you want in the upcoming year, you may reserve your spot. 

We usually open reservations in February-March for the upcoming season, from August forward.  These reservations allow for up to  two ContenderWear™ soloists per week.  Any unfilled spots will then be fair game for ContenderWear™ groups and  our other brands: Plain Brown Label; HotMess Dance Apparel™; NuptialWear™; LiturgyWear™.

Reserve your spot by selecting a date and placing a deposit toward that reservation.  Please see our ContenderWear™ Custom Costume Product Page.

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, acknowledging complexity of design, and textiles on-hand. Shipping priority mail can take 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, March through October. 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 $21 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, and, of course, your place in the queue.

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 8-12 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™ custom dance 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 requesting 50% payment 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.

I have an invoice now what?

If you received an invoice, you must have requested a quote.  If no payment is made, your invoice/quote goes away within certain hours, depending on the existing workload; the deadline will be noted on your invoice or separate notification. Your quote may be nullified earlier if other deposits are received while you are undecided.

We realize that there is much communication about a custom costume. We address these issues as we work up to and though your costume creation AFTER a deposit is made. 

Prior to making a deposit, we spend about 60-90 minutes discussing budget, likes, dislikes, etc. before issuing a quote. Please be prepared for these discussions having the complete idea of the choreographer, studio owner, teacher, or whomever is in charge of the final say. Please be courteous of others’ time.

It is important that you are able to articulate your specific requests.  For instance, if you absolutely must have a fedora and you ask for a fedora hat and it is in your quote, you will get a fedora hat.  You will not get a fascinator.  It is not as important that you know the terminology “fascinator”, but it is important that you are capable of requesting  a mini fedora style head piece. Likewise, when you request “bloomers”, this tells us that you want loose fitting short pants with elasticized legs and waist with ruffles at the hem…they are not briefs, and they are not booty-shorts.  

If you don’t know the terminology, that’s’ OK, but be sure you can describe what you are requesting in detail or use photos and drawings, which can also help so that we are both on the same page.

Why must I pay a deposit before seeing a dance costume 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 acknowledging agreement with the quote invoice.  After receiving a deposit, we will prepare a rendering (design drawing) 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 a specified time frame after the completion of your costume.  The time allotted to pay the balance will be stated on your invoice. If the balance has not been paid for in full after the specified time frame allotted, the item may 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/or 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.

Shipping Packaging & Options

Domestic: If your shipment is over $200, we will ship insured via either UPS or FedEx.  Under $200 ships USPS, priority mail & insured.  Unless the customer specifically requests otherwise. 

International: All our international customers are responsible for any taxes, customs, and tariffs due upon arrival in their Country. We ship USPS for international shipments.

If expedited shipping is requested, the customer must request it prior to shipping. An additional invoice may be issued to accommodate the additional shipping charges.

Shipments are prepared with extreme care to guard against moisture and handling damage.  Items are usually wrapped and sealed, sometimes vacuum packed, with a generous amount of packing materials and tape, and placed in other containers or bags (also wrapped and sealed) within the outer shipping, bag, box, or envelope. Contents are intended to be secure, and as such, we may also spray adhesive on the inside of the containers to keep sealed contents from rattling or shifting during shipment.  We have found that this is also a good deterrent for mail theft.

Although the packing materials can be cumbersome to navigate through for the customer, we want to make sure they receive the product exactly how we prepared it just for them.  Please use the greatest care when using knives, razors, or scissors to open the packages as you may cut into the garment or product.  Do not use a box-cutter to fillet your shipment open. Cut only at seams of packing on the very edge of the tape, and then peel away the tape enough to remove the contents.  There is a charge to re-create product that you cut or damage; so please be very careful.

Do you take returns, what if I took wrong measurements, changes during production costs?

Monies paid, whether deposit or final payment, on our custom costumes are not refundable. Our custom and semi-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. Additionally, our web page Measurements explains several basic measurements and has diagrams to also assist. Customers are given a password to enter the Measurements page.  Before we finalize your costume, a fitting is offered, either in person, or via remote.

Most of our costumes and garments are created with specific measurements of the individual wearers.  Another option for pattern creation would be to use our generalized sizing. For generalized sizing, measurements are not required by us as you simply order by size. Generalized sizing may be used for group costumes that are alike on similarly sized wearers to decrease the pattern making charges. It is up to the customer to compare our generalized measurements with that of the wearers/performers to determine how many of each size that they require…or if that method of sizing will work for them.  Items created specifically for your order whether specific or generalized measurements are non-returnable and non-refundable.

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. Please note that the anticipated delivery date of the final product may also be delayed due to requesting changes.

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 fluctuations, 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.

Remote Fittings

A remote fitting is the process of sending our far-away customer a nearly finished costume or garment with very detailed instructions as to how and where to pin the costume for a proper fit.  Instructions are usually done via a video, and additional assistance through video chat.

Each person wears their garments differently, but many of the dancers that we have costumed prefer a snug fit.  Remote fittings usually entail straps and verifying girth fit.

The customer sends the costume back after it has been pinned.

We are available through an appointment to do a video chat should the customer have any questions or need assistance during the process of pinning.

We expect you to wear either underwear or a pantyliner for either your local OR remote fitting.  Since your product is not yet complete, we still have work to do on it.  So, no hoo-ha juice, skid-marks, or tally-wacker tracks.

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.

Payment Did Not Go Through

We use PayPal for our credit card processing. PayPal uses the information you set up your LSC account with such as your email.  If the email address is not linked to a PayPal account, PayPal will reject it. If this happens, we can send you a direct invoice from either PayPal or preferably ZellePay.

Do you take personal checks?

Personal Checks vs. Costuming Deadline

We do not encourage personal checks.  Our bank has recently confirmed that it  takes 30 days for a check to “clear.” The customer would have to wait 30 days after the final payment by check to have their custom dance costumes shipped.  Yes, there is a 30 day wait for checks to clear in this age of electronics. (confirmed on June 8, 2019).

For same-as cash or check, we can bill you via ZellePay.  It works Bank-to-Bank.  You have the option of paying with a credit card with ZellePay.

Can you order a catalog costume for me?

Possibly.

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.

We will invoice you at your provided email address, and it will include Cost of Goods, Shipping, Insurance, Tax if applicable, and a Handling Fee.  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 first) before we order from the catalog company.

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.

F.A.Q. 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.

What differentiates your product from others?

Our Costumes & Products

All ContenderWear™, Custom Plain Brown Label™,  Custom HotMess Dance Apparel™ , and Archerciser™ are made from quadrilateral pieces of fabric in house.  Lona Smith Creates™ making the items in-house means that we are the designer,  sketch artist, pattern maker, planner, buyer, manufacturer, decorator/embellisher, etc.  We are communicating with our customers throughout the process while we are making their masterpiece costume.  We can control the fit and quality because the work is not farmed out.

Others

Costume Designers/Decorators

Some who sell costumes have been around the dance world enough to know a little about design and how front of a garment needs to be connected to the back and where the straps need to be to prevent mishaps.  These designers/decorators usually do not sew and  will have a 3rd party create their leo or two piece from the rendering that they supply.

Some of the pitfalls of not having a costume created in-house include:

  • Inconsistent or poor fit  
  • Inconsistent quality
  • No desire nor skill set to make adjustments by Designer/Decorator

Decorators

There are some that like to rhinestone prefab base costumes and sell them to their customers.  Their base costumes are sometimes born out of everyday dance wear.  The Decorators, or deco-moms, rhinestone these bases to sell as costumes.

Some of the pitfalls of not having a costume created in-house include:

  • Inconsistent or poor fit  of off-the-shelf dance wear that is made to span a range of inches
  • inconsistent quality, depends on either brand or seamstress
  • No skill set to make adjustments by the Decorator

 

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, which was fine for light curtains. As long as the type of fabric correlates with the intended use of the final product, purchasing your own fabric is fine as long as you follow our recommendations.  The following outlines stretch requirements for dance wear, gymnastics, and costumes for dance, and skating:

  • Stretch must be 4-way, horizontal, vertical, and diagonal in each direction
  • Stretch must be 60% or more to work with our sizing charts, particularly for leos, unitards, biketards, gymnastics wear, dance wear, skate wear, etc.
    • Metric (Centimeters)
      • Take 10 cm length square of fabric (unstretched).
      • Line it up with the ruler from 0-10, holding firmly
      • Now stretch the end where you are holding it by the “10”
      • If it stretches (in both directions, horizontal & vertical) to at least 16 cm, the fabric is suitable
    • Imperial Ruler (Inches)
      • Take a 5 inch length square of fabric (unstretched).
      • Line it up with the ruler from 0-5 inches
      • Now stretch the end where you are holding it by the “5”
      • Do the math:
        • Length stretched – 5 = x
        • x/5 = y (y being the decimal format of x/5)
        • y*100 = stretch percent
      • In short (stretching in both directions, horizontal & vertical):
        • If it stretches from 5″ to 5 1/2″ = 10%
        • If it stretches from 5″ to 6″ = 20%
        • If it stretches from 5″ to 7″ = 40%
        • If it stretches from 5″ to 8″ = 60%

On a side note, blocking can be done in either colors or fabric types.  You may choose a blocking design, utilizing a combination of a 60%+ give, 4-way stretch fabric to off-set a more limited stretch fabric.  Color or fabric blocking is billed at a higher rate due to the labor and expertise involved.

If you have a hand in the design, limited stretch fabrics provided, and/or have staff to decorate a base, please note that we do not maintain nor fix these items based on limitations and outcomes that may arise in such situations. While we can appreciate that you are trying to do things on a tight budget, we cannot meet your budget at our expense.  

Fabrics that have glitter, sequins, or a nap take more machine maintenance than a nylon/spandex/lycra/tricot.  Therefore the fee that addresses certain upkeep will be adjusted accordingly. 

If you insist on using fabric that is not the normally used fabric type and stretch for the specific project and/or our recommendations , the responsibility is yours; we do not assume any responsibility for the outcome of the proposed garment, its fit, or functionality.

Do you make your own costume bases?

LSC: Maker of Costumes for dance, including bases

Yes, all our ContenderWear™ costumes are made from the bolt of the fabric to stage ready under atelier Lona Smith.  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 customer as well as Preciosa® brand rhinestones.

  • Both Swarovski® & Preciosa® rhinestones have developed their high quality crystals virtually lead free, making them safer for our customers and their dancers.
  • Both Swarovski® & Preciosa® 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.
  • Preciosa® rhinestones are less expensive than Swarovski®.

The brands that we use are based upon our own experience.  Here is a link to a third party comparison:

Visual Comparison of 5 Brands of Rhinestones

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

 

What are the care instructions

Custom Costume Cleaning Instructions

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

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
  • fabric blends that include rayon and silk
  • 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 of costumes?

Custom & Semi Custom Dance & Cosplay Costuming

Plain Brown Label™ (PBL) is a brand that we came up with for inexpensive costuming, usually under $300 and can be either custom or “semi-custom.”  PBL is a complete costume ensemble..

Custom PBL costumes are made from quadrilateral pieces of fabric.

The PBL semi-custom dance costumes 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

As with our other dance costume brands, we use components for embellishments that have been assembled elsewhere (i.e. banding, trim, strands) and sold to us by our “suppliers.”  We use well-known, name-brands embellishments from our vetted suppliers.

The same people that make ContenderWear™ high-end costumes make PBL costumes.  Cost-cutting measures are taken with creating PBL costumes in order to offer a budget friendly product.  

The fit of a PBL costume is dependent upon proper measurements by the customer, and if purchasing a pre-made costume, they must determine if their dancer’s measurements correlate with our general sizing. Our sizing chart can be found at the top of this page.

As with any of our dance costume, cosplay, wedding, liturgy, brands, we do not maintain the PBL costume during your competitive or performance season.  However, if our schedule permits, we may be able to also do repairs or alterations on your clean LSC costume. 

If there is any concern, please contact us immediately, as we want you to be as excited about your PBL costume as we are.

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Do you sell fabrics?

We are up to our neck in costuming fabrics!

Yes!  As a result of doing costuming, we have many, many fabrics on hand.  If you sew and need fabrics, chances are that we have it or can get it.
We are very particular about our fabrics and our suppliers, which have come about from a lot of searching, traveling, and hours and hours of work.
Our list of suppliers are proprietary.  So please don’t ask us for our suppliers’ information.

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

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 dance dresses, 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 amped up. NuptialWear is mostly semi-custom, meaning customized alterations and additions on existing product. The full 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.

Semi-custom costumes that have limited rhinestones on them have also been done under Plain Brown Label ™ brand.

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.

Our Reach

Local Southern California

We’ve made our mark in these communites!

LA County

  • Azusa
  • Belmont Shore
  • Beverly Hills
  • Claremont
  • Diamond Bar
  • La Puente
  • La Verne
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • North Hollywood
  • Pasadena
  • Pomona
  • Redondo Beach
  • West Covia
  • Whittier

Orange County

  • Anaheim
  • Brea
  • Costa Mesa
  • Fullerton
  • Laguna Beach
  • Orange
  • Santa Ana
  • Seal Beach
  • Tustin
  • Westminster

Riverside County

  • Banning
  • Beaumont
  • Cabazon
  • Canyon Lake
  • Cathedral City
  • Corona
  • Eastvale
  • Hemet
  • Idyllwild
  • Indio
  • Jurupa
  • La Quinta
  • Lake Elsinore
  • Menifee
  • Mira Loma
  • Murierra
  • Norco
  • Nuevo
  • Palm Desert
  • Palm Springs
  • Perris
  • Rancho Mirage
  • Riverside
  • San Jacinto
  • Temecula
  • Wildomar

San Bernardino County

  • Arrowhead Lake
  • Big Bear Lake
  • Bloomington
  • Chino
  • Chino Hills
  • Colton
  • Fontana
  • Grand Terrace
  • Highland
  • Loma Linda
  • Montclair
  • Redlands
  • Rancho Cucamonga
  • Rialto
  • San Bernardino
  • Upland
  • Yucaipa

San Diego County

  • Carlsbad
  • Escondido
  • Fallbrook
  • La Jolla
  • Oceanside
  • Rancho Bernardo
  • San Diego
  • San Marcos
Across the US

East Coast

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virgina

Gulf Coast

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Tennesee
  • Texas

North East

  • Pennsylvania

Mid-West

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

West Coast

  • California
  • Washington
International

We hit the international scene in 2018:

Europe

  • United Kingdom

North America

  • Canada

Do you have additional questions?

Then text or phone: 951.268.4452

We look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions that you may have.

Rise custom dance costumes