An Irish dance dress is a very expensive necessity in a competitive dancer's life. Along with your dancing, it's what judges notice about you and could make or break your chances at placing.
Appearance is, while not everything, important, to say the least. Taking proper care of your dress goes along way in keeping it performance ready.
Always keep your dress stored in a dress bag. If you have a flat panel dress, lay it flat. Puffball dresses can be hung in the closet. Dress bags keep animal hair, dirt and dust off the dress.
The best way to gently freshen a dress is to use Febreze. After a day of wearing the dress, lightly spray the inside lining, targeting the underarms. Let it air dry completely before storing it in the dress bag.
A trusted, experienced dry cleaner in your area can also be used. Ask your TCRG or parents if they have found a dry cleaner who has successfully handled dresses. Make sure the dry cleaner knows to clean the dress by hand. Machinery is never good when it comes to rhinestones, sequins and glitter. Be aware that there is a risk in opting for method.
Wear a sweat guard or use dress shields at all times while in the dress. Those dresses are hot and even though you dance only a couple minutes at a time, a little sweat goes a long way in staining your dress and making it smell.
Spills and Spots
If the dancer gets a spot on the dress, identify what the spill was and type of fabric affected. This will indicate how aggressively you can take on the spot, as fabrics used tend to be very fragile. In general, stain sticks or stain pens (Tide-to-Go) can be used.
If possible, do a test on a hidden area of the same fabric, to check for color fastness and warping. If fabric is not damaged, treat the area and wait for several minutes. Gently wipe the spot. Try not to rub the spot any further into the material. Repeat process until spot is gone.
Preventing spills and spots on the dress is really key to keeping the dress in great condition. Never eat or drink in the dress. If the dancer has a habit of doing it, keep the dress off them until right before they go up on stage and take it off when they finish. Dancers can also use a dress cover. Most vendors sell them.
Makeup and Tanning
In the past decade enhanced makeup and spray on tan trends have become the norm. As a result, even responsible dancers can have accidents. Makeup rubs off on necklines and fake tan can get on skirts. It can be difficult to get off. Try baby wipes, or gentle cleansing cloths on the area. Test a hidden area first, for color fastness and warping. Wipe the area without rubbing in the tan/makeup. If the wipes don't get it all out, try a stain stick and treat the area like a spot.
To avoid this problem, wash your hands after application and make sure tan lotion/spray is completely dry before getting into costume. Step into the costume, instead of pulling it over your head. This will keep your makeup from getting into the lining.
Kathleen Durkin is a photojournalist in Charlotte, N.C. where she shoots and edits the local news. A freelance writer on the side, Durkin's work has been published on AOL's CitysBest.com and other websites. She graduated with degrees in English literature and film production from University of North Carolina, Wilmington.