So you probably had lots of good reasons for becoming interested in belly dance… it’s graceful, beautiful, and powerful. It’s great for burning calories and toning muscles. It teaches coordination and body awareness. It’s fun and exciting.
But I think we all have to admit that somewhere, deep down inside maybe, we were all pulled in at least a little by the glitter, the glitz, and the BLING!
So here’s your comprehensive guide to the most popular belly dance accessory, the hip scarf. Everything you need to know from buying to tying one (and keeping it up through those shimmies!).
Hip Scarf History
Coined scarves as a belly dance accessory were invented in the States sometime in the early seventies. They are not folkloric, but are instead a modern costuming element. Cabaret dancers generally wear scarves with coins, beads, and/or fringe. We’ll mostly be covering these in this guide rather than the wraps adorned with fringe, tassels, shells, brooches or talismans, feathers, and synthetic flowers that Tribal dancers often wear.
Selecting a Good Hip Scarf
- Coins are sewn on with abandon! They should be plentiful and dense, sounding like a rain stick when you shimmy your hips.
- Coins are relatively thick and heavy, not aluminum foil thin.
- Seams are edged twice, threads holding coins are thick or doubled. The reason coins fall off prematurely is that their sharp edges can wear the threads out. Make sure they’ll hold up.
- The fabric is of a decent weight and quality. Chiffon often lasts longer than velvet, which tends to stretch out.
- Color is of course your choice and preference (but black or white tend to get boring).
- Shape is also your preference, but rectangular ones tend to make hips look curvier and triangular ones less so.
Tying and Keeping it on
- Hold the hip scarf at your waist from the top edge. Gather the fabric from the bottom up to the top. Tie in a double knot. Push the hip scarf down to you hips (tying at the waist and not the hips will keep it on through those shimmies).
- You can tie it on the side or in the center, but most people prefer it over the right or left hip.
- Layering a fringe scarf underneath your coin scarf provides even more color, texture, and movement to your look.
Caring for your Hip Scarf
- Always fold the scarf with coins in to protect them from snagging.
- Repair any loose threads, and re-sew loose coins when they fall (pick them up when it happens!).
- You shouldn’t try to wash a hip scarf. If necessary, you can mist lightly with vodka and hang to dry. This should take out any odors caused by bacteria left from sweat.
My Favorite Online Retailers for Hip Scarves
- Isis Exchange. Decent quality, great prices.
- King of the Nile. Higher quality, reasonable prices.
- Dahlal Internationale. High quality, a little pricey. Great variety.
Hope you found this helpful. Let me know where YOU like to get your hip scarves.