Irish Step Dancing Costumes: Girls' Costumes

Figure 1.--These girls are wear similar black dresses as they are from the same school. Notice the emroidery in Celtic designs based on the "Book of Kells". The boy in contrast wears a jacket and kilt.

Girls' Dance Costumes

The girls doing Irish step dancing wear dresses. The dresses are heavy "A"-line dresses, often in bright colors. Many are heavily embroidered in Celtic designs. Girl dancers generally start off wearing a simple skirt and blouse as they are inexpensive garments. If they enjoy dancing they may progress to a simple class or school costume. After a dancer has been competing for some time and has progressed to the Pre Open or Open grade, she could possibly have a dress of her own design--a solo costume. These can be quite expensive and often have elaborate embroidery. The embroidery on the costumes is generally based on designs from an ancient Irish book called the Book of Kells. Although many costume makers these days will design their own. These are protected by copyright so the designs can't be copied.

Differences with Boys' Costumes

Boys' costumes are much simplier. They variously consist of kilts, shorts or long trousers worn with shirt and tie and usually jackets. The girls are never allowed to wear kilts for performances.A boy's performance jacket may have some embroidery, but nothing like those of the girls. Some schools do not even allow the girls to even wear kilts for practice. Reserving the kilts for boys is done in part because the kilt was the ancient Celtic male garment and in part so the boys aren't dressed like the girls. This would probably discourage many younger boys from participating in Irish dancing.

Ringlet Curls

Many of the girls competing in feisanna will have their hair curled into ringlets. This takes a bit of practice to get right. Its also very time consuming to put in all those curlers - and then take them out again the next day!! Some girls, as a result, prefer to wear a hair piece.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: August 5, 1998
Last updated: January 25, 2001