The costume most commonly associated with belly dance is the ‘bedlah’ (Arabic: بدلة; literally “suit”) style, which typically includes a fitted top or bra, a fitted hip belt, and a full-length skirt or harem pants. The bra and belt may be richly decorated with beads, sequins, crystals, coins, beaded fringe and embroidery. The belt may be a separate piece, or sewn into a skirt.
Badia MaSABNI, a Cairo cabaret owner during the early 20th century, is credited with creating the modern bedlah style. It has been suggested that the bedlah was inspired by glamorous Hollywood costuming, or created to appeal to Western visitors. Earlier costumes were made up of a full skirt, light chemise and tight cropped vest with heavy embellishments and jewelry.
As well as the two-piece bedlah costume, full length dresses are sometimes worn, especially when dancing more earthy baladi styles. Dresses range from closely fitting, highly decorated gowns, which often feature heavy embellishments and mesh-covered cutouts, to simpler designs which are often based on traditional clothing.
Costume in Egypt
In Egypt dancing in public with an uncovered navel is illegal, so if dancers wear a bedlah, they will wear a body stocking to cover the midriff. Alternatively they may wear a dress with mesh-filled cutouts. The modern Egyptian trend is to use patterned fabric rather than elaborate beading or sequins. Any embellishment is embroidered directly on to the skirt, which is tightly fitted around the hips and made of lycra fabric.
Costume in Lebanon
As there is no prohibition on showing the stomach in Lebanon, the bedlah style is more common. The skirts tend to be more sheer than Egyptian outfits, showing more of the dancer’s body. The veil is more widely used than in Egypt. High heels are commonly worn.Lebanese dancers have more freedom than Egyptian style dancers in the type of costume they choose to wear.
Costume in Turkey
Turkish costumes are usually in the bedlah style. Distinctive features of many Turkish costumes include a V-shaped or triangular belt which may be shaped or contoured around the top edge, and a great deal of embellishment and beaded fringing on both the bra and the belt. Skirts are often fuller than their Egyptian counterparts, and are likely to be made of chiffon or velvet rather than lycra.
In the 1980 and ’90s a very revealing costume style developed with skirts designed to display both legs up to the hip, and plunging bras or even pasties.Such styles still exist in some venues but there are also many Turkish belly dancers who wear more moderate costumes. Even so, many Turkish belly dance costumes reflect the playful, flirty style of Turkish belly dance.
this are some photos of the different types of bellydance costumes: