What to Wear for Your First Competition: Part 1 with Nick Kosovich

What to Wear for Your First Competition: Part 1 with Nick Kosovich

Welcome to Life with LeNique! Today we are here to give some of you new students out there some advice on what to wear for your first competition. If you are dancing in Latin and Rhythm, or, Smooth and Standard there are some differences in the costuming. Today we will be focusing on Latin and Rhythm. With this category, men will wear a Latin shirt; it could be an inside or an outside shirt, Latin trousers, and Latin dance shoes. 

How to Check your dress before Competition with Lena Kosovich


Happy New Year!!! Welcome back to Life with LeNique. Your competitions are coming up, you have showcases and upcoming events. You need your garments to be dance ready. For today's tutorial, we are going to show you how to check your dresses and prep them for your next event. Professional dancers are taught to have a perfect posture. Lena and Nick were taught a theory called the 5 "P's." Perfect. Posture. Prevents. Poor. Performance. 

Nick and Lena took that method into their garment preparation. 

Perfect. Preparation. Prevents. Poor. Performance. 


Today, look at your garments. Give them some love. Get them dance ready. With all the hectic planning for competitions, traveling, rehearsals, many people forget to look at their garments. 

Let's go through a checklist of what is important to look at so that your garment are in the best shape as possible. 


First! take your dress out of storage and check for stains on the garment. 

Make-up and tanner are two big things in the dance industry.  So stains on the body suit are very common. However, when interacting with other dancers or competitors because of all the hugging and love in the ballroom. There are stains on the garment where you wouldn't normally have stains from your own cosmetics. Food stains are also common stains to find on garments. Not necessarily from the food one eats but, the food and drinks are on the tables in the ballroom. It is easy to accidentally brush up against a saucy plate, drippy coffee cup, or wine glass without even noticing until your next competition. 


Second! Be sure to check your zippers! 

You do not want to be that dancer on the floor fixing a zipper between songs. Make sure that your zippers are properly sewn and in working condition. 


Third! Be sure to check your straps! 

Over time straps on dresses will begin to stretch and lose their elasticity. Sometimes threads will break or hooks and eyes will come off. Be sure they are still tight. Check the threads and make sure they are still sewn. Look to make sure the hooks and eyes are still attached and sewn on well. 


Forth! Be sure to check the seams in your sleeves and the sides of your dress! 

Over time in sleeves, the seams will wear out and sometimes break. The best way to check the seams is to insert your hand into the sleeve and make sure the seam is sewn in a nice zigzag form. Be sure to check the side seams on the dress itself for any rips. If you know how to sew or know anyone who knows how to sew, it is an easy fix. 


Fifth! Be Sure to check your bra cups! 

Make sure bra cups are still sewn in the dress. Sometimes cups can be lost in between competitions while traveling. 


Last but not least! Be Sure to check the hem on your dresses. Especially your ballroom dresses. 

Because the ballroom dresses are much longer than the latin or rhythm dresses, they are more likely have tears. Sometimes the dresses are stepped on or are caught under chairs which can cause rips in the hem. Go through the entire hem multiple times to be sure there are no rips. If you see a tear or rip. have the dresses sent out to be fixed unless you are skilled at sewing. Then it could be an easy fix for you.  



Lena Kosovich is a United States and World American Ballroom Champion. She was born in Russia and has trained in ballet, folk and every style of ballroom dancing. She is featured on theBenise: The Spanish Guitar (2010) DVD and has appeared on television including Dancing With the Stars.  

She worked as an Assistant Designer on Dancing With the Stars and as a Designer for So You Think Can Dance and Dance Your Ass Off (2009). She is LeNique Co-Founder with husband Nick Kosovich.


Fishnets! How to Match the Color and Hide Seams, with Lena Kosovich

PART 1: Matching the Shade of your Fishnets to the Shade of Your Shoes!  


When planning your competitive look, matching the color of your fishnets with your dance shoes is a crucial element.

Years ago, the trend was to match your dance shoes to the color of your dress. Lately, it’s become more popular to keep your shoes nude, as it gives you a seamless and long legged look.

Historically, most ballroom shoes were nude satin. As dancers started to emulate the “latin” look, tanning gained popularity, thus the latin tan shoe was born.

if you were to match your shoe and fishnet shades incorrectly, there would then be no point for your shoe to be nude!
— Lena Kosovich

In this tutorial, we used Capezio’s Tope and Sun Tan fishnets to demonstrate the difference in color and its effect on different colored shoes.

Because there are many options, our tutorial will give you tips for finding your perfect shade.

The main idea of having nude shoes and nude fishnets is to create a seamless line from the bottom of your dress to the floor, giving you the effect of having an extended leg.

Tip #1: Do not trust the color of your skin if you are tanning. We recommend applying a little of your tanning product before you buy your shoes. If you spray tan, try a “test run” so you have your shoes and fishnets ready.

If your shoes and tights are different shades, this effect is not achieved. This is distracting for the judges, and they will focus on your footwork instead of your entire leg movements and lines.

If you want to wear a darker colored shoe that either fits better or is more comfortable, what you can do is select a matching color of fishnet tights; so as to create the same effect even if the shade of your leg is lighter.

As Lena explains here, if you were to match your shoe and fishnet shades incorrectly, there would then be no point for your shoe to be nude!

Tip #2: Dye your old tights with simple brown fabric dye one or two shades darker to match the color of your shoe. Alternatively, you can dye your shoes .

(please refer to our tutorial video on dying shoes).   

PART 2: Altering the Length of Your Tights!

No matter which manufacturer you choose, most fishnets are cut very long from the top elastic to the crotch. While this cut may be a minor annoyance to non-dancers, ballroom and latin dresses are typically tight fitting on the waist and lower, showing the line where your fishnets sit.

In this tutorial Lena Kosovich will teach you a few tricks you can learn to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  • Supplies:
  • Your fishnets
  • Scissors (preferably fabric scissors)
  • Elastic (thin but strong) 
  • 1 Safety Pin
  • Optional: Sewing Machine, needle, and thread

Step 1: Place your fishnets on a flat surface so that the front of the elastic rests on top of the elastic on the bottom.


Step 2: With a pair of scissors cut off the elastic


Step 3: Cut off an inch of the fishnets (you can cut it lower if you prefer but just be careful not to cut off too much).

Step 4: Measure around your waist. Use this measurement (plus an extra five inches) to cut the thin elastic.

Step 5: Put your safety pin on one end of the elastic.

Step 6: Feed the safety pin through the loops of the fishnets a quarter of an inch down from the top, all the way around. Pull the elastic through until a section of elastic is left hanging out from both where you started and where you finished.

Step 7: Tie the elastic ends together. The elastic should not be so tight that you cannot pull it over your hips, but tight enough that it sits snuggly on your waist.

Congratulations! You have created an elastic belt that will hold your tights up without the elastic lines being visible.

Another alternative is to use the elastic you removed from your tights and reattach it after you reduce the length of the midriff. This method tends to work best if your dress is looser fitting around the waist and hips.

We hope you had fun learning about how to match your fishnets to the shade of your shoes as well as how to adjust their length! Stay tuned for more tips and guides!


Lena Kosovich is a United States and World American Ballroom Champion. She was born in Russia and has trained in ballet, folk and every style of ballroom dancing. She is featured on the Benise: The Spanish Guitar (2010) DVD and has appeared on television including Dancing With the Stars.  

She worked as an Assistant Designer on Dancing With the Stars and as a Designer for So You Think Can Dance and Dance Your Ass Off (2009). She is LeNique Co-Founder with husband Nick Kosovich.


Q&A with Nick and Lena Kosovich

This week on Life with LeNique Nick and Lena Kosovich answer all your questions about purchasing your first dance costume!

Thank you, Chris Lynam for sending us these questions!

  • What are 5 things to look out for when considering a dance costume?
  • What are the advantages of going with a custom design versus to a ready to wear?
  • What to look for when purchasing a used costume?
  • What are some costume options for a full figured dancer?

Take a look below to see how Nick and Lena answer from their own experience!


What are the Five Most Important Things to Look for When Considering a Dance Costume?


1) Talk to a teacher or studio owners to get recommendations.

Do not purchase online or used costumes without consulting a professional. 

2) Make sure to check that the size, age, and style* 

*There is a big difference between ballroom and latin styles

3) Bright colors are key.

A brown floor with spotlights and lighting will drown you out, so look for bright colors!

4) Keep your budget in mind.

5) Try on as many costumes as possible.

This will help you nail down your tastes. Also, bring someone who’s opinion you trust. They can help to critique and advise you on what looks best.

What are the advantages of going with a custom designed costume versus a ready to wear?



1) You will get what you want and what is recommended for you.

2) It will be close to a cut and color you need depending on what is important to you.


1) Are they for you? Do they fit your body type and color?

2) How much will the alterations cost compared to the price of a custom costume?

3) Are the materials still available for alterations?


If someone chooses to go with a used costume what are some things they should watch out for before purchasing a used costume from someone?


Here is a checklist below you can use before your next purchase.

1) The wear and tear of the costumes, especially the seams and threads

2) Look on the inside to see if the seams and threads are well made

3) The quality of rhinestones

4) The fabric care instructions for washing

5) Compare prices

6) Durability to make sure it will last


What are some costume options for a full figured dancer?



1) Fairly fitted

2) High waisted pants

3) Suspenders

4) Stretch fabric

5) Loose hanging drapes

6) Short collar


1) Minimize areas with drapes, fringes, linear lines, empire waist, and softer fabrics

2) Fitted and decorated. Costumes don’t have to be loose.

3) Balance between loose and fitted areas

4) Use bold accessories that accentuate focus areas

We hope you have enjoyed this segment of Life with LeNique! Tune in next week for our segment on Fishnets and Shoes with Lena Kosovich

House of Lenique <3


How to Replace Rhinestones on Costumes!

It is often the case that between the years, shows and events costumes tend to get damaged and it is most likely that the gemstones, used to make your costume bedazzle, have given all they can and have started to peel away. 

Weather this is from intense dance movement or the wear and tear of time, don’t worry! 

In this tutorial we will teach you step by step how to apply more stones to your dance wear in order to replace the ones that have fallen away. 


  • Gem-tac
  • E6000 (Read instructions carefully before use)
  • Nozzle
  • Bee’s wax
  • Stick (pens or pencils are a useful alternative)
  • Tray

Materials Continued:

  • Rhinestones
  • Tweezers (to remove excess glue)
  • Steamer
  • Pillows
  • Ironing board
  • Trash bags
  • 2 swatches of fabric or paper for practice

Removing Excess Glue

Step 1: Before applying glue to replace the missing stones check the garment while on a hanger to see if there are any raised glue dots. Raised glue will prevent the stone from sitting right as well as the glue being able to latch onto the fabric effectively.

Note: You don’t need the glue to be removed perfectly, a little remaining glue is okay to stone over. It is the raised glue that will need to removed.


Step 2: To remove the raised glue, use a steamer a few inches away from the glue spot. Wait for the glue to soften.


Step 3: Once the glue is soft; grasp the glue with your tweezers and pull gently! The glue should come right off.


Preparing To Replace Stones

Step 1: Grab your ironing board and cover it with plastic so that the glue will not ruin your board.  


Step 1: Find your pillow and place it inside of your garbage bag so that when you stone the glue you are using will not go through the fabric and stain your pillow. (This will be used as a makeshift mannequin)

Step 2: Put the covered pillow into the dress and place the dress on the ironing board.


Step 1: Spread the suit across the ironing board. Make sure that no layers are underneath the portion of the suit you attempt to stone. Note: Also make sure the affected area stays flat. We recommend pinning that area to the board itself.

Step 1.2: When stoning sleeves or pant legs be sure to put either a board (we recommend cardboard covered in plastic) or a thick folded piece of plastic inside. This is so that if the glue goes through the fabric will not stain the other side.


Applying Rhinestones

Step 1: Carefully glue and replace stones on your garment. Use the same size stone as the stones that fell off

Step 2: Continue stoning one side of your garment. When you are ready to flip it over, wait overnight for the completed side to dry. if you are pressed for time wait at least 2-3 hours.

Please note, flipping the costume prematurely will cause stones to fall or slide making the glue spread and staining your garment.


Thank you for keeping up with Lenique! We hope to see you soon!


Tuxedo Jacket V.S. Dance Tuxedo Jacket

Before buying a tuxedo for ballroom dancing make sure you buy a dance jacket and not a regular tuxedo jacket. This is very important because there are a few major differences that will get in the way of your dancing if you are wearing the wrong jacket. The three most crucial factors that come into play when differentiating between everyday jackets and dance jackets are the padding, cut and fabric.


Padded shoulders in everyday jackets pose one of the biggest problems while dancing. The padding gives off the effect of broader and stiffer shoulders. This may look great standing up, however when trying to maintain a dance frame the shoulders pull and the lapel rides up. This is unlike dance jackets which have light stiffening so as to still appear stiff but that facilitates mobility and flexibility.


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The cut of your tuxedo is as equally as important as the lack of padding. Dance tuxedo jackets have a very different cut for the arm holes than normal tuxedo’s. Normal tuxedos are made with a lower/ larger arm cut unlike dance tuxedo’s. The larger cut causes the extra fabric to bunch up when you lift your arms. Dance jackets are made with a high cut that doesn't bunch up, giving you a smooth and clean look while dancing.




Last but not least, the difference in fabric play a major role in determining why dance jacket’s are better to dance with. The fabric of an everyday tuxedo is meant to be stiff so that it does not wrinkle or crease from everyday use. If you were to wear a regular suit while dancing the material of your jacket will constrict your movements making it both uncomfortable and difficult to dance in. Dance Tuxedo’s however, are made with stretchable fabric. One of which is called Lycra. Stretchable fabric contours with your body as you move, giving you more flexibility and less resistance. The ideal percentage of lycra fabric used in dancewear is 3-6%.





A regular tuxedo looks great while standing but funky while dancing. Go with a dance jacket that looks fantastic while doing both!

Thank you for keeping up with life with Lenique! Stay tuned for more tips and guides!

Expect it to feel more snug than a regular jacket.
— Alonzo Perez, LA Ballroom Dance Instructor

Nick Kosovich is the former United States and World American Ballroom Champion. After competing for 36 years he retired from competition dancing in 2005.

Nick is an Emmy Nominated Choreographer for Dancing with the Stars He also was a professional dancer on Season 2 and Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars.

He is from Perth, Australia  and the Co- Founder of LeNique. He currently resides in Los Angeles, Ca with his wife and co-founder Lena Kosovich.