Classical Tutu Jargon-Bespoke Versus Couture

©Sugar Plum Fairy you ever wondered about the difference between a custom-made classical tutu and a couture one? Sometimes, the words are interchanged as meaning the same thing. Although both types of garments are made-to-order, wearing couture is like moving from the top floor of a fancy building to the spot that’s more coveted; the penthouse suite and its views.

According to online dictionaries, the word bespoke refers to garments, shoes, or accessories that are ordered before they are made.  Creating bespoke items can also include:

  • Having the item altered or tailored for a certain look, fit or occasion.
  • Ordering items that are individualized to a special measurement.
  • Planning what to wear for an important event in the future like a wedding or  a prom.

Although many people choose bespoke or made-to-order items for special occasions, some people have to use bespoke services all the time. People who are extra-tall or wear sizes that are hard to find in ready-to-wear may have to have their garments or shoes custom-made or tailored.

Theatrical Bespoke Requires Sharing

In the world of dance, character costumes are shared among the corp members. Many of the bodices for classical tutus have two or three rows of hook & eye closures at the back so they can accommodate several torso sizes. Costumes are labeled inside with the name of the ballet story and the character they pertain to.

This photo from the Karinska Collection shows a costume labeled for sharing between two dancers at The New York City Ballet. For extra security, there is a seamstress on hand taking stitches along the bodice back before the performance.

After the performance, the seamstress clips the threads to reopen the bodice and the tutu is stored away until the next time. This is a very basic way to adjust a flexible bespoke-for-variation ballet garment.

There can be some unpleasant challenges for both dancers and costume departments when it comes to using the same garment over and over again. That will be an interesting topic to explore in another post.

Original Costume Ownership Is A Wonderful Thing

©Don Quixote Dream Scene Variation Tutu by Monica NewellSpeaking about costume sharing, you, the dance client, are truly experiencing the best of the best when your tutu is new and worn only by you. Your costume is more than just about your chosen character role; it’s about you. You will never see a company or designer that has more skill and artistic flair creating costumes for all age groups and  theatrical categories.

One of the loveliest perks of ballet training and the competition circuit is being able to experience original ownership of your costumes.

It’s pure magic for family, friends, and acquaintances to witness the   transformation of appearance that couture provides. It is magnificent to see a young person looking so elegant and refined. To be described as elegant and refined are very complementary  words .

You have been elevated to a higher standard of appearance and have arrived at the penthouse of design perfection. The view is fabulous at the top!  It’s a dream come true for any ballerina.


” Extreme luxury isn’t the most bling-bling, it’s extreme refinement, which is couture at its finest.”- Karl Lagerfeld

 Unique Decorative Elements Make It Couture

©Aurora Sleeping Beauty Variation Tutu by Monica NewellHave you ever seen a woman from a distance wearing a beautiful dress and thought how pretty it was?  Then, as you get closer to the garment, you notice all kinds of intricate details on it that take your breath away. Hand-embroidery, delicate French seams, tiny pin tucks, lace flowers, silk lining and pearl buttons. It isn’t just a dress. It’s a showcase of  dedication to a specialized, difficult craft.

That’s the difference between bespoke and couture. You can tell that the methods used to make the garment  a showpiece took a lot of skill and a lot of time.

Hand-attaching anything to a garment takes time and patience. Many people don’t even have the patience to thread a needle and sew on a button. Imagine the planning, cutting, shaping, measuring, and pleating to create the canvas garment, then arranging and hand-attaching all the tiny couture elements that make it an original.

So what is a classical tutu? Bespoke or couture? It is both. It’s a combination of a made-to-order garment for a special purpose with a specific fit, then elevated to the utmost of beauty by the talented, tireless hands of theatrical design experts like Monica Newell of




Image Credits:
Karinska Collection Costume Label By Ballerinailina (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, London Skyline from New Zealand High Commission © Copyright Christine Matthews, No Modifications,


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