Instructor Gia Jaggers with some of her many dance costumes. SANDRO VIRAG

Just like everyday fashions, ballroom dancing fashions have traveled through the era of time and changed along the way. A lot of changes helped to evolve today’s look.

When you see a ballroom dance couple on the floor and they are all “put together,” you probably have no idea what has gone into creating that image. From the hair to the makeup, to the costume to the shoes, every detail has been attended to.

There is so much that most people don’t realize goes into that polished look. Let me take you through the process.

Ballroom dance is a sport that is built not just on technical elements, but on an overall look – it must be visually exciting and eye catching.

It all starts with the hair. The hair is probably the most intricate part of the look, and this goes for both male and female. Hair spray is a mainstay of ballroom dance.

The next important step is makeup, which is highly exaggerated and pronounced. This is so audience members sitting far away can appreciate the look at a distance. False eyelashes are a must!

From here, the costume takes center stage and is what the audience notices first.

Ballroom costumes have gone through so many changes through the years. They progressed from short, puffy, layered skirts for the ladies, to longer and feathery dresses. Now, the trend is simpler, with lots and lots of sparkle.

The look for guys has changed as well, from a one-piece tight jumpsuit to a modern-looking outfit of boot-cut dress pants and slim-fitting open shirts with lots of crystals.

Ladies’ shoe styles started with lower heels with a closed toe, and over the years transitioned to very high, very flexible, open-toed heels. The guys’ shoes developed into a higher heel or Cuban heel to create a Latin look.

Now that the look is complete, how functional is it? Is the hair going to stay in place when the lady is dipped down to the floor? Will the lady’s dress stay intact while spinning and bending? Are her earrings going to stay on?

Will the guys’ shirts stay tucked in while lifting the ladies? Will his partner’s jewelry get caught in his costume?

There are lots of tricks of the trade that come with years of practice and participation in ballroom dance. I will reveal those in another article to help you prevent these mishaps.

Remember, the mark of a true pro is if the audience never knows that there has been a costume malfunction!

Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom.