10 Fashion Lessons We Can Learn From 'Dancing With the Stars'

Ah, "DWTS" style. Monochromatic and glittery -- we love it!
Ah, "DWTS" style. Monochromatic and glittery -- we love it!
Joey Foley/FilmMagic/Getty Images

We might not all be able to twirl on our tippy-toes or rhumba like the cast of any given season of "Dancing With the Stars" (aka "DWTS"), but nothing's holding us back from dressing the part if the mood so strikes us!Those of you with a little bit of stage experience undoubtedly have an old Caboodle stuffed to bursting with makeup, hair styling goo and more costume jewelry than you can shake a stiletto at.

Before you re-invent yourself into a glamour queen or simply attempt to translate "DWTS" style into your day-to-day wardrobe, take a look at these 10 lessons we've learned from watching all 400 seasons of the popular show. Failure to do so could result in embarrassing or uncomfortable situations that we're sure you'd rather avoid!




Cover Valuable Assets

Unless you really want to risk exposing your "girls" in front of a crowd, be sure to secure them before you hit the town. In today's day and age of cell phone cameras and YouTube videos, the last thing you want is for your mother to log on and see you shaking what she gave you, accidental or otherwise.

It's a virtual certainty that every "DWTS" contestant with breasts is practically stapled into her costume to avoid a wardrobe malfunction of Janet Jackson-sized proportions. Follow their lead and invest in the appropriate bra or other undergarment to go with your ensemble, and enlist a friend to keep an eye on your outfit's functionality.


And we shouldn't have to say this, but don't forget to wear panties. You don't want to be known as the girl who "pulled a Britney Spears," and we're not referring to her chart-topping or head-shaving ways.


Feathers Fly

Jennifer Grey would really stand out on "Good Morning America" if she'd worn some feathers!
Jennifer Grey would really stand out on "Good Morning America" if she'd worn some feathers!
Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

There's a reason that feather boas have long since gone out of fashion. They're insanely hot to wear -- and extremely messy. We have pets that shed; we don't need dander flying off our clothes, too.

Besides, it's tough to pull off the look. Whether you're rocking a boa or an outfit that's adorned with feathers, we really think they're better left to poultry and other fowl. "DWTS" contestants dare to sport feather-enhanced costumes; however, their top-tier designers glue each and every one on individually, effectively minimizing unsightly stage messes.


If you really want to add pizzazz to your outfit, either relegate the feathers to a small hair clip, or ditch them altogether in favor of faux crystals or sequins, which are more likely to stay put.


High Heel Havoc

Is there anything sexier than a super-high heel paired with a skirt that shows just enough (but not too much) leg? Probably not. And is there anything more excruciating than wearing those heels for hours at a time? Again, probably not.

The day that comfortable, affordable heels are made available to the general public, I'll be the first one out on that dance floor, trying not to twist my ankle. Until then, most stage dancers will tell you that it's easier on your feet to wear a lower, thicker heel than you think is fashionable. Extremely high heels are not only uncomfortable to wear and dance in, they're also in constant danger of snapping like twigs under the stress of all those pirouettes and turns. They're simply not constructed for serious dancing.


By and large, "DWTS" contestants wear sturdy, reliable footwear, but even the occasional dance shoe can crumple under the intensity of the competition. Kirstie Alley made headlines when her foot came out of her heel mid-performance. Whether you chalk it up to a sizing error or a defective pair of shoes, it pays to double- or triple-check your footwear's fit -- whether you're workin' it on the dance floor or simply workin' 9 to 5.


Spandex Saves

The vast majority of normal humans have a bit of extra flesh here or there that they'd prefer to keep hidden. Those of us with a penchant for fitted clothing often find that more snugly fitting garments leave precious little to the imagination. Fortunately, compression pieces incorporating the miracle material that is spandex are available to smooth out virtually every area of your body. (Except your face -- surgery, Botox and pricey skin creams are still the only options for that).

Typically, the main problem areas (thighs, belly, butt and hips) can sport spandex items without anyone being the wiser; the region is easily covered by your clothing or "DWTS"-inspired costume. Of course, you won't be sporting a midriff-baring ensemble with one of these miracle-workers underneath, but honestly, those outfits are best left to 20-year-olds or professional models, anyway.



Tan, Schman

Lacey Schwimmer (with partner Kyle Massey) demonstrates the alternative to the tan: tights!
Lacey Schwimmer (with partner Kyle Massey) demonstrates the alternative to the tan: tights!
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Who needs an authentic, sun-scorched tan when there are so many options that don't cause cancer?

Instead of frying in the sun, lather on the SPF and choose a more skin-friendly option, like a spray or bottle tan. "DWTS" contestants use these alternatives regularly to maintain glowing complexions. If a little bit of leg color is all you desire, just sport a pair of tinted hose or tights to give the illusion of a tan, without any of the extra effort. Be sure to consider your color carefully, however. No one's going to be fooled if your lily-white shoulders glow in the dark compared with your J. Lo wannabe legs.



Take a Chance!

Regular male celebrities often look so boring on the red carpet. Sure, they've got chiseled features, but they're sporting tired old tuxedos.

"DWTS" celebs really know how to bring it. Their costumes are hip, hot and functional (you can't lift a woman terribly high if you're in unforgiving fabric). Fashion-forward celebs would be wise to take a cue from "DWTS" contestants like Hines Ward, who recently donned a costume with banana yellow accents (as a nod to his Pittsburgh Steeler fans), and looked hot doing it. Normally, that shade is hard to work, but confidence -- both on and off the dance floor -- helped Hines pull it off beautifully. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was color-coordinated with his equally stunning partner.


This same concept applies to women, too. Risk-takers sometimes end up in outfits best described as "fashion fails," but shaking up things a bit is what makes life exciting. So, let those creative juices flow -- you might even become an unwitting trendsetter!


Go Glam

Mya goes glam before her big performance on "Dancing With the Stars."
Mya goes glam before her big performance on "Dancing With the Stars."
Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images

There's a reason you don't ever see "DWTS" contestants doing the cha-cha in sweats and a cotton tee. Boring duds simply aren't eye-catching in the same way that, say, sequins, red lipstick and a bombshell hairdo are.

If you're ever in need of the front-and-center spotlight, all you have to do to turn the attention your way is channel your inner Hollywood starlet. Smoky eyes, va-va-voom lips and diamonds (real or faux) galore should do the trick nicely. When in doubt, Old Hollywood glamour is the way to score some fashion attention. Just be sure that the venue is appropriate. Church or high tea with your grandma really calls for a more understated appearance, you know?



Crown Yourself!

Certainly, a sparkly tiara is an option, but what we really mean is that you should take full advantage of your natural (or synthetic) crowning glory: your hair.

A classic up-do might be safest if you're planning to really boogie, unless you want to end up with a few dozen strands in your mouth and eyes. Otherwise, beautifully styled hair, whether presented as wavy, straight or curly can truly top off your overall look. Women with short hair need not fret, however. Tons of realistic and affordable synthetic hair options, whether in clip-on or semi-permanent form, are available for temporary use.



Makeover Your Makeup

Dying for a hot new look? Forget hitting the mall for overpriced going-out wear. Instead, look no further than your makeup drawer! Chances are, once you start digging around you'll discover a smattering of cosmetics that you've forgotten all about.

Play around with different products, application techniques and racier colors than you typically wear to give yourself an instant style update. Feel free to skip the requisite "DWTS" false eyelashes, though. It's pretty hard to pull those off unless you're on an actual stage. Heck, this age of high-definition television makes them pretty tricky to pull off anytime.



Use Your No. 1 Accessory

At a private dance rehearsal, Niecy Nash shows off two signature accessories: a flower and a smile.
At a private dance rehearsal, Niecy Nash shows off two signature accessories: a flower and a smile.
Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Sure, pouty models might look gorgeous and all, but who really wants to strike up a conversation with someone who looks like she's itching to throw punches? And have you ever seen a frowning contestant on "DWTS" (when they're not receiving their scores)? A smile is the key to a great performance.

Increase your face value (get it?) by flashing that megawatt smile you were born with. If you're self-conscious about your smile, it's easy enough to use an over-the-counter whitening system or even have minor dental work to give your smile the oomph you desire. All the diamonds or sparkly outfits in the world can't even come close to the natural transformation that a radiant smile provides, so be sure to break yours out from time to time.



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  • Fitzpatrick, Beth Cooney. "'Dancing With the Stars' Costume Recap: Getting Personal." Stylist. April 5, 2011. (April 19, 2011). http://www.stylelist.com/2011/04/05/dancing-with-the-stars-costume-recap-getting-personal/
  • Fitzpatrick, Beth Cooney. "'Dancing With the Stars' Fashion Recap: Kirstie Alley Loses Her Shoe." Stylelist. April 12, 2011. (April 19, 2011). http://www.stylelist.com/2011/04/12/dancing-with-the-stars-fashion-recap-kirstie-alley-loses-her-shoe/
  • Morrill, Hannah. "'Dancing With the Stars' Makeup Secrets: Kendra Wilkinson's Red Hot Look." In Style. April 5, 2011. (April 19, 2011). http://news.instyle.com/2011/04/05/dancing-with-the-stars-makeup-artist-kendra-wilkinson/
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