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Washing your ballroom or latin dress often feels like risky business but this feeling can be amplified if your dress is covered in feathers. Many questions arise when the dreaded feather is placed upon a dress.. Do I wet the feathers? How can I avoid them? If they do get wet is that it? Is the dress dead!? Well never fear as I’ve created this blog post to help answer some of those very questions and also to help shed a little light on getting your dress back to squeaky clean. I’m currently wearing a feathered dress and have worn a few other feathered dresses in the past too. Some of my previous dresses had the whole ballroom skirt covered in ostrich feathers. Expensive and fragile! Back then I learnt that if you wet the feathers the dye in them RUNS. I also learnt that if you have two different tones of feathers on one skirt (ie. light to dark) and you dunk them all in a bath, the darker dyed feathers will most definitely run colour into the water/lighter feathers hence leaving you with one medium-ish colour all over. #LIVEANDLEARN. So nowadays I go by the motto of ‘keep the feathers dry’. It’s easier said than done I know, but with these 5 simple steps hopefully you should be able to get the job done 🙂

Before I start I just want to say that if at any stage you happen to get any feathers wet then that’s it. The dress is good for the bin. HA! Joking! Seriously don’t stress. Think of a little birdie having a bath and remember it will dry back to it’s fluffy self so all is good! I just don’t recommend fully drenching the feathers ie. stuffing them in a bath and letting them swoosh around in there. That could be asking for trouble! But alas, if any do get wet, wait until Step 4 and just hit them with a hair dryer and they will floof back to normal in no time.

Step 1:

If you have any feathers on the sleeves or floats like I do, try and waterproof them. I like to grab a plastic bag and pop both floats in there and either tie the bag in a knot or secure with an elastic band just so no water can accidentally splash in. You can do the same for any other feathered parts on your dress if you like but if you are dealing with a large, multi boa-ed skirt like I am then I wouldn’t really bother as it won’t all fit into one bag. I just choose to leave the bottom end of the skirt hanging off the basin (see photos below).

Step 2:

Wash the torso, sleeves, leotard and as much of the skirt as possible as normal in a tub or sink. If you want to see my previous post on how to wash a ballroom dress then click here to get a bit more of a detailed version. I mix luke warm water with some normal washing liquid and I spray Vanish Oxi-Action (pink bottle) directly onto the dress on areas like the under arms and the leotard and I attack any tough stains with the Vanish soap bar making sure to really work it up to a lather using my hands and rubbing the material together old school washing style! These two products are my go-to’s for washing ballroom dresses and I would not even attempt to wash a dress (properly!) without them. In Australia you can get them from any Woolworths or Coles and I imagine they are quite easy to find in any country 🙂

Step 3:

Drain away the dirty water and refill the sink/tub with only cold water and give the washed areas a good rinse. Not only does this help to get rid of any excess product still left on the dress it really helps to re-harden any glue that may have softened in the warm water. After rinsing, drain that water away and squeeze out any excess water in the dress.

Step 4:

Now, normally I would say to chuck the dress in the washing machine for a good old spin cycle but spin+feathers=drama. We don’t want no drama. So instead grab a towel and give the dress a bit of a towel dry before wrapping it up in the towel and transferring it to somewhere out of the way. Lay the dress out flat on top of the towel. For the sake of the photos I had the dress and towels on carpet but I did move it afterwards to a tiled area so that my carpet wouldn’t get wet hehe. Let it stay there ’til it dries enough to be hung up. DO NOT hang the dress straight away as the weight of the dress when wet will be too much and will stretch the material leaving you with a saggy, ill-fitting dress… Not hot.

Step 5:

Once the dress is dry, check for water marks. A watermark is when the water has run down the material and left a puddle like mark once dry. Generally with this satin material I have on my dress it is prone to water-marking. It’s a pain in the butt dealing with water marks I tell ya! But I think I’ve figured out the answer! Don’t try and spot clean/dry the water marked areas as this will just create more of the same. Trust me, I’ve tried. Instead you will have to re-wet the entire area that is marked. For me its the whole skirt. I did this by filling a squirty bottle with a little bit of vanish spray and warm water and completely soaked the whole skirt. I then took a towel and slightly dried it off before hitting it with the hair dryer and drying it completely. This will take away ALL the marks and should leave the material looking clean and even as if it were brand new 🙂

And there you go ladies! And gents if you’re watching 😉 Hopefully your outfit looks (and smells!) brand spanking new again. Its a love/hate relationship I have with washing my dress. I hate doing it because it can sometimes be a mission but I always love the feeling of putting on a fresh, clean dress at the start of a competition. I wouldn’t recommend washing your dress too often as the material and stonework should be treated with care and to wash it over and over could be damaging. Instead, to keep your dress going in between washes, I really recommend buying some Febreze Fabric spray. It kills nasty odours and germs and leaves your dress smelling like flowers. If you have any more questions or would like to see a post on something in particular please feel free to hit me up in the comments below! I’m always up for new ideas!

Love, Rachelle xx

So, you get your new ballroom dress, wear it a few (or more) times and start to get that sinking feeling that it might be time to give the ol girl a wash. Washing your gown for the first time can be a fairly daunting experience; what if all the stones fall off? Will the colours run together? what on earth do I do with it now it's soaking wet?!! But, not to worry as I have washed many a dress over the years (friends dresses included) and this is how I like to do it 🙂

wash-ballroom-dress
Time for a wash!

First of all I recommend you get your hands on some Vanish Oxi Action fabric stain remover (pink containers). All of the pink Vanish products are fine, I've tried the powder form and the spray but prefer the spray as I can target problem areas. This stuff is like liquid gold for washing dresses. Lipstick stain? see ya later. Fake tan marks? bye! This special product was recommended to me from my previous dressmaker in London who had told me she once used it to get a red wine stain out of a white dress! So yeah, no more needs to be said... it's a miracle worker.

febreze-vanish-oxiaction
Febreze Spray + Vanish Oxi Action

Here's a little list of what you will need:

  • Vanish Oxi Action (powder or spray)
  • normal washing liquid of choice
  • bathtub or large sink
  • washing machine (please don't stress about this and just keep reading!!)
  • gloves (optional)

Lets get to it!

  1. Ask yourself the question do I want to wash the whole dress or just do a spot clean? If it's just a spot wash then still follow the same instructions but only do so with the parts of the dress that need washing. I personally don't opt for spot washes and prefer to wash the whole dress at a time as some materials are prone to water marks. In saying that though I've also had great success with some spot washes when the dress isn't really that dirty. You don't want to over-wash your ballroom gown.
  2. Fill your bathtub/sink with lukewarm water (not too hot, or you risk the chance of melting the stones right off your dress! #notideal). Add in a tiny amount of washing liquid and either spray the Vanish on problem areas or put a small amount of the powder into the water. I would probably use a tablespoon in a sink or a few table spoons in the bathtub. Just try to go easy on the washing products as no one wants a crusty dress for the following comp!
  3. Put the dress in the water. Go on, get it in there! Now you can work on getting out the marks (if any) and just give the dress a general scrub. I usually do this by rubbing the material together and do this until it's clean. Give the dress a good swish and squeeze and then drain the water, holding the dress to the side of the tub.
  4. Once the water has drained, refill the tub with cold water ONLY. This cools the glue under the stones and rinses any excess cleaning product out of the dress.
  5. Now, up to you but I like to put the bodice of my dress into a pillow slip for protection before I then put it in the washing machine. Once its all squeezed into the washing machine set it to spin on low or if you can put it on a gentle spin cycle.
  6. Try not to freak out while your dress is spinning a million miles an hour...
  7. Pull your dress out of the machine and WA-LAH! Brand new dress 🙂 I like to hang it out to continue to dry, if your skirt is extra heavy you can place it over a chair to dry so that the weight of the skirt doesn't pull on the bodice.

In between washes I like to use Febreze fabric refresher which kills bacteria and really helps to keep the dresses fresh! They have so many different flavours and are really great for when you are travelling and don't have the time/space to wash your dress. I just spray it onto the areas needed, leave for a few minutes and then pat dry with a towel.

Hopefully some of these ideas helped you! I've tried this same method with all my dresses ranging from velvet to silk and its always worked out fine. I would take care with feathers though.. when I've washed dresses with feathers I tend to do the spot wash method and if you do happen to accidentally get some feathers wet the hairdryer works a treat in getting them back nice and fluffy 🙂 Also, don't be afraid of the spin cycle, it really is the best thing to get rid of all that excess water so your dress will dry so much quicker! Just be sure to pop your machine on a gentle cycle or on a lower speed spin.

silver-dress-embody
My dress sponsored by Embody Dancewear

If you have any more questions or queries please feel free to comment below 🙂 All my beautiful dresses are sponsored by Embody Dancewear.

HAPPY WASHING!

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As you may or may not know, these past few weeks I have been in Ye Olde London town preparing for a rather large competition. This is why my blog posts have been a little erratic and random and for that I’m sorry guys! Don’t hate the player, #hatethegame! The other night I was lucky enough to dance at the Royal Albert Hall in London so I thought I would share a little step-by-step low down of how my makeup goes before a big competition. I generally tend to stick to the same idea every time but every now and then I like to mix up the colours to co-ordinate with my dress.. otherwise I’m more of a natural gal. Guess what, this time was no different! I wore a canary yellow dress so I decided to keep the look quite neutral and maybe throw in a bit of purple to bring out the hazel in my eyes and pair it with a banging red lip. I’ve written it out as a type of step-by-step, get ready with me tutorial so that hopefully you can follow along the dot points with me for those times that you are getting ready for a comp! So, let’s get started 🙂

  • First up it’s time to prime. I already washed and moisturised my face, so I’m just going to smooth Rimmel Fix and Protect makeup primer all over my face.
  • Once that’s soaked in I apply Estee Lauder Double wear liquid foundation in the colour Ecru all over my face with a damp beauty blender. Full coverage pleaaaase 🙂
  • I then go in with Maybelline Instant Anti-age The Eraser Eye concealer (what a bloody mouthful of a name!?) in the colour light and apply under my eyes, down the centre of my nose up to my forehead and on my chin. Basically hitting the centre of my face.
  • I blend that out with my beauty blender and then set those ares with Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder in Translucent.
  • Next up, time to set my WHOLE face. This part is super important I feel as it will really keep your makeup in place when times get tough out there! I apply MAC Studio Fix in C4 all over my face with a fluffy brush trying to hit the outer perimeters of my face more as I want to keep the parts already set with the Laura Mercer powder lighter. Does that make any sense at all?
  • I then bronze up my cheekbones with Bahama mama by The Balm. Awesome product btw, I only just purchased it and I’m in love. It’s not orange at all and the packaging is so cute!! This can be purchased in Target stores in Australia but I bought it here in London at Superdrug.
  • Once my face is pretty much done, I then like to start working on my eyes. I have a very old, very awesome eyeshadow palette by Chacott that I won at a competition in Japan (see palette here) that I pretty much use every dang comp. If you can get your hands on ANYTHING by Chacott I highly recommend it. The brand is built for dancers and the quality of their products is off the chain. Anyway, back to the task at hand! Today I’m applying an orange-y brown to my crease and then joining to the outer corner of my eye. BLEND WELL.
  • Then I like to take a black pencil or eyeliner and carve out a bit of a sideways ‘V’ on the outer corners of my eyes. Don’t worry if this part is rough as it’s just a base!
  • On top of the liner I then apply a dark purple shade from my Chacott palette over the top with a small angle brush. I then go in with a small fluffy brush and blend it all out til smoooooth.
  • I keep adding purple shadow and blending until I’m happy with the depth and then finally go in with MAC Carbon (matte black eyeshadow) and really draw in a strong corner with my angle brush and then DONT BLEND!
  • Once I’ve done enough with the purple shadow I then like to go back in with the brown and make sure the two colours are blended together well and that the brown is still strong.
  • I then take a small brush and fill my inner corner of my eye and brow line with white eyeshadow bringing it down right into the tear duct.
  • Under my eye I did white in the inner corner and lined the dark purple quite close to the lash line and then blended out with the brown shadow underneath that.
  • Next I fill in my waterline with a white eyeliner, I’m using a MaxFactor Kohl Pencil and I then line my eyes with a strong cat eye flick using a black liquid liner.
  • I then like to move on to my brows, if you want to know how and what I do with my brows then click here. Today I’m using a mix of MAC Cranberry and a dark brown eyeshadow from the Dior 609 Earth Reflection palette.
  • Now its time for blush and I’m going for my all time favourite comp colour Dollymix by MAC.
  • For highlighter I’m using Mary-Lou manizer by The Balm and I’m applying on my cheek bones, down the centre of my shnoz and on my cupid’s bow.
  • Falsies time! I’m using an asian brand of falsies today by the brand Dolly Wink and they are the style sweet girly.. too cute!
  • Once the lashes are secure I lather both my real and false lashes with a couple of coats of mascara to blend them together and hold them to one another. Today I’m using Maybelline The Falsies but I like all Maybelline mascara’s actually.
  • Last part is the lips and today I’m wearing a liquid lipstick by The Balm called Devoted. This lipstick drys matte and goes nowhere! Perfect for comps! On top of that I then put on some glittery as hell lip gloss by MIKI that I have no idea where I purchased from.
  • Once finished the perfectionist in me checks my eyes and maybe touches up the liquid liner or fixes up any conundrums with the blending and then BOOM! It’s setting spray time! I give a couple of sprays of Maybelline super stay 24hr Fixative spray and then Bob’s my uncle!

Now its time for the real fun to begin! I’m so sorry I’ve only posted one blog post this week but girl has been biz-zay! Im heading back to Oz this weekend so hopefully things will be back to normal ASAP. Hope you enjoyed this and if you have any questions or queries don’t be shy and leave me some comments 🙂

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Love, Rachelle xx

Following on from my previous post about Ballroom makeup, it’s time to continue with Part 2 of mine and Rachel Macintosh’s collaboration; the Ballroom Hairstyle! This can be an ever frustrating topic and I’m hoping to shed a little light on the subject and hopefully help you on your merry way so that it’s not something that you dread but actually something you begin to enjoy 🙂 The main factors that contribute to a sleek and professional do are the products, the idea and the execution. All sounds easy peasy on paper but those of us that have attempted ballroom hair before know that this is a different story altogether in reality..

Let’s start with the tools as these are generally what you should (I hope) organise before you even try to start having a crack at that awesome hairstyle you saw on Pinterest the other day. Here’s a little list of the things I always make sure to have on hand:

  • Strong hold Hairspray (I love Schwarzkopf Silhouette.. the BEST!)
  • Hair Gel (optional)
  • Bristle brush or any other brush
  • Comb
  • Hair elastics
  • Hair nets/ bun nets
  • Hair pins (not bobby pins)
  • Hairdryer
  • Craft Glue (UHU is awesome if you can find it!)
  • Diamontes (optional)

I listed Hair Gel as optional as I’m not a massive fan of using it as it will make your hair look darker than it is. Great if you have black hair but if you are blonde or red like me then it will alter the colour of your hair and can sometimes make it appear quite dull. Also, I feel you can create the whole look by only using hairspray (which won’t change your hair colour) and can make it even more immoveable than if you were to use gel! The trick is in the hairdryer.. but we will get to that in a mo. Avoid bobby pins and try to buy hairpins that are ‘U’ shaped as these hold much better and can be hidden easier too. With the hair nets make sure to buy thin nets that have small holes so that your hair stays within the net and you have no escapees! Don’t go for big thick nets as these can sometimes look a little granny-esque and the whole reason for the net is to hold the hair together whilst still being invisible. Which brings me to my next point of making sure to buy nets that are closest to your hair colour, sounds obvious I know but you would be surprised!! Lastly, if you would like to take your hair to the next level then try stoning it! This may be a little tricky on your own so try to get some help if you can. Apply some craft glue directly to the hair and then start with the stones. A little trick I learnt when stoning is to get a pencil and place a bit of blue-tac on the end and then pick up the stones face side up. When washing the glue out, I’ve found that combing through hair lathered in conditioner works best. I simply shampoo and condition my hair as per normal and slide the bits of glue down the hair whilst the conditioner is still in 🙂 ahhh the things we have to do huh!?

When creating your hairstyle it’s best to have a few visual aids of what you would like to create. I like to either have a couple of inspo pictures on my phone or even just an idea of something in my mind so that I can go in with a battle plan. This way I can also revert back to what I’m actually trying to do when I lose my way (often). When choosing your hairstyle, try to think about what will suit your face, body, dress and any other factors that might come into play on the dance floor. For me, I know that Steve and I have a little bit of a height difference so I always opt for piling my hair on top of my head to give me height and length. Also I feel the higher styles elongate my neckline which is great for Ballroom but might not necessarily be the right option for Latin. Beyond that, I often look to my dress design as I feel it always gives me clues on what is and isn’t going to work with the chosen image. If I have a headpiece I like to work around that or if there is something strong like line detail on the dress then I try to relay this theme into my hair. These are just some things to bear in mind when you are deciding as sometimes what you like may not be the most flattering for you or for your partnership.

hair inspo
Little bit of inspo!

Once you are ready to start letting your creative side loose, it’s best to start by sectioning the hair off into smaller sections. This way you can work step-by-step through the hairstyle and perfect each part along the way. I always try to leave some hair out at the front, closer to my face and have a section which becomes the ponytail/bun. I find it best to tackle the bun and ponytail first because doing this sets up the grounds for what everything else will work around. Once the bun is done then styling the smaller sections at the front of the hair is the easy part! Try to always do this bit with hair that has no product in it by smoothing the hair into the way you wish it to go first and then hitting it with the hairspray, hairdryer combo. This way the hair should turn into what I like to call Lego hair and coupled with a few pins, won’t be going ANYWHERE! No matter how fast your head flicks are 😉

For a little more detail and a walk through of how I do Rachel’s hair into a basic, sleek low bun watch the video below!

I hope these few little tips have been helpful and the best advice I can give on this subject is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!! This is not something that you will be legendary at straight away (if you are then damn you! ha ha) and it’s something that you will have to do over and over again to learn the way your hair wants to go. I’ve been doing my own hair now for around 10 years and sometimes it still gets the better of me! But that doesn’t stop me from trying new things and playing around with different ideas! Oh and one last thing, always make sure your hair is relatively dirty as it will hold better and give your self plenty of time before hand to avoid the pre-comp stress. Happy Hair-styling 🙂

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my blog in the box listed waaaaay below. If your on a mobile keep scrolling to the very end and you will find it 🙂 Also go check out Rach’s YouTube channel by searching Rachel Macintosh for more Ballroom related content and many more funnies. Follow me on Instagram on @rachelle.plaass and follow Macca on @rachelmacintoshmua!