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In Depth: Oireachtas Fashion Preview

It may be August but last week hit the 100 day to the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas mark! It will be here before you know it. In that light, and from popular request, I’ve decided to do a preview of dress styles that I think will be popular at the Oireachtas. I’ve done a good bit of research on this one, but take it with a grain of salt. I wouldn’t buy a dress based on this alone, but it should give you a good starting place to give you some ideas. Remember, the most important things about buying a new dress are that you love it, your teacher loves it and that you look great in it.

So, without further ado, here are my predictions for Oireachtas fashions! I’ve sorted it into three categories. Growing Trends are things that popped up at Nationals that I think will blossom into a more widestream trend. Some of these are very “trendy” and may only last one season while others might grow into longterm stables, like the soft skirt. Only time will tell! Still Popular are things that were popular at Worlds, popular at Nationals and are unlikely to go anywhere. These are often design staples and a pretty safe bet for any dress design. And finally Fading Trends are the things that were very popular a year ago that seem to be dying down. There were a few trends that I wasn’t sure about, so they’re in the Undecided category. Let me know what you think!

Growing Trends

1. Rhinestone tiaras. These tiaras started at Worlds and grew much more popular at Nationals. I can only suspect that they’ll keep growing in popularity. They add an elegant feel while still standing out from the wig. And of course, adding some sparkle. Check out my post here for some styling suggestions.

2. The updated wrap skirt. This style really made an entrance at Nationals. It has more a looser, drooped fabric effect rather than the harsh lamp shade look of previous wrap skirts. A very nice look, especially for the pre-teen crowd. Check out an example here.

3. The petal/tinkerbell/swan lake skirt. Doire has been doing this style for a bit and Gavin picked it up after Worlds. And once Gavin launches a skirt, you can pretty much guarentee that it’s going to be a trend that stays. Quite a pretty and elegant look! Here, here and here are some examples of this style.

4. The puffed/pleat skirt. Another skirt style popularized by Gavin. I can’t quite figure out how to describe it, but here’s a nice example!. He put this on several of his top dancers at Worlds and Nationals, so it’s likely a style that you’ll be seeing more and more often. It also lends itself better to knotwork detailing and more traditional dresses – always a plus!

5. Designs extending onto the skirt. This trend has been around since Worlds, but it looks like it’s getting more and more pronounced. Instead of dropping the skirt any more (I don’t think you can, really!), designers are just extending the design onto the skirt! A few varieties are extending asymmetry onto a plain skirt, layering fabric onto the skirt, and extending the bodice color onto the skirt. Here are some examples that I love: this, this and this.

6. Bold geometric designs. Whereas designs had been featuring more embroidery in the past few years, this year’s Worlds and Nationals saw dresses taking a turn towards large geometric designs. The best way to visualize this trend is to think of the designs as a zoomed in picture of knotwork or a pattern. For example, check out Gavin’s stand at Nationals.

7. Sequins. After Nationals, I think I can safely say that sequins are back in a big way! They’re mainly being used as a bodice design or in large areas in designs. I think the updated look is a classy way to had shimmer. Here’s one using sequins in the asymmetric design, here’s one using it in applique, and here’s one using it in the bodice (#26 – candy floss)!

8. Bright blue and green with black/white. Though warm colors will still probably dominate the scene at the Oireachtas, watch out for these color combinations. They were on the rise at Nationals and I think they will get more popular at the Oireachtas. For dancers wanting to stand out, these are definitely colors to look at! Here’s a nice green one and one really nice bright blue one!

9. Stoned hairbows. Several dancers in the U8 and U9 category had this look at Nationals and it is just the cutest. Instead of a headband or a tiara, dancers placed a stoned large bow on the top of their head at the edge of the wig. A very adorable Minnie Mouse look that’s perfect for a young dancer!

10. Cuffed wrists. Again, another look that gained traction at Nationals. It’s an easy addition that doesn’t change the overall look so I can really see this trend catching on. Here is a nice dress with this look!

Still Popular

1. Warm colors – pink, red, orange and yellow. These colors were all over Nationals and I don’t think they’re going anywhere soon! Definitely a safe bet.

2. Plisse skirts, especially white ones. I think this is the new classic skirt look. It’s a skirt that’s really caught on and is a simple base to compliment any bodice design. Definetly a skirt that you can’t go wrong with.

3. Layered and tulled soft skirts. Again, a popular skirt that I think will stay popular for a while. I don’t think this look is quite as classic as the plisse skirts, but it still is a solid bet. Some dresses that I really like are: this one, this one, and this one!

4. Swirled skirts. I debated putting this in “growing trends” or “still popular” but I think they’ve been around a bit longer, so here they are! I really like this style. It features a scalloped edged soft skirt and applique along the edge. A very bold look that still looks traditional. Here‘s one of my favorites, the green dress on the far left.

5. Both asymmetry and symmetry. I wouldn’t say that one look is more dominant than the other right now. Asymmetry tends to be most popular among the 13 – 16 year old crowd, but its popular in every age group. But, by the same token, so are symmetrical designs. The one constant is just to make it bold. For example, here’s a bold symmetrical dress and here’s a bold asymmetrical one. Both look great on stage.

6. Poufed bun wig. While the full wig is the most dominant, the bun wig is definitely still popular and going strong! This look is especially popular in the younger age groups but this can be a very elegant look on older girls as well. The key to this look is making it look like an updo by poufing the front and letting tendrils down in the front. Here’s a post showing some great examples of styled bun wigs.

Fading Trends

1. Puffball. I think the standard puffball has finally met it’s downfall. However, check out the puff/panel look above for an updated styling with a puff effect.

2. Rainbow designs. Though I do love this color combination, it is significantly less popular than it was this time last year. If you love it, use it in a new way through one of the growing trends to make it seem more updaed.

3. Bright pink in the older crowd. Bright pink will still be popular among the younger age groups, it’s dying out in the older age groups. Older dancers tend to go for more elegant and jewel toned colors.


1. Claire Greaney type hard petal skirts. I love this look, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to hold on. It definitely is a polished and dynamic look, but there don’t seem to be a lot of dancers wearing this style.

2. Puffed shoulders and popped collars. On the flip side, these trends are just beginning! They add a pop to an elegant dress. However, they are a bold statement and I’m not sure how the “mainstream” Irish dancing community will take to it. Here are some great dresses with these trends: (the little pink dress in 7th) this one, and this one.

3. The new Diore skirt. I really like the new look Doire debuted at Nationals, but it is, again, a bold look. I’m curious to see if it will take off with other designers. What do you think?

But don’t just take my word on it! Check out Gavin and Doire‘s albums on Facebook and pictures from Nationals and recent feiseanna. That will give you a broader idea of what’s popular. And check out my recaps from Nationals and Worlds, too!

Hope that helps! Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!

Stay Fashionable, Feisers!



6 thoughts on “In Depth: Oireachtas Fashion Preview

  1. Do you think the colored bubble socks and colored patent leather soft shoes will be in style?

    Posted by Margaret | August 22, 2011, 4:10 am
    • I don’t believe you can wear the colored soft shoes in competition, but I’d bet on a few popping up at awards. I really don’t know with the colored socks. I could see a few dancers trying it because it would definitely make a statement and catch your attention. However, I’d say most dancers would play it safe at the Oireachtas. Not the time to risk a more traditional judge having a bad taste about you just because your socks are a different color than they like. I think the colored socks will pop up at feiseanna first. With that said, I think if a clear top dancer (like a dancer who has won Worlds dancing at her Oireachtas) rocks colored socks, it could launch a more mainstream trend. We’ll have to see if anyone’s bold enough to do it!

      Posted by feisonista | August 22, 2011, 4:15 am
  2. How about the new dress style of the different colored waist area? Saw several of these and thinking about having one made. Diore and some others are selling some I believe. What do you think? Or did I accidentally skip over it? Haha

    Posted by Alyssa | August 22, 2011, 7:06 pm
    • Do you mean like this dress? I think it is a stunning look and reflects the real-life high-waisted style. I debated putting that style in, but I would still put it in the undecided category. It definitely has a great potential for growing into a main style – it’s bold and unique and can be used in many different ways. I love it, just not sure if it will catch on with other designers because Nadine Martin has had this style for a while (I think AIs?), but I haven’t seen anyone else making them. But if you like it, go for it! I’d love to see it catching on.

      Posted by feisonista | August 23, 2011, 12:15 am


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