♥Custom Dance Costumes♥

Riverside, California | 5 Sales


♥Custom Dance Costumes♥

Riverside, California 5 Sales On Etsy since 2017

Announcement   We have some fabulous ready-made, one-of-a-kind, custom costumes here on Etsy and in our Shoppe. There is still time to get that awesome costume for nationals!

Some exquisite costumes are for sale, but if you want specific sizes, colors, and design, a deposit is required before we book, design, and sketch it up for you.

All items made with love.


Creatively yours,


Last updated on Feb 19, 2019

We have some fabulous ready-made, one-of-a-kind, custom costumes here on Etsy and in our Shoppe. There is still time to get that awesome costume for nationals!

Some exquisite costumes are for sale, but if you want specific sizes, colors, and design, a deposit is required before we book, design, and sketch it up for you.

All items made with love.


Creatively yours,

Lona Smith

Contact shop owner

Lona Smith


New shrugs available direct.
In the works and nearly finished is another beautiful lyrical with a skirt.
To accompany Don't Let Me Down (child small), we are working on a gray version size child medium, absolutely loaded with stones, and it will be available soon.
View all 6 updates


Award Winning ContenderWear™ Costumes

Lona immigrated to the US from Denmark. She grew up surrounded by artistic and craftsy relatives, who painted, sewed, knitted, crocheted, tatted, and drew.

When she first moved out on her own, Lona was sponsored in pageants by several sponsors and eventually was a runner up in the Miss California/Miss USA-Universe pageant. While in pageants she began to do a bit of modeling and TV commercials.  She was  pursued by the fabulous Nina Blanchard in 1979.  It was during Lona's  pageant and modeling days that her affinity for fashion and style really flourished.

When Lona met her future husband, he gave her a Kenmore sewing machine, and the fun began with Christmas crafts, soon followed by home décor with the purchase of their first home.   A few years later, she was sewing baby layettes, toddler clothing, and Halloween costumes.  Halloween costumes evolved into period costumes for History classes (on a whole different level) that her son was enrolled in, which required them to act out historical events. At that same time, her daughter became more involved with dance, eventually joining team.

Dance competition costumes were required; dance wear was required...stuff that made you stand out at conventions was required.  High School jackets needed to be embroidered, and a new sewing/embroidery machine was in order for these tasks, and an overlock machine was needed to better create stretch garments after being recruited by yet another group.  If you can sew, you become very popular and busy with dance groups!

Well the dancer daughter Tracy went off to college, and Lona thought she would be pretty much out of the dance costume sewing business, but Tracy began teaching dance again.  Early in 2013, one of the studios that Tracy worked for was closing their doors permanently, and they would not have a staged recital. Tracy's dance students had been working so hard on their routine, and Tracy wouldn't have it that they just did not have an appropriate costume, something special to wear.  What was needed was an inexpensive solution to what would be their final performance at this studio, and with that, HotMess Dance Apparel™ was born.

That same year, Tracy and her beau Nick opened their own dance studio. A new brand name would be needed for high-end, competition costumes: ContenderWear by Lona Smith™, which has evolved to ContenderWear™.

Lona used nothing but the finest products to dress her dancer when she competed, and she will use nothing less for YOUR DANCER.

The brands have been expanded to include LiturgyWear™ for praise dance and NuptialWear™ for blinged out bridal goods.

During busy times and rush orders Lona and her friend Nance both sew and create items to insure prompt delivery for customers, who look for products that are beyond unique and well-made.

For visual effect in motion and with lighting in a video format, please visit our ContenderWear FaceBook page and/or our Instagram pages, and if you click on "Blog", it will take you to our YouTube videos.

ContenderWear™, where each design is as unique and spectacular as the performer.

Shop members

  • Lona Smith

    Owner, Designer, Maker

    Lona was born in Denmark & first visited the US in the 1960s, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1990. She is married & has two grown children. Lona enjoys her home, nature, pets, sewing, dance, Zumba & teaching dance to tots & combo students. ♥♥♥

  • Scott Smith

    Owner, Maker

    Scott, Lona's other half, has lived in the Riverside area his whole life & shares the love of home, nature, pets & being an occasional dance dad now that his dancer is grown up & a studio owner. Scott is part of the team! Way to go Scott!

  • Nance


    Nance has lived in various parts of the world: HI, TX, Japan, mostly Southern California. She is married with 3 grown children and 5 grandchildren and is a long time sewist. Nance assists in creating ContenderWear's masterpieces during busy times.

  • Mary


    Mary is retired, having worked for a major grocery chain in the accounting & finance department for decades. Mary has sewn for many, many years and enjoys quilting.

Production partners

  • Scott Smith

    Moreno Valley, CA

    Scott lends his hand with the electric saw and staple gun. He also helps with the hammer.

Shop policies

More information

Last updated on Jul 23, 2018
Frequently asked questions
Care instructions

Generally, our HotMess items can be washed under gentle setting or by hand with mild detergent (i.e. Zout, Woolite Gentle Cycle) and line dry.

ContenderWear items are spot clean only, however, you will receive care instructions with your order.

All fabrics are washed before use. Items that are dyed, depending upon the color, may bleed.

Regardless of which brand you purchased, we recommend a steamer for smoothing out the fabric rather than an iron, which may easily burn or leave marks or residue on the fabrics.

All Archerciser products are spot clean only.

Are your products new?

Yes, all our items are new, made from new fabrics, trims, and notions, and they come from a smoke-free environment.

The young models of our apparel & costumes wear undergarments & panty-shields. Our products are NEW products, FREE of body fluids, buggers, BO, etc.

To date, all the fabrics that we have worked with have been washed prior to starting a project with them. The fabrics that we use are mostly procured from the Los Angeles Textile District, which means they are stored in warehouses and shops.

Upon washing the textiles, we can better determine the fabrics' or trims' suitability for specific needs.

How are payments handled on Custom Costumes (Dancer Measurements Specific)?

All custom orders for ContenderWear™, HMDA, PBL, and LiturgyWear™ require a non-refundable 50% deposit.

We will collaborate throughout the process on selections; notification is sent out when the garment is complete. Final payment is required within 45 days of the completion notice. If the item has not been paid for in full after the 45 days, the item will be be put up for sale to recoup the unpaid balance.

A custom order is where we create an item/items specifically for your order. Please do not confuse this with items that are one-of-a-kind customs, which are based upon our sizing standards. Please note the difference of custom order vs. custom design.

Note: See the layaway plan for ready-made items on our Web site.

Shipping orders over $50

For orders over$50, the parcel is insured & signature is required.

Upon delivery attempt, USPS will leave notification: please go on-line and reschedule delivery when you will be there. Address must be the same as your Etsy purchase/account.

USPS will hold your item for 14 days from their initial attempt to deliver before returning the item(s) to us.

Returned, Unopened Orders: Please contact us to issue a new postage item for you to purchase. Once you pay for this, the parcel will be reshipped.

If you do not accept your shipment, you will be responsible for shipping, insurance, and a 20% restocking fee, excluding custom products made specifically for you to fill your order, as they are nonrefundable.

What brand are your rhinestones that you use in your applications?

We're glad you asked that! We have worked with both Swarovski® and Preciosa® brands of Rhinestones extensively.

We started only using Swarovski® exclusively, and we still offer them as an option for our customers. However, our brand of choice is currently Preciosa®.

Preciosa® rhinestones have developed their high quality crystals virtually lead free, making them safer for our customers.

Preciosa®'s cut is great and has superb brilliance.

Preciosa® Rhinestones do not protrude as much as their Swarovski® counterparts, making them more comfortable for the wearer when sitting, rolling, etc.

As a bonus, Preciosa® rhinestones are less expensive than Swarovski®.

NOTE: There are knockoffs of both brands. We use the real deal.

How long does it take to get a ContenderWear™ custom costume made specifically for me?

We are very fast to respond and put the wheels in motion for your custom order.

-If we have all elements needed to create your ContenderWear™ costume, your costume could be complete in 1-3 days, provided that we do not have orders scheduled ahead of yours. Shipping priority mail takes longer than the time to create a costume.
-If we have to procure items for your ContenderWear costume, the time frame to create your product will increase, depending on both availability of products, and/or if we have to visit the LA Textile District to obtain it. We only visit the District once a week. Delay of other items would be if they are shipped to us.

We have many, many fabrics, colors, rhinestones, trims, feathers, and embellishments, on hand.

How much and how long to get some of your fabulous fit booty shorts?

For HotMess Dance Apparel™ Shorts, we have made many of the booty shorts on a regular basis. If we have your size pattern, it would cost the usual, which is between usually $23-$30 for each pair. Depending upon the quantity ordered, we may discount that for you.

If we have to make a pattern for your size, add $16 to the order.

Once we have your order and provided we have the fabrics and colors that you want, we could have 10 pair ready within that first day.

Just a note on fabric and colors available: If specific fabrics and colors are needed that we must procure, additional fees would go into the cost of the final goods, but chances are good that we have colors that you would like.

Do you make your own costume bases?

Yes, all ContenderWear™ costumes are made from the fabric bolt to stage ready, NOT farming out the work. We want consistency in our products, and we find that contracting out parts of the process would not meet our high standards all the time. We prefer RS & designer closures & try to avoid clear plastic hooks.

HotMess Dance Apparel™: We sometimes work with customer provided parts and embellishments.  These types of items would be dependent upon the customers' standards, and we would only be setting the application standard.

Plain Brown Label™: With PBL, we sometimes purchase national brand bases, where we know the quality to have good consistency (i.e. Body Wrappers®, Balera®, Etc.)

What is your PBL (Plain Brown Label) brand?

Plain Brown Label™ (PBL) is a brand that we came up with for inexpensive costuming, usually $250 or less and can be either custom or "semi-custom."

Semi-customs get custom additions to National factory name-brand (i.e. Body Wrappers®, Balera®, Etc.) items such as leos, crop tops, shorts, and briefs. These custom additions are any one or more of the following:
- appliques
-lace or trim

Can you tell me what LiturgyWear™ and NuptialWear™ are all about?

Sure can!

LiturgyWear™ was developed as a response to the many inquiries we get, specifically around Christian Holidays such has Christmas, Easter, etc. The Praise Dancers require skirts, leotards, etc. for their praise dance worship. These garments are usually a solid color and without any rhinestones.

NuptialWear™ is everything for the wedding that needs to be altered, rhinestoned, and so on. NuptialWear is mostly semi-custom, meaning customized alterations and additions on existing product. The garments that we make under the NuptialWear Label, i.e. dresses, lingerie, etc., are very sleek and made of 4-way stretch.