Confession time: I can be quite the hoarder.
One of my favourite excuses to keep a dated dress or tacky necklace is that it ‘might make a good costume piece one day.’ Now, as I’m a performer, the likelihood of this happening is quite high, and I always do a happy dance on inside when the day comes around when I finally get to reuse something that I’ve hung onto for that very reason. However, this rule applies to theatrical and non-theatrical people alike when it comes to costume parties. Please note, I am not saying to give up your tidy ways and start hanging onto every FADtastic impulse buy that graces your wardrobe, but it doesn’t hurt to hang onto pieces that just scream a particular era or character; it might just save you a lot of money when an unexpected costume party rolls around. We all know there is nothing worse than scavenging through the racks of a costume shop that smell like mothballs the night before a party to spend $50+ to hire an old costume that doesn’t even fit properly.
My secret to putting together a fab outfit for a costume party is to explore your own wardrobe and drawers before hitting the stores. Do you have an outfit that could work? Accessories? Shoes? A wig? Make-up? Every little piece that you can pull together from your own wardrobe, can and will help you in the process of pulling together the perfect costume.
Saturday night, I had a 1920s themed birthday party to go to. As usual, I had left the costume planning to the day before, luckily I had the morning off to explore my wardrobe.
Step 1: The Outfit I found a cute canary yellow dress that I bought from Forcast on sale for $16 about a year ago. It has a silhouette that vaguely resembles some of the costumes from Baz Luhurmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ so it was appropriate enough. I decided I would dress it up with my matching patent leather heels and handbag.
Step 2: Time to accessorise At the bottom of my wardrobe, I have a long plastic container in which I keep all my costume jewellery that isn’t in my everyday rotation, so this was the first place I looked. I found a long strand of imitation pearls that I bought for an on-stage costume SIX YEARS AGO (and who says that costume jewellery doesn’t last?!) and a sequinned elasticised headband that I could wear across my forehead. Then, I raided my Jewellery Hanger (where I store my costume jewellery that I wear regularly) and I found a cluster of pearl and diamanté bracelets and a pair of yellow earrings that I originally bought to match that very dress (both from Lovisa around 6 months ago.)
I need to briefly detour from the topic of this post to pay tribute to my ‘Little Black Dress Large Hanging Jewellery Organiser’ from Diva (Price: $14.99.) I cannot express how much easier it is to find and store my costume jewellery now that it’s hanging in my wardrobe. With plastic pockets on one side for earrings and broaches, and Velcro hooks on the other side for necklaces and bracelets, keeping all my costume jewellery in the one place and accessoring an outfit is so much easier.
Step 4: Work out what you really need and hit the stores!By this point, all I needed was a few more pieces to make my outfit quintessentially 1920s: long black gloves (to tie in with my outfit’s black, white and yellow colour scheme); some black patterned tights; and, feathers to attach to my headband. I headed-off to Chadstone, knowing exactly what I needed – I was a woman on a mission!
My first stop was a stockings/gloves/ties stall located on the lower level near the Vodafone store (unfortunately, I cannot remember the stalls’s name.) The lady who served me was very helpful as I sorted through their vast array of patterned tights (all for approximately $20 and under!) and she helped me find a pair of black satin-look gloves that weren’t too long for my short arms. The lady was kind enough to give me a discount which brought both the stockings and the gloves to a total of $30 and she even threw in a free pair of socks! I definitely walked away with a smile on my face!
My next stop was the nearby ‘Riot Art & Craft Store’ to search for feathers. I quickly found a whole bag of mixed feathers for $4.99. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to have them at home for future costume parties so I invested. I quickly text messaged my friend Jackie who was getting ready for the party with me the following night and told her to not buy any feathers as I had a heap!
Step 5: make sure your hair and make-up matches your costume The key to making your costume look really polished is making sure that your hair and make-up suit the era of your costume. It’s the finishing touches that will leave nobody thinking that you quickly pulled your outfit together on a budget.
In the 1920s, it was all about the bob hair cut or pinned-up hair. Fortunately for me, a lovely hairdresser friend offered to curl and pin-up my hair from home for me, but you could easily do a DIY version of this style with a curling tong, bobby pins and a piece of foam to hide in your hair for volume.
Make-up wise I knew I needed nude eyes with massive lashes and flicked-out eyeliner; gentle blush and a bold lip colour. I created my look (see photo below) with products from my everyday make-up kit:
– Australis Paparazzi Perfect Foundation in Natural Fawn (Never experience ‘washed out photo face’ again with this amazing base.)
– Maybelline Hyper Diamonds Ready-To-Wear eye colour palette in brown shades.
– Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer in Noir (I use this both as an eyeliner for my inner eyes and as an eyebrow pencil.)
-W7 Liquid Eyeliner (super cheap from Chemist Warehouse and the easiest liquid liner, I’ve ever used.)
-Manicare Glameyes False Eyelashes in ‘Jessica’ (easy to apply and much cheaper than professional eyelash extensions. False eyelashes are the key to a polished look and looking fabulous in photos.)
– Maybelline Fit me! Blush in Medium Pink
– Maybelline ‘Are You Red-dy?’ Lipstick (My go-to red lipstick for both stage and real-life alike. Never dry, long lasting and such a classic shade.)
Finally, I wore my head band across my forehead and slipped three feathers under it on the left side. I used hidden bobby pins to secure them in place.
In conclusion, by using a dress, shoes, bag, accessories and make-up that I already owned, my costume only cost me $35! I received heaps of compliments on the night and I felt great!
There’s no need to freak-out when the next costume party rolls around, just work with what you’ve got and accessorise away! Not to mention, as my friend Jacqui puts it, by costuming yourself this way, “if you turn-up and you’ve gone more over the top then everyone else, you can sneak-off to the bathroom and remove your accessories!” hehe 🙂
Comment below and tell me about some of your BEST DIY costumes!
Until next time,
Ms This n That xx