Dear Danglers, today we will be chatting about a topic near and dear to my… heart. Please, I beg you – do not confuse your underwear (or yoga pants or nightgown) with a proper costume! If you’re billing yourself (or hope to someday) as a professional, but show up at my event in some tired looking orange unitard with a rhinestone bracelet super-glued to the collar, or a bra & panties hand sewn to a flesh-toned unitard, eyebrows will be raised – and not in a good way. So what makes a good costume? And what does your choice say about you as a performer? Read on.
Different types of shows will of course require different costumes – your cousin Janie’s Sweet 16 Burlesque Extravaganza will look really different from the promotional launch of a new energy bar. For the sake of narrowing the field a bit, let’s zero in on cirque-style costumes you might wear for corporate parties, stage shows, and higher budget private events.
- Consider the act. What do you need in a costume? For example, for our silks costumes, we prefer 3/4 sleeves, lower backs covered, and legs ending mid-calf; but for trapeze doubles, we need arms and shins completely exposed, with no extra fabric around the middle. (Note: ladies, pay special attention to the neckline – one good reach could send your “charms” flying out of your costume. Awkwaaaaard!)
- Consider the look. Your costume should highlight the very best of you (your superty buff shoulders for example) and downplay… ahem, what needs downplaying (your less than buff derriere perhaps). And please – no panty or thong lines, ain’t nobody wants to see all that.
- Consider the audience/client. Is this an upscale cirque-style show? Than don’t show up in something resembling lingerie from 1875. If bloomers are an integral part of your act, fine, but generally speaking, you want to blend into the main theme or feel of the show.
Elements Of A Great All-Purpose Costume – A Summary
- Protects your body from burns or abrasion, while leaving essential skin exposed.
- Makes your body look smokin’ hot (but not too sexy, makes the corporate folks nervous)
- Projects the image you’re aiming for (professional)
- Looks expensive and well-designed
- Fits in with the show or theme
- Has a little pizazz to it – rhinestones or something to catch the light. Go bold or go home!
- Careful about using lots of black – you’ll be performing against a lot of black backdrops (The Great Floating Head from Brooklyn rides again!)
Preferred Materials – moleskin (spandex with a little heft), stretch velvets, sparkly materials (beware of fabrics with loose glitter on them though), etc.
More on this soon – I want to see you all looking gooooooooooooood! Whether you sew it yourself or hire someone else to make it for you, a good costume is an investment in your career that can’t be glossed over. Now, pack those bloomers away and design something fabulous!
PS – Let me hear about your wardrobe malfunctions! If you share yours, I’ll share one of mine (it’s a doozy).
Photos: Kenneth Feldman
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