This year I didn’t have to come up with my own Halloween costume theme. The weekend before, I was invited to a musical opening where the audience was encouraged to dress in 1920s attire. 1920s it was!
I spent some time researching authentic 1920s attire, not wanting to simply buy a ready made “flapper” costume. The first weekend of my search I went to several thrift stores and vintage costume shops looking for the basis for my outfit. I did find some 1920s reproduction dresses which were gorgeous, but way out of my price range. The other ready-to-go option was a vintage clothing store where the owner offered free alterations with a purchase. They had a dress which reminded me of Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, which was close, but ultimately I decided against it because I thought it was a little earlier in fashion than 1920, was more of a “day” look, and because I wanted to have more of a hand in making my own costume.
As usual, Goodwill was a good source for some dresses at 1/2 off which could be used in bits and pieces on the completed outfit. I bought 2 more dresses than I ended up using. This one attracted me with the beading, although completely out of style with what I needed:
I found a dress with the right silhouette at the Salvation Army, also 1/2 off. Sorry for how blurry this is, but I forgot to use a flash.
After deciding on my color palette, I went with a friend to downtown LA to buy some trims. After an exciting day of searching through bargain bins and racks of fabrics and trims piled up 15 feet or more, I returned home with what I hoped would be enough to transform the dress into the 1920s flapper outfit I saw in my mind.
The same friend who I went to LA with has a lot of costuming experience and she helped me pin the trims in place. When it came time to sew, she helped with the row of fringe around my hips, resulting in my needing to cut my underwear off as they got sewn into the dress. The sacrifices one makes for fashion!
Here it is pinned on the dress form:
I returned home with the dress pinned and sat down at my sewing machine only to discover that the foot on my machine was too wide to accommodate the trims I was using. No dice with the machine, everything ended up having to be sewn by hand.
I ran out of time to finish the headband I had planned, but in the end the dress looked pretty good at the premiere. I have one more weekend to tweak it for Halloween, but I think I’m pretty good with it.
After this Halloween experience, I’ve gained many hours of practice at hand sewing and seam ripping. Next year my machine better work for me!