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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Fancy dress costumes on a budget!

axolotl hair band

I’ve always loved to dress up. Costume parties and fancy dress have been the top of my priority list since 1995. Part of the appeal to me is the bit where I get to decide who or what I’m going to be. And yes, I often go as inanimate objects. I once dressed as a matchstick to go to an ‘M’ themed birthday party, and one fateful Hallowe’en in my first year at university, I went as a treasure chest. Make of that what you will.

When deciding what to dress up as, I often feel like the process should go like this:

1. Decide who/what to be.
2. Source costume and props.
3. Dress up.
4. Go to the party.

Unfortunately, unless you’ve got tons of money to spend on expensive ready-made costumes (boring) or you are going to the party dressed as a modern day civilian (even more boring), the process of preparing for a fancy-dress party is not as smooth. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a really effective and wearable outfit for yourself with minimum effort. I’ve found, over the years, that you can make almost any costume using clothes from around the house, scrap pieces of felt, and headbands.
Now let me be clear – I am no cosplayer. I am forever in awe of those who spend months crafting their hyper-accurate TARDIS costumes to go to conventions and gatherings, or learn intricate makeup techniques to become mythical creatures. And in addition, (although this goes without saying...) I am not a professional costume designer. My incredibly talented friend Eleanor Bull is, and her fancy dress costumes always trump everyone else’s, as far as I’m concerned. When we were little, we used to make all sorts of magnificent costumes out of scarves, sheets of fabric, old clothes, bits of cardboard… And it’s that kind of boundless, unselfconscious creativity that I think we should harness when creating costumes (and in all getting-dressed endeavours!).

Children in fancy dress

The key to a good costume, for me, is all in the headdress. Not only does a headdress bring a well-curated outfit together, it can also make a completely non-fancy-dress outfit into a costume! You can basically make a hat out of ANYTHING, which means the possibilities for easy costumes are endless. Going to a zoo themed party? Hot-glue some plastic animals to a headband! Want to dress up for a summer themed party? Put your hair in a bun and wrap some tiny bunting around it! You’ve got to think outside the box a bit, but I know you can do it.
I’ve made my fair share of really simple headdresses over the years. Some have been a little bit more labour intensive than others, and some have been more effective than others, but they were all fun little projects!

axolotl costume idea
cute ginger cat girl
cat man costume headdress

Animal headdresses are probably the easiest to think of, and they can be some of the easiest to create too – especially cat ears. That said, I made a unicorn headdress once that didn’t work at ALL. My top tip there is to keep the ears/axolotl gills/horns/whatever head appendage small, to avoid any embarrassing flaccid headdress incidents.

bacon hairclips

For my Eurovision party this year, (Eurovision is my favourite religious festival) I was Denmark. I came up with a ton of convoluted puns and ideas (Cover myself with gloves and go as HANDS Christian Andersen…) but eventually I decided to go with a red and white dress (Denmark’s flag colours) and a couple of (Danish) bacon themed hair clips (see above). Like almost everything I make, the hairclips were made of felt, sewn and glued, and fitted to hair clips.

What you need, to make an impromptu headdress:

1. Felt in a variety of colours. You can buy selections very cheaply online or in fabric shops.
2. Glue (you could use a glue gun, or UHU glue, or any other strong glue)
3. Hairclips, hairbands, headbands etc. You can get the little flimsy plastic ones so cheaply and those are perfect for this kind of thing.

Optionally, you could also add glitter, sequins, plastic bits of tat (I’ve been known to glue a plastic tea set to a hat…) and ribbons to your arsenal of headdress-making gear. Let me know if you’ve ever made any awesome hats or headdresses, or tell me about any awful pun costume ideas. You can comment down below or tweet me at @candyowlgirl. And tell me if you’d like to see more costume ideas and more detailed tutorials in the future. :)

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51 comments:

  1. Your axolotl headband is fab! There's no way you'd have an embarrassing costume match at a fancy dress party with that one!

    whatkatiewatched.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Yeah, if I met someone else dressed as an axolotl, I don't really know what I'd do. Probably bite their leg off or something, axolotl-style.

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  2. I always love watching Eurovision, it's a big guilty pleasure of mine. Also love the first headdress - so cute :)

    vvnightingale.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. NEVER, EVER feel guilty about watching Eurovision. It's part of our collective cultural heritage, and is therefore very high brow! ;)

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  3. amazing animal headdresses! love them all! so fun! <3

    http://www.raellarina.net/

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  4. I've nominated you for a Liebster Award. Check it out: http://caramellattekiss.com/2014/08/liebster-award/

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    Replies
    1. Yay! I'll make sure to give you a shout out in my end-of-month round-up. You're such a lovely one! <3

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  5. Following you now via bloglovin:)

    I just love costume parties:3

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  6. A matchstick! That's brilliant!

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    1. I looked more like a confusing box-monster but it's the thought that counts, right?

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  7. aah this is so cute! love the ears

    from helen at thelovecatsinc.com // blog sale

    ps. win raybans and beauty goodies worth £300 on my blog! click here.

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    1. Aah but you would love the cat ears! :)

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  8. Who doesn't love a bit of dress up?!

    Em x Hmm maybe...

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    1. If I ever meet someone who doesn't like fancy dress parties, I don't judge them, but I am very confused by them.

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  9. I have always been a massssssssive fan of fancy dress. I don't think I have ever bought a pre-made costume. Thats just poo. Half the fun is making it and getting creative. My fave was probably when I dressed up as seaweed for an 'under the sea' themed birthday party. It was awesome :)

    Cats in Crop Tops

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    1. Seaweed! What a fantastic costume idea! I want to be seaweed now!!! :)

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  10. cute post, and I agree with you about the headdress and the premade costumes! they can be so expensive, and with a little DIY there's no need to spend that much money!

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    1. Exactly! I'm glad we're on the same page about premade costumes! :)

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  11. These are so cute!!! My favourite costume ever was when I went as candy floss to a friend's circus theme party. I made a really quick pink shift dress and covered it in pink pom poms! Still trying to find an excuse to wear that dress every day of my life!

    Lulu
    http://candyappledarling.blogspot.com

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    1. CANDY FLOSS! What a bloody excellent idea! I LOVE inanimate object costumes so much! Please do an outfit post on that dress! <3

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  12. Excellent advice on fancy dress - I love the little ears and think they are absolutely adorable.

    http://lizziedailyblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you like the ears! <3

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  13. The ears are so cute! I love the old picture :) very nice touch
    Allison from www.mercuteify.com

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  14. I love your hair colour! Is it your natural colour? If so, I think you are so lucky!

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    1. I'm glad you like my hair - that makes me so happy! <3

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  15. Great photos!
    Great blog, so I'm a new follower :)
    would you like to follow each other?

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  16. The ears look adorable, they turned out great. mywhiteT.com

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    Replies
    1. Anything looks cute in animal ears! :)

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  17. Replies
    1. I'm maybe a little bit obsessed with my cat...!

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  18. best. pots. ever. me and my friends are OBSESSED with coming up with quirky home made costumes for halloween, so i literally LOLed at the Dannish bacon you'll be wearing in your hair. Clever clever girl. Last year my guy friend was Amanda Bines, my friend was a home wrecker (dressed up as a construction worker, haha) and I was Lamchop. You'd fit right in with us ;)

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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    1. <3 Please can we be friends, Marlen? I want to come to one of your parties!!

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  19. You look so cute :D I love getting dressed up in fancy dress.. it makes nights out so much more fun xx

    Gemma | missmakeupmagpie.com

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    1. It sure does! I think that every party should be a fancy dress party!

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  20. Cute! You're so creative! I'm one of the losers who finds my really old clothes and goes as "my past self" to parties. I'm so bad at fancy dress!

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    1. Time travel is WAY in right now, so I'll let you off! :P

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  21. Paha this reminds me of the dobby headdress I made for the film premiere of Harry Potter 7 part II. I wish you could paste pictures in comments. As I would definitely share this one with you. I don't like to blow my own horn...but it was pretty epic/a carboard cut out stuck to a headband..

    theycalleditthediamondblog.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. OMG Pleaaaase tweet the picture to me! <3

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  22. Love this post! & I love the treasure chest idea even more, haha!

    Style Sunrise☀

    :)
    x

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    1. It was a very poorly executed costume to be honest! I'd do it way better if I had to make the costume now!

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  23. great post, I love your cat ears! I keep hearing they are simple to make, I really need to make some of my own! :)

    Thanks for following me on Bloglovin btw, I'm so happy because I really like your blog! <3

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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    1. I'm happy to be following you!!! <3

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  24. Replies
    1. They are! And they make everyone who wears them adorable too!

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