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Fancy Dress for Dummies

Written by: Rachel

You only have to look through a few pages of the Miscellaneous Discussion board to realise that many PPTers enjoy fancy dress, and not only at Halloween. However, if you’re not a fancy dress fanatic like me (although I think it’s fair to say The Wonder Weezel wins the PPT Fancy Dress Crown) it can be a bit daunting to try and join in the fun!

With this aim in mind, I am going to try and guide you through the beginnings of fancy dress and hopefully provide you with some tips to avoid some of the more common problems.

Decisions, Decisions!

Obviously, the first step in deciding on a fancy dress costume is what you are going to be. What is the event? Is there a theme? Do I want an individual or group costume? These are all questions that you need to think about—and hopefully come up with answers. The internet is a great resource, so make use of it!

Hopefully now you will have formed an idea of what you want to dress up as and the following tips will help you perfect your costume.

Tips for Small Budgets

Are you on a budget? Do not fear, you can construct some great fancy dress costumes for very little. Most of the time it is not worth your while buying items in a fancy dress shop. (Obviously, there are exceptions to that, e.g. face paint as you don’t want some cheap knock-off that will give you an allergic reaction!)

There are three main tactics I can think of for this:

  • Alternative items that can be used that are cheaper than the obvious ones. For example, if your costume requires chains, don’t buy them in a costume shop or hardware store—pieces of cheap duct tape taped to itself like a paper chain works just as well!

  • Using old items you have lying around that no longer want. For example, an old orange towel can be used to make a brilliant Fred Flintstone outfit.

  • Using items that you can get for free. For example, if you are dressing as poison ivy, get yourself some ivy from the garden to complete your outfit. (Just be sure it’s nonpoisonous, for obvious reasons.—Pudding)

Pay Attention to Details

Details can make all the difference between an average and great costume, and as before, they don’t have to be expensive.

  • If you’re making your costume, try and find as many images of what you want as possible and spot tiny details in the costume that wouldn’t be too hard to incorporate. Details like the right coloured makeup can make a huge difference.

  • Have you thought of what accessories you are going to use? For example, hoop earrings and a gold coin necklace can make you look like a much more authentic pirate.

  • Make sure you think about what you’re going to do about a bag, particularly if your costume has no pockets. A pirate would use a money purse tied to their belt, whereas Little Red Riding Hood would carry a basket. (You could get/make a red drawstring bag to put inside the basket to keep your possessions safe.)

  • What about a companion? Does your character have a pet that follows them around all the time? For example a witch may have a pet cat, so why not have a black cat bag?

Involve Your Friends

Group costumes are always great fun—either when you’re all dressed identically or part of a group of characters.

If you’re all going to dress as the same, for example a group of Smurfs, you need to make sure that everyone’s outfit is to the same standard, and as similar as possible (unless you want to show off a particular Smurf personality). What about the Powerpuff Girls? They’re identical other than their hairstyles and the colour of their dresses—so try and make sure you wear the same shoes!

Even more fun than all dressing identically is to dress as part of a group. Dorothy from Oz is much happier when she has her Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion with her; you’d never find Scooby-Doo without the rest of his gang! Just remember to make sure that everyone’s costumes are great, as one bad costume in a group will look even worse in comparison than on its own.

Think Outside the Box

My last, and biggest, tip when it comes to fancy dress is to think outside the box! This is important both when choosing what you are going to dress as and when you are constructing your costume. Use your imagination when you’re choosing your costume and try not to go for obvious things when you can, it’s much more fun.

There’s nothing worse at a fancy dress party than walking in and discovering that your costume was so obvious that somebody else picked the same thing. Actually, scratch that—what is worse is discovering that they put their costume together much better than yours! So remember my above tips too!

And so, my dear PPTers, I wish you great luck in your fancy dress escapades, and I hope my tips help you in some way. If you’d like any help or more details with any of the suggestions I have made, feel free to PM me, as all my examples are costumes I have been involved in making. And last but not least, remember to post photos of your costumes on the PPT Picture Thread!