Various Era’s – Saved here for reference

You know I like period costumes – but it can be hard to find “the look” that you are trying to emulate and how it differs from other decades.

I stumbled across – okay, Facebook stumbled me across – this video showing ” 100 years of fashion in 2 minutes.”   I just know that I’ll want to look at it again later, so I thought I’d stash it here for safe keeping.

Quick 1980’s Costume(s)

I was invited to a 1980’s themed surprise party, scheduled for the same weekend that my sister was in town.  So we hit the thrift shops, confident that we could find something.

My original intent had been to find a long-sleeved dress with shoulder pads,  a large white bib and elastic at the waist and wrists.   Like with the prohibition-era outfit, I wanted to put something together that was at least vaguely age-appropriate.   Bangle bracelets, tutu’s and head bows (think Madonna) were certainly popular, but really only in the 25 and under crowd.   Professional women were wearing big shoulder pads, and were commuting wearing tennis shoes.

Unfortunately, we struck out on the 1980’s professional wear – but instead found numerous “preppy” outfits.      And what makes this costume really excellent, I think, is that there were two of us.   There is something added when two or more people come in costumes that match.  Even if the costumes stand on their own – as these do – the fact that we arrived as our own little clique added an extra element to the costume that would not have been there if one of us had come dressed as Madonna and the other as a professional office worker.Preppy 1

The Colander

This year, I’ve just been too busy to put together a new costume – but I do have an old stand-by that I haven’t yet discussed here.    The Colander!

Full Face Colander

Here’s a rather poor full-body shot, just to give you the whole affect.

Full Body Colander
Not exactly sure where I got the original idea for this – but as long as the lab coat is big enough, this costume is one-size-fits-all and thus extremely loan-able.    Basically, it’s a lab coat, a colander, a long leather belt (ideally really beat up) and a whole bunch of electronical-looking thing-a-ma-jigs that are wired, taped, strapped or zip-tied to the colander.

I’ve put a few close-ups of the just the colander, so you can get a better look.

Colander Only 3

Colander Only 2

Colander Only 1

Among the things on there are:

a) A whole mess of colorful capacitors that I bought salvage on eBay.

b) A very long, loose spring that is just looped around the edge.

 c) Some fishtank tubing, shoved into some of the larger holes in the colander and then looped around.

d) Brightly colored alligator clips, connected to various wires and items.

e) Colorful wire nuts, capping some groups of stray wires.

f) Some telephone cable, taped around the edge of the hat with black electrical tape, with the ends stripped and wire-nutted to stuff.

g) An old electrical outlet with one outlet and one switch.

h) A 15-Amp fuse.

g) A small light bulb.

 To attach things to the hat, I used black electrical tape, some of that silver, super-shiny tape used on dryer vents and heating ducts, zip-ties, wire nuts, twist ties, and whatever bare wires were sticking out of anything.   Duct tape or white bathroom caulk would probably also work well.   Anything that makes it look like it was made in someone’s garage.

A note about the stocking cap.    When I put the capacitors on, I basically just shoved the wire on each end of the capacitors through the holes on the colander and bent them over.   This makes it very uncomfortable as it rubs against my head.   I looked around for a  surplus-looking stocking cap to keep my hair (and perhaps skin) from snagging on the wires while still keeping the general made-in-a-basement-lab look.

I’m really pleased with the way that it looks, and it meets all my “costume criteria” – I can eat and drink in it, it always fits, it’s pretty immediately recognizable as a mad-scientist, I can wear it all night long, and it doesn’t require me to drag around a hand-held accessory.

Where’s Waldo – a great costume idea!

Somewhere – perhaps Facebook – I recently ran across a story about a man who attended Fashion Week dressed as Waldo:

If the link is broken, no matter, because what I really wanted to do here was capture the idea and describe what I really love about it.

This costume meets all of my costume criteria, for starters.  The costume is very easy to wear.  You can walk and move and sit and eat in it.   This guy even has the cane, but you could lose that and still be immediately recognizable.  He’s not spending much time answering questions about who he is dressed as.

The costume is quite easy – particularly if you are a tall-ish, slender man.    Red and white striped shirt.   Red and white striped winter hat.   Dark pants.   He had the round glasses and the cane – but I’m not sure that those are even necessary.

Most importantly, this costume it also adds the element of approach-ability.    Everyone is excited to “find” him.    He’s practically a celebrity.    And since most folks really LIKE Waldo, they have no problem coming up to him, speaking with him, taking photos with him, and so forth.

My experience with dressing as Minnie Mouse showed me how willing people are to interact with you if you are dressed as a lovable, recognizable character.   Much more willing than they would be if you were just dressed normally.  It’s an odd thing that the same stranger somehow becomes safer because they are dressed as someone safe.

Several years ago, a friend of mine came to one of my costume parties dressed as Flo from the commercials for Progressive Insurance.    As soon as she was in the door, I overheard someone say to his wife “Look honey, it’s Flo!”    And everyone wanted to speak with her.   They felt like they knew her – or at least that she was someone safe to talk to, friendly, and worth getting to know.

Flo 2

Steam Punk Gun Tutorial

A friend of mine recently posted a series of photos showing how he modified a toy gun to become a “steam punk” gun.   It seemed like a good compliment to my Space Gun posting, and I wanted to make sure that I kept his photos so that I could refer back to them in the future.   So here they are …

This first picture shows what the original toy gun looked like.    Notice that there is a trigger handle thing near the back of the gun, and then a second grip near the front.  (My lack of gun terminology is showing, but you get the idea.)   In this picture, he is tracing around the gun so that when he disassembles it, he can keep track of which screws go where.  (Very smart.)

SG 6

Here you can see that he has followed through on the idea of keeping track of the screws – taping each one down near the location where it was removed.   This is particularly important if the screws are of different lengths or sizes.

SG 2

Next, you can see the gun after it’s been disassembled.   Rather than coming apart in two matching pieces, this one comes apart into two PAIRS of main matching pieces – plus some other parts like grips and what not.      And this is where the paint job starts to get really interesting.

SG 5

Rather than just painting the whole gun a brass or bronze color – which would be a typical steam-punk style thing – he’s chosen to paint some of it a bronze color and some of it a dull steel color.   This makes the gun MUCH more visually interesting, and adds to the impression that it’s been crafted out of multiple metallic pieces and parts.    Also, by having kept the screws carefully identified, he can choose to paint them to match – or to contrast – because he knows where each screw will go.

SG 1

Next, he’s found some gear or cog like bits from a necklace at a craft store.   Again, very smart.     I’m wondering if you couldn’t also find buttons, or game pieces, or cardboard cuts outs that would also work.

SG 7

He then just sort of sprinkles these gears around the gun to make it look … well … more steam punk.   Here’s a picture of the completed gun.   You can clearly see the two different metallic spray paints and how that makes the gun look more constructed.    And the gears have been added onto contrasting colors, so that they stand out clearly.

SG 8

I really like the look of this weapon.    There are some other things that might be interesting to try – metallic paint pens, perhaps, to add the appearance of more parts.   Or perhaps tubing of some sort.  Or dials / gauges?     I’ve never done anything steam-punk before, but this seems like a pretty straightforward strategy for making a pretty authentic-looking steam-punk weapon.

1950’s Outfit

I recently had the occasion to pull my vintage dress out of the closet and put together a 1950’s outfit.     I’ve already shown this dress on here before, but not put together as a complete outfit.   In this picture, I’ve added a cardigan and vintage sweater clip, plus a white headband.   I believe that the headband technically pushes this outfit into the early or mid- 1960’s, but I think that the look holds together anyway.



20th Century Stuff in my Costume Closet

I plan on throwing a “Downton to Disco” party at some point.   People would be invited to come dressed as their favorite decade.    (Sounds like fun, right?)   So I went rummaging through my costume closet to see what odds and ends I had – in case folks wanted to borrow them.   Here are the results!

This is one of my personal favorites.  It’s a vintage 1960’s or 1970’s blouse.  It’s a bit small – but almost fits me on top and I’m about a size 10.   The sleeves feel short, but I can work with that.     I’d pair it with a pair of white pants.    And I’d consider a wide, white head band or head scarf, to complete the look.

70s Blouse 2

This second blouse is quite similar – same time period.   It’s quite a bit larger – too large for me, really.   And again, I’d just pair it with white pants and a white head scarf.

70s Blouse 1

In keeping with the bright colors of the 1960’s and 1970’s, here is a FABULOUS dress that I recently acquired.   It just barely fits me – and at 5 feet 7 inches, I’m perhaps a tad too tall to wear it.   The waist hits me a bit high, and the length is about 2 inches short.    I love the flare of the sleeves, though.      I’d wear it with brown sandals or, better yet, bare feet.

60's Dress

And again, from about the same time period but from a VERY different socio-economic demographic, here is a dress that is almost a house coat.   Again, it just fits me – perhaps a tiny bit tight in the belly – and I wear either a size 8 or a size 10 dress.     I like how dorky it is, honestly.


50s Dress

I love these pants.   They are an extra-large, but I think that probably means about a size 14 or 16?  It’s been a long time since I tried them on.   I had thought that I would wear them with a black turtle neck.

60's Pants

This skirt is tiny tiny tiny.   It’s a wrap around, but it’s got to be smaller than a size 6.    I definitely can’t fit into it – even if I were to be flexible on how much wrapping around I did with it.   But that fabric!   It’s amazing!

70s Skirt


For those who might want to go more hippy-style, I’ve got a loose-fitting long skirt.  I’m not sure what I’d pair it with on top.  Perhaps just a brown t-shirt?  It’s got an elastic waste band, so the sizing should be pretty flexible.   And it used to fit me back when I was a size 14 or so.


60s Skirt

For those who might want something a bit more classical, I’ve got this dress that I’ve always thought of as the Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farms dress.    It’s the sort of thing you’d wear if you were going to sit out in a field of poppies reading a book.   It’s sort of an off-the-shoulder number  – long and flowing.   And again, it used to fit me when I was a couple sizes larger, so I’m betting it’s maybe a size 14?


Antique-y Dress

Finally, I still have The Go-Go Girl dress, as well as The Gatsby Costume.     The Go-Go Girl dress fit me when I was a 14 or a 16, and The Gatsby Dress is large – but is supposed to be roomy if you want to keep with the era.

I’m planning on wearing something from this collection – or possibly one of my vintage 1950’s dresses.    Not sure yet – so everything is up for grabs!