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Costuming on the Cheap?

Discussion in 'Costumes' started by Indecisive, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. Indecisive

    Indecisive Active Member

    I have searched through a lot of old threads on here about making your own costume out of thrift store clothes and such. That your costume can be made out of inexpensive materials, and your money should be spent on quality make up and such.

    Are there any guidelines? Is there ever a clown costume that is too "busy" with too many clashing colors and patterns? Can black be used in a costume as the main color for a non-scary clown?

    I think it might be a good idea to make fun of my thick stumpy legs. They are short and thick, but strangely shapely.

    Here are some ideas I have so far. I think long over sized sleeves are funny for some reason. I guess it just reminds me of when I was a kid and used to wear over sized sweatshirts with really long sleeves.

    I also find large bags/purses funny. Only because I noticed I seem be knocking things down with my large purse at stores and stuff. A few days ago I accidentally hit a boy with my backpack and knocked him off his skateboard. :oops: Or would that be more like a prop?

    Another idea I had was making a costume "inspired" by different characters I like and it looks like I gathered pieces of their costume to make my own.
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  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    You don't need to spend a fortune on a costume, and yes, it is possible for a costume to have too much stuff. I don't really think a clown should look like a closet exploded and they put on a little of everything or that they were transported through time and are wearing a mix of items that might have been normal in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

    Women know how to mix and match to put together an outfit. They know which shoes to wear and which purse will match. Guys just put on a shirt, pair of pants, and some shoes. A clown is more like an athlete, where everything you wear belongs to the same sport. You wouldn't expect to seen an athlete wearing football pads, golf pants, and bowling shoes.

    Quality is a good thing. You want costumes that will last a long time, fit properly, and support the type of things you want to do. If you plan to do cartwheels, the costume should allow you to move without having everything come flying out of the pockets. Much of the fabric available today is for crafts and quilts. Not much is out there for making outfits. Paying a few extra dollars a yard for a higher quality material, is worth it in the long run. Having costumes that are easy to wash without needing special care will also be more convenient. Adding 300 buttons, pins, and other things to the costume might make it harder to wash in the laundry.
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  3. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Highlighting and exaggerating an aspect of one's physicality or personality is a proven character development tool. For example, if you are seven feet tall, stand on stilts and raise your hair to get to fourteen.

    So, definitely, work with what you uniquely have.

    Yes, a costume can get too busy as to be distracting. You want some sort of defined focus. A good rule of thumb is to choose three colors to work with. If you're using a multicolor pattern, that counts as one. Also. Sometimes the various colors can be brought together into one. For example, my primary costume colors are blue and red with yellow highlights/accents There is also some white base in shirts. So, I have a blue and white striped shirt. A white bib with red tie and buttons. I also have a plaid jacket that is blue and white with thin red stripes. My vest is plaid with heavy blue overtones and red highlights. It also has some greyness to it, which allows me to use either red or grey striped pants. So, I can mix and match a bit. But it's all basically around some basic theme and variation. Bottom line: coordination is important. Too many of the stereotypical scary or bad clown costumes which people often identify with clowns are awfully uncoordinated. Which is a big part of their problem.

    As to thrift store stuff, if it's decent quality, sure. Why not? Some of the best costumes I see from entertainers are hodge podged together from various places. Everything from vintage shops, to thrift, to ethnic clothing stores which often have colorful patterns. You need to shop with your clown eyes wide open, and asking oneself how you can effectively use these items in a different way.

    Be unique. Be your own clown. Don't just look like everyone else out there.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
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  4. Pookie

    Pookie Well-Known Member

    As far as various aspects of the costume being too long, too short, etc., you are on the right track. How an article of clothing fits is an important aspect of how your clown will be perceived. If the clothes are too large or too small, baggy or tight, or overall well fitting will tell people what kind of clown you are. So, what do you want people to think about your clown?
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  5. Indecisive

    Indecisive Active Member

    Since this will be my first costume. I'm having a hard time thinking about what I should wear on the bottom. I'm not sure if I want to wear cuffed pants. If a person with short legs wears cuffed pants it makes the legs look shorter. Then I remembered when I was a college freshman and liked to wear pedal pushers with tall patterned socks. I was also considering a skirt.

    I was also thinking about making myself interchangeable accessories that are not really part of the costume. I mean like sewed onto a shirt or anything.
  6. Loopy

    Loopy Well-Known Member

    Colorful Overall's would also work, Checkered or striped its all in how you want to set up your look.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  7. Barnie Bonkers

    Barnie Bonkers Well-Known Member

    It would also depend on what type of Clown you are....

    I'm a Tramp Clown, so my stuff was easy... I bought a pair of size 50" waist (I normally wear 34") blue jeans that were on sale for $10, and then sewed on a buncha patches. I cut the bottoms off the front pockets, and added fabric to extending them about 12" so I can carry more stuff (juggling balls and tricks), and I removed the back pockets and added longer pockets on the inside and then sewed the patch pockets back in-place covering the opening to the longer pockets.... ( I carry a table cloth sized hankie in one pocket and a huge comb in the other), and added a small pocket that is closed with Velcro on the inside front so I can carry my wallet...I roll up the cuffs and wear them with suspenders (Braces if you're English 8) )

    I got a pair of size 18 high tops (well they were a Birthday gift from Martie) red socks, a black and white stripped shirt, finger-less brown cloth work gloves (that I bought for $1) and an ugly yellowish tie....

    The High Tops were the most expensive part of my outfit, and the Blue Jeans were the most time consuming,

    It has a slightly "Kidish" look, as opposed to a Homeless person look to it, but it is instantly recognizable as a Clown.

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  8. Indecisive

    Indecisive Active Member

    I want a really girly looking clown costume. I'm really open to anything though. I was reading some old threads about people altering square dance dresses.

    For my shoes I'm going to wear regular sized shoes. Women's shoes in bright colors are not that hard to find.

    I've been working on making one of those neck ruffle collars.

    The costume is for my new whiteface character I'm working on. She is a pretty clown, but maybe she doesn't need a pretty costume. Yet. She could be a pretty clown in a potato sack or something. Burlap is itchy! That could be part of the contrast.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
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  9. Barnie Bonkers

    Barnie Bonkers Well-Known Member

    For a whiteface, and if you know how to sew, you could go with a traditional jumpsuit and make it yourself. A jumpsuit is so easy to make, you don't even need a pattern (just some measurements)
  10. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I don't know anyone who wears a traditional jumpsuit anymore. They look too much like the Halloween clowns. I have heard of people using the square dancing skirts... not sure about the whole outfit as I don't really do any square dancing to know what is available. I think many of the dress patterns are based on an adult sized Raggedy Ann dress.
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  11. Barnie Bonkers

    Barnie Bonkers Well-Known Member

    Well yeah... if they are poorly made and outta ugly shinny fabric imported from that (youknowwhere) Country flooding the market with cheap ....ergh....stuff.... ....

    But they are still Traditional for Whiteface Clowns....

    For a whiteface Clown, you can go with what everyone is now doing, or you can go with tradition (why is "Fiddler on the Roof" now going through my head ? )...

    Look up what Whiteface Clowns have done in the past....

    But my argument is.... a classy jumpsuit doesn't have to look like a cheap Halloween costume...And just because "everyone" doesn't do it now... doesn't make it wrong....

    And it would be inexpensive to sew.....

    Dang... you could buy some sheets at thrift store (cotton, washable and really inexpensive), and play with the pattern until you got it how you want it.

    AND...because no one is now doing it... You'd be original.


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  12. Barnie Bonkers

    Barnie Bonkers Well-Known Member

    I gotta do some sketches.... to show what I'm thinking.

    And I can show you how to modify/fix/draft out a jumpsuit that would work...

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  13. Indecisive

    Indecisive Active Member

    I'm not sure if I'm good enough to sew myself a whole outfit, but I can add some trim or decorations to something.

    The only thing about the jumpsuit is about bathroom usage. I'm not opposed to them. If done well they look classic.

    Spring is coming up so there will be brightly colored clothes for sale soon. It's going to be luau season soon too. The local high schools throw end of the year luaus, and there is a lot of Hawaiian and island themed clothes for sale at the local malls.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
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  14. Loopy

    Loopy Well-Known Member

    Costuming for cheap Amazon and Clown Antics come to mind yes I know their not real Clown outfits but having something is better then nothing until you can get a real outfit together.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  15. Indecisive

    Indecisive Active Member

    Went some big box stores looking for clown clothes. I saw lots of nice stuff, but it was too small. :(

    I think I decided on what I want to wear for my first costume for a bottom. Pants; I think I'll get some slacks and embellish them with some shiny fabric and some ribbon accents.

    I'll make a drawing of what I'm talking about, and Barnie I still want to see your drawing please.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
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  16. TerrytheTramp

    TerrytheTramp New Member

    I had found many materials for my work in progress right in my own home. The only things I outsourced from a thrift shop were my shirt, pants, shoes and jacket. Not everything needs to be bought, I'm working on doing spats for my shoes made of sports socks. Initially I was going to buy them but this little brainwave helped me along. Though it may be easier since I am a tramp clown.

    And I have a (quite literally) crafty friend who is looking through his material discards for some patches. And those will be precisely arranged and and not slapped on willy nilly. :splatter:
  17. Indecisive

    Indecisive Active Member

    I remembered I have some old pink curtains laying around I can use for the trim on the pants. I have been scouring my apartment for stuff to use. I know I have some more stuff I still haven't found yet in there like some tulle.

    Although I know there are some items I want that I know I don't have or can make at the moment. I still think I want to wear a sports coat. And thrift store slacks are so easy to find.
  18. Barnie Bonkers

    Barnie Bonkers Well-Known Member

    With thrift store slacks, you can ....

    Buy them too large and hold them up with suspenders/braces...

    Cut the legs and re-hem them to make them ridiculously shorter.

    Or add some trim or extra pockets to brighten them up.

  19. HoneySuckle

    HoneySuckle New Member

    From what I have seen with some of the clown pants, you could buy a pair of scrub pants that have the draw string in them in a color that you like and then add embellishments to them and sew some large colorful pockets onto the front of them. That's what we are doing for my husbands pants. I'm going to add a colorful cuff to the bottom as well. For myself I am making a brightly colored tulle skirt and wearing a pair of white capri's under them that I am adding a ribbon to so I can tie them and make them look like they are bloomers. I have to somehow figure out how to add some kind of pockets into the skirt as well for hiding some of my magic stuff!
  20. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Scrubs can make a good starter costume. They have Chef pants in some interesting patterns including flames or vegetables. If you buy two pairs of pants in different colors, you can mix and match by using the fabric from one on the other. (This way, all of the fabrics are related and less likely to have issues with shrinking different amounts.)

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