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Monday, May 2, 2011

Draping & Layering

 Beautifully draped fabrics, chains, and strings of coins or beads are fantastic costume elements for vaudeville and vintage inspired bellydance. In the attempt to better my own costuming skills, I have been trying to develop my eye for good draping. Draping for costumes isn't particularly difficult technically (it may only involve a few stitches or pinned broaches here and there), but knowing where to let things loose and where to pin takes practice.

Layering fabrics is another way to achieve a vintage look in your costumes. I like to look for fabrics that will work together to create an old-timey feel without perfectly matching. Using different kinds of fabrics (e.g. lace, linen, satin, etc.) is usually a good idea, but ultimately you should just go with what looks good to you. The three dancers of The Indigo (Rachel Brice, Mardi Love, & Zoe Jakes) almost always employ fabulous draping and layering, so look to them for examples of magnificent vintage and vaudeville-esque costuming.

 My best piece of costuming advice is to experiment!  Lay out all your fabric pieces, skirts, tops, pantaloons, jewelry, belts, shawls, trinkets, and bits & bobs, then try everything on in different cominations.  Use safety pins to temporarily hang pieces of jewelery and chains from different parts of your costume and to test different draping styles.  It's very hard to tell how a costume will look without trying it on and giving it a shimmy to see how it looks on a live, moving body.  Even if you don't have all of the costume pieces you think you'll need, try on what you have anyway because it will help you get a feel for what your missing pieces should look like.  You should also consider doing your makeup as you would for a performance to give you a better idea of the completed look.  And get into the right mindset by putting on music that you think fits the mood of costume you are trying to create!  Happy costuming...