Love, love, love 1950’s sock hop themes! I think I can probably recite the whole of Grease, we watched it so many times when I was a teen. We all wanted to be Bad Sandy, to rebel and strut around while a boy followed like a tragic puppy. My flat out favourite character remains Rizzo though, the tough chick with the soft heart hidden behind layers of sarcasm and attitude.
The 1950’s theme can be problematic for a lot of people though. We generally aren’t very used to the silhouette with a pinched in waist and flouncy skirt. If you match a jacket or loose shirt the result can be a feeling of being a bit “muffin-like”.
The trick to wearing a 1950’s circle Poodle Skirt is to make sure to flounce it out with petticoats Also make sure to use an elastic belt or equivalent to nip that waistline in. In my photos I’ve used about five petticoats for maximum “poofiness” and you could go more if you wanted to. You need to tuck a shirt in or wear a tight fitting plain top. Match a neck scarf, maybe a chiffon one? Any jacket should be ideally form fitting or a shorter style, such as a bolero or short bomber style.
Cute flat shoes, with or without ankle socks, guarantee a comfortable night, just what you need when setting that dance floor on fire, ala Cha Cha.
Vintage 1950’s dresses are another great option, if you find a wearable one make sure to cherish it! Fifties fashion is in so much demand it can be pricey but if you are a lover of the style it is worth every cent. I’ve got serious seller’s regret about some Fifties pieces I’ve sold over the years. Some of my most loved vintage includes what remains of my grandmother’s fabulous Fifties ballgowns.
There are always knock-off costumes for sale for an easy solution – they are readily available and are no-fuss. Maybe a better choice than vintage if the show is likely to be a rowdy one!
This post has looked at circle skirts as the main look of a Fifties theme. There are other notable contenders such as the popular Wiggle Dress or funky Capri Pants which I will feature shortly.
Thanks for checking out this blog this far, lots more costume madness going on as we go through our stock for a massive inventory. It’s a huge task but I’m hoping coffee will help me survive!
I was a teenager in the 1980’s and totally, utterly obsessed with fashion I started my first job and my first pay was immediately spent on a turquoise cable knit “sloppy joe” oversized jumper .
(I received the handsome sum of $18 for working weekends at my Mum’s video store).
Once I was older and moved to the city my girlfriends and I lived for clubbing. Shopping was our most competitive and consuming past time. Now, I look back and thank the fashion gods that cameras didn’t proliferate like now. Thankfully, photos of our most bizarre fashion moments are few and far!
I’ve been collecting vintage clothes and costumes since I was about fifteen years old. Along the way I’ve gathered a huge inventory of fashion gems………here are some of my most favourite outfits from the fabulous, naughty, excessive, crazy Eighties!
I love this outfit above – it is a crisp cotton material with heaps of gathering on the flounces of red, yellow and bright blue. I’ve added a blue sash and gauze headscarf – it is by “Mr Simon”.
This cute gauze dress is another great example of early 1980’s blasts of colour. The tiered skirt is bright hot pink and bright blue while the bodice is hot pink with blue spaghetti straps. I’ve matched it with a soft blue lace top and white lace gloves and the mandatory beads plus doubled belt.
Those synthetic cocktail/bridesmaids dresses are difficult to take seriously now but they were as popular as Dynasty and all the 80’s soapies stars with big hair, long nails, sharp heels and masses of hairspray manes. Big hair and big attitude mandatory.
Styles included shoulder pads, peplum waists, gathering, elastic waists. Chuck on some sequins for good measure. If you were feeling too understated don’t hesitate to reach for some statement jewellery either.
Floral tribute like this didn’t come cheap – this bright blue cocktail dress had a designer price tag.
My dream day outfit was probably the pink pvc miniskirt, black net top, lycra singlet and neon leg warmers. What I ended up wearing would have been more like the middle outfit of a spotted pair of overalls!
Classic Eighties isn’t always huge pops of colour – it can be more subtle! This cute white bodice combines perfectly with the tartan bubble skirt. The black cocktail dress has silver dots, front gathering and a keyhole neckline plus heaps of attached petticoats.
Sometimes people ask me “Is this too much?” and I always have to tell them I am not really the person to ask! All these years of collecting vintage clothing has destroyed any perspective on dressing too over the top. I’ve combined a strapless taffeta dress, tulle petticoats, studded belts, tons of bracelets, beads plus a fur stole with brooches……channeling my favourite Cyndi Lauper film clip, you know the one! If this is too much, you could easily tone down by taking off some kilos of jewelry.
Some characterise the Eighties as a time of “greed is good” and excessive consumption – which I agree it certainly was – but there is a quality I really like about this era – the bravery! Designers, music, pop culture, all served to push the boundaries of the fashion of the moment forward.
Yep it is here! Count down time as we fly through Book Week 2016 in a flurry of costume madness!
Salute to some very creative Mums out there. I’ve heard a few ideas that never crossed my mind before this week! I’ve been wracking it for inspiration to fit in with this years theme of “Australian Story”! E.g. Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie or Mary Mackillop.
Her story…….Colonial pioneers
Some costumes fit the theme and are easily made. These are easily linked to lots of great kids books with colonial characters. For girls there are heaps of great books including “Emma’s Journal: The Story of a Colonial Girl” or the Her Story series. For boys you could try “The Wild Colonial Boys: Australia’s Most Notorious Bushrangers”.
A colonial girl costume can be put together with a floral cotton gown or skirt and top, apron or pinafore and mob cap.
Bushrangers and Colonial boys
Dastardly bushrangers can be easily down with a shirt, vest, hat, gun-belt or two and a bandana. Our modern bushrangers no doubt smell a lot fresher than the originals!
A colonial gent is a similar approach, just slightly upmarket version, possibly with a tail coat. (The two featured have been made from combining two coats into one to make the “tail”). This style would be easiest to fit a taller child as you should be able to source small male formal wear much easier than children’s formal wear (in my op shop experience anyway!).
There is also a plethora of great children’s books with our beautiful fauna the main feature. Look for books about koalas, kangaroos, lizards, parrots, black cockatoos, white cockatoos, emu, wallaby, dingos, or snakes.
One of my favourites in store is the Green Tree Frog…..not sure why it was made from green fur but just flow with it!
A couple more of my favourites include the Chicken family and fluffy Penguin.
Australian armed forces, nurses, police uniforms are another option. These fit well with many of the shortlisted books for 2016.
Book Week can seem stressful but it is a great opportunity to help your child get excited about the wonderful world of books. Take the time out to relax and read with your child, they are only little for such a short time!
While it is great to reference an Australian character if possible, any book character costume is always welcome during Book Week!
Other Australian characters I can think of include:
Can you think of others?
However the costume turns out, whether it is a store bought fantasy or held together with duct tape and love, have a great Book Week!
Everyone loves a Masquerade Ball! This is a super easy option for a dress up show – it gives lots of choice to the participants – they can either reference the theme simply with a plain mask or go all out with an elaborate ensemble.
Generally, Masquerade Balls in Australia are semi-formal in tone with the addition of co-ordinating ornate masquerade masks. Bonus points if a couple can co-ordinate their colours and masks!
A Masquerade Ball doesn’t have to be a stressful or overly expensive exercise either. You can use a formal dress you have worn before, just bling it up a bit with OTT accessories and mask and you are ready to roll. For fellas, dress shirt and pants, nice shoes and belt – grab a co-ordinating colour mask and your’e done! Or you can always go more elaborate with a steampunk style mask and accessories like a fob watch.
Metal laser-cut masks
One popular style right now are the metal laser cut options – these are generally a ribbon tie-on and are very lightweight.
My favourite at the moment is the new “sunglasses” style which has clear, movable arms so you can wear your mask comfortably and not ruin your make-up!
We have a huge range of masks in-store and are happy to ship straight to you – just flick us a quick email with your requirements and we will get straight back to you as soon as possible, or let us know any questions you may have about our range!
Clowns are the funny bone of the costume world……..(get it! Sorry, had to!). They are also super flexile, being able to morph into different categories easily. You can go from a circus theme to a horror theme with just a few face paint adjustments. Or just, you know, the end of the night make up!
A surprising number of people have clown phobias so they should be used with caution, lest you have crying children at a party – not good! I have lost count how many have come in the shop and recoiled from the clowns in horror!
Which leads us to the latest craze of scaring random people with clown outfits in public places. Not on! There is too much potential for disaster here, in my humble opinion! Either the clown could get hurt or a person could get hurt trying to get away. Imagine if someone had a heart attack! Given how many people I see with clown phobias once they come in our shop and see some of the costumes, I don’t think clowns need more of a bad name either. Let’s just leave the pranks alone guys, or at least at the party where they belong!
Clowns don’t have to be scary! Clowns have been around since the 5th Century BC and became an iconic figure from the 1800’s onwards. Clown associations generally recognised there are actually three main sorts of clowns – white-face, Auguste and Hobo. We used white-face as our theme for most of these photos. The Auguste or Red Clown use a red or pink colour in place of the white-face paint. Hobo clowns feature a beard and white around the eyes and mouth.
Before the advent of the scary clown trope their prime function was to delight, amuse and entertain their audience. They are known for their playfulness, humour and sense of fun. Haven’t we all just wanted to run away and join the circus?
Always unique – vintage clowns
Our collection of clowns has some costumes dating back to about the 1930’s/40’s……..one thing about clown costumes, they are always unique and one of a kind! We are always in the process of clown costume construction – sometimes they get too boisterous!
One of my favourite interpretations is the vintage Dolly clown – something about girly clowns is really intriguing to me!
Clowns costumes can be made by collecting interesting and unique items and combining them in your own way. Add on bright patches, buttons and accessories. Rodeo clowns mix with western motifs, plus practical choices that allow them to evade angry livestock.
Make-up is a whole topic of it’s own. For now I’ll simply state that it is important to use quality face-paint for the best results. Not only will the colour be more true and intense but there will be less risk of an adverse reaction for the wearer. We have been selling a good quality range of face paint and supplies since the 1980s – have a look at our shop for more details.
Thanks for reading my blog, I’d love it if you suggested any costume genres you would like to see!
Lewis Carroll’s Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is easily one of my favourite characters. Her lovely curiosity and witty humour have given us some beautiful quotes, albeit cryptic ones!
“But it’s no use going back to yesterday , because I was a different person then.”
Lots of different looks for Alice!
She also has some great costumes which can be highly versatile. Alice’s costume can be sweet or sassy and looks great on everyone. She is instantly recognisable in her blue dress with black accents and white apron. The perfect costume for Book Week!
Alice can also carry props like a toy clock or stuffed white rabbit – maybe even a real white rabbit if you happen to have one handy! Today I’m posting some of our Alice costumes, just because I’m in an Alice sort of mood – curious and curiouser!
Just by keeping some simple elements there are a number of different looks that Alice can easily adapt too! Your base of your costume is a relatively simple blue dress in a nice clear light blue……..
Add a matching white apron or pinafore, maybe some flouncy blue petticoats?
Add a long blonde wig, black headband and black accents……
Or go the easy way and purchase one of the huge variety of commercially available Alice’s:
One of our popular sellers is below – easy peasy stretchy Alice dress with built in petticoats, apron, ribbon headband…………don’t forget the stripey stay ups!
Tone it down for Book Week and up for a Wonderland inspired party – Alice is a great, go-too costume. Best of all, you get to run around quoting Alice-isms all night!
“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.” Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Love, love book week! I have to admit though, when I first found out about this whole annual book/dress-up-your-child challenge I was a tad overwhelmed. (Plus I have a costume shop at my disposal/literal door step!)
It seemed like another big ask of an overwhelmed Mum. (Especially fishing a soggy note out of a school bag on the morning of the first dress up date!). Now some may be critical of my note-reading but to quote a wise woman, “No one got time for that!”. Unless a note is under my nose it is not my highest priority. In my kids school life they have gotten used to Mum forgetting things.
Anyway, my rambling point is, I get it! Yet another costume is a hard ask but it is totally worth helping your child to participate in book week if you can! Books are treasured friends in our household. Raising your child with a love and interest in books is a great asset to them, their whole lives. Some kids have no interest in books for a long time but if you can light that spark you will see some fantastic results!
One of my aims with my blog project is to try and share some of the tips I have picked up all these years of washing, ironing, making, mending and hauling heavy costumes around. I love kids costumes especially, cos you always know when you have it right with kids and when they are happy they just shine! (You also know it until and unless you get it right!)
Now, a look at some costumes and themes easily worked in with different books. Grab a book and costume to match, get settled and have a fun time reading together!
There are heaps of books on Dinosaurs, aimed from toddlers to juniors. An easy Dinosaur costume will keep your child cosy and warm too!
From the Jungle Book to Animalia and Dear Zoo, there are heaps of stories with a variety of jungle animals. The only trouble is picking which animal suit fits best! The rise of the onesie is a great relief for getting Mum out of trouble and a rugged up kid off to school. Points if they wore it to bed after a wash the night before and can legitimately go to school in their jammies!! Woo hoo!!
Cartoon characters and heros
One of the few times we can thank commercialism here! Most movies/tv shows have books associated with them. This can be a great way to get a reluctant reader started. Trying a is book or comic with their current favourite character can really help. Before they know it they are engrossed and you can enjoy that fleeting sound lost during early motherhood………the sound of silence….shhhhh! Don’t ruin the moment, just enjoy……………
Fairy Tale and Nursery Rhyme characters
One of the easiest ways to beat the Book Week costume dilemma is to utilise an age old fairy tale book or nursery rhyme. It was quite a revolution for my kids to realise that Snow White actually had a number of different manifestations and she doesn’t always look like the Walt Disney version. Of course I had to prove this point by producing an actual old-timey book of Snow White but a quick trip to the op shop solved that! Ditto with old favourites like Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Rapunzel, Wicked Witch etc. A princess with a long wig can be Rapunzel. A full blue dress or anything sparkly and glittery is Cinderella and a black wig is Snow White – you get the drift!
You can always rely on the classics to help you out! There are plenty of versions of classic characters like Alice and who doesn’t want to be a Red Queen? Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook and his pirate crew. The classic books have lots of great costumes and every kid should read a classic at least once!
Hopefully these have sparked some ideas for your little one! Let me know if you have any thoughts or costumes you would like to see us try and I’d be glad to give it a go! Whether you start at the bookshelf or at the dress-up box, book week is a great way to engage your child with imaginative play and a love of reading.
A little while ago I found myself facing my own financial apocalypse – two redundancies in one week!!Both from jobs I had held for nearly nine years each.One company was almost a textbook case of how to properly organise a genuine redundancy. Months of notice, organisation wide consultations with all employees, plus offers of deployments into other positions. There were invitations to apply for new positions, employee counselling, multiple briefings. In short, every device available to lessen the blow on employees.The other organisation…..well…….
For my family it was the beginning of a crisis that we are still learning to cope with.With no time to prepare for the loss of our largest income and a literal mountain of debts it was officially time to panic.We had assets but they were hardly the liquid variety and you can’t eat your assets!
I started by finding everything I could that might have a value on eBay.
First to go – my huge collection of new and near-new designer clothes!My “court” clothes were next!I never wanted to wear them again. I never want to be a part of an office or organisation again. A few favourite “power” outfits were stashed (you never know when you might need to do a presentation or kick some butt after all!). The rest I listed as soon as I could say “photo session”……
The new face of eBay did surprise me, I have to admit!It has completely changed since the first time I sold items with any regularity. This was some fifteen years ago, when I had my first baby.Some of the changes are for the better, some much, much worse.It is sad to me to see the proliferation of big companies dominating what was originally a great place for little sellers to market their wares. Fifteen years ago I used to make and sell little handbags with great success, I don’t know if that could be done so easily now.
So enough babbling, my hints for selling on eBay follow:
List it right!
*Make sure you are making money!Sounds simple and it is but I am aghast when I do a search and see what some people are charging sometimes. Seriously, they will be out of pocket if they sell an item that low!If I am selling a new product that I have bought in to sell I start with the wholesale price. Then I add all the fees I will be up for if the item sells. This can include the listing fee, the final sale fee , the fee I will be charged on the post, and the Paypal fee.
After adding all this I have to add in my profit. There are lots of schools of thought on this one, it really depends on how you approach it.If it is a small item that you might be selling a lot of then you can afford to make only a few dollars as you will be selling heaps (hopefully!)
If it is a more one-off item you might want to consider some factors.
I.e. How long it has taken to obtain the item, photograph the item, crop your photograph, write your listing, package your item and take it to the post office.Hopefully you are doing all these tasks in batches but you can easily spend hours on each “batch” of items.If you time yourself you might be able to work out an average time spent on each item. You then just work out how much you want to pay yourself and allocate.
*You also need to research the market for the item you are selling.There is no point in pricing it so high that it never sells.
This is why it is good to sell in a category you have a lot of knowledge in. For example, I know a lot about designer labels and vintage clothes and keep myself up to date on the prices paid for items, on both eBay and Etsy.
*Don’t panic if your item doesn’t sell straight away.Don’t drop your prices to something so low that you will lose money in the hope that bidders will bid the item up.In my experience on the modern eBay marketplace, this doesn’t happen as much as it used to. I’ve found it is better for me to just list something for a price I am happy to sell it at. This is after all, what eBay recommends you do!
*Following eBay’s recommendations – these can be really helpful but I wouldn’t follow them slavishly. They can alert you that an item or a label you are not familiar with has a value higher than you would have thought!And vice versa.Jut remember, they are there for a guideline only. All prices are dependent on trends and the condition of the item overall. Everything is only ever worth what someone will pay for it after all!
Always write an honest description!
*Be completely honest with your description. If there is a flaw you really need to say so straight up and show a photo with a detailed explanation of the flaw.I try to avoid listing clothing with any flaws at all. However, if it is a really cool item I will but make sure to underline the flaw’s existence.This will help in any later dispute.Remember eBay’s guarantee is actually a guarantee with YOUR money, not theirs! You might make a genuine mistake and a seller contacts you to complain about a flaw. It is always my policy to give them the benefit of the doubt.They will usually send you a photo to show you what they are talking about.
It is not a matter of avoiding negative feedback for me, it is more a matter of honesty and compliance with Australian law.The Trade Practices Act (Cth) and most state consumer laws state explicitly that if you sell something that is substantially different to the description then you are liable to refund. (This usually doesn’t apply to individual making one-off sales. However, if you are selling in a consistent, organised way, you might be considered running a business. You are therefore subject to the usual consumer legislation).
There’s some weirdos out there….
*On negative feedback – it is pretty much forgone that sooner or later you will strike a strange one and may receive negative feedback.I’ve had a couple of nasty buyers who demanded money back from me for no reason or were just plain psychotic.Although I have 100% rating at the moment I am sure sooner or later a wierdo will rear their ugly head. I think sometimes they target people with 100% as they think the seller will be scared to lose their spotless rating.
Sometimes you know you have done nothing wrong, e.g. the item was brand new and you are sure you carefully inspected it so there is nothing wrong. Plus you know it was delivered due to Aust Post tracking. I would advise sticking to your convictions and just bear the negative feedback. Explain as best you can on your feedback page and move on.Don’t let it get you down, some people cannot be made happy!
*List consistently – I try to have regular photo and listing sessions – there is always something in the works!Customers get used to you offering a variety of carefully curated items. They will return to see what you have on offer, especially after they have a good experience as a buyer.
*Have the item ready to ship straight away.I take the business seriously and have dedicated space for my items. It is surprising how much room they take up. They are kept away from the general household and can’t be played with by children, sat on by pets or split on/absorb cooking smells etc. Ready to go as soon as sold.I buy my satchels in bulk so I am always able to jot down an address and drop to the post office as soon as an item is paid for.Buyers love to get their items straight away and hate an unnecessary wait.
*Get organised with all the tools of your new trade – while listing you want scales to weigh the items so you can accurately figure out the shipping costs.You need materials to package your items for post. Start to save any bubble wrap that comes into the house. Stock up on sticky tape, brown paper or any other items you can use to post items safely.
*Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer and try to think of the information they need to make an informed purchase
Give all the measurements you can in your listing, mention any flaws, talk about the items features, take many photos.Generally, if people have to ask questions, by the time you are able to reply, they have already moved on to another listing. Make sure your listing is the one that tells them what they need.
eBay can be a great way to clear the decks and make some extra dollars but be mindful about the process. You don’t want to waste your time for a few dollars!Make sure you take breaks and get out and enjoy the sunshine!It can be lonely plugging away at the computer!Reward yourself with a little treat once you have hit a few goals and it will be easier to go back to next time.
Hopefully you found a couple of hints in there, please feel free to comment with any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!