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    DIY: Making and Finding the Stuff

    Where can I find out how to make Rocky costumes and props?

    Youtube.
    Youtube has a ton of DIY videos. Some are crap; some are pretty good.

    Public (especially university) libraries.

    Check out the theater section. If your library doesn’t have a book, they can probably get it through interlibrary loan. If you find something good, you can probably find your own copy at http://www.bookfinder.com .

    University libraries (especially universities with theater departments) tend to have better, if older, selection. (Older is better for subjects like wigs or millinery.) That theater department or the local community theater would be a good next stop, especially if you have specific questions.

    Where can I find supplies to make Rocky costumes and props?

    Lingerie shops, such as Frederick’s of Hollywood (also see the links page)

    On-line only now, Frederick’s carries cheap garter belts and stockings, gold briefs, and a pretty good floor show corset. (Note: most men wear a 38 or a 40 corset.) Friendly to larger sizes (mostly). Sold platform heels and stripper-high heels when no one else did, but the website doesn’t do shoes.

    Victoria’s Secret still has physical stores so you can try stuff on. Vicky’s is more expensive and usually not trashy enough. Local lingerie stores / sex shops may be more flexible about special orders. Lover’s Lane is seriously overpriced but has periodic 50% off sales and carries a wide range of stockings. Most places carry Leg Avenue, which makes novelty stockings/socks and basically-sized lingerie in a bag. They’re a commodity; find someplace cheap on-line and buy in bulk. Leg Avenue’s black knee-high socks shot through with silver lurex make nice Frank gloves with a little alteration. (Clothing outlets like Urban Outfitters sell stockings or tights…but unlike the socks, these require adding elastic.)

    Thrift Stores and Garage Sales.

    Good source for purses, shoes, slips, pearls, tap shoes, tube tops, and boots. Sometimes you’ll luck into things like gold band uniforms, black nylon robes, or a dress you can modify. (It’s a lot less work than making one from scratch.) Sometimes it is easier to find a garment made of a fabric you want and chop it up than to find the fabric. eBay’s easier, but more expensive – this is how we did it before eBay.

    Vintage Shops.

    Find 70s items here. Can be surprisingly affordable, depending on the shop. Might be just the place to find a cheap tux jacket or a vintage 1970’s rainjacket or car coat.

    Payless Shoe Stores.

    Stocks women’s high heels into at least a size 11, and they’re cheap.
    Sometimes has Brad/Janet shoes and cheap Magenta boots. Stock changes quickly, so when you see something you want, don’t wait. If a store doesn’t have your size, they can call other stores to find a store that does. May stock useful stuff like cushioned insoles (don’t buy the Dr. Scholl’s cheapie ones) and anti-slip pads for the soles of your shoes.

    Department Stores.

    I’ve had surprisingly good luck at JC Penney’s – I think Janet would shop there. Over the years I have bought fishnet pantyhose, giant pearls, platform sandals, and gold boxers here, and they used to carry name necklaces. They also have garter belts and used to sell 4711 cologne.

    Many items (like the platform sandals) are in the catalog or online only. They also have a scrubs catalog from which you can order lab coats (or just go on-line). I got my Magenta granny boots at Sears ($40).

    Larger department stores can also be a resource for makeup. Some folks swear by MAC eyeshadows, for example. Lots of color and they don’t change shades often.

    Beauty Supply Stores.

    They have wigheads, makeup sponges, and always have purple eyeshadow and false eyelashes regardless of current fashion. Eyelash glue bought here is less likely to dry out right away than that bought at a drugstore. If you wear strip lashes, be sure that you buy the right kind of eyelash glue (usually in a tube): the glue sold for individual lashes doesn’t come with an applicator!

    I usually go to Sally’s Beauty Supply; Ulta has more makeup and the fancy brands, but they don’t carry wig-related items.

    Discount Stores and Drug Stores

    Target, Wal-Mart, to a lesser extent Walgreens/Osco, etc., especially around Halloween or after-Halloween clearance. This is a good time to buy cheap wigs, fake eyelashes, capes, pitchforks and axes (for your space gun and for Frank). Costume wigs don’t usually look that good, but with a little styling can be quite acceptable, and you can’t beat the price. Most of the Halloween makeup is poor quality and not recommended. Haunt the regular makeup section (Gene Chiovari recommends Cover Girl) and try that instead. NOTE: If you find the “perfect color,” buy extra; makeup colors go in and out of style and this will buy you time if it is discontinued.

    Discount stores are also good for basic underwear. (My favorite Magenta bra in the 1990s was from K-Mart.) Roller pins (big bobbypins) and basic hairstyling supplies can be bought here, as can (sometimes) oval barrettes that are about right for Janet. Walgreen’s has carried fake eyelashes and glue for years, whether they are in fashion or not and sometimes has pink gloves. Even dollar stores can be good sources for dishwashing gloves, cheap multicolored featherdusters from China (Dollar Tree), etc.
    Playtex used to sell pink dishwashing gloves in October for Breast Cancer awareness at outlets like these, though in recent years they’ve gotten much harder to find.

    Fabric Stores.

    Get on the mailing list and then make all your major purchases when everything is on sale (coupons for X% off your total order tend to be every couple of months – Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.). Get on the mailing list (sign up in the store) so you get coupons and know when sales are. Most of them now have coupons you can get on your phone. Sequined fabric, lamé and chiffon add up fast.

    Fabric stores also stock Velcro, ribbon, beads, boning, sequins by the yard or in strips, Aleene’s Stop Fraying (like Fray-Check, only better!) and other kinds of specialty glue (Jewel-It, E6000…), lingerie findings, bouquet forms, rhinestones, metal studs, lace, fake flowers, and fabric paint. Other useful purchases include eyelets and a special tool to set them into corsets. You can find some fabrics at Wal-Mart, but the selection is poor, they don’t know their stock, and you won’t accidentally find a lot of other useful stuff you didn’t know you needed. Visit around Christmas (or at the after-Christmas sales) if you need metallic ribbon, useful for floorshow garters or Columbia shorts.

    Craft Stores.

    There’s some overlap with fabric stores, but craft stores such as Michael’s stock less fabric and more of everything else. Check here for feathers of various types, rhinestones, fake celery, fake flowers, Testors enamel paints, paintbrushes, ribbon, whatever. Michael’s carries a wide range of Sharpie markers and you can buy them individually instead of buying multipacks. Keep your mind open; for example, those tiny paintbrushes could be just the thing to apply your eyeliner. Places like Ben Franklin also carry makeup in addition to crafts and notions; a long-time Magenta eyeshadow of mine is a no-name brand from Ben Franklin ($2). Again, check for coupons on their website/your smartphone.

    Hardware Shops.

    Sells chain for your Janet purse by the foot. They also stock jumprings, steel wool, etc. in addition to things you can repurpose.

    Home Repair Superstores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.). Hardware shops on steroids. Also carry things like dowels/molding that may be handy for hand props (the cylinders on my space belt are half-dowel molding cut to size and sanded).

    Hobby Shops.

    They’ll know exactly what kind of paint is best for whatever you have to paint, and be happy to tell you how to prep the surface, too.

    Costume/Theatrical/Magic/Novelty Shops.

    Quality is usually better at a year-round place than at seasonal pop-ups and the staff is better informed (and able to special order items). They’ll stock up around Halloween and may offer very slim pickings after the big post-Halloween sale.

    Look for boas, clown white, stage makeup, fishnets, glitter tophats, etc. May also stock spats, rhinestones, feathers, or sequined hats, tailcoats, gloves, or stretch sequin “gauntlets” (worn by majorettes in marching bands; they make easy floor show gloves). False eyelash selection is liable to be better than at a drugstore. Many carry cheap low-quality wigs, too. Avoid those Marge Simpson-style “Bride of Frankenstein” wigs, please. They will make you look like you scalped a poodle. Franks should avoid Afro wigs; they’re usually too big and look silly. Remember, wigs will always look shorter on you than on the wighead–try them on! See the wigs page.

    Halloween Pop-Up Stores.

    These pop up in abandoned storefronts around August, then disappear for another year after October 31. Hit them on November 1 for big discounts (usually 50% off) but don’t expect them to be around November 2. Look at the accessories (’50s housewife pearls for Frank; sheriff stars; capes; over-the-elbow silver lamé gloves you can chop down). Quality tends to be questionable but the selection is impressive. Independents tend to have more interesting stock than Spirit. If you’re hitting Spirit, check their Twitter feed for coupons.

    Goth Shops.

    Hot Topic has gotten into the lingerie business, and sell stockings too. You may be able to find Ben Nye makeup here, and a couple of people have recommended some of the makeup lines they carry. The “Rebel” line of eyeshadows looks interesting, though I haven’t tried them.

    Bridal, Formalwear Accessories Shops.

    Bridal and accessories stores may sell formal gloves in various colors. Avoid bridal shops if you can; the markup is huge. Accessories shops (like “Claire’s”) are common in malls. I’m usually astonished by what Claire’s stocks; definitely worth a look. They’re cheaper and tend to stock long gloves especially around prom time. Formalwear shops sometimes have sales to ditch old styles; try to get on the mailing list. Also an excellent source for vests, cummerbunds, and spats.

    Wig Shops.

    These are great if they are used to dealing with theatrical wigs. Otherwise, they may not understand what you want, even with patient explanations. Take color pictures or color copies with you or have photos on your phone (harder to leave with the stylist). If you find a stylist who really understands what you want, cherish him or her. If it’s difficult to style your hair like your character’s, a wig can make a huge difference in your appearance, and save a lot of wear and tear on your hair. Cheaper wigs start at $30-$40. It is surprisingly affordable to get wigs washed or restyled. (You can just wash a wig by gently swishing it with shampoo in the sink; see the wigs page. Not for the faint of heart.) You can do a lot to a wig by teasing or cutting it–remember this if you can’t find exactly what you want. I prefer synthetic to real hair. It doesn’t last as long, it’s hard to color unless you use spray-on color, but it is much cheaper and easier to care for. You can’t crimp it, but it will take hot rollers, and it will hold high artificial styles better. Store your wig on a wighead so it will hold its shape, covered with a cloth so it doesn’t get dusty. Remember–the hair won’t grow back, so always cut less than you think you should when styling!

    Shoe Repair Shops.

    Get your boots reheeled before the sole of the heel is completely worn away. It’s not that expensive and it’s an investment in your safety. Get a quote first; it may run $12-$15 and if you’re wearing Payless shoes, maybe you should just buy another pair. You can also buy cushioned insoles, nonslip shoe soles, granny boot shoelaces, and leather conditioner here. If you need to cut up a pair of shoes (space boots, Frank boots), ask if they will do it for you. I got my space boots modified and I *love* them. They saved me hours of work by stitching them up afterwards, and I didn’t have to risk life and limb with an Exacto knife. Well worth the $12.50 they charged me, and they did it in three days!

    Party Stores.

    Useful for banners, gold glitter hats, party hats, noisemakers and horns, and plastic party goblets. Some stock large quantities of costumes/makeup around Halloween (mostly the cheaper type, but more selection than at the local discount store).

    The Internet…don’t forget Google, eBay and Etsy.

    Amazon.com sells just about everything now – even the green surgery gowns. Search engines are your friend. Comparison shopping is easy, and it’s handy for people who don’t live in major cities with some of the other resources listed above readily available. It does work best if you already know your size. If you’re not sure it can be a crapshoot, and shipping adds up. Do check expected arrival dates – a lot of things come from China now, which can take 6-8 weeks.
    Many people do a lot of their costume shopping on eBay. It’s like a giant thrift store with search capabilities (that won’t let you try anything on and charges shipping). A lot of the thrift stores sell on eBay now too, and people do sell old Rocky costumes there.

    Sometimes people sell accessories and costume bits on Etsy. I’ve ordered non-Rocky accessories but haven’t found any dedicated Rocky shops I like. And of course, hit YouTube, using your judgment (some of those “How To Do Your Makeup Like…” video people obviously have no idea what the characters’ makeup looks like).

    How can I make my costumes as close to the ones in the film as possible?

    Search every photo you can find to get pictures of the costume you want to make from all angles.

    Good sources are photo calendars, the Internet (see the links page; also check Tumblr), trading cards, the poster magazines, the RHPS Book, and stills. You can also take notes during the film or use freeze-frame on your DVD/BluRay player. The archives for rhpscostumes at LiveJournal and alt.cult-movies.rocky-horror are getting a little dusty and are image-poor, but there is years of material there, though much of it’s pre-DVD.

    You can buy stills on eBay (hardly worth it; you can usually buy the same stills in a batch elsewhere for cheaper) or from a merchant who specializes in movie collectibles. Bruce Cutter and Larry Viezel often sell them at cons. Take the photos with you (in a plastic photo protector–or a color scan – or on your phone) when you buy fabrics, costume pieces, makeup or wigs or you will get home and realize things aren’t quite the color/shape/size/texture/cut you remembered.

    There are several movie memorabilia merchants, but I’ve only found a few with large collections of Rocky Horror photos. Shops I recommend include Jerry Ohlinger’s (New York – a bit picked-over but good for beginners), Cinema Collectors (Los Angeles), and Still Things (Las Vegas). I have bought from all three. For contact information, please check the links page.

    Look at their photos in person if possible. Most of the text descriptions in Jerry’s catalog are pretty vague (Still Things’ are a little better but they’re still dreadful), and the person who takes your order over the phone may never have seen the film. Jerry’s has more photos, but some are lower-quality from slides or posters, and some of the photos are shopworn from being in 3-ring binders too long. Cinema Collectors takes better care of their photos.

    Still Things has some of the same photos as the other two. Some are better than Jerry’s; some are not. Many are directly from the film. Still Things offers a better choice of sizes than the other two: you can buy black and whites as 8×10’s or 11x14s, and color photos are available in wallet size (handy for ordering photos you think you might have, but are not sure), 3×5, 5×7, 8×10, 11×14, or even 16×20.

    Beware of out-takes and mirror images, especially in stills or the RHPS Book. The color spacesuit picture and the picture of Riff on the throne in the RHPS Book, for example, are mirror images. Watch for costume details or people standing on the wrong side to tip you off. To use reversed images, scan, flip, and re-print.

    Scan or make color copies of any costume pictures you want to use for reference from cheaply-bound books like the RHPS Book. They’re easier to refer to and will save wear on your book. Smaller copy stores will ask fewer copyright questions though I’m not sure anyone cares anymore. You can store pictures on your phone if you don’t mind they’re small. Haven’t tried using a tablet.

    What are some handy tricks when I buy/make costume items?

    If you are making costumes, preshrink the fabric first. This is particularly important with cottons. If the fabric is going to bleed or shrink, you want it to do so before you make a costume out of it. Don’t do this with lamé or sequined fabrics, which you should wash as little as possible.

    Buy individual sequins only when you are scattering them (like on a floorshow corset or on Magenta’s bra). Otherwise, if possible, use strings of sequins from the trim department (cheap) or sequined material (expensive, and getting harder to find). Foil dot material is cheaper, but doesn’t look as nice, and over time the stickers come off. In addition, the stickers will gum up your needle and your scissors. If you can’t find sequin fabric (look on-line!) look for inch-wide strips in the trim department.

    Gold lamé can be bought pre-quilted

    in a pattern of repeating squares (but it’s hard to find).

    It’s a lot faster to unstitch a little of it to get the right pattern of lines for a spacesuit than to start from scratch.

    When you are sewing chiffon (Frank’s dinner outfit; Magenta’s negligees) or lamé, even if you French seam it, it will fray. Coat all edges with either nail polish (clear or black) or Aleene’s Stop Fraying (usually stocked in fabric stores by the glue). It sticks to everything until it dries, and you shouldn’t put it on items you will wash a lot, but it really works. The stuff in aerosol cans doesn’t work nearly as well. Stop Fraying is also nice for treating the ends of marabou boas or feathers you cut off a boa for trim. (Marabou is a kind of very fine fluffy feathers that looks sort of like fake fur. It’s sold as skinny boas.)

    Another alternative is FrayBlock. It’s a clear runny liquid. Unlike Aleene’s, you can’t see it when it dries (so it won’t leave marks on your clothes), but it doesn’t work as well. You have to be very careful when applying it so it doesn’t get everywhere. If the tube gets sealed shut, unblock with a pin; if that doesn’t work, throw it away. Don’t try rolling the tube to force it out; the tube develops pinprick holes and covers your hands with the stuff.

    By the way, you should French seam chiffons. Otherwise all the rough edges are visible, and it looks awful. Look this up in a sewing book or Google it. Here’s a rough explanation: instead of placing right side to right side (like you normally would), place wrong side to wrong side. (Chiffon doesn’t have an obvious “wrong side” – pick one.) Stitch a very narrow seam. Now, place the fabric so the seam is facing you and the two-layer sandwich of chiffon is away from you. Holding the seam, fold the top layer of the sandwich over the seam and your hand and the bottom layer of the sandwich under the seam and your hand, towards you, making a three-layer sandwich (bottom, seam, top). Pin the three layers together close to the edge and sew along the pins, completely encasing the first seam. If you’ve done it right, the encased seam is now inconspicuously located inside of the garment. (Confused yet? I told you to Google it – http://sewsweetness.com/2011/09/french-seams.html has a good explanatory picture and step-by-step instructions. Hard to explain, but it looks wonderful and it won’t ravel.)

    If that sounds like entirely too much work, you can do what burlesque dancers do and serge the edges. Less pretty, but it works.

    Velcro is great – in moderation.

    Be careful; it can catch on some items (feathers, stockings, polyester and some gloves, chiffon, etc.). It’s available in squares, strips, or by the yard, and in sew-on, self-adhesive, or iron-on versions. I prefer sew-on. Many fabrics will melt if ironed, and the self-adhesive velcro doesn’t stay on well (and gums up your needle and thread if you try to stitch it on). Velcro is cheapest bought by the yard. It doesn’t work well for things that have to flex (like floor show gloves).

    If you must use velcro in these areas, back it up with a snap or two. At neck or waist, consider a hook and eye – the eye extends the closure a little and will fail less explosively than a snap.

    Buy sew-through boning or boning with extra-wide casing.

    This allows you to use a sewing machine when boning a costume, instead of having to do it by hand. If you use plastic boning, buy it by the yard. It’s cheaper than buying pre-cut pieces. Some people prefer to use steel boning; you’ll probably have to order that online. As far as I can tell Sue didn’t, but your stuff probably has to last longer than hers. Steel boning is less flexible and probably less comfortable but it does hold its shape better; your body will eventually warp the plastic, and then you’ll have to replace the boning. Serious corsetiers use steel.

    Elastic and thread are available in clear.

    It’s nice for securing fishnet gloves, where regular elastic would show. Fishing line can be used as clear thread for things like the center of a boa, and can be bought in different weights.

    You have lots of options if you need to stiffen something or make it stand up.

    For immobile things that don’t have to flex (spacesuit wings, belt buckles, etc.) you can insert heavy cardboard. (Cardboard will NOT work in applications where fabric must be saturated with glue, then applied over the stiffener; it will get soggy and start to flex.) For more flexible pieces, you can use bridal wire, boning, latex foam padding, or a kind of heavy paper called “bridal stiffener” (I think it’s just interfacing). More traditional sewing people use buckram, a stiff cloth used for millinery (hats), pasties, bookbinding and uncomfortable clothes (and may be just the thing for your space glove cuffs). You can find it at serious fabric stores or on-line. My mother, who makes fabric boxes, recommends Peltex or Timtex. For a while, people were recommending plastic embroidery screen to stiffen spacesuit wings, but some people find that eventually the little squares become visible as the vinyl is pressed against the screen.

    Binding tape can be very handy. In addition to binding edges (Janet hats; spacesuit gloves–watch out – gold binding tape is expensive!), you can use it to make small items such as Magenta dress button loops. No hemming; no raw edges to mess with. (Thanks to Mina Smith for the hint.)

    Fabric-covered buttons are usually made, not bought. There is a very limited selection of fabric-covered buttons commercially available. Go to the notions department and buy a kit–you provide the fabric and a hammer, the kit provides the button findings (and sometimes a tool to help align the findings correctly over the fabric). The tool is a small cheap plastic ring that distributes the force when you whack the pieces together (like using a Badg-a-Minit, or playing Whack-a-Mole). The last time I used one I broke it, but it is easier to assemble the buttons with one than without. Buy extra button forms; you’ll screw up at least one.
    Yes, Magentas could try to dye white satin shank buttons…but the satin is synthetic and won’t dye very well.

    When ironing something fragile, use a pressing cloth. Vinyl and lamé will melt if you iron them, even on a low setting. And some fabrics may scorch if ironed. In cases like this, put a piece of old sheet or a lab apron or some other flat, sturdy, not-flimsy white cotton fabric over the fragile material and iron a small test patch. (Use the correct setting on your iron, of course.) I’ve never tried wetting the pressing cloth, but apparently that can be done, since anything fragile enough to require a pressing cloth probably needs to be ironed on a low enough setting you can’t use the “steam” setting on your iron.

    Don’t wet the pressing cloth if you’re working with lamé – lamé can rust. When ironing fabrics that don’t rust or waterspot (bridal satin!) I find spraying with water, then ironing, is more effective and easier than using the steam setting.

    What are some useful tricks for making the costumes?

    Find a friend or relative with a sewing machine.

    You can learn how to do basic stitches on one fairly quickly, and they make sewing a lot faster. Sergers, which stitch two pieces of fabric together and also stitch over the edges (“overlock”), are great for fabrics that fray (like lamé) and are very fast, but are expensive and take a while to learn to adjust. My husband loves his; they scare the crap out of me. Once something’s serged, you can’t undo and then redo it (it cuts off the edge of the fabric it overlocked).

    Use math. Use your reference photos: ratio the costume to your size (height/girth/etc.). People sometimes ask me how long some costume is, what size buttons to use, etc. The answer depends on what looks right on you. If Barry Bostwick’s boa is 10 feet long, but you’re 4’9″, you don’t want a 10 foot boa. I spend probably as much time ratioing costume pieces to my height/weight as I do actually tracing the pattern.

    For things like apron straps or belts, sew wrong side to wrong side to make a tube, then turn it inside out. This way all the little loose threads that stick out at the edges will be inside the strap, where you can’t see them. (Yes, you’ll have to iron it to get it flat.) If you don’t want to do this, for heaven’s sake learn to hem or at least glue under the edges. Those little straggly threads look awful.

    Old sheets and newspapers are nice for making patterns. Old sheets are especially nice because they don’t tear (much) when you try them on. Newspaper is cheap and can be made as large as needed by taping pieces together with Scotch tape. If you don’t know how to read a pattern, you can cut up newsprint and try different ideas to get the right shape for a costume. This will drive friends who sew from patterns crazy.

    If you need to be able to see through a pattern, buy tracing paper from an art supply store. If you can sew, hunt through old patterns (for help, see the links page). Patterns are especially helpful for things like dresses (try Butterick’s or McCall’s; they aim for the novice, and I’m sure Janet bought them :-). Patterns go on sale often; get on your local fabric store’s mailing list and watch for specials.

    Buy a white fabric or art pencil

    to draw lines on dark fabrics. Regular pencil works fine on light fabrics — it can usually be erased or wears off in time. Use pencil on the wrong side of the fabric (the side that won’t show) just in case. Soap slivers can be used to draw on dark fabrics, but I’ve had problems with it rubbing off before I’m done cutting.

    Contrast stitching is best done by machine. You can do a lot with hand-stitching, but if you are doing stitching to make something stand out (quilted squares on your spacesuit; stitching in the boning in Frank’s corset), the machine stitching stands out a lot better.

    Don’t count on being able to dye things. Remember, synthetic fabrics do not dye well. My experiences with RIT dye have been, to put it kindly, disappointing. It’s possible they have finally figured out how to make a true black; I’ll believe it when I see it.
    If only small areas of something must be dyed black, try laundry marker.

    What are some other helpful supplies?

    White glue is useful for sticking lamé on a solid backing. Completely saturate the fabric with the glue, then smooth it on, being sure to avoid wrinkles. My last spacesuit buckle was made of wooden molding (very long lengths of dowel split lengthwise) cut in lengths, the ends beveled with a file, and covered with lamé saturated with wood glue. Lamé can also be glued onto leather to make a space anklet, and it’s handy for spreading on the tips of feathers which you’re adding to a Magenta feather duster (use a toothpick or bamboo skewer to apply). Don’t use white glue on anything that might get wet.

    E6000 is an industrial adhesive sold at craft stores (and in the Crafts section of Wal-Mart). It’s clear, flexible, non-water soluble, and will glue just about anything to anything. The company even claims you can paint it. (Is it toxic? Probably. Does it work? Hell yes.) I’ve also had some luck with Shoe Goo, a product designed to plug holes in your shoes. I found it in the Adhesives section of K-Mart.

    Nail polish (especially clear and black) is very handy for painting small items. It can also be used to keep fabric from raveling. Clear nail polish can be used to stop runs in your stockings (use base coat, which isn’t shiny). Hairspray helps stop runs, too.

    Scotchgard
    It’s getting harder to find, and they had to reformulate in 2003 since a key ingredient was a precursor to a persistent organic pollutant. If you’ve got a costume that you can’t clean, apply this after making it. Test first in an inconspicuous area.

    Acetone , sometimes sold as nail polish remover, will remove small amounts of paint (use a Q-tip to apply). You could buy paint thinner…but acetone is marginally less toxic and more multipurpose. NOTE: it will dissolve many plastics.

    Model paint (available at hobby stores) is good for painting small items and doesn’t tend to rub off on things. It will chip off plastic; try to rough up the plastic to get it to stick. Spray paint looks good, but tends to flake off or adhere to things that touch it if the surface isn’t prepared properly. I bought mine at a hobby shop that catered to people who paint models; for painting plastic, they recommended 000 grade steel wool and recommended against sandpaper (“It leaves grooves.”). They recommended coating metal objects with primer before painting. (You might finish with a couple of clear topcoats to make sure it doesn’t come off.) Another tip: they suggested warming the item you’re painting first with a hairdryer and soaking the spraypaint is warm water (careful; the label will loosen!). This did seem to help – most spraypaint has a recommended minimum temperature. There are spraypaints specially formulated with plastic, but I didn’t have very good luck with it; it seems to take longer to dry than standard spraypaint. Spraypaint technology has come a long way; they even have patent shades with vinyl in them now, which a friend uses to touch up floorshow shoes. Haven’t tried it yet.

    I think hot glue guns are over-rated. The glue often comes unstuck once it cools.
    They work OK for gluing fabric to cardboard, but the glue line is visible. White glue is more even and shows less. Still, glue guns are fast, and if you cannot sew, they are an option. (Someone once showed me an entire Magenta dress that had been hot-glued together. The seams looked *very* nasty. I wouldn’t recommend it.)

    A set of long-nose pliers is very handy for readjusting boot-hooks and taking things apart.

    Cover the jaws with fabric or rubber bands first to avoid scratching whatever you’re working on.

    Thin cardboard is very handy for making patterns. If I’m doing a lot of costume work, I save old cereal boxes (or frozen pizza boxes if I need something bigger). My mother saves the stiff flexible plastic that used to be packed with frozen meat.

    Tacky craft glue is one of my essentials, together with white glue, E-6000, and Aleene’s Stop Fraying. I’m learning to work with FrayBlock, but prefer Stop Fraying (see “When you are sewing chiffon”).

    Bamboo skewers or toothpicks are great for applying a tiny drop of glue, paint, whatever.

    Transparent quilter’s ruler, straight edge, and yardstick. I presume you have these. I don’t make costumes without them.

    Sharpie markers, fabric markers I use Sharpie markers more than the fabric markers, but they’re handy too. A silver metallic Sharpie can be just the thing to mark a dark object you need to cut up that won’t take a white chalk pencil.

    Thimble, needle threaders If you sew, you probably already have these. The thimble is particularly handy for jamming a needle through thick material, such as the multiple layers of a space belt. Needle threaders are very cheaply made but they’re handy and very cheap. (I got fed up and bought a fancy Colonial one aimed at middle-aged nearsighted people. Ask Google.)

    Seam ripper This is a nice extra (they’re cheap) and I use mine regularly. It’s much easier to rip out a bunch of stitches than pick them out with a needle. You can also use the pointy end, very carefully, to push the corners of fabric all the way out when you’re turning a fabric tube inside out.

    Fabric scissors and a good pair of craft scissors Reserving one pair of scissors for fabric only keeps them sharp. I like Fiskar’s; buy them when you get one of those “25% off any item” coupons.

    Cheap hairspray is your friend.

    But don’t go overboard with it–eventually the buildup will weigh the wig down. My wig stylist said to avoid alcohol in hairspray, but the hairspray she recommends (“Super Stiff Spritz” – great stuff) has alcohol in it too.

    Always keep safety pins in your costume bag.

    Eventually someone will need them. Bobby pins are good emergency supplies, too.

    6. Do I have to make stuff myself?

    No–you can pay someone else.

    Some are listed on the links page. You can also try finding a local seamstress/tailor, which will eliminate shipping costs, let you see what you’re getting, and make fittings easier. (Theater and Ren Faire people are a real resource.) It’s worth trolling Etsy, though the quality of things I’ve seen there varies. You could try the cosplay community.

    Making things yourself is cheaper and unless you are working with someone who knows Rocky Horror, it’s often easier to get what you want. Learn to look at stuff and ask yourself how you can make a prop out of it. Props needn’t be perfect; I had a gong for years that was a spray-painted frying pan cover, and I saw a woman get applause once with a “spacesuit” that was a gold mini-dress with a black sunvisor on each shoulder.

    Links – Where to get the goods

    Google is your friend. Some of the most helpful costume links will be ones you find yourself, using the search engine of your choice. If you find something really good,
    email me
    , will you? Happy hunting!

    A NOTE ON LINKS: Many stores have gone to a database format, which messes up the links something fierce. So if the main link doesn’t work, try a keyword search at the main page. I try to keep everything current, but I do miss things. If you find a broken link, please
    email me
    . Thanks!

    Image Sources – or what to look at when you’re bored with Tumblr

    • Cosmo’s Factory http://www.cosmosfactory.org

      Cosmo grabs images directly from the movie. He takes requests. His high-resolution Blu-Ray photos have been down long enough I’ve removed the link, sadly.

      For lower-resolution, smallish (but detail-oriented) grabs from the DVD, visit:
      http://www.cosmosfactory.org/rocky_horror_images_mainview.shtml

    • Rare RHPS Photo Site http://nominex.com/rarerhps/archive.htm
      The main page has disappeared, but the archive is still there. One of the best places on the Internet to look at rare Rocky stills. The variety and the quality here is astonishing.
    • Cinema Collectors (no website)
      1507 Wilcox Ave

      Hollywood, CA 90028

      (323) 461-6516

      (323) 461-6519 (fax)

    • Still Things http://www.stillthings.com/Fantastique.html
    • Has an online catalog of stills you can buy (text descriptions only). Nice selection, and they will sell you wallet-size color photos (handy if the description leaves you wondering). I was unimpressed at delivery time last time I ordered, but I still order from them if I need photos from a specific scene.

    • Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Materials Store http://moviematerials.com/

      No on-line catalog, though they will send you a text listing of Rocky photos if you send a self-addressed stamped envelope (ask for the Rocky Horror List, #37).

    Suggestions on How to Make RHPS Costumes

    • Student’s Guide to RHPS Costumes http://www.angelfire.com/film/ickle/costumes/rhpscostumes.html
      Making costumes on the cheap. Good suggestions for modifying items found in charity shops (and a large list of UK shops!), and suggestions for where to buy things in the UK. The Columbia instructions look helpful; Janet’s are much less detailed but promising. No one else is up yet.
    • ShawnAnthony.com Rocky Horror submenu http://shawnanthony.com/rocky.html
      Also uses (with permission) the text from the Anal Retentive Costume List as a jumping-off point. Information on the Frank jacket is notably more complete than the text here; information also included for Eddie.
    • Rocky Horror Costume Instructions by [Sugarsh0x] http://www.angelfire.com/nj/RHPSColumbia/index.html This is a page on how to make quick and dirty Rocky Horror costumes. I won’t vouch for its accuracy, but if you need a costume fast, check it out. Hasn’t been touched in years.
    • RHPS Costume Ideas http://members.tripod.com/~ScabbyDoo/costumes Another “quick and dirty” costume page. More fragmentary than the first one. Largely an archive.

    Forums To Talk About Making Rocky Costumes

    • RHPS Costumes (LiveJournal) http://www.livejournal.com/community/rhpscostumes/
      People post stuff they’re looking for, possible sources, etc. It’s going the way of all Livejournal pages but the archives are worth a look.

      Cosplay forums can also be helpful; you may want to add them to any searches, though I don’t have any particular recommendations. Someday someone will make a Rocky Horror costuming page on Facebook that doesn’t go moribund. I’m still waiting.

    • The Rocky Horror Costume Forum http://amadscientist.proboards.com/
      Very little traffic these days. Requires a login id (free). I’ve found the founder, Mark M’s, comments on the rhpscostumes Livejournal group helpful.
    • yahoogroup RHPSCostumesCostumersNFreaks finally went defunct.

    General Costume Construction

    • Cosplay.com’s Cosplay Tutorials http://www.cosplay.com/forumdisplay.php?f=178
      GodDAMN. Tutorial after tutorial on making costumes that look like what’s on-screen, all aimed at regular people. Want to know how to dye a wig with Sharpie markers? These people know how. OK, most Rocky people aren’t looking for tips on how to make animal feet or kimonos. But there is a wealth of knowledge here.

    What About Those Commercial Costumes?
    Fox released these in 2001. I wouldn’t recommend them except maybe the Riff wig (hard to find commercially; requires some skill to make), or the Frank wig (not bad for a wig in a bag–the shape is right at least). Many Columbias use the jacket a starter, though it’s kind of crap.
    NOTE: the photos on the packages are not the same as the actual costumes (they were probably of higher-quality prototypes).

    If you want an approximate audience costume out of the bag to wear once or twice, these may be just what you need. Just don’t expect them to last. If you’re in a cast and wearing any of these but the gold jacket…well, people may point and laugh.

    Rundown:

    • The Frank wig and costume look OK but are flimsy, cheap and nasty. Fingerless gloves and corset are fronted with a plastic scratchy material that looks okay from a distance; backs are plain black. Gloves started to run immediately (they’re not hemmed). Faux garter belt lace strip (attached to panties) looks good but started coming unstitched when I held it up.
    • The Columbia costume looks vaguely acceptable except for the awful floppy foil dot hat, which most Columbias ditch immediately in favor of a plastic glitter top hat.
      Tube top: multicolored shiny stripes with gold foil dots printed over them (plain black back). Tiny red foil dot bowtie on white elastic. Pastel stripes printed on black stretchy shorts. Thin unlined foil dot “tailcoat” with rectangular black foil dot lapels.
      The Columbia wig is an embarrassment: wrong color, too bushy. You can do better at a wigshop or Halloween store.
    • The Magenta dress is made of cheap velours with the front of an apron attached. Cap looks OK. Considering how easy it is to modify a dress, I don’t understand buying this…I guess it beats a French maid dress. Magenta wig doesn’t look good, but I’ve seen worse.
    • The Riff costume is a horrible cheap polyester suit with attached vest and a shoulderpad (?) for the hump. Two poor-quality spats and gloves are included. Just buy a black jacket at a thrift store and wear an unbuttoned white shirt under it – it’ll look a lot better.

    People Who Will Make Rocky Costumes For You

    Honest, it’s more fun to make your own. (Don’t know how to sew? Neither did the rest of us when we started. For ideas on how to find/cobble together/modify costumes, and finding supplies, visit the Finding the Stuff page.) But some people really don’t want to, don’t have time, or would rather hire someone more skilled, and I got tired of getting email asking for a list of costumers. So here it is. I haven’t dealt with all of them myself, but I have met most of them and personally seen examples of their work.

    Costumers are listed here as a service to our readers, not as an endorsement. If you have a problem with one of them, I probably can’t help. There are a couple of folks on Etsy or Facebook who aren’t listed here. Want my opinion? Ask.

    There may also be options in your area, and if you can find someone local, you’ll be able to try the costume on and check on its progress in person.
    Ask for references and CHECK them. Often once costumers become known for excellent work, they get lots of orders, get overwhelmed, and go down in flames. So ask around before you order.
    You can always talk with Edge, who prefer not to be listed here, or go to cosplay sources or Etsy.

    If you do order a costume, discuss details that matter to you (color; number of pleats/eyelets; size of quilted spacesuit squares, etc.) with the costumer. This may increase your cost over a standard item or it may not.

    Make sure the measurements you send the costumer are as exact and complete as possible. You may still have to make some final alterations once the costume arrives. On my most recent commission, I asked that the costumer send me a muslin mockup to try on and modify before they started the real thing, which helped.

    If you need a costume by a specific date, order well in advance, particularly around Halloween, when most Rocky costumers are swamped, and keep in mind the costumer may blow the deadline (life happens). You may be better off doing the costume yourself.
    If you live in a different country than the costumer, you may have to pay import duty on the costume, and shipping may be pricey!

    • Other site’s costumer links
      http://columbiascloset.blogspot.com/p/other-sellers.html
      Mina seems to be doing a better job than I at keeping track of other sellers; she includes notes about whether she’s seen the work in person.

    • UK COSTUMERS
    • US COSTUMERS
      • Edge Creations
        As I mentioned above, Edge prefers not to be listed here, but they often have a booth at cons and can easily be found via Google and Facebook. We have profound differences on some of their designs, though I like their boas and am impressed with the embroidery on their Brad robes. Many people like them.
        They do not customize as far as I’m aware; if you disagree with their color choices or other details, they have plenty of customers who don’t.
      • Hannah Cunningham From Rags to Rocky

        Hannah is the cast director of The Master’s Affairs, in Lexington, Kentucky. She got a serger sewing machine for Christmas, and learned how to use it to make a set of boas for her cast. She writes: “I wildly overestimated the material I would need, and wound up making extra boas to sell online. I’ve long since gone through my original stash of fabric, but the boas are in such demand that I’ve kept making them. I make them from gold, red, and black glitter organza, with two feet of black chiffon on either end. They’re a total of nine feet long, serged all around in black thread, pleated, and joined by a strip of twill tape running along the middle of the gold strip. I’ve sold quite a few and people seem to be happy; I have 100% positive feedback on eBay.”

        Hannah recently expanded into space suits; her first batch look pretty good and were criminally cheap. She’s looking at revising pricing as she sources more pre-quilted lam&eacute . She also makes space gloves. She is open to making other RHPS costumes, so you can certainly ask.

      • Shawn Anthony (rhpscostumes@shawnanthony.com)
      • http://shawnanthony.com/rocky.html

        As of October 2011, Shawn is back on hiatus and may not be back.
        Shawn writes: “16 years of involvement in Rocky Horror. Have created costumes for fans and shadowcast performers across the United States and Britain. Trained and certified in stage costuming and theatre technology…Particular interest in Frank N. Furter and Eddie.” Costume work won Best Frank at the 2005 Vegas con and Best Rocky at the Chicago 2006 con (field of two contestants). Photos; partial price list. Shawn notes that costume creation will take 4 to 6 weeks. We occasionally have some differences on costume shape but I must say some of his recent work is very nice indeed. He seems to be particularly well-known for his Frank shoes, and they do look very nice.

      • Mina Credeur seweccentric@yahoo.com

        http://www.ColumbiasCloset.com

        As of October 2012, Mina has stopped taking commissions, though I understand she may still have hand props and other non-sized items (badges, patches, etc.) available, notably at cons.

        Even if you aren’t interested in buying anything, check out Mina’s site; she posts reference photos and useful information on how to make costumes, as well as a growing collection of patterns and a listing of costume sellers. (Disclaimer: I contributed to the lightning bolt pattern; I haven’t used any of her others, though the spouse made a nice pair of Rocky shorts from a pattern she provided.) Her work on the site won her a BOSS award.
        Mina did good-looking costumes for reasonable prices, and when I needed something made, or someone asked for a recommendation, I usually went to her. She has a good eye, does her research, and is open to discussion. After getting overextended in the early 2000s, she issued refunds; spent some time doing only referrals and repeat customers; then moved on to eBay, where she garnered a feedback rating of 100%. Mina also does historical costumes, mostly Victorian.

        Mina is a Columbia and former cast costume mistress. She uses an embroidery machine to make patches for Frank and Brad jackets; we got a Triumph tiger patch from her and it looks great. She also makes nice vinyl lab masks (original light pink no longer available; I suggest you ask her not to cut them too large) and lightning bolt pins made of foam-backed vinyl or fiberglass. The vinyl look good but over time they delaminate and start to curl; the fiberglass are fragile and prone to breakage. Mina also made a rather nice maid’s dress for me with proper pleats from a pattern I’d cut (redoing the sleeves, which I’d screwed up).

      General Costume Sources and Lists of Sources

      Remember, you can find a lot of stuff in the real world.

      • eBay http://www.ebay.com
        This is where people post their old costumes nowadays, and if you’re looking for authentic 1970’s crap, this is where most people go to find it.
        If you can’t find what you’re looking for on eBay, consider hitting alternate country eBay sites, such as http://www.ebay.co.uk/ A lot of people use eBay as a storefront; it’s not my thing but a lot of people cruise the eBay shops and do really well.

       

    • Frederick’s of Hollywood http://www.fredericks.com/

      They won’t have exact Rocky lingerie, but it’s a good place to start. A good source for cheap stockings (fishnet and otherwise), corsets, etc. Their satin jacquard corset (cupless!) makes an excellent floorshow corset when worn backwards; a lot of casts use them. After more than 20 years, it look like it may have been discontinued; hit eBay.

      Specific Costume Piece Sources
      Note: I have not purchased these items myself unless indicated, and am not associated with any of the merchants.

      A word to the wise if you’re purchasing lingerie on-line–shop around. You’ll find that the majority of sites you visit are selling exactly the same thing –after a while the photos will all look familiar. Prices vary wildly: why pay twice as much for the same thing?

      • MISC
        • Act One Costumes
          When people recommend a general costume site, I’m skeptical. However, this one is pretty good.
          Includes mustaches (the “straight mustache” looks like a good bet for Dr. Scott), red suspenders, backseamed fishnet stockings, spats (strapless), paper wingtip collars, a fairly nice satin cape with standup collar (you’d have to re-line it in silver), and black plastic German Soldier Helmets ($15).
          And the men’s short shag wig looks like with a little trimming it might be a decent Rocky wig. Hmm.
          Definitely worth a look. Thanks to Dawn Marie for pointing this one out.
        • Ardell LashTite – Non-latex eyelash glue
          I’m not providing a link; it’s available at drugstores, or at drugstore.com if you must buy on-line. It’s supposed to hold very securely, so care is recommended when removing your falsies! This used to claim to be the only latex-free eyelash adhesive, but Andrea now also makes a brush-on latex-free formula; I bought some at Walgreen’s.
      • STAGE AND PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP
        • MAC http://www.maccosmetics.com
          Several people (in both Rocky Horror and punk makeup circles) recommended MAC eyeshadow. Their makeup includes a lot of pigment, and they don’t change their colors very often, so once you find the perfect color, you can keep buying it. Sold in some fancy department stores and standalone shops in fancy malls. Warning: the sample shades on-screen are not at all close to actual shades. Go look in person.
        • Rocky Horror Makeup by Sofia Green https://www.facebook.com/RockyHorrorMakeup
          Sofia is a Frank from Boston who sells Mary Kay. She’s put together kits for the various characters. She’s open to input and will work with you (maybe even send you samples) if you have questions. Appears very knowledgable and she has me thinking about Magenta lipstick seriously again – the shade I wear matches the Poster Magazines but not Time Warp. Prices are in the same range as MAC, so try this if you have money and would rather have someone else figure out the colors for you. A castmate who loves makeup won one of the kits in a raffle and is very happy with it. The Facebook page includes photos of people in costume wearing the various kits. The woman modeling the Magenta kit is black – you’d never know from the photo so yup, that foundation offers good coverage.
      • BOSS (TEMPORARY) TATTOOS
        • Deadly Sting Tattoos http://deadlystingtattoos.com
          Created by an NYC Cast Frank. Very nice-looking; I’ve seen people perform in them and they look very nice. $4 for one plus shipping; cheaper by the tattoo as you buy more; bulk discounts are available. Apparently they’ll stay on for days; impressive. Site features a side-by-side comparison with a Mick Rock photo.
      • SHOES
        Thanks to the Internet, whether platforms and chunky heels are in style has become blessedly irrelevant. When you’re cruising megasites looking for shoes, remember that color is often less important than the right shape. Color can be fixed (with paint or glued-on fabric). The wrong shape usually can’t, unless you’re very crafty indeed.
        The majority of the “stripper shoes” (Frank and floorshow shoes qualify) nowadays are made by Ellie or Pleaser (who also do the Funtasma line), so you’re basically shopping on price. I usually like Ellie better than Pleaser, which I find tends to run small. Halloween pop-up shops stock Funtasma, so the quality’s not great: when I wore their boots for a month, both heelcaps came off at a show. Not cool.
        To help you with Internet searches, here is a glossary of shoe terms.

        • Zappos.com Glossary of Shoe and Handbag Terms http://www.zappos.com/glossary
          This is starting to clog with non-shoe-related terms, but it is very comprehensive, and has helpful pictures.
        • Boxing Classics boxing boots http://www.boxing-classics.com/

          Finally back on-line! My husband Wally found this site and made the finals at the 25th Anniversary with these boots. We special ordered ours; they have since added gold or silver metallic boots as a standard option: boots are now up to $135 and take about 6 weeks. The gold is a little too shiny, but they are beautiful and highly recommended. The pair Wally ordered even had the correct number of eyelets and white laces. Yes, the tongue protrudes over the top of the boot like they are supposed to. The Boxing Classics people are very friendly and helpful.

          The pair we ordered came with black soles and black stitching, and a logo patch we had to remove (use a seam ripper). Wally painted over the sides of the soles with paint. The metallic shoes shown on the site have dark soles and dark laces, but you can order with the light soles and white laces (ask when placing your order).

          If you don’t want to go with Boxing Classics, sorry, I’ve found nothing remotely close anywhere else. Try searching for “wrestling boots” on eBay. Good luck.

        BEATLE BOOTS (For Riff)
        These are available primarily from UK sources. If you’re feeling lucky, they’re available in various sizes on eBay, running $40-$100 a pair, depending on the exchange rate.

        • BeatWear http://www.sixtiesbeatwear.co.uk/

          I’m not sure if these folks are affiliated with the old Beatleboots.co.uk or not. You want the “Winkle Picker,” though the High Cavern and Original Chelsea also look good. A bit pricier than some of the other options.

          I have seen the Beatle Boots model in person and they’re beautiful. In October 2012, these were L£130 *plus* £22.50 shipping from the UK. In 2012 they had a Halloween sale, allowing you to pick up a pair for £95.

        • Underground England http://www.undergroundshoes.co.uk/
          The Beatle Winklepicker or Fred Black Leather Winklepicker are probably the closest match (£108). Free shipping to the US. Edward Marlowe bought a Beat Boot from them and recommends buying a size larger than you normally wear. “They are, as is traditional, a tight fit, both over the top of the foot and with the pointy toes, and the seams can rub a little on the top of the foot.”
        • Pennangalan Dreams http://www.pennangalan.com/boots/FW245.php
          Look at the Cuban Chelsea Beat Boots (FW49). They even have a cruelty-free version in “vegetarian leather.” At £80, this is one of the more affordable options – they’ve been discontinued and the website is starting to look a little weird.
        • b>Atom Retro http://www.atomretro.com/product_info.cfm?product_id=11707&d=OUTLAW-MADCAP-RETRO-MOD-CHELSEA-BOOTS-LEATHER $97 plus shipping, depending on the exchange rate.
        • Trash and Vaudeville http://www.trashandvaudeville.com/UGFRED-BLKLEA.html
          If you just can’t bear paying international shipping or can’t hack the math, Trash and Vaudeville in NYC does carry the Underground Beatle Boot for $189 (more than you’d pay from the UK, depending on the exchange rate).

        OPEN-TOED PLATFORM SANDALS
        In 2007, the “peep-toe” style came back, so there may be fine Frank shoes out there I don’t know about. When I bought Frank shoes, I bought Ellie’s 557-LEA shoes, which show too much toe and have an open back. If you get a pair, buy it in the “PU” (polyurethane) style for a non-shiny shoe. Snaz75 has better options. In 2011 someone discovered the “Miss Me Faris” sandal; it’s clunkier than Frank’s shoes but has the heel cup, a very good heel, and the correct type of ankle strap. Sadly, I’ve never seen it larger than a women’s 10. In 2016 even Target had good Frank shoes (though very, very high heels).

        • Snaz75 http://www.snaz75.com/el-557-lea.html
          People have very good luck at Snaz (enormous selection; good prices); look around. $24 or so and sized up to a 16. This site includes several shoes with a closed heel back, which isn’t easy to find, such as the Dolly-37, which has good shape but requires both painting and removing an extra buckle. It’s no longer at Snaz, but is still findable elsewhere (Google it). Shawn Anthony used the Dolly-37 and a previous Dolly model as the base for his widely-admired Frank shoes.
        • DSW http://www.dsw.com/shoe/miss+me+faris+1+sandal?prodId=231528
          Not sure how long this link will be good (DSW has sold out of Miss Me Faris), but it’s such a good shoe that I’m including it. Finding the heel cup with correct type strap *and* the peep toe *and* a good heel shape is so rare. DSW charges $40. People have found these as cheap as $20; happy hunting.

        TAP SHOES
        Many tap shoes fasten with a ribbon tie instead of buckling; it’s pretty, but it’s not what Columbia wore. (Columbia’s shoes button. But I’ve never seen button tap shoes outside the UK.) Chunky heels are back, so I’m abandoning the Capezio 450 and 550 I used to recommend. Expect to pay $20 or so for taps. Current best recommendations are the Sansha Myrtha #CL51 (a character shoe, opening over the toes a little too pointy; Velcro closure); the Capezio Lilina 455 (character shoe; strap attachment shape not right; available in Med or Wide, about $45 without taps) or the Bloch Showtapper S0323 (usually sold with taps, strap attachment shape not right).
        A friend recently showed me a pair of squaredancing shoes, and if you don’t want taps, these are an option…but they’re $60 a pair new, so they may be even pricier than tap shoes. Shop around.

        Here are some stores that I keep in my rotation. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, type the model information above into a search engine and see what you get. They change up their links a lot.

        HIGH HEELED PATENT PUMPS
        Floor show shoes are pretty easy to find. I’ve selected the sites below for carrying a wide range of sizes and reasonable prices (around $30). Shoe sites tend to come and go, and styles change quickly, so if a link doesn’t work, please
        email me
        .

        • Snaz75 http://www.snaz75.com/pl-dream-420w.html
          $30 for 4″ heels, sizes 9-17. Don’t break your neck. See also Snaz75 http://www.snaz75.com/pl-pump-420.html (3″ heel, less than $30, sizes 6-14).
        • Glamour Boutique http://www.glamourboutique.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=220

          (black patent heels)5″ black patent heels up to a women’s size 14 for about $30. D and EE widths available in 4″ heels for about $45.

      • BACKSEAMED STOCKINGS AND ACCESSORIES

        Stockings are easy to find locally, except for backseamed sheer stockings (Magenta) and backseamed fishnet stockings (Frank). (Why are these so hard to find without a lace top?!) If you’re buying plain seamed stockings, you will usually end up with Leg Avenue unless you deliberately look for another brand. After a while, you’ll recognize the pictures. Style 5026 is their regular style; style 1000Q is their Tall. Yes, Tall, not Queen–I love the length but the stockings are very tight and prone to run the first few times I wear them. Leg Avenue seamed fishnets and some other brands may have a “fake” seam: instead of a real-looking sewn-on seam, there’s just a double row of darker fishnet cells up the back. It’s hard to tell what you’re getting online, so you may want to buy in person. Backseamed stockings are also available with a Cuban heel–very elegant, but the top of the Cuban heel shows above my boots, so I don’t get them. NOTE: as of 9/12, Music Legs stockings start the backseam at the back of the foot instead of the sole, so I no longer recommend them – it makes it harder to get the seams straight, particularly in a dark theater.

        • Yandy.com http://www.yandy.com/search.php?q=seam (back-seamed sheer stockings, fishnets, etc.)
          Offers a wider selection of brands than most other sites, including Elegant Moments and Dream Girl, which I think are a little nicer than Leg Avenue. Free shipping requires a $70 minimum purchase. Some of the stockings are insanely cheap. For some reason most of the fishnets are “industrial” (oversized cells as opposed to classic 1970s fishnet).
        • Glamour Boutique http://www.glamourboutique.com/stockingshosiery.aspx

          (back-seamed sheer stockings)Available in extra tall (up to 6’2″) and Queen.

        • Admcity Lingerie http://fashion.admcity.com/index.shtml (back-seamed sheer stockings, garter belts, underwear, etc.)
          I didn’t want to include this site because it’s just so darn massive. (More than two dozen pages of women’s panties to choose from – gah.) Still, they have several choices for seamed sheer stockings, a few seamed fishnets (wrong tops, though) and occasionally some interesting garter belt choices (try a lace one for Frank). They do men’s stuff, too. There’s a search engine but their stock is so huge that descriptions are minimal. (They do corsets, bustiers, etc. as well.) If you want descriptions written by someone whose native tongue is English who knows their stock, look elsewhere.
        • Feeling Lingerie http://www.feelingusa.com/hosiery/plus-size-stockings (stockings of all sorts)
          Includes plus-size backseamed plain stockings and backseamed fishnets in plus and regular sizes, among other things. They even have lycra plus-size fishnets (albeit with lace tops). Very reasonable and there’s always a coupon – their homepage even links to a coupon site. I have been a satisifed customer since at least 2005. Free shipping now requires a minimum $50 purchase. Search feature kinda sucks.
      • BACKSEAMED FISHNET PANTYHOSE (TIGHTS)
        In the US, “tights” tend to be dancer’s tights with Lycra; pantyhose tends to be 100% nylon. Dancer’s fishnets with Lycra last longer and hold their shape better. I’ve worn them as Trixie; they are nice. Capezio 3400 fishnet tights have a backseam and are 45% lycra (and cost three times as much as regular fishnet pantyhose).
        Solid sole for comfort (won’t show unless people are looking at the bottom of your foot). Available in S/M or M/L. Body Wrappers don’t have the solid foot but are cheaper and come in L/XL for us larger folks. Tights with Lycra should run about $12-$16; regular fishnet pantyhose (no lycra), $5-$6.
        WITH LYCRA:
      • WITHOUT LYCRA:

      • 6-STRAP GARTER BELTS
      • ROCKY SHORTS
        Try an on-line search for “wrestling trunks”. Sadly, the fashion for affordable lam&eacute wrestling trunks on lingerie sites appears to have passed. Ladies, try Googling “gold”+”boy shorts” or “gold”+”booty shorts”.

      • GLOVES

        Marching band accessory stores are worth a look; apparently as long as there are marching bands, there will be sequined gauntlets (some band stores refer to them as “mitts”).

        • Theatre House, Inc.http://www.theatrehouse.com/ (wrist-length silver lamé gloves)Surprisingly difficult to find on-line; it’s much easier to find elbow-length, which are harder to stuff into your space gauntlets. They are “one size fits all” but they are darn small on me. Site also carries spandex lamé fabric, wigs, and some “laser spot” gloves that might work for Frank.
        • Band Shoppe http://www.bandshoppe.com/cgi-bin/DDA5AAF9/mac/template.mac/loadHtmlPage?htmlPage=/guard/accessories/GU912.html

          (sequined floorshow gauntlets)
          They keep moving the page, so if you can’t find it, go to “Guard Accessories” (a recent search for “sequin” turned up no results, but they’re still there – don’t panic!). You want the “finger loop gauntlet.” The standard length is up-to-the-elbow. To be more movie-exact, tell them you want them 3″ above the elbow order (minimum of 3 pairs for custom orders; they may waive the minimum). As of July 2010 this added another $5 per pair. These are real sequins, not foil dots (stretch sequin material; if you want a vermicelli pattern you’ll have to make your own). I’ve been buying these since 1999, and they look pretty good. They do run a little small, and the shipping is pretty hefty (expect to pay $20 shipping for three or four pairs of gloves). You’ll have to add your own pink feather trim.

          In addition, under Gloves, they have black vinyl gauntlets (a href=”http://www.bandshoppe.com/category-s/144.htm”>http://www.bandshoppe.com/category-s/144.htm which look very much like space glove gauntlets (you’ll need to add the gold trim).

        • Lingerie Mart http://www.lingeriemart.com/products/Electric_Lingerie_Long_Fishnet_Gloves-791-0.html (fishnet gauntlets)
          $6, minimum order 6 pairs and only available in multiples of 6 pairs (weird). Since other sites charge $15-$18 a pair, why not outfit a couple of your friends? Jenny D. notes that these do indeed have a seam, and are style number XTC818 (made by XTC Leather in NYC). Hers look great. Another site, not listed here because they charge too much, notes “elastic bands hold securely in place.”
        • Sock Dreams http://www.sockdreams.com/products/fishnet-arm-warmers?back=search
          Fishnet “arm warmers” which fasten with a loop around the middle finger (not, sadly, strictly screen-accurate). Also sells intriguing 15″ fingerless gloves. Wrong fabric for Frank, but worth looking into as a base for those who don’t sew.
        • Playtex Gloves http://www.playtexproductsinc.com/gloves/LivingGloves.aspx
          Every September/October, Playtex makes pink Playtex Living dishwashing gloves, at least in the US, where they’re hard to find during the rest of the year. They’re sized, so gentlemen, look for Large. It looks like they no longer sell them directly through the website…
      • DR. SCOTT LAP BLANKETSScott Labrecque, who won Best Dr. Scott at the 25th Anniversary, discovered that Dr. Scott’s blanket is an Anderson Modern tartan. Be careful and do not order from a site that doesn’t have pictures. Tartans may vary slightly; some sites offer a plain Anderson that looks fine; in my searches I found one Modern that wouldn’t do.

        Scottish tartan blankets are a luxury item and the price reflects that.

      • LAB COATS
      • GREEN SURGICAL GOWNSVeterinary Apparel Company http://www.veterinaryapparel.com/The “Surgery Gown” (Model 106A) looks very good. This site used to show the gowns’ front and back; it no longer does. In person, the ties are too wide and an odd color (yellow?). For some reason, every surgery gown I’ve ever seen is lighter than Tim’s; you could try tea dyeing…
        They were very helpful when I ordered in 2008 and the shipping was still the same as for one ($8). You get a coupon good for 10% off your next order; pass it on to a friend. (To be honest, surgery gowns are now available on Amazon…)
      • FABRICS AND TRIMCheck your Yellow Pages or the Yellow Pages of major cities near you as well as the Internet…many large specialty fabric stores are not on-line, and if they are, the entire stock is probably not listed. Please be careful buying fabric on-line…it’s pretty easy to figure out what color you’re getting, but texture is another matter entirely, particularly for non-specialty fabrics. If you can, request a swatch.

        If you’re buying sequin fabric, try to avoid foil dot, and read descriptions carefully: real sequins appear to be making a comeback, but many are now “baby sequins” (“razzle sequins”) and some are different shapes or dangle from off-center holes. If you do find an off-the-rack source for the correct type by the yard, for heaven’s sake, tell the rest of us where!)

        • Theatre House, Inc.http://www.theatrehouse.com/ See also Gloves. Site carries spandex lamé fabric and sequin trim, and sequin fabric by the yard, at least for now. For sequin fabric go to:
          http://www.theatrehouse.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=THH&Product_Code=0888&Category_Code=FabSequin. Thanks to Sarah for the tip.
        • JKM Ribbon and Trims http://www.jkmribbon.com/pmet.htmlTo find all the metallics, go to “Silver and Gold” and then look around. I used to recommend the Offray ribbons, but they look very odd here. You should be able to find Offray ribbon in the trim department in the fabric store. $2-$4 for 50 yards. You have to create an account to view the prices (boo, hiss). WARNING: minimum order is $25!
        • M and J Trimming http://www.mjtrim.com/
          A truly amazing trim store from the NY garment district. Buttons, marabou, fringe, rhinestones and dome nailhead studs, ribbon, tassels, stretch sequin trim (hidden under “beaded trim”)…pictures of everything, including all the colors, too. Huge selection; it may take you a while to find what you’re looking for.
        • Rhinestones.org http://www.rhinestones.org/
          A fabulous site with rhinestones (duh) in crystal and plastic, rhinestone banding, nailheads, mountings, setters, as well as information on what all this stuff is and how to use it.
        • Allstar Plastics http://www.allstarco.com/
          Acrylic rhinestones, plain and shaped; nailheads; mountings. Probably not of interest unless you are going to buy a LOT; this is essentially a wholesale site. I’m including it as it has such an interesting selection. If you need a *lot* of rhinestones/mountings or are going in with a couple of friends (minimum order for most pieces is 200-1500 pieces), the per-piece price is dirt cheap. No minimum dollar order, but minimum shipping charges are $13.
        • ReproDepot.com http://reprodepot.stores.yahoo.net/lchdgpk.html
          Vudu Doll recommends this site for 1/2″ pink gingham check. The site claims it’s double gauze and the swatch shown looks almost like a seersucker; hopefully it would flatten on ironing. Vudu Doll purchased some and says is lays fine once it’s interfaced, which you’d do with a collar, cuffs or belt anyway. Sold by the half-yard.
        • Hancock Fabrics http://www.hancockfabrics.com/
          Sadly, Hancock has gone out of business.
        • Fashion Fabrics Club http://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/
          Had several lilac/lavender fabric swatches that looked promising; might be worth checking out. Watch out for the shipping charges.
        • Vogue Fabrics http://www.voguefabricsstore.com/home.php
          A Chicago fabric chain. Lots of everything, and they specialize in corsetry, so you can find things here you won’t otherwise. When I’m just shopping for fabric, I never seem to find what I’m looking for here, but maybe you will. If you’re in Chicagoland, it’s worth visiting; the place is huge. If you need to cover buttons for Janet or Magenta, they’ll let you use the professional button-covering machine, which apparently works better than the do-it-yourself kits and a hammer.
        • Daytona Trimming and Braid http://www.daytonatrim.com/web/
          Another NYC fabric district standout. Website reads: “Due to color distortion of web item photos, we don’t sell items through the internet. You may order via phone (212-354-1713), e-mail : daytonatrim@verizon.net or at our store location – 251 West 39th St, NY, NY 10018 between 7th and 8th Avenue.”
      • SEQUINED TAILCOATS
        • Frank Bee Costume http://www.frankbeecostume.com/laskseta.html
          Sequined tailcoats with peak lapels and satin buttons, available in S, M, and L for slightly over $200. Minor modifications would be needed, but a darn close match for a darn good price. While the photo of the women’s tailcoat appears to have squared-off tails, Rebecca writes: “I ordered this exact tailcoat (from a different place, but the catalog picture was the same) and the women’s model tails ARE swallowtail, not squared off. It is just like the men’s model, only smaller.” Men, you can order the men’s model for $270. Thanks to Venus from Barely Legal for the link! Google “skip a row tailcoat” …
      • MOUSE EARS
            The Disney Store

        http://www.disneystore.com/accessories/ear-hats/disney-parks-authentic/mn/1000292+1000809/

          Mickey Mouse ears. ‘Nuff said.

         

      • NAME (NAMEPLATE) NECKLACES
        Through the 1990s, these could be found at Target or JC Penney. Those days are gone, at least in the US; apparently UK Janets can still buy the cheap costume jewelry version. US Janets can thank Carrie Bradshaw that these are available at all: $40 buys a gold-plated sterling silver necklace. 14K ranges from $80 or $90 up to $140, depending on the price of gold, so shop around. Some Janets buy wire necklaces. They’re cheap (about $25) but look totally wrong.
      •  

         

      • BRAD UNDERWEAR
        You’re looking for Jockey’s “full rise brief” (sometimes referred to as the “classic brief”). I’m not including any links here since a brief search turned up 60+ sites, and they’re sold at most major department stores. About $6.50; $5.50 if you buy the three-pack.
      • MOTORCYCLE PATCHES AND PINS
        • The 59 Club http://www.the59club.org.uk/Still around. £14 for membership (£16 outside UK). Membership good for one calendar year; pay in British pounds, or by international money order.

          Membership used to include one ’59’ patch (they call it a “cloth badge”). Their website isn’t clear, so ask. Additional cloth badges and metal lapel badges £4. Barry’s Bike Badges used to offer those in the US the opportunity to join using a credit card; doesn’t look like that’s an option any more (Barry’s has closed).

         

      • WIGS
        I find shopping on-line for wigs very difficult. It’s difficult to gauge length unless a human being is wearing them, and key word searches are nearly useless. On the bright side, sometimes you’ll luck into something, and there are now several good FAQ’s up on how to care for your wig (such as this one at http://www.headcovers.com/care_wigs.php). Check out eBay and cosplay sites too.

        • Riff Wigs
          • BuyCostumes.com (http://www.buycostumes.com/Rocky-Horror-Picture-Show-Riff-Raff-Wig/7175/ProductDetail.aspx)
            The official Rocky Horror Riff wig. A surprisingly good-looking, cheap Riff wig.
          • If you’re willing to pay international shipping, Google “Little Britain” + Andy + wig ; various UK costume sites have them. It’s basically a blond Benjamin Franklin, which is of course exactly what we want. (Thanks, Shane!)little-britain-andy-fancy-dress-wig12190
          • My Favorite Obsession: Liz Stockton’s Rocky Horror Wigs (liz@sins.la)http://www.rockywigs.com; https://www.facebook.com/rockywigs
            (Website includes price list, photos but they may be outdated)

             

            Liz has closed her Etsy and eBay stores following some customer service issues; her website appears to be up again but you’re probably best off contacting her via Facebook. She does good work but got busy, so if you’re working with her, plan ahead, be patient, and keep the lines of communication open. If you’re in a hurry, you should probably go elsewhere.

            Liz has branched out from doing wigs to doing accessories and costume pieces; I don’t think a definitive list is available at this time. The winner of the Magenta/Space division categories at the 25th anniversary was wearing wigs Liz made, and apparently the BluRay Rocky is wearing one too. I’ve liked the wigs I’ve seen of hers (the Frank wig is very nice and her Janet wig is also very popular), though I did meet one very unhappy purchaser of a “Rocky” wig. These are reasonably priced, usually about what you’d pay for a street wig you’d then have to get styled. I bought a Magenta wig from her, which I modified only a little (Liz’s wig is cut straight across the bottom front; Magenta’s hair is slightly shorter next to her face). It gets compliments and it’s held up well. I tried to do better at Outfitters and couldn’t.

             

          • Deadly Sting Tattoos and Wigs (http://deadlystingtattoos.com/
          • Jen, a Frank from NYC, is best known for her BOSS temporary tattoos. She’s branched out to do wigs, and they look pretty good. Site features 360 degree rotation capability; more photos of people wearing them are planned. The Janet wig is particularly nice. Even if you can’t afford one of her wigs yet, check out the “Tips and Tricks” suggestions for wig care, and look for her at conventions.

          • Outfitter Wigs of Hollywood (http://www.outfitterswig.com/index.html
            Website is basically an on-line business card with a small wig gallery, mostly featuring astonishing styles which require lots of hairspray.

            6626 Hollywood Boulevard
            Los Angeles, CA 90028

            (323) 462-3088

            (wide range of wigs; beautiful Bride of Frankenstein wigs)

            Good Space Magenta wigs are hard to find. Some Rocky costumers offer them but they tend to look lacquered; I haven’t seen anyone else in Outfitters’ league. Outfitters will make you a Bride wig in any color you want (send a swatch or specify a standard wig color–inquire at your local wig shop) with separate waved white hair strips.
            Outfitters did my Space wig and I will be eternally grateful. I found out about Outfitters from the Swiss cast’s Magenta. Mine was about $120 in the 1990s (shipping is extra) and was worth every cent.

            A Space Magenta wig is differently shaped than a standard Bride (Magenta’s hair is spherical; a true Bride wig is conical, like Nefertiti’s crown): send them some reference photos and tell them you want it less tall and more spherical. In the 10 years since I bought my first wig, they’re started adding a “natural” hairline to their wigs. Tell them not to for your space wig – Magenta doesn’t have one. If at all possible, have the final styling done on you.

            Properly cared for, these last. I had mine restyled more than ten years after the initial purchase; it was almost, but not quite, as expensive as buying a new one (soaking out the hairspray alone takes two days). Their stylists now are not quite as good as they were when I bought the original wig, but they’re still excellent.

            NOTE: if they tell you it will fit under an airplane seat in a wig box, they are lying. Mine fits only if I cradle it in a shopping bag. You can always wear it on the plane – I did, though this was before the Sept. 11 attacks.

          • LINGERIE FINDINGS/CORSETRY ACCESSORIESFarthingales Fabric by Mail Costume & Theatrical Supplies http://farthingalescorsetmakingsupplies.com/
          • Sells black lingerie findings, eyelets, grommets, push-up pads, corset laces…a great site. I made a garter belt with supplies I bought from them and was delighted with the merchandise and the service. Thanks to Jenny D. for finding them. Comparison shopping here is a bit inconvenient as prices are listed only on the price list, not with the items…you can’t have everything.

            Farthingales Midwest http://www.farthingalesla.com/

              This used to be Farthingales’ LA branch, but they’ve gotten out of the supply business, and all shopping is now done through Vogue Fabrics. Selection different and much smaller than the Canadian shop: notably the bones are significantly lighter. If you want to buy garter findings, forget it. On the bright side, Vogue is an excellent independent chain, and you don’t have to pay international shipping.
          • FEATHERS
            You can buy feathers cheap direct from China on eBay, but when I did, the feathers were beautiful but got black dye all over my hands. So be careful. Black coque feathers have been turning up in the “floral arrangements” section of my local Joanns, either as wreaths (a lifetime supply of Frank crown feathers!) or weird accents for floral arrangements. Worth looking into.
            • Lamplight Feather http://www.tonyhill.net/productCat43986.ctlg
              We bought some coque feathers for a Frank floorshow headdress from them; very cheap; shipped quickly and the feathers look nice. Feathers are sold by type, size and color. They also sell marabou feather trim and chandelle feather trim (for floorshow gloves), in addition to the usual chandelle feather boas and other interesting items such as ostrich feather fans,
            • Fancy Feather http://fancyfeather.com/
              Sells marabou boas of varying weights and colors, chandelle boas, coque feathers (for Frank’s feather crown), etc. Custom dyeing available; they do a lot of burlesque work.
          • MOSTLY EDDIE STUFF
            • GERMAN HELMETS
            • CHEETAH FABRIC
            • SKELETON KEYCHAINS
              Various sources – ask Google. Isn’t technology wonderful?

            • IRON CROSS RINGS
              Again, technology has advanced enough that a Google search for “Iron Cross ring” should get you there.
              • Biker Jewelry http://www.badbikerjewelry.com/
                You want the “Large Biker/Fashion Rings (Sizes 7-14).” The iron cross rings in the Small section (sizes 5-10) has extra details on the band.
            • COMEDY/TRAGEDY SILVER RINGS
              If you’re trying to get an exact match to Eddie’s Beau Sterling ring, your best bet is to troll eBay for “Beau sterling ring mask” (or something similar).
            • SKULL & CROSSBONE PINS
            • MILBRO CATAPULTS (slingshots)
              • Honestly, most people find these on eBay. Bells of Hythe, however, will make you a replica for a £34.99 setup charge (
                http://www.bellsofhythe.com/products.asp?catid=160
                ). You’ll probably spend less buying an original on eBay. They’ll sell you catapult elastic, too, but it’s red.