Bootstrap Burlesque from Asheville

Bootstrap Burlesque from Asheville

There has been a revival of Burlesque in the last decade. Playful, old fashioned, individualized, it’s sexy but not sexist because the dancers empower themselves with their performances. The classic burlesque dancer brings in elements from many types of acts –  the trapeze or animal tamer of the circus, the mysterious, sleazy or scary sideshow, the bawdy humor of vaudeville, the elegance of the magician.

Influenced by the French cancan dancers of the Moulin Rouge, the saloon girls of the Old West and the high kicking show girls of Vegas, Havana and NY, burlesque lends itself to creative themes. While researching this I found a bagpiping performer in sexy tertan plaid, a 50s cowgirl with red polkadots and bouncy ball fringe, and even Star Wars themed burlesque.

So there are lots of juicy motifs to pick and choose from. This post has just a tiny taste of the possibilities.

The basics
Variety is essential in Burlesque but some common pieces show up over and over: top hats (often a mini), long gloves, a ruffled bustle or cancan-type skirt, stockings, sparkle of some kind, and pasties.

Headwear
Top hats have made a huge come back, thanks to steampunk and other costuming trends. Organic Armor has some beautiful hats and we customize them too.

Mini top hats have that  jaunty tilt and are easy to ornament. Topsy Turvy from Oakland  had some of her lovely hats at Prepare for the Playa last month. You’ll find them inspiring.

Here’s a sewing pattern which includes a couple of sizes of top hats.
Here’s a tutorial for making a mini top hat from scratch.

You can also buy one pre-made and decorate it yourself. Moon Costume carries a range of quality and prices. I met I Kick Shins on Etsy. She sells low cost mini top hats. For more on headwear see the post from last week on showgirl headdresses.

Gloves
There is nothing like a pair of long slinky gloves to dress up a costume, but can you actually sew your own?
Apparently so, here is a tutorial and here is another. This is a 1950s book  “How to Make Glovesreproduced online.
If you’d rather just buy some cheap ones look here or search opera length gloves on Amazon or Ebay

Ashley models pasties

Ashley models pasties at Prepare for the Playa 09

Flouncy Skirt
Pretty simple burlesque style bustle
“Saloon girl” dress pattern , and here’s another one.
This Simplicity pattern includes a burlesque dress, bustle, gloves and hat.

Stockings
There are a multitude of commercial sites for purchasing sexy stockings so I won’t bother with those links, but I do want to plug Rocknsocks.  Their over the knee socks would make great burlesque accessories and they are made in the USA with  eco-friendly regenerated cotton.

Sparkle
In larger fabric shops and wholesale districts you can buy all kinds of sparkly fabrics including tulle, organza, velvet and vinyl. Use keywords glitter, sparkle or sequin in your online search, along with the type of fabric you need.
Wedding favor related sites have a lot of sparkly ribbons, for example sequined tulle ribbon, gold metallic mesh ribbon.
You can get sequins at just about any craft store, many colors and sizes, but you might not know some of these interesting facts about them.

Pasties
Organic Armor makes pasties that Zena would love
DIY pasties and some more here
Buy some handmade ones:
Cheescake Burlesque (my favorites are the Tuxedo style and the yellow furry monster)
Idolatre also has some unique styles (wood nymph, nautilus…)

Have fun!