The Costume I Should Hate But Don’t

First, a disclaimer.  Almost every single picture of Cleo from NYE looks decidedly awkward.  I’m not sure why, I can’t even blame copious amounts of alcohol.

While Christmas and Thanksgiving in summer time confuses me deeply, ringing in the New Year at an open-air seaside cantina while swathed in cotton cheesecloth makes so much sense.

My inner over achiever hates the costume-y quality of my Cleopatra.

But– I had a great time, I was comfortable and had many compliments from fellow revelers.  I call that effective costuming.

I started with a long white dress.  Visions of complex pleating, draping and tiers played through my mind, and with two days to the party I felt paralyzed by indecision.  Then I thought, “shirr it, stupid”.

Of course.

I sketched the schematics on a cocktail napkin:

I sliced some fabric from one end to make a really wide strap.  Then I folded the main fabric in half lengthwise and found the point halfway between the cf and sides.  I seamed the strap piece into a tube, then cut two straps the length from below my breast to just over my shoulder.

This was no precision job.

I realized I needed a little more bust engineering besides shirring.  I created a casing for a 1″ wide piece of elastic, and cut the elastic to a length which fit snugly around my ribcage.

Then I shirred

I made some straps for the back, pleated the front straps into it, and viola. Caesar pointed out he could see my nipples through the cheesecloth.  Dang.  I interlined the front with some natural colored cotton jersey.

Then I made a necklace from findings at Spotlight.  I basically grabbed anything that looked ok, dumped it on the table at home, found some pliers and made a necklace.

I spent hours working on a gold cardboard crown that ended up looking like my daughter made it.  I rigged up a gold bead headband instead.

After that, I ran out of steam.  I threw sparkly trim around my waist and used some bangles for armbands.

Caesar made his own “laurel” wreath, he’s pretty handy.  I slapped together a tunic and some purple ribbon on a 4m length of poplin.

Some drunk idiot though the was Moses.  Moses.

This was the best Cleo wig I could find.  I decided to embrace my pallor and not mess with bronzer.  Bronzer tends to make my skin look dirty rather than tanned.  I had fun with the makeup.  I used a wet brush to make bright turquoise shadow stick all night.

Funny- I had the thought I’d chop up my Cleo gown after the party to make breezy sheer blouses, but I like my costume!  I feel cool and graceful wearing it, and don’t need to wear a bra.  I can’t exactly wear it down to the grocery store but it works for around the house.


  1. Great job on the costume(s)! It is amazing what you can do with a few cheap materials and some imagination. Your eye makeup looks pretty amazing – I hope you're not wearing that around the house too!

  2. Love the idea of wearing this around the house! How much fun that you ended up liking it so much — and think what it will do for your housekeeping!

  3. Thanks so much! I did make the necklace, but found the whole thing tedious so I doubt I'll try it again. I'm wearing my dress right now, making salsa. :)

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