Musings on the Art of Costuming

The costume is minutes away from being finished. Of course, the few minutes that it will take are delayed until tonight, because I can’t find the replacement glue sticks for my glue gun, and I need gold cord, too.

The snippy little pocket machine I borrowed from Scarlet won’t sew through more than two layers of fabric, I discovered to my immense annoyance, so earlier today I was hand-sewing pieces of slippery satin and interfacing, finishing off the details of a collar. I was decidedly unhappy with the results (I’m picky) when I remembered that I had a tiny glue gun left over from Yule gifts. So I dug it out and began turning bits of interfacing down, moving along happily… until the glue stick ran out.

While I was gluing, though, I thought about how I approach costuming. I’m enough of a perfectionist to want my costumes to be elaborate and perfect, with no sign of a human being having touched it in any way. However, I know they’re only going to be worn once or twice, and a costume is about overall effect. No one is going to be peering at my seams. (If they are, they belong in the SCA, not at a superhero party.) Costume purists might choke at the thought of a glue gun, but my costume experience comes from theatre, where no one is close enough to be picky anyway, and emergency repairs usually consist of spit and bubblegum. Having seen close-ups of the costumes from the LOTR film trilogy, I can say with all confidence that nothing looks the same in real life as it does on the screen.Part of the magic is having a real, flesh-and-blood, breathing person moving around in the costume, giving it life and something bigger-than-life, too.

I take pride in that overall presentation when I costume. I’ll do what it takes to achieve the effect. All that means is I’m skilled in the art of making a costume look better than it actually is. It’s an illusion.

But then — that’s what a costume is all about.

Twenty-nine hours until the superhero costume party!

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