I’ve got my tickets for Comic Con Germany and OF COURSE I am going to go in costume!! Here’s my idea: I’ll be a genderbending crossover between the Joker from Batman and the infamous French queen Marie Antoinette. Her name: Joker Antoinette. Or maybe Marie Jokerette… I can’t decide. What do you prefer?
The Joker, a supervillain from the Batman comics, is a dapper yet diabolical clown. He is known for dropping catchphrases as he kills and using lethal versions of classic clown gags. Marie Antointte was a vain, self-absorbed monarch who cavorted around in her palace at Versailles in dresses that cost as much as today’s sports cars. When told her subjects were starving and “had no bread to eat”, she infamously replied, “then let them eat cake!”.
I love the idea of combining colors and details from the Joker’s clown suits with eighteenth century fashion. Women like Marie Antoinette wore sky-high wigs powdered gray and painted their skin pale white. Corsets transformed their bodies into an unnatural cone shape, while padding and hoops under their skirts took a wide-hipped silhouette to extremes. The exaggerated style practically begs to be made into a clown costume!
I’ve already been shopping and gotten most of my materials together. Since I want to keep my budget as low as possible, I got a lot of my fabric from thrift stores.
At the far right is the main dress fabric, which is a set of sheets and pillowcases. Next to that is a fabric I already had, which will be the skirt fabric. Two small orange pillow covers will make up the stomacher. I’m not too sure how I’ll use the scarf, blouse and tie at the left, but I thought they might work for trim or accents.
I also found this skirt, which I’m not sure how to use either. However, I like it so much that I couldn’t pass it up. It looks more used and old in person than in the picture, and that is a good thing! I want the costume to have more of a grimy feel than to look pristine and fresh out of the box.
Obviously I’m not going for 100% historical accuracy with this costume. However, I want the silhouette to be clearly 18th century. That means that before I can make the dress, I need to make undergarments that give me the proper silhouette. First on my list is a corset, know at that time as a set of stays, to give me a funnel-shaped torso.
I’ll be using a pattern from the book Costume Close-up that has been taken directly from a historical garment. For the outside of the garment, I’m using a cream-colored cotton with dark green flowers (bottom right in the picture below). It is from a dress my mom made me in high school that I outgrew. I had been meaning to make something new out of it for a while. I love that I can reuse a dress for this- not only does it have sentimental value, it’s just what a woman in the 18th century would have done. Fabric back then was so valuable that old clothes were often made over into stylish new garments.
To make the stays hold their structure and hold me in, they need to be stiffened with boning. There are many available types of boning, but the internet has suggested a cheap material that I want to try out… zip ties. I bought a pack of 100 for just 6.95 euros. I’m interested to see if this works out or becomes a major fail.
The pale green fabric on the left of the picture is an old sheet of mine that was going to make up the inside of the corset. However, you can ignore it because I found something much better:
These beautiful vintage sheets! They were selling for 1.50 each at the thrift shop, and they are beautifully soft and tightly woven. In addition to the corset, I’m also planning to make my shift and petticoats out of them. Each sheet has beautiful details, like eyelet lace or embroidery. I hope to feature these on the undergarments.
I’ve already gotten started sewing on the corset. I’m just about ready to do a first fitting! Check back tomorrow – I’ll be posting pictures of the construction process and how it looks on me!