Costume Couture: Where to buy if you’re simply not a stitcher.

Like any acquired skill, learning to sew takes time, practice, and weathering of both successes and failures to master. Where does that leave someone who adores wearing awesome outfits, costumes and cosplays, but doesn’t necessarily know their way around a sewing machine? Costume Couture is here to help!

It’s no secret that there are a TON of places to shop online for wearables– I spend a large part of my job actually perusing online clothing sites as a costume designer, and sometimes the sheer number of places to buy from is staggering and overwhelming. Since I’ve already done a fair amount of threshing the e-grain from the web-chaff, here are some online store suggestions if you’re looking for that one special piece, or something extra with which to update an old costume. Whether or not you’re skilled with a needle and thread,  I’ve had luck with these online venues when it comes to ready-made garments and garb, none of which are affiliate links.

Old Trading Post

If you’re looking for leather goods, or want to add a Western flair to your costume or cosplay, you might want to give Old Trading Post a try. They do offer a good variety of general 1800s garb, too. So if you’re looking for, say, a replica blouse, pair of slacks or nifty jacket from the 19th century, give their site a look-see.

The Laura Frontier blouse from Old Trading Post.

While their prices can be on the steep side, the quality of the goods I have received from OTP in the past have been quite good, and many of their goods appear to be manufactured in the US.

Discount Dance Supply/ Dancewear Solutions

If I wanted a base for a superhero costume, I’d start looking at a dancewear company (and, in fact, I DID, when I was Raven from Teen Titans for Halloween a few years ago), since sewing knits can present its own special set of challenges, even for the most seasoned sewist. If you search ‘cosplay’ on Discount Dance, you even get some pretty decent items that could be used as a jumping-off point for your costume!

Some cosplay-friendly leos from Discount Dance Supply.

The challenge with dance costume sites is: A) understanding their sizing and how it works for your body; and B) making sure what you want is in stock. ALWAYS double-check. And, if in doubt, try placing your order over the telephone to verify that you won’t be getting an annoying backorder notification after ordering.

Modcloth

There hasn’t been a time when I’ve visited Modcloth and not wanted, like, 95% of the clothing they sell. From adorable vintage-inspired dresses of various eras, to swimwear shoes and separates for a wide range of body types, Modcloth’s goods might just fit the bill, if you’re in search of a mid-20th-century look for your costume or cosplay.

The Budding Starlet vintage-inspired pin-up dress at Modcloth.

Victorian Trading Company

Even though it’s called Victorian Trading, it’s actually more of an amalgam of styles (sometimes with EXCEEDINGLY loose interpretations of garb from yesteryear), ranging from Victorian to Edwardian-esque, and all the way to the Roaring 20’s at times.  There are some pretty nifty shoe styles, plus they frequently offer an array of cute accessories, if you happen to be looking for gloves, scarves, hats, hat pins, fans and/or parasols.

‘Ruthie’s Edwardian Shoes’, from Victorian Trading Co.

Clothing aren’t VTC’s only offerings– they have Victorian-inspired home goods, reproduction stationary and lots of cute knick knacks, too.

The Pyramid Collection

The Pyramid Collection features a pretty standard selection of clothing with a witchy, neo-pagan sort of vibe. If you’re looking for a particular genre or style, they have searchable categories that include, but are not limited to, garments inspired by Steampunk styles, Gothic garb and Wiccan wearables. Cloaks, corset-style bodices and Rennaisance-influenced looks are all averrable for perusal and purchase from TPC.

An attractive, asymetrical jacket from The Pyramid Collection.

While their main focus is clothing, TPC does sell a selection of other items, including linens and other home goods.

Historical Emporium

If you’re looking to be a lady, gentleman or another individual from a bygone time period, Historical Emporium is a great place to look for costume garb, or even every day wear (I am particularly fond of their trousers, many of which are made of duck or denim).

A ‘Late Victorian’-style outfit from Historical Emporium.

Historical Emporium’s speciality is ‘Victorian’ clothing, with sort of side-catagories of ‘Old West’ and ‘Steampunk’. Their quality is overall very nice, and the range of sizes is great. These are not 100% accurately reproduced garments, but HE’s clothing and accessories can make a nice addition to your costumes or cosplays.

Please keep in mind, when ordering online, that you should ALWAYS check what the return policies are. 


Dear readers, what are your adventures in sewing, or, in the case, not sewing? Do you have any experience with the above online retailers, suggestions for others, or do you have a costume you’re proud of?  Do you have any sewing or costuming questions? If so, leave a comment below!

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