Great Costume Gifts for the Holidays

Need a gift for a costumer you know?  Just looking for something for you?  Take a gander at this list for some ideas!

The Stratford by American Duchess.

The Stratford by American Duchess.

1.  American Duchess shoes:  If you like historical costuming (or just really great shoes), AD is the place for you.  From Elizabethan shoes like The Stratford to Victorian button boots to 1940’s swing shoes, they carry something for almost every outfit you could dream up.  The quality is excellent (I have 4 pairs!) and they put up irregular shoes at a discount.  The Stratford (a signature shoe designed in conjunction with cordwainer Francis Classe) is currently available at a discount on pre-order.  Check out their shoes and accessories here.


2.  Your Wardrobe Unlock’d:  An online magazine for costumers, YWU and it’s sister site Foundations Revealed are comprehensive guides to costuming.  Filled with articles written by experts in their fields, they offer research, interviews and tutorials, as well as a really fun costume competition with two different themes every year.  They focus on different historical periods (and undergarments for FR), but have articles on all kinds of things such as Steampunk, styling wigs, making costume accessories, choosing the right materials for your garment, and running a costuming business.  Right now gift memberships are 20% off until New Year’s Eve.

You won't leave empty-handed.

You won’t leave empty-handed.

3.  Dharma Trading Co.:  Dharma has been supplying costumers, artists, crafters and pretty much everyone else with fiber art supplies for 44 years.  They have a huge selection of dyes for different fabrics, loads of natural fabrics by the yard, yarn, books, tools, clothing blanks, etc.  They also offer a large amount of video tutorials on different techniques, and support various social projects such as Boliva Kid’s Heart Repair.  Currently they have a discount on fiber reactive dyes.  You can find them here:  or you can stop by their brick and mortar store in San Rafael, CA.

Fosshape made into a very cool Mad Hatter hat.

Fosshape made into a very cool Mad Hatter hat.

4.  Worbla, Wonderflex and Fossape:  The new plastics in the cosplay world are starting to make their way around to other genres of costuming, and they should, because they are AMAZING.  You can heat them, bend them, shape them, and turn them into armor, horns, masks, weapons, anything you can dream up in your head.  They are still a little on the expensive side, but they are worth the money due to the amount of time they will save you.  You can buy them at various locations on the Internet, but some of the best prices I have found are here:

Sailor Laura!

Sailor Laura! by Arda Wigs

5.  Wigs:  There are a lot of good wig suppliers out there, but these 3 are my favorites.  First is Arda Wigs, a popular brand with cos-players.  Their wigs are heat resistant, which means you can style them using your flat iron and curling iron.  Arda also offers a number of video tutorials on different things you can do with their wigs, as well as different techniques.  Lots of fun colors here!.

Second is Lacey Wigs, a warehouse full of wigs located in NYC.  You can order most Lacey wigs through Max Wigs, but you can also email them (they don’t have a website) and get one of their catalogs and order direct from them.  They have the largest selection of “themed” wigs, from I Love Lucy’s hair to generic 18th century Colonial.  They have different price points with differing levels of quality, so you should be able to find something that fits your budget.

Third is The Historical Hairdresser, who will make that amazing style for you if you don’t want to/can’t do it yourself, and can match your wig to your hair with amazing accuracy.  Tracy’s wig’s are stunning and really reasonably priced for the great quality that they are.


6.  Hat suppliers:  If you want to try making hats yourself, Hats By Leko is a great supplier.  They carry buckram frames in all kinds of shapes, straw and wool capelines to stretch over hat blocks, and all the other millinery supplies you could ever need.  If you are looking for pre-made hats, we recommend Truly Hats and The Sisters Brimm.

Truly makes beautiful historic hats from French Hoods with stunning decoration to hand shaped wool cavalier hats.  Each hat is custom made and decorated just for you using only the finest materials.

The Sisters Brimm don’t sell just hats, they sell stories.  Each hat is a uniquely made sculpture with a theme.  From gothic fascinators to hats covered in books, you will find something to fit your whimsy here.


7.  Corsets and Corset Making Supplies:  If you want to make your own corset, Farthingales is the store for you.  Farthingales carries all the supplies you need to make that Victorian corset for Dickens’ Fair, your under-bust corset for your Sailor Moon costume, or your carved leather corset for The Steampunk World’s Fair.  Extremely knowledgeable, they offer classes, kits, and excellent customer service.

You can have a corset custom made for you and there are a lot of excellent corset-makers out there, but for pre-made inexpensive corsets it is hard to beat Corset Story.  With almost constant sales, 2 for 1’s and Corset of the Day specials, you can find something for almost any occasion.  They won’t be made to fit you exactly, but in a pinch or if you have a budget, they are a great solution.  

Bodice and sleeves from a Margo Anderson pattern.

Bodice and sleeves from a Margo Anderson pattern.

8.  Patterns:  If you are comfortable drafting up patterns from books for historical outfits, there are many books out there that offer great information and patterns.  If you would rather start from a printed pattern that isn’t one of the Big 3 (Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick), it is hard to beat Margo Anderson, Truly Victorian and Historical Sewing.

Margo’s Patterns are extensively researched, methodically drafted and come in sizes from 2 to 30.  And they FIT.  Margo has Tudor and Elizabethan patterns available and has just started releasing patterns in her Italian Renaissance series.  I have them all and am waiting for her to do German Renaissance… (hint, hint)

For Victorian/Steampunk, you really can’t beat Truly Victorian.  Just as methodically researched as Margo’s patterns, except these run from 1830-1909 and are based on extant garments from the period.  They run from a 30 to a 56 inch bust, and have very detailed instructions.  Their photo gallery is filled with inspiring photos from customers and fans.

If you want great videos, tutorials and great support for new and experienced costumers, check out Historical Sewing by Jennifer Rosbrugh.  Although the tagline says “19th century”, Jennifer has many tutorials and videos that are useful for many different time periods and genres.


This is just a short list of some of the amazing stuff that is out there.  There are also many small businesses on Etsy, eBay and all over the Internet that make specialty items for costumers from jewelry to weaponry to socks.  If there are any businesses you would recommend, please share them in the comments.

Have a happy holiday season!

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