• Top Ten Costume Trends of 2013

    The Roaring ‘20s era is the hottest costume trend of 2013, according to Rip Claassen of the American Backstage Company.

    Costumes inspired by movies and television are popular every year, and 2013 has been no exception. The surprising difference this year is that historical costume are sharing the Top 10 with the usual superheroes and zombies.

    Rip Claassen has been in the costume business for decades, as a theatrical costumer and as manager of DC’s famous costume shop Backstage Inc., which closed in December 2012. Claassen acquired Backstage’s huge costume inventory and opened his 6,500 square foot theatrical specialty store in April of 2013. 

    Top Ten Costume Trends, with Claassen’s Comments:

    Gangster costume#1: 1920s Era. The movie “The Great Gatsby” inspired this trend and it has been popular ever since. Women are renting flapper dresses and tango dresses, and men are dressing in gangster costumes, striped jackets, and zoot suits. Authentic accessories include flapper beads, garters, and cigarette holders.

    #2: Renaissance costumes are more popular than ever, moving up to the #2 slot this year. Fans of “Game of Thrones,” “Once Upon a Time,” and “The Tudors” love these costumes, and they are also popular for Renaissance Faires. 

    #3: Colonial period/Age of Enlightenment costumes are perennial favorites in the Washington area. People like to portray historical figures like George and Martha Washington and Marie Antoinette. We sell a lot of colonial wigs to go with these costumes.  We also have a great product called Instant Disguise that is perfect for school projects, where you can be Thomas Jefferson or Betsy Ross or Ben Franklin quite inexpensively.

    Pirate costumes#4: Pirates. Strictly speaking, this is a subcategory of the Colonial period. Pirate costumes have been in the Top Ten ever since "Pirates of the Caribbean." We outfit lots of pirates and wenches, both authentic styles and Hollywood-inspired versions of pirate maidens in sassy short skirts. Kids love pirate costumes too.

    #5: Edwardian/Gilded Age.  With the popularity of historical dramas like “Downton Abbey,” and the Titanic anniversary, we’ve had many requests for Gilded Age costumes. We have some gorgeous gowns, sack suits, morning suits, and enough period servants costumes to staff Downton Abbey itself.

    #6: Greeks and Romans. Always in demand. Mark Antony, Caesar, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Roman Centurions. The movies were a couple of years ago but people still love these costumes.

    Death Wheel from Ben Nye#7: Zombies and Vampires and Werewolves, oh my! These traditional Halloween themes have been huge this season, and indeed all year. Most of these looks are achieved  through our makeup department. The stage makeup company Ben Nye has a new product called the Zombie Wheel with all the colors you need to be Undead, though some of our customers prefer the Death Wheel that is used for corpses generally. We carry makeup prosthetics, scars, four types of fangs, fake hair, and fake blood of various types.

    Batgirl#8:  Superheroes. Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Batman, Bat Girl, Superman, etc. We have had to reorder superheroes at least once a month since April.

    #9: Circus Themes. Clowns, jesters, ringmasters, lion tamers, acrobats. No movie tie-in, it’s just fun.

    #10: Nuns. Monks too, but mostly nuns, which are popular costumes for both women and men. Every year we run out of religious items for Halloween week.

    Cinderella and BelleAlso popular but not making the Top Ten List this year, Claassen reports, are character costumes such as Disney Princesses, mascot costumes like Yogi Bear and Bugs Bunny, cowboys, and saloon girls. Elvis costumes always sell out for Halloween week. "The day I rent the last Elvis, I put up a sign saying 'Elvis is Gone,'" Claassen says. “We always do a good business in plus-sized costumes,” he adds. “Most stores don’t carry them at all, but we have a whole section of plus-sizes.”

    The American Backstage Company is the area’s premier costume and theatrical store.  Located inside the Beltway at 5380 Eisenhower Avenue in Alexandria, the store is a very short walk from the Van Dorn Metro on the Blue Line. Year-round the store serves the local theatrical community with costumes to rent or buy, theatrical makeup, wigs, hats, masks, dance shoes, magic supplies, and theatrical books and scripts.



    Red Suit: Paul models a 1920s gangster costume.

    Pirates: Evan and Kelsey model two of our pirate costumes from the rental department.

    Makeup: Death Wheel makeup kit and photo from Ben Nye

    Batgirl: Costume and photo by Rubie's Costumes

    Disney Princesses: Rosita and Kelsey model two of Leg Avenue's new licensed Disney costumes, Cinderella and Belle from "Beauty and the Beast."

    Except as noted, photos are by Laura Bligh for the American Backstage Company, and modeled by our staff.
  • ← Next Post Previous Post →