Circus Doll is a character that caters to a wide range of audience. We see them in children’s books, various types of fashion periodicals, dark fantasy blockbuster movies, etc. We love them! They are dark, surreal and beautiful. The notion of a doll becoming alive fascinates us. It scares us. It intrigues us. It makes us want to believe that dolls can become alive. Who knows? Maybe they can!
One of the most fun characters that a stylist can ask for is a Circus Doll. What the model wears for such conceptual shoots defines what character he or she should portray and therefore, the overall theme of the shoot. In this article, I will teach you how to style a Circus Ballerina Doll at minimal cost and hassle.
Okay, now let’s get started.
Research: First, you must perform research to ensure that you fully understand your idea. Do a Google image search precisely on ‘Circus Doll’ and look for inspiration. Observe what others have done with this character and think of ways through which you can recreate your own version of it and add your unique twist to it.
Sources for materials: There are numerous sources from which you can obtain styling materials. They can be borrowed from friends and/or your network of local designers. Consignment/vintage stores offer styling materials that belong to other eras, many of which could be appropriate for your idea. Avoid high-end boutiques. You would be surprised at what you may find at a discount thrift store such as Goodwill. Some stylists buy materials and return them after the shoot. If you decide to take that route, double-check the return policy, keep the tags on and ensure to maintain your wardrobe in returnable mint condition.
Wardrobe choices: To portray the character of a ballerina in a music box, Circus Dolls are commonly seen is tutu dresses. Professional tutus however tend to be rare and costly finds. They are occasionally found at online auction sites such as eBay from $800 to $10,000. Local ballet centers may also offer rentals of their professional tutus. However, due to the high value of them, deposit requirements and rental rates may not be affordable for all stylists. The good news is that you can create a tutu dress yourself out of a simple miniskirt and a matching corset or top. Here is what you need to do:
- Buy or borrow a miniskirt and a matching corset/top. A beautiful contrast of color or pattern can be very much considered a match. You can also use a one-piece dress with a fitted and shoulder-less top and an attached loose skirt. When collecting these materials, think of your idea and seek pieces that relate to ‘Circus’ and ‘Doll’ in color and/or pattern. Black & white stripes would be one apparent choice. Red is also a color often seen on circus performers.
- Buy or borrow a tulle tutu skirt, which can be bought from local dance stores or online sites such as eBay or Esty for as low as $10.
- Use the tulle tutu as padding underneath your miniskirt. If you are using a long skirt, place the tulle tutu underneath it and gently wrap your skirt around the top layer of the tulle tutu and pin the edges of it around the waist area from inside. This would make the final skirt stand up like a professional tutu.
- To make your wardrobe appear believable as a professional tutu, ensure that the transition between the top and the skirt is smooth. Using a one-piece dress would automatically eliminate this issue.
- Lastly, you must complete your look with accessories. Use leggings and slippers. White, nude, or black & white striped leggings could be appropriate choices. Ballet slippers sell for approximately $20 at dance stores and online. If you decide to use a necklace, use one that is fitted around the neck as your character is meant to be a performer. A tiara could be another fun addition. If your character belongs to a vintage era, consider vintage pieces such as gloves. Do not over-accessorize your model. Less is more.
See you in October,
xoxo, Nima Shiraz