How to look hot on a budget and the thrill of thrift – Meryl Cubley chats with Miss Tempest Rose of the House of Burlesque.
We’ve all complained that we have ‘nothing to wear!’ at some time or another, bemoaned our wardrobe or yearned for a more exciting and individual sense of style. But how to get it? Well we got together one afternoon with the most fabulous Miss Tempest Rose of the House of Burlesque and asked her to share some of her secrets on accessorising corsets, sorting out your drawers (ahem) and the rules of customising – and as we’re a really nice bunch we just couldn’t wait to share them with you, our lovely Rude readers…
RM: So do I need to be a sewing mistress extraordinaire – or do I just need to be a glue gun girl?
TR: For customising you can use a glue gun or even UHU works very well on fabric. Sewing will always be best but it’s not everyone – we don’t all have the time nowadays or maybe you don’t feel comfortable with a needle and thread – but if you do want to make a habit of customising your wardobe and making it unique, then a basic sewing course or class really is a good investment. Not to mention it allows you to fix clothing that may need mending thus prolonging its life. If you want to start using lace or beading or altering clothing, then sewing is a must, ladies!
RM: How can I customise corsets?
TR: There are a million ways to customise a corset depending on what you are going for. Have a think about what you will be wearing it alongside as this will affect how complicated it should be. If you are wearing it with particular colours then reflect these on the corset with a similar palette. Or if you want to add lots of details then keep the rest of your outfit plain in order to highlight your design. Lay the corset out and your pieces on top and step back – how does it look? Always check before you start sticking!
RM: What about accessories?
TR: Tiny roses or bows are a great way to jazz up a pair of gloves around the cuff. Scarves can be edged in fringing for a fun look that’s very cowgirl or 1920s depending on how it’s done.
RM: And stockings?
TR: Stockings can look great with crystals glued to the top in small designs or how about initials on the back of your legs? Very cute and sexy! Tiny little bows down the seam or at the top of the shoe line on the seam can also look great.
RM: I feel like putting on a little private burlesque show of my own – what can I wear and use that’s likely to be languishing in my wardrobe?
TR: Wrap dresses are great for burlesque and were very fashionable a few years ago so it’s highly likely you may have one hiding in your wardrobe. Shirts are great too – men’s shirts can look really sexy on a woman so steal one of your man’s!
RM: Embellishment is a girl’s best friend – but how can I work this to my advantage on my clothes and lingerie and accessories? What are your top tips?
TR: Choose wisely, when you first start it can be easy to get over excited and stick everything you have on to one item – and then it looks a mess! To avoid looking like a kids’ arts and craft class only choose one feature per item. For example if you have a plain bag you may wish to glue some fabric flowers on it to jazz it up, or a denim skirt can be revived by gluing some ribbon or lace trim round the bottom.
RM: I came to a class on Burlesque that you did recently on your Shipwrecked tour – and we talked about your love of crystals TR, so what are your tips when it comes to shining bright like a diamond?
TR: Burlesque girls love crystals! Swarovski are considered to be the best, although there are a few cheaper and still great alternatives out there. Remember that crystals look best under the light so they don’t look so great in everyday situations. If you like the crystal look but aren’t prepared to hire your own spotlight follower – and only go out in the dark – then beading is a better option! You can even buy Swarovski beading if you simply must have it. Fixing beautiful sequin appliqués will also look great night and day and can be added to the shoulders of jumpers and cardigans for example to really make your look shine.
RM: My wardrobe is busting but it all looks boring – how can I make it more flirty and attractive?
TR: If you have a full wardrobe but feel like you have nothing to wear you have either forgotten what’s in there or you are hording clothes that don’t suit or fit you, or even sometimes all three! Clean it out. Anything you haven’t worn in a year put in a bag away in a cupboard. If in six weeks you haven’t returned to dig something out you are desperate to wear then get rid of it all, remembering to take quality pieces to your local charity shop. Put what’s left on hangers and try laying out different combinations of ways to wear pieces together and then you can make a note of any big holes in your wardrobe that you need to go shopping for.
Have a think about what kind of look you want to go for and then do some research for inspiration – fashion magazines, celebrities, vintage pictures, national dress from other countries, periods of history, Google images, Fashion week, Pinterest… the lists are endless and they can all really fire your imagination when it comes to reviving your look. Have a look at couture fashion collections too as they will be way more flamboyant than the looks that get filtered down to the high street.
RM: I’m skint – how can I make my money go further when it comes to being and looking sexy?
TR: Developing an eagle eye for collecting things when you see them can save you a fortune when you need to dress something up. Find a great box or basket and use it to keep your bits and pieces in so you don’t have to shop each time you want to embellish a piece. If you are throwing out old clothing have a look to see if any of it can be recycled – maybe your moth-eaten cardigan has great buttons, cut them off and keep them in your basket to use later. Similarly charity shops can have great items that you can dismantle for buttons, feathers and appliqués. Keep an eye on cheaper stores like Primark, they are great for finding bases for you to add things to – hats, scarves, gloves and even jewellery that can be stitched on to items. Poundshops can also be great for things like fabric flowers or even sewing kits.
Great things to collect to jazz up a wardrobe are fabric flowers, lace, appliqués, ribbons, beads, feathers, trimmings and old necklaces.
RM: I’m new to the thrill of thrift and the va-va-voom of vintage – what are your tips to finding great pieces?
TR: The golden rule is to make sure what you’re buying is in good condition and fits you properly. Also keep an eye out for stains or bad tears in the fabric as this can turn your purchase into a nightmare trying to get right; sweat stains cannot be removed for example. Although sometimes some simple and clever stitching can solve issues like hemlines or shirt cuffs, so again, get thee to a sewing class! Ultimately go out there and play and have fun!
For more on customising and creating, see our section.