vintage burlesque costumes

Vintage Burlesque Costumes

For obvious reasons, there aren’t many vintage burlesque costumes that have survived through the decades. 21st Century burlesque pays homage to those early days and it’s not difficult to create a convincing and effective ensemble.

Hats & Fascinators

Hats and fascinators are the perfect products for topping off any look. Whether you are preparing for your next performance or trying to recreate one of a selection of vintage burlesque costumes, finishing it with a can-can hat or fascinator will add a touch of glam to the finished look. 

There are a variety of styles and finishes available in the hats and fascinator category. Pieces are made from high-quality fabrics. Designed to add some sparkle and glamour to your costume, hats and fascinators come in all kinds of colors and styles. Hats and fascinators typically feature velvet, glitter, feathers and netting. The pieces are designed to help compliment costume, often echoing the designs found in the original vintage burlesque costumes

Hats and fascinators are designed for ease of use, clipping directly into the hair. Veiled hats and fascinators add a bit of mystery to your look. Lace trim, feathers and plenty of glittery fabrics make any hat or fascinator the ideal accessory for your formal occasion dress. Choose a fascinator that compliments your dress’s design and you will be sure to stand out from the crowd. Whether you are planning a performance or attending a fancy dress party, top off your vintage burlesque costumes with a hat or a fascinator.

Burlesque Underwear

Burlesque underwear is fun, playful and very, very sexy. It’s all about glamour, charisma and spectacle. You can really make undressing a show – and there are so many variations on the theme. 

One characteristic of burlesque dress in general in underwear as outer-wear. This is very much the case with bustles (otherwise known as corsets), which can easily be worn as tops to create a gorgeous, sensuous hour-glass figure that everyone can admire. However, the bustle can be a real show-stopper as underwear too. Combine with cute knickers, suspenders and stockings for instant impact and wow affect. Bustles come in so many different styles and colours.

From simple, elegant black numbers to frilly, ostentatious creams and pinks. Girdles come in two main forms in terms of cut. There is the simple waist-girdle, or mini-girdle (the classic corset look that you are likely to know) and the longline girdle. The longline girdle extends from under the chest down to the thighs and looks rather like a high-waist skirt. This is an adventurous little number that truly accentuates a womanly figure. The extra material in this kind of girdle allows for more freedom in design. Longline girdles come in a vast number of styles. 

For the more dangerous, adventurous or kinky among you try a hotpant or longline brief. If you’re feeling particularly daring combine with nipple-tassels and suspenders for a seriously jaw-dropping look. Longline briefs, like longline bustles, are basically very high-waist briefs. But these are nothing like your big granny-pants! Longline briefs are a real tease, covering and accentuating figure, whilst hinting at a reveal to come. These styles are the very essence of burlesque underwear – sassy, confident, daring and brilliantly racy. 

However, there are some cute and girly looks within burlesque styles. Bralets are so feminine. Think pretty silky bra, light and delicate, in feminine pink, cream and blue tones. These work so well with frilly knickers for a totally can-can look. These cutesy styles give a unique twist to an adorable feminine look. Many burlesque bras play around with shape in their design – there are some lovely heart-shaped pieces, which create an intensely cool and sweet sailor’s-sweetheart style. 

It’s all about imagination and playing around with the norm. It’s about creating a buzz, a sensation, and doing something exciting and new. In burlesque underwear you are sure to feel totally sexy and confident. Now it’s just a case of choosing your style!

Burlesque Stockings

All things burlesque are currently en vogue and no can-can or showgirl’s outfit is complete without the addition of a sexy pair of burlesque stockings. 

The choice of styles and colours available is truly mind-blowing so whether you have opted for a corset or basque style outfit with or without suspenders you will find burlesque stockings to suit every taste and pocket.

Hold-ups/stay-ups have an adhesive elasticated band around the top to keep them in place and thus have the advantage of not requiring suspenders. This not only means that there is no tell-tale line beneath your dress or skirt but also creates an extremely sexy, comfortable and practical finishing touch to your outfit. Pretty stretch lace tops are available with contrasting colours for something a little different, plain with a delicate lace trim for a more traditional take and even with an extremely cheeky lace-up back corset design for the more daring. All these styles are also available in the traditional stocking where suspenders are required.

To create that classic look of understated sexy elegance a pair of seamed stockings will fit the bill perfectly. Choose sheer black, natural nude or perhaps something a little bolder like red, white or plum with a contrasting black or red seam. An unusual take on the more traditional burlesque seamed stocking look is the ‘Oxford’ sheer hold-up version with a back seam to the calf top finished with a cute bow.

Cuban heels – where the heel of the stocking is formed by an opaque panel tapering to where the seaming begins – are classy and classic but choose contrasting colours if you prefer a modern twist. Very sexy and original key-hole topped stockings finished with tiny bows are out there too if you’re seeking to draw particular attention to the rear view of your burlesque outfit!

Fishnet stockings with or without seams are classic showgirl and are available in a variety of colours to coordinate with any outfit. If you are prone to laddering your hosiery you may find opaque stockings of a heavier denier are more practical than sheer styles. You might like to try patterned lace stockings which are also available in a variety of colours.

For something really eye-catching there are some glorious styles available in sheer nylon denier decorated with contrasting heart or bow motifs, or how about a satin contrast vertical stripe pattern for a really quirky statement look.

Vintage Burlesque Costumes
Image by dublingirl10 from Pixabay


Garters are of course most commonly worn by brides on their wedding day, but they have many other uses in fashion. These small bands of fabric that fasten around the thigh provide an unusual and appealing twist to normal stockings. Garters were once used to hold stockings in place, but they no longer need to serve this purpose. Instead they are often used as part of a decorative outfit for burlesque, can-can, or other occasions where a woman wants to stand out and be noticed. 

This unique fashion accessory has been used in Europe for hundreds of years, for both practical and ritualistic purposes. They used to be tied below the knee to keep stockings from slipping, but as technology improved they began moving higher up the leg. In modern times they rest at the top of the thigh, near the place where the stockings end. 

Garters come in many different styles and colors depending on the reason they are being worn. White is a popular color for weddings, and they often have bows or lace to make them even more decorative. In burlesque and can-can garters often match the costume that the woman is wearing, which can be many different colors. Black satin garters with a colorful accessory, such as a flower, rose, or bow, add a little something extra to replica vintage burlesque costumes.

Bold women can consider wearing garters as a way to spice up their lingerie. Since they are normally only worn for special occasions, wearing one in an unexpected situation can be fun and flirty. Some garters are made out of materials that feel great against the skin, which adds an extra dimension of teasing and pleasure for the wearer. Ladies should try something new and add a few garters to their lingerie collections for a fun experience.

Burlesque Corsets

Burlesque fashion is often considered the height of glamour and sophistication. This is the case of corsets, long thought to embody the essence of femininity. 

Burlesque corsets are often worn as part of vintage burlesque costumes due to the common use of corsets during the Viciorian era. However, they are no longer relegated to the realm of lingerie or costume-dressing. These garments can be matched to more modern pieces of clothing, creating a classy and unique look. 

This article will provide an overview of the various types of burlesque corsets available in the market.

In terms of design, there are two types of corsets: overbust and underbust. Support-wise, overbust corsets would suit better those women with an ample bust, while underbust corsets do not provide much in the way of bust support. However, the latter create an instant slimming effect around the waist and abdomen areas. 

The general rule of thumb when choosing a corset is to select one that is between 2 and four inches smaller than the waist. However, body shape needs to be taken into account too, especially when choosing a burlesque corset, due to the wide range of options available. Women with a classic hourglass figure will benefit from choosing a gored-hip corset. This will enhance their natural curves, creating a waspy waistline. Conversely, women with a more androgynous figure can opt for corsets with parallel padding, which accentuate existing curves and create new ones.


Boning can consist of nylon, polyester or steel. A great deal of high-quality corsets feature steel boning. These are ideal for women looking to create a very dramatic effect.

Two types of steel boning are available: spiral steel and flat. The first are highly supportive, although both types provide extreme comfort and flexibility. And remember that the best burlesque corsets have a minimum of 24 bones. 

Style and materials

Vintage-inspired corsets are typically longer, measuring an average of 14 inches. They are usually made of satin, silk or cotton, and the best garments are fully lined. They usually feature a modest sweetheart cut along the cleavage line, and delicate bows and patterns.

Moulin Rouge-style corsets are all about exuberance and lavishness. They often feature brocade decorations, ruffle and lace trims, and eye-catching detailing, such as intricate embroidery. You can find corsets with plunging cleavage lines or straight-cut designs. Materials include velvet, satin, and jacquard, to name but a few. 

To sum up, there is a flattering burlesque corset for every occasion, taste and body type

Burlesque Skirts

Burlesque clothing is definitely not for anyone who is of the shy and retiring kind. Burlesque skirts are in a word daring when you consider the little or nothing bit of cloth in the front. However, it is one of the most famous fashion statements that were popular as early as the 1950s or probably even before that. The clothing is glamorous, sexy and flirtatious, so get ready for an image makeover with this type of outfit.

Burlesque takes people back to the 1950s when anything and everything was popular. A time when a person could eat, drink and be merry without worrying about cardiac arrest or any of the million other ailments in circulation today. This time of romanticism encouraged some of the most fashionable styles and the décolleté neckline, burlesque skirts, sheer stockings and high heels that rocked the fashion world.

There are different styles of burlesque skirts like the ruffle petticoat skirt. It is perfect for on-stage wear as well as being ideal for the underskirt of a circle skirt. The circle skirt is generally worn as jaunty evening attire. Worn in reds, blacks and pink edging, the multi-layered skirt has the same fashionable effect as net petticoats, but is as authentic as they come.

Skirts enhance beautiful legs drawing attention to them. Stockings can also be worn to contrast the skirt and show off the leg shape. Feminine shoes ought to complete the outfit and stilettos are generally the preferred choice. The shoes help the skirt to swing just right when walking and give the body a whole new shape. Don’t forget the suspenders; they are to skirts what corsets are to these dresses. Handbags, hairstyles and jewellery are some of the accessories that need to be paid attention to as part of the overall look.

There are also bustles and bespoke skirts that provide a totally cool look apart from making the wearer look attractive and sexy at the same time.

Long skirts come with ribbon ties that can be adjusted, and the skirt can be tied up to show lots of leg or tied down for the decorous, ‘I’m a good girl’ look. Wearing these skirts makes a woman feel very feminine and attractive. Walking in this style of outfit adds a touch of the diva to the overall appearance of the person.

Burlesque is all about sparkle and glamour and honestly so long as the curves are seen, it is considered fashionable. Get out the sparkles and high heels, add a few feathers and step out in ultimate style.

Burlesque Gloves

Burlesque gloves can be an important part of any burlesque outfit, no matter what the shape, size, or style. Depending on what you imagine you want to convey with your vintage burlesque costumes, gloves can provide a look of elegance, sweetness, or even naughtiness. They can be used as part of a performance or they can simply be just for show.

If you want to have a more traditional burlesque look, you’d be surprised at the amount of choice that you still have when it comes to wearing burlesque gloves! These gloves will most likely be longer, going past the elbow and onto the upper arm, but you could choose to wear gloves made of satin, velvet, or lace as the main fabrics. They may have ruffles at the top, or small amounts of detailing on the gloves, but the main focus is on the length and accentuation of the arm that these opera-length gloves provide. These are usually found in rich jewel tones, but black or white gloves are a classic option. Coordinate the gloves with the rest of your outfit for a streamlined, sexy look.

If your outfits are more modern, and you still want gloves to complete your costume, then there’s an even wider set of options available. You will find gloves in any length, shape, fabric, or cut, so choose what works best for you and for the vintage burlesque costumes you enjoy recreating and wearing. If you like an edgy, alternative look, consider gloves made of lace that have been ripped in certain places. You could even try wearing gloves made of PVC or latex, which will give a sleek look to your outfit. A sweeter look that still has a lot of sexiness might feature shorter gloves with lots of ruffles and detailing. Don’t be afraid of embellishments such as rhinestones, feathers, or decorative trim if you’re aiming for a non-traditional costume.

All in all, burlesque gloves are a great way to make your burlesque outfit something special, so don’t be afraid to look at several different styles until you find not just one pair, but a few that suit you best.

Burlesque Shoes

Sexy shoes can take your lingerie and clothing over the top in terms of sex appeal. The right shoes lengthen your legs and change your center of gravity so that you walk, and dance, in an attractive manner. Women looking for shoes to complete a can-can or burlesque outfit, or to go with sexy lingerie in the bedroom, have plenty of options to choose from. 

Mules with fluffy pom-poms on the toes are perfect to wear with lingerie in the bedroom. These shoes gained popularity by being worn on sexy Hollywood starlets, and still have a retro sex appeal that is difficult to beat. Paired with a teddy or fishnet body stocking, these shoes are sure to impress and titillate.

Dancing requires shoes that are more stable on the feet, but most can-can and burlesque dancers opt for high heels because they make legs look fabulous. Women can opt for strappy patent platform heels, court shoes that cover most of the feet, or laced boots that go up to the calf, knee, or thigh. Most shoes for dancing have a slight platform so that the body has more stability when moving around. Chunky heels also help with stability without taking away from sexiness.

There is something about a great pair of shoes that makes a woman feel amazing. There are styles in a variety of colors and fabrics, from pink satin to black patent leather. Each variety has its own appeal, whether a woman wants to feel like a sex kitten or a serious diva. Patterned shoes, such as red and white polka dots, add a kitschy look to any ensemble, as well as a certain playfulness. Women should explore shoes that excite them and that fall outside of their comfort zone for a truly unique and amazing shoe experience. 

Vintage Burlesque Costumes: Accessories

Burlesque was the rage at one time but it was gradually relegated to locations such as Las Vegas for a period. Now, the art of burlesque is alive and well again, and thriving in unexpected places.

Pasties are the last thing between the burlesque queen and the world. Burlesque style pasties come in many styles, shapes and coverages. Nippies are needed for those times when a little coverage is needed but nothing else. These burlesque style accessories can finish the outfit with finesse and aplomb.

Glittering accessories can be added anywhere on the body. A choker at the neck, bracelets at the wrists, earrings at the ears and anklets are all apart of the bling of burlesque. The jewelry is often over sized and glittery to enhance the burlesque feel. There is little that is demure or diminutive in the area of burlesque accessories. The jewelry is the large, the flowers are large, the fans are large and the feathers are large. Only the costumes are small.

Headbands that offer stones or feathers are another of the accessories used in the art of burlesque. Flower or feather hair accessories are popular to accessorize any vintage burlesque costumes. The Fascinator is another option for the hair. The customary veil to peek from behind adds an air of mystery to the Fascinator effect. 

High heels are a must to accessorize in the style of burlesque. The higher the heel the better and the sex appeal must exude from the shoe. Straps are a frequent part of a burlesqued foot. High heeled boots are also a look that goes well with the style of burlesque.

Gloves are also a burlesque accessory. The gloves are can be long evening length, that cover almost the full arm, to wrist length. They also have options that cover from just above the wrists to just above the fingers. These gloves can be silk, satin, lace, laced and fringed. 

Large fans are also a popular burlesque option. The fan dance was made popular in burlesque and uses large feather fans as an accessory. The fan dance originated as a way to avoid prosecution by law enforcement. Sally Rand popularized the burlesque fan dance in the 1930’s. The bubble dance was also developed by Sally Rand for the same reasons. Sally’s real name was Helen Harriet Beck. She was born in 1904 and died, at the age of 75, in 1979. Sally was also known as Billie Beck. 

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