Costume Party: Dolly Levi

Recently the habibis had a reunion!  Said reunion included a costume murder mystery party.  After much deliberation, I chose Dolly Levi of “Hello Dolly!” as my costume.  I was going for the dress Barbra Streisand wore in the Harmonia Gardens scene of the movie, i.e. this fabulousness:

I want that dress.  I want to wear it to the grocery store and church and work and the subway and everywhere.  I grew up watching “Hello Dolly.”  It’s my favorite musical.  I want to be her.

I wanted a dress with that silhouette, but no maxi dress would’ve looked right.  I searched online and then I decided to alter one of my dresses instead.  I decided to pick a cocktail dress with the right silhouette and add fabric to recreate the skirt/train.  The original plan was to use this dress:

(Apologies for the weird cropping but I couldn’t find any other pictures of me in it on short notice.)

The dress is champagne-colored under black lace.  However, I realized that the dress was at my parents’ house and I wouldn’t have time to get it prior to our habibi reunion.  Instead, I went with this dress (I didn’t take a before picture so I decided to badly crop a picture after I’d added the lace):

The dress is an icy blue color.  I ordered two yards of silver lace and two yards of pale blue, since I wasn’t sure what would match better.  The silver matches nicely.  I doubled the lace and sewed it around the hem, leaving a bit of a train at the back.

It involved a little tweaking.  I doubled the lace again in the front so it was short enough to walk.  In the back I sewed one of the loose ends to the hem, too.  It’s not a bustle but it worked.  I had originally planned to take the skirt in around the knees to more closely imitate Barbra’s dress, but I ran out of time.

I could not afford/justify the expense of a giant feathered headdress, so I bought a modest pink feather fascinator.  I’d ordered a feather boa but it was real feathers, which grossed me out.  (The phrase “sanitized turkey feathers” does not describe something I want to touch my skin.)  Happily, Anlichan lent me a scarf her sister had knitted her that resembled a boa.

I bought elbow length gloves and I wore the dress with pearls.  I wore my hair in some kind of spiky bun thing.  I wore icy blue eye shadow and blue eyeliner, which did not look garish.  (Granted, as a Jersey girl, blue eyeliner is one of my favorite things and my definition of garish may be different than other people’s, but I think the habibis will back me up that my makeup looks pretty.)  Overall, success.

The question remains what to do with the dress now.  Although I love it as a costume, I actually don’t love the dress on its own.  I don’t think the bodice fits me properly – it’s a bit too loose.  I rarely/never need a costume, so I’ll likely remove the lace and give away the dress.

Barbra sets the bar high, and the habibis reminded me that her Harmonia Gardens was one of the most expensive movie costumes ever.  I didn’t feel quite as fabulous as her in my homemade costume, but I felt pretty fabulous.  It was the perfect costume for the event.







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