Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not Your Average Harley Quinn Costume - A Guide

I've gotten a lot of questions about how I made my Harley Quinn costumes this Halloween, so I figured I'd make a handy guide for all you ladies out there eager to cosplay as the wonderful Ms Quinzel without being subjected to an ill fitting body suit. I decided to model my look after a combination of classic Harley & the Harley from Arkham City, the forthcoming sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum. Here's a look.

And here is how my costumes turned out (I did two takes for reasons I'll go into later)

The guide after the jump!

Step One: Order a Harley Quinn Ill Fitting Bodysuit here
Yes, you can pay a shit ton of money for a Harley bodysuit that DOES fit, but we're trying to keep the cost under 8 billion dollars, while getting to be a little creative as well. This $40-$65 (find it on sale! I got it for around $40) costume looks like utter shit in a hilarious way. Saggy AND tight at the same time, it's just a disaster. But essential for this particular costume guide. If this is too much moneys and you can sew, just get some simple, cheap, stretchy red & black fabric.

Step Two: Cut Harley Quinn Ill Fitting Bodysuit into three sections - legs, mid section and arms (seen below with a vest I own). Like so:

This is where I cut exactly at the mid-section (See right. Thanks @Desperatefans). Make sure the zipper is BELOW where you cut, it should remain a part of the pants. Keep in mind, if you accidentally zip the zipper all the way up, it will fall off. Like mine did. Luckily the pants never came apart, though I did safety pin it at the top, just in case,  thinking that would somehow help things. See below. Do away with the head-piece, the mask and the collar.

Step Three: Find a long red tank/lingerie/etc - As long as it's long, tight and red or black, but red is best. Because the pant has NOTHING to keep it up, I recommend using a long tank top, or in my case, long lingerie I already owned, to help secure it. This is why something tight is best. The length will also help obscure your ass if the zipper DOES split apart. Again, thankfully mine never did, but I was glad to have the coverage just in case. Here's a shot of the lingerie I used, taken from a bizarre angle that makes the bottom half look ginormous. I recommend having the chest part go a little higher than mine. As you can see in costume #2, you couldn't see the red sneak up over the corset as you could see in costume #1 over the vest. This piece is from Victoria's Secret, about $30, purchased years ago.

Step Four: Find Black Vest or Black Corset/How To Use the Mid-Section
Now, Harley definitely has a red corset in Arkham City, but black corsets are cheaper, easier to find, more wearable and there's a better chance you already have one in your closet. Same with a cropped black vest w/ buttons. IF you in fact have a red corset, then use a black tank top or lingerie for the underneath part. For costume #1, I used an old cropped black vest I had. This particular one was from H&M, so it was pretty cheap. Note: By the shoulders are the garter straps I sewed onto the vest to hold the arms of the costume up.

Now going the black vest route means that entirely too much of the solid red tank/lingerie is showing. So take the mid section and wrap it around your waist thru hip area. Find a black scarf or sash and pull it through the arm holes to tie in back. Like so:

Depending on how long the scarf/sash is, either tie it in a bow there or wrap it up & around your waist, then back around and into a bow as I did - this helps keep the top part of the mid section secure under the vest, for a more streamlined look. Now, the problem with this method - the Vest Method - is threefold. 

One - The arms did not stay up. The garter straps were a great idea in theory, but the tops of the arms kept falling forward throughout the entire evening.

Two - The mid-section is decidedly NOT secure. I had to constantly pull the mid section down or it would start curling up into the belt. The vest also didn't really hold anything in, it just pushed up, so my chest was kind of falling all over the place

Three - The costume looks very messy from the side & back. I put a sash through arm holes for goodness sakes, it was gonna look weird.

This is the cheaper, more hodgepodge method, which definitely works, especially for photos where you are standing still, and can be modified to fit what you already own, but it's not perfect when you are actually on the move. But to keep it on the cheap side, play around with the idea of the Vest Method and see if you can make it work for you. 

For costume #2 I fixed this problem by buying a corset. This one was $60 from Frederick's of Hollywood. I don't mind paying good money for a good corset. Hopefully if you are reading this in the hopes of cos-playing, you already own a black corset. The zipper and belts help add to the Arkham City look, so I was very pleased to find this one. 

If you use the Corset Method, you no longer have to wrap the mid section around you! We don't want it covering up the belts. Instead, turn it around and use it as a bolero. Keeps the color scheme going and helps keep your chest under wraps a bit more.

Although I sewed some garter straps onto the arms, when I attached them to my corset, under the bolero, they still wouldn't stay in place, so I said goodbye to the arms for costume #2. 

Step Five - Find a Black Belt. I got mine for 2.50 at Buffalo Exchange in Los Angeles.

Step Six - Cut the Fingertips Off Of the Gloves. Simple, just use scissors, snip snip, done. 

Step Seven - Paint Your Nails Red & Black. Try on the gloves. Make sure your nails are black with the red glove and red with the black glove. Same with your feet - red with the black shoe covering, black with the red shoe covering. Note: The white frills below the gloves were kept deliberately to show a clear connection to classic Harley. If you want to go more in the direction of Arkham City Harley, replace those with black, spikey bracelets and underneath the bracelet is where you should sew the glove to the arm, to create more of a long glove look.

Step Eight: The Leather Choker. I had one I made already from my Silk Spectre costume. I used it for costume #1, but did not use it for costume #2. Depends on your taste. To make it, buy some leather from a fabric store, measure your neck, cut a strip, fold the strip over inside out, sew one side together, flip it over. Just sew in a button and cut a button hole and you're done!

Step Nine: Buy Colored Hair Spray in Red & Black. This is to spray the tips of your blond hair. Also buy blond spray if your hair is not blond. Cause guys. Harley is BLOND. Also use the red spray to color the buckle of your black belt. These sprays run $5-$7.50 at a Halloween store

Step Ten: Buy The Makeup. For costume #1, standard Halloween store white cream make-up and a sponge. ($5)
For costume #2, white powder and a powder puff. ($3)
Colorless powder (to set) ($4)
Black cream makeup ($4.50)
Eyeshadow brush (depends, hopefully you have one already!)
Black eyeshadow ($4)
Black lipstick or gloss (depends. but cheap.)
If you have trouble finding things, Namie's in LA probably has it. Or a Halloween store. Ben Nye is always the preferable brand.

Sidebar: Vest Method Step: Sew the garter straps on. Sew them onto the vest and fasten them to as much of the top of the sleeves as possible (maybe fold the top of the sleeves into a triangle that then gets fastened in the garter straps.)  

Step Eleven: Assemble the Outfit. Put the pants on, the top oh which should hit just below your waist area. Then put the tank/lingerie on. 
For costume #1, take the mid-section and tie it around your waist with a scarf or sash. Then put the vest on and button it up. Make sure the vest is over the top of the mid-section. Take the remaining scarf/sash and bring it back around, wrapping around your waist. Bring it back to your back and tie in a small, neat bow. Then put the sleeves on and fasten the tops to the garter straps on the vest. Put the belt on just above your hips.
For costume #2, but the corset on over the tank/lingerie. Then put the mid-section on as a bolero. Take the belt and put it right below your corset.
For either costume, put on secure open toed shoes and cover them with the shoe covers. Make it so your toes just barely peak out. After you do your hair and makeup (see below), put the gloves on, then the white thingies or black spikey things around your wrists.

Step Twelve: Hair & Makeup. For costume #1, I tried using the white cream make-up, but I ended up hating how it looked on my face. For costume #2, I instead got some Ben Nye white powder (around $3) from Namie's in the valley (of LA) and used a powder puff to pale myself up. Always remember to wear primer first to help protect your skin! Set your white base with colorless powder, which you can find at a Halloween store or Namies. Then use a black cream and a sponge (Ben Nye from Namie's) to cover your lids and continue til it meets your eyebrows. Then use it to just get right under your eye. Then use an eyeshadow brush with a black eyeshadow to help shape the cream so it's neat. Harley's makeup isn't as messy as The Joker's. Use a black lipstick and/or black gloss on your lips. Voila! Thanks to Jenna Busch for telling me how to do this! For your hair, put it up into pigtails (aim for above your ears), then have someone spray the tips of your hair with the black on one side, red on one side. Once your hair and makeup are complete. put the gloves on (see above)

Step Thirteen: Fun Additions. I used my Arkham Asylum pin to show off Harley's irreverence. If you don't have someone going as the Joker with you, try carrying around a Joker action figure or wearing a temporary Joker tattoo on your arm. And don't forget to say "Mista J" with a high pitched New York accent as often as possible.

Now, I spent about $130 on this costume, between the Harley bodysuit, the corset & the makeup/spray. Take out the corset and you've got $70, which is a bit more accurate for you cos-players out there who no doubt already own pieces that would work. If you own the make up as well, then your cost is really only the Harley bodysuit to base your new costume on. If you know how to sew, your only expense may very well be red & black fabric. So there *are* ways to keep costs down here. 

Hopefully this guide will help you figure out your own take on Harley! If you do attempt your own, please take photos and link me! 

My costumes, once again


Amy said...

Great tutorial - thank you for posting!

Lazarus Lupin said...

Very nice work. You certainly have a fine eye for detail and deft hand. I have fingers like camel noses so I a relegated to costumes like "Manthing"

Lazarus Lupin
art and review

Frances said...

Red and black would certainly be the staple colors for Harley Quinn costumes at BuyCostumes.

garden said...

I bought a Mask from which is really great. I just love it.

Adam Olson said...

What a great article! We have put together all of the Harley Quinn Costume ideas and accessories from around the internet onto one website. Your readers can find everything they need at Harley Quinn Costume. I thought this would be a neat addition to your post for your readers to easily find the costumes you talk about.

Mary Wellock said...

I'm dressing as Harley for my first ever con and have been trying to find inspiration and encouragement - just wanted to say that your outfit is fab and you look brilliant in it!

Katrina Schuman said...

Congratulation on a superb article i personally become a big fan of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn if i say this movie is her a new life in Hollywood that could not be wrong, As Harley Quinn she paste a great impact in viewer eyes her classical action of mad girls a awesome and her sexiest look is fabulous like her outfit and her accessories like i like her Yes Sir Bracelets and her puddin choker Necklace, i am gonna buy it for Halloween