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An outfit’s worth a thousand words

What you wear each day says a lot about you. And special costumes can be even more expressive – from high-art outfits that draw people into a make-believe world, to national costumes celebrating cultures around the globe. Costumes can provide belonging and escapism and everything in-between.

1. Cultural costumes

Find out about 3 different countries’ or cultures’ costumes and what they mean and symbolise.

You can explore national dress, or clothes and accessories worn for celebrations or festivals.

Then think about your own country or culture, and choose some clothes or costumes linked to special occasions. Chinese New Year dragons, pearly kings and queens, the use of traditional fabrics such as Sierra Leone’s lapa fabric, Caribbean carnival clothes, beefeaters, kimonos, kilts, flamenco dresses… it’s up to you! Present what you find creatively.

2. Costumes in art

Can you imagine a stunning ballet where all the dancers just wear everyday clothes? Would it be as spectacular?

Costumes are a big part of everything from musical theatre, dance and circuses to drama, TV and films.

Explore costumes from different art forms. Pick your favourite piece and reimagine it as an accessory like a patch, mask or piece of jewellery. Use fabric from charity shops or something from your own wardrobe. Remember to make it eye-catching!

3. Cosplay

‘Cosplay’ is a Japanese portmanteau (blending of words) of ‘costume’ and ‘play’. It involves dressing up, taking pride in becoming a character and taking on their role.

Look at images of cosplay costumes – you’ll see the characters are often from comics, sci-fi, fantasy or gaming.

Your task is to choose a character from a TV show, film, book, comic or video game and design or create at least one element of your own cosplay costume. Or why not make it a real challenge and make the whole thing?