COSTUME SHOPPING TIP #1
We Love Colors! I found this great company about a decade ago and I've ordered from them almost every year since. They are my go-to for exceptional quality gloves and stockings - for when I need a specific bright colour that I can't find on Weissmans and other dance stockists. You know how it's impossible to find CHILD SIZE gloves that are properly stretchy and fit little fingers snugly? This company solves that problem.
They're not cheap, but if you're looking for something specific like a lime green glove for your pre-school class, and a tangerine coloured stocking... this website is for you.
- huge range of colours
- big range of sizes
- outstanding quality
- great fit
- a little pricey
- takes approx. 7 to 10 days to arrive
- great for coloured stockings and gloves, but they don't sell a whole lot more beyond that
COSTUME SHOPPING TIP #2
Other than Weissmans (which I tend to use more and more each year), Kinetic Creations and Flair Dancewear, the rest of my costume shopping tends to be "street clothes". I'm a fan of building costume outfits from various fashion items, and I find that the result of a more curated approach like this works better than most "costumey" costumes on Seniors (for most styles) and on practically every age group for Hip Hop.
Here are 8 of my most visited websites for costume hunting:
^^^I call these the BIG FOUR. Perfect for basics. Surprisingly good for young Hip Hop outfits. Ridiculously cheap. Open late (for easy midnight costume shopping). The risk with these is that there's a good chance some of your parents will know the exact price you've paid for something, and that if the entire costume (all pieces) came from one of these big box stores, you'll likely get a complaint or two. BUT.... if you are using it for costume staples like a t-shirt which you're going to add to some really cool leggings you found online, or if you're laying the outfit with a bunch of unique accessories and styling it up to a new level, then the value you're adding makes it harder for the parents to attach a specific cost to the costume. (Another risk is that one of your students could quite well even already own the piece already.)
I think it would surprise you how much of my studio costumes are sourced from the above four shopping giants. Also great for finding costumes for boys! (I have strong dislike for most costume catalogue boy costumes.)
If you haven't found this website yet, you've been living under a rock. It's like ebay but 100% better. I get soooo many costumes on here, and they're insanely cheap.
Be aware, most items will be listed multiple times but check the shipping options and exact pricing of each because some are cheaper with higher shipping, and others are more expensive but with free shipping - and one will always end up being a much better deal than others. There's a lot of "repeated listings" so it pays to scour through them carefully.
The downside to aliexpress is that it can take a long time to arrive, so you'll need to be organised and order well ahead of time. The other downside is that sizing and quality is unpredictable. And really this is why I've found myself using Weissmans more and more each year - it's because the consistent sizing REALLY makes it easier for ordering costumes. BUT when you're paying $7AUD for a cool kids size red leather jacket on Ali Express then it's worth the risk - or it's worth ordering plenty of spares (and just selling off the ones you don't end up using).
I spend at least $3000 a year on costumes from Boo Hoo. If you catch them during a sale, you can get some really great pricing, but even more important than saving the bucks... they always have a huge range of stuff. For guys too. I've gotten plenty of Senior costumes from here over the years. I literally put in an order for some bomber jackets yesterday. They usually arrive in less than a week, the price is usually cheap, and the quality varies but it mostly decent. They have a good returns policy though, which is a bonus.
Tip: The "petite" range is really useful for teenage sizing. It's adult but catering to the smaller end of adult sizing from a ladies size 4. This is helpful for those 13 to 16 years classes that often have a handful of really small teens that still aren't yet in adult sizing.
On the Cotton On website, it shows you all the stuff from Cotton On, as well as their sub brands Factorie, Supre etc. Teen Hip Hop costumes made easy! Again, it's all about finding the sales. Full price when buying 20 of something is unacceptable. Last year Factorie had a sale on all their 90's vibe bright coloured Hip Hop stuff and I got most items for less than $5 each. Add the site to your favourites and check it once every few weeks just to keep an eye on what's new and what's on sale.
Think outside the catalogue for costumes. The earlier you can know what each of your classes are doing for concert, the earlier you can start coordinating the costumes - and using big discount sales to save huge amounts of money. Then it's a 30 minute job every 3-4 weeks, sitting on the lounge whilst watching TV and checking the sales on all your favourite costume hot-spots. And don't forget, you could do it backwards every now and then?... see an awesome costume in March and buy it (with plenty of spares - which is ok since the whole outfit will be less than half what you normally pay for a costume), and then have the teacher work the routine to suit the costume.