Top 5 Tips on How to Dress For a Burlesque Show

Whether you’re a newbie to the Burlesque scene or you’re an experienced show-goer, dressing for a Burlesque show can sometimes be a challenge.  I’ve been going to see shows for about 8 years now and I still sometimes feel like I don’t know what to wear.  Here are some sure fire tips to get create your look for the shows without feeling like its not just another night out.


With the right accessories, you can turn a little black dress into a show stopping assemble.  Who says you have to wear a boa around your shoulders?  Tie ribbons to the end and wear it around your neck to create a vintage style collar.  You can even cut the ends off and make matching cuffs.  Feathers not your thing?  Pile on all your jewelry.  I find that if the style is similar, you can mix and match gold and silver peices.    Often in burlesque photoshoots, we’ll have at least least 10 pieces of jewelry on the model.  If you think this is too much, just remember that you’re wearing a classic backdrop for which the accessories can shine on.


Don’t be afraid of playing it butch.  There’s something so irresistible about a woman who wears a classic white dress shirt and a black suit.  This isn’t the office: undoing a few buttons and giving a sneak of your sexy lace bra or bustier underneath is totally acceptable at a burlesque show.  Adding a few leather details shows you mean business and can take this look to the next level.  Throw some hot rollers in your hair, paint on a red lip and you’re good to go.


I know its so easy to grab for the black outfit but this time I suggest you try on something brighter.  I remember the first time I attended a party in a red dress and how beautiful I felt – when the dress fits right, there’s no need to hide your figure.  Since then, I try to avoid black at big events, and when I do, it feels new and dramatic.  With the right colour, you totally pop in the sea of black outfits and people can’t take their eyes off you.  Since I’m short, I stay with a monochromatic colour palette in an attempt to lengthen every inch of me.


When I have time to get ready, I like to play around with my hair & make-up.  A burlesque show is one of the few places in which bigger is better and creativity is appreciated.  I like to use L’Oreal’s Elnett hair spray  because it allows me to make mistakes.  I can curl, tease, brush out and curl again without getting sticky or having that cement look.  If you want to wear eyelashes but don’t know how to put them on, get the make-up counter girl to help.  But make sure you call first, some places, like MAC, need you to make an appointment.  Adding some sparkle to your lids and lips can also bring your look over the top in a good way.


So you don’t do colour, accessories, crazy styling or masculine looks, but you still want to feel over the top sexy at a show?  Wear something scandalous underneath.  Depending on your outfit’s cut, you can get away with any numbers of sinful looks.  Here’s my naughty list, going from tame pussycat to outright tigress:

5. Garter & Stockings – you can have fun with a classic black seam or funk it up with fishnets and red lace.

4. Shelf Bra – be careful with your neckline, your girls might want to pop out for a show of their own.

3. Pasties – bra or no bra, doesn’t every part of you deserve a little bling?

2. Crotchless Panties – best of both worlds: fancy lace with room to breathe.

1. Going Commando – underwear can be so restricting sometimes….

The most important thing to take away from these tips is to find your own look that works for you.  The burlesque scene is not for one type of beauty but the acceptance of many.  I’m still making my final decisions on what to wear, but be sure, my aim is to dress to impress.  The last suggestion I have comes from the inventor of the little black dress:

“Where should one use perfume?” a young woman asked. “Wherever one wants to be kissed.” ― Coco Chanel

See you at the shows!