The third instalment of Lola Moore’s Burlesque on a Budget series is hot off the presses. Find out how to shop like the best of them, without breaking the burly bank!
So you’ve op-shopped your little heart out, canvassed your horde of fabric and other sparkly stuff but there are still some things you need. What is a budget burlesquer to do now? Well…
Burlesque on a Budget: Bargains instore!
My non op-shops options take two main forms: fabric sales and eBay. Let’s start with fabric sales.
The peak fabric sale in Perth (in my humble opinion) is Homecraft’s once a year, 50% off absolutely everything sale. It is bloody amazing.
Check out this wonderland:
Well these wonderlands really! That’s Vic Park on the left and Joondalup on the right.
Seriously, I could spend hours in both of these places gazing lustfully after the incredible fabrics they sell. Unfortunately for the majority of the year they are a little out of my price range! Don’t get me wrong, there is some very well-priced stock hidden within those crowded shelves but if you’re looking to do quite a big shop (maybe because you’re doing some intense burlesque comp in the near future) discounts make a difference.
The big sale is usually in March and I’ve stopped by every year since I knew it was a thing. This year my big purchase was the fabric for my Traditional Act. 7 veils and I’d not found a shred of suitable op-shop fabric. Not great from a financial perspective but from an “I want to buy pretty colourful things” perspective… winner, winner, chicken dinner.
So I got to wander the wondrous aisles of Homecraft Textiles and pick out the chiffon rainbow of my dreams. And then divide the price by half. Which apart from being a killer bargain is really easy mental maths.
I also picked up a generous handful of popper studs, because if you’ve seen either of my MBWA acts this year, there were a LOT of popper studs.
Spotlight also has some half decent sales throughout the year; there was a 40% off dress fabric sale in the lead up to MBWA 2019, although I was done shopping by that point!
I have a somewhat rocky relationship with Spotlight as I’m a little peeved that they’ve managed to put pretty much every other fabric/craft store in Perth out of business. I miss Textile Traders, guys. But if you want cheap basics: Spotlight. Got my zippers there.
But now: eBay!
In all honesty, eBay can be a bit of a minefield. I – like many eBay shoppers – have bought my duds, those disappointments that weren’t even worth sending back. But with a bit of care (and some trial and error) it’s a great resource to cheaply fill those costuming gaps.
First tip: if you can, buy from Australian sellers. It’s just that smidgen more reliable that getting stuff from overseas and often only slightly more expensive. eBay and PayPal protection guarantees have worked pretty well for me in the past but trying to get in touch with a seller half a world away who doesn’t speak the same language as you can be a minefield. Also, shop local!
Second tip: Check your seller’s rating. It’s not foolproof, but if they’re batting over 98% you’re probably going to get what you paid for. If their rating has drifted a little lower but if they have exactly what you’re after it’s worth checking what kind of negative reviews they’re getting. If it’s a bunch of people complaining about how their cheap electronic purchase doesn’t work properly and you’re buying fringing… you’re probably safe.
Third tip: If you’re buying clothing, try to stick to brands you know and styles you know suit you. Online shopping in general is not the time to discover if this V neck blouse won’t make you look completely flat-chested (spoilers: it will). Online sizing guides only tell you so much about a garment, if you’ve tried on clothing in a particular brand and style before you are so much more likely to be happy with what you get. Not that it’s foolproof, I bought a pair of shorts online once that were a brand, size and style I’d brought before and they were so tight I could barely get them over my arse. Very annoying. They were very cute as well. I don’t have the best track record with shorts. The stretchy shorts I brought for my 2019 Miss Burlesque Unique act had to have all the non-stretchy trim removed before I could get them on. I fixed them but, you know, would have been easier if I hadn’t had to!
My costuming eBay purchases are mainly trims: fringing, crystals, appliques (which for some reasons are in short supply Perth-side) and the occasional pair of shoes. While things sometimes aren’t quite the colour, size or shape you expect, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised more than once!
Finally, if you can’t afford Swarovski crystals, glass crystals will still give you a pretty good sparkle for a fraction of the price. I’m not opposed to acrylic to fill the gaps but the majority of the sparkle you see on me on stage is from 1440 piece glass crystal bags I got from one of my favourite eBay sellers. I dream of Swarovskis… one day my beauties.
Next up on Burlesque on a Budget I’ll break down my outfits from the big night and show you how all the parts come together!