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Clown Costume part 2 – part of the clowning tutorial

Let’s talk about some of the specifics of your clown costume. Keep in mind a few basic guidelines:

  • Colorful – you want to be seen from a distance
  • Large patterns – you need to be seen from a distance; as well, this visually establishes your ‘clownishness’
  • Contrast, not conflict – you want to have physical contrast built into your outfit, but you don’t want the individual items to clash

So, where do I find this wonderful costume? Several places. Start in your own closet — remember what people dressed like in the 70’s? If that’s before your time, be grateful 🙂 Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and other sources. If you’re handy with a needle, you can buy patterns and sew your own. The different parts of your costume can be broken into several areas:

Hat (if applicable)
After all, not all clowns wear a hat. My clown, Raynbow, does; in fact, it’s an integral part of his character — he’s constantly tipping his hat to people. It also serves as a very useful prop. Turk Pipkin shares in his (highly recommended) book Be A Clown an impromptu hat trick — hold onto the hat, holding your middle finger & thumb below the brim, and ‘flick’ the hat upwards with those fingers, to make your hat fly off your head.
Shoes
Like the clown nose, this is probably the single most notable piece of clown clothing. When people see you in your size 18 EE shoes, they think ‘clown!’ And, like the red nose, you don’t have to wear oversize shoes. But, like the red nose, if you want to, you’re welcome to them. There are numerous wonderful dealers that sell professional clown shoes — once you’re ready, I recommend you go that route. But how do you start out? Again, advice from Turk Pipkin — feel free to pick up some ordinary sneakers and either 1) color them with acrylic paint — they’re no bigger, but they’re definitely clown shoes now, or 2) glue them inside a pair of size 18 shoes! That way, you get to wear a comfortable pair, and still look ‘clownish.’ One other twist from Mr. Pipkin: put the left (normal-size) shoe inside the right (clown-size) shoe, and vise versa — looks like your feet are reversed.
Shirt
Anything from a colorful shirt, to a large striped clown shirt, would be applicable. If you’re portraying a hobo or tramp, feel free to take a ‘plain’ shirt and add colorful patches
Pants
Again, colorful and comfortable is a safe rule here. Again, for a hobo or tramp, feel free to have a more drab material, possibly with patches for color and/or comedy. Don’t forget that we want a visually contrasting look — pants tend to be overly large, as opposed to overly small — you will want freedom of movement.
Tie (if applicable)
If your clown wears a tie, feel free to use it. I hate ties myself (and don’t have to wear them anymore — yahoo! … sorry about that; got carried away there…) ahem… if your clown is going to wear a tie, make sure it fits your character. Perhaps it will be absurdly wide, or have a comical pattern (I still have a red tie with extremely large white dots in a closet somewhere) — it can be a fine comedy prop — something to get caught in doorways, drawers, etc.
Collar and/or bib (if applicable)
Most readily available from a clown dealer. Adds a touch of class to an outfit. It screams ‘clown’

Next time, we’ll introduce details on how to make your own clown costume, and how to make it uniquely yours. See you then!

Bibliography

Dealers

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