Thoroughly Modern Millie Costumes on a Budget

Thoroughly Modern Millie Costumes on a Budget

Hi everyone! I’ve started a new blog here so I thought I’d move over some of the posts you’ve found most helpful through the years. This one was from a production I did in 2011.

It’s always a challenge to costume 80+ kids on a tight budget, but throw in the fact that the show takes place in a time period like the 1920’s and suddenly the task seems impossible.  That’s where I found myself after auditions for Yorba Linda Spotlight’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie” Teen and Junior shows.  After the excitement died down from auditions, casting, and first rehearsals, I sat down to create one of my infamous costume spreadsheets.  This is when panic began to set in.  How was I going to costume all of these amazing kids in daytime, nighttime, and work looks from the 1920’s without going over budget?

Costumes from the CYT production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie”

Enter CYT San Diego.

I searched around for “Millie” costumes for rent in the area but came up with nothing – well, nothing that stood up to our high standards of production anyway.  But then I remembered the huge costume Mecca called CYT.  I’m talking a huge warehouse in San Diego covered wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling in costumes.  I called my contact there and she graciously informed me that they had adult sized “Millie” costumes for rent and they were available when we needed them – HOORAY!!!  Problem solved… almost.

Millie Jr. Boys Suits

I still had to find kid-sized flapper duds for the junior cast.  Where could I possibly find fancy, low-cost suits and drop waisted dresses to fit 6-13 year olds?  Renting them was a dead end – seems no one around us has done “Millie, Jr.” or at least hasn’t keep the costumes from it.  So I did a little digging on my goto websites for low-cost costumes – Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s.   Now you might be thinking “how can you expect to find costumes there?”  But my favorite stores didn’t let me down.  I found the cutest boys suits on for crazy cheap!  And since it was close to Easter, all of the suits fit in my target pastel color scheme.  Amazing! I quickly bought every size and color combination I could possibly want (hey, they’re returnable right?) and had them shipped to my house.

Now all I had to worry about was the girls.  Drop waisted dresses aren’t really in style but are essential for the 1920’s look. I decided to see what I could find on wholesale dress sites. I found a few U.S. sites that had 1 maybe 2 possibilities.  If I went with this, I would have to order 40 of the same dresses and then jazz them up so they would be different from each other.  Not ideal.

Enter China Wholesale Dress.  

A few of the girls dresses from Millie Jr.

When I found this website, I was ecstatic.  Not only did they have over 20 drop waisted dresses, but they were all in light pastel colors that matched the boys suits perfectly and well within my budget!  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I guess the 1920’s are making a comeback in China.  Unlike my Walmart purchases though, these dresses were final sale so I had to be absolutely sure I would use them as well as sure about the sizes I would need.  Not to mention they were coming from China and I wasn’t sure WHEN and IF they would arrive on my doorstep.  In the end, I ordered them and am so glad I did!  They arrived at my house a week later and were everything I hoped they’d be. Phew!  Well, that’s all from me for now.   I am so excited for everyone to see how the costumes turned out and I know that this show is going to be one of Spotlight’s best!

NOTE: Since this was from 2011, China Wholesale Dress is no longer in business. However I’ve found several other options for ordering items from China, my favorite of which is Ali Express.
Have you produced Millie? Share what you did with the show in the comments!

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