That time I made a Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice) costume

Every year, my firm has a big Christmas costume party. There’s always an overarching theme, and then each workgroup in the firm chooses their own theme within that for their costumes. Last year, the theme was ‘Wanderlust’ and my group went as Disneyland – so I made my own costume and went as Princess Jasmine.

This year, the overarching theme was ‘Cult Classics’, and my workgroup decided to go as Beetlejuice, the first really Tim Burton-y Tim Burton movie and one of my childhood favourites. Naturally, I decided to make my own costume again, and the result was this: my Lydia Deetz red wedding costume!

all the little happy things - DIY Lydia Deetz Beetlejuice costume

This is the outfit that Lydia (played by Winona Ryder) wears when she’s being forced to marry Beetlejuice at the end of the film, and for a DIY job, I think mine looks pretty good!

all the little happy things - DIY Lydia Deetz Beetlejuice costume

Here’s how I put it together.

The Dress

The distinctive feature of Lydia’s dress in the movie is the sheer volume of the skirt – layers and layers of fluffy tulle. I wanted to get that kind of volume without needing to buy a hoop skirt – but how to get the skirt puffy enough? The answer was layers! My costume was made up of three layers – the basic dress, a purchased petticoat, and a layered tulle overskirt. You can see the ‘layers’ of my costume a little better in the photo below.

all the little happy things - DIY Lydia Deetz Beetlejuice costume

The basic foundation of the outfit was a cheap red chiffon dress I bought from ASOS which had a little chiffon ruffle around the V-neckline. The chiffon ruffle was nice, but definitely not over-the-top enough for my costume, so I opted to add extra tulle ruffles to the neckline.

To add the tulle ruffles to the neckline, I followed this basic method to add strips of red tulle to a red grosgrain ribbon, which I then hand-stitched along the neckline of the dress. I used two layers (one stitched just above the other) to get the fullness I wanted.

For the skirt, I bought a tiered, multi-layered red petticoat from eBay, which I slipped on over the dress. Then, to add even more fullness, I made a tulle overskirt out of three layers of red tulle – the bottom layer was the full length of the petticoat, the middle layer about 20cm shorter, and the top layer about 20cm shorter than the middle layer. I gathered the layers of tulle separately, and then sewed them all together onto a wide red satin ribbon which tied around my waist.

Put on all the layers, and you get a fabulously voluminous red wedding dress, with no need for an inconvenient hoop skirt!

all the little happy things - DIY Lydia Deetz Beetlejuice costume

The extras: wig, veil and makeup

Once the dress was done, all I really needed was the wig! I bought this black wig, and then went to town with hair-cutting scissors, hair gel and bobby pins. I cut the fringe/bangs a lot shorter, then created the ‘spiky’ effect with the help of a lot of hair gel. Then I styled the rest of the wig by pulling half of the hair up in a super-high ponytail and spiking up the ends with gel, then randomly pinning bits and pieces all over the wig to make it look even wilder. I’m really happy with how it looked!

The veil was just some of the leftover tulle from making the skirt and the neckline ruffle, which I bunched together and hand-sewed to a comb.

As for makeup, for my trial runs I just packed on very light-coloured powder and deep brown eyeshadow. On the night of the party itself, my workgroup hired a face painter, who whitened up my face and added a dramatic eyeliner effect.

all the little happy things - DIY Lydia Deetz Beetlejuice costume

(P.S. Doesn’t my friend Eva look amazing?? She did all that body painting herself!)

Overall this wasn’t a very cheap costume to make – I’d estimate something around $80-$100 including all the fabric and ribbon, the wig, the original dress and the petticoat. It was also a ltitle bit time-consuming – making the ruffles for the neckline took the longest, plus it involved hand sewing which I hate! But I think that all the hard work was worth it – I’m really proud of this costume and I think my workgroup looked amazing together!

all the little happy things - DIY Lydia Deetz Beetlejuice costume

all the little happy things - DIY Lydia Deetz Beetlejuice costume

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