My Usherette Dress

This was my final design pattern based on my research, and my final costume result! I made a few (personal) adjustments from Patricia Quinn's original usherette costume:
  • I chose a sheer fabric (to be a lil' sexy) in a neon pink color (to better match my hair). 
  • Instead of the giant Elvis pin, mine is Anthony Head (because I saw him play Frank in '91). I had it custom fabricated and based it on the '90s UK tour graphics.
  • Instead of “Sloane Cinemas“ (re: Royal Court), my cap says “Farley’s Flicks” (Shock Treatment nod).
  • Her tray reads "Lyon's Brand Strawberry Time" (a British ice cream treat), but my tray says "Barry's Berries" because Barry Bostwick was in attendance when I wore the costume - and the tootsie pops are Strawberry flavored!

Columbia's Pajamas - the shoes! (Research)

I guess in my original post about Columbia's Pajamas I never included her shoes. Although I can't tell if she's wearing shoes during Touch-a, you can clearly hear them when she gets up to leave the dinner table. The best time to see them is during her monologue before she gets Transduced. It's also a great capture of that ridiculously long string hanging from her waist. 

They're just basic black mules (slide-on slippers with a heel).

They're also on her feet during her Eddie's Teddy verse, but so hard to see without lightening the screenshots substantially...

RHS Usherette Costume (Research)

In the stage production the Usherette has traditionally been performed by the same actress as Magenta. In the original 1973 cast Patricia Quinn wore a pink usherette dress with an enormous Elvis Presley pin and carried a "Strawberry time" serving tray. The outfit was topped off with a fan-shaped cap (?) that read Sloane Cinema. The Royal Court Theatre (located in Sloane Square, London) was built in 1888, and for a period between 1935 to 1940 was actually used as a cinema before being closed from bomb damage in the war. The theatre reopened in 1952 and the smaller Theatre Upstairs (with just 63 seats) was added in 1969 - where Rocky Horror would premier 4 years later. 

I have never seen any photos of Quinn's usherette costume without her holding the tray in front, nor any views from the side or back. Sue added capped sleeves to later incarnations, and of course the name on the hat would change.

The dress has a straight yoke across the front, with a pleated segment (presumably ending in a waist seam). Often when a shirt or dress has a yoke in front it will have one in the back as well. It looks like there are pockets. It has a plain collar (with no collar stand) much like her maid dress in the film. 

During the 60s and 70s Lyons Maid "Strawberry Time" and other frozen treats were peddled at theatres (film and stage). You can even find some of their previews/commercials from the 60s and 70s on YouTube - I grabbed a couple relevant screenshots below.

In 1974 Jamie Donnelly joined the Roxy cast production in L.A. (and later the Broadway cast) and "Hi.. I'm Trixie" was written across the front of her serving tray. The costumes were once again designed by Sue, but there's no way of knowing how similar her dress was to Patricia's.  Jamie's dres has a separate midriff (which was popular in 50's waitress uniforms) and if you go back and look closely you can see a hint of the same segment on Patricia. Jaimie's dress appears to have the same front pleats and pockets, but her wig is covering any confirmation of a yoke (probably??). Sleeve cuffs were added, but I can't make out what is on her pin. 

Riff's Tailcoat (Research)

Shawn A. speculates the tailcoat was cut down from a longer coat - and I find that theory intriguing. Perhaps cut down from a Frock coat of some sort (think Abraham Lincoln style of coat). Check out that wayward button way up there on his chest (and the dangling threads of buttons past).   Either way, here's some detailed photos from Mick (click to enlarge). Also great shot of the Winklepicker boots, his single spat, and the lacing on his right leg. And did someone split their pants?  Hmm.

Bruce M. believes it's a vintage tailcoat from the very early 20th century and has provided this example of a tailcoat pattern from that era. He says "If you look closely at the photos, you can see it was a vintage tailcoat, probably from about 1910's. It has the characteristic 'strap' on the tail skirt as and center front seam, typical of tailcoats made from about 1810 to the 1910's. It looks like it was probably made for someone slightly taller than Richard O'Brian, so a hump could go across the shoulders. The edge of the tail was either worn and/or distressed to look very used."

Eddie's Boots (Research)

It's very hard to see his boot design in the film - these are the best screenshots (courtesy of Shawn H.) that I found.

This is Dav Rogers' pattern for incorporating the boot's embellishment onto a solid black pair of western boots. More on Dav Rogers Costuming Blog!


Eddie's Helmet (Research)

Per a discussion in the Rocky Horror Costume FB Group, it appears to be a M16 Stahlhelm (issued from 1916 to the end of WW2) likely with Lancers Death or Glory Badge on the front. Replicas available from Epic Militaria in Ireland (however it doesn't come in silver color). 

Ruth's research on the Anal Retentive Costume List claims it's a German WWII M42 style helmet, which is similar with slightly different holes.

screen shot provide by Peter J. 

Space Suit Tabards (Research)

Todd D. emailed me this amazing rehearsal shot of the space suits sans wings! 

Sue Blane Interview 1979

This is from the 1979 "Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Magazine"
You can also view the PDF online in my Google drive.

Costuming the Old School Way

This was a recent topic in a Facebook group and it got me reminiscing. I can't speak for everyone, but I can offer some insight into what it was like for me.  I started performing in 1987 so there were still some "old school" people hanging around with us. 

Besides watching the movie and looking for details at the show every weekend, my primary source was actually other performers. Costume knowledge was sort of cumulative - so you'd work with what had already been figured out by your predecessors and then try to find new details to improve your own costume. 

The Rocky Horror Poster Magazines and Bill Henkin book had been out since 1979 (and advertised through the fan club) featuring some great reference photos from the film and Mick Rock's collection. There were also trading cards, calendars, production stills, etc - things you'd find at comic book shops. 

All of this was available in 1978-9

Some members in our local (Houston) cast had a 13th generation VHS tape of the film with Japanese subtitles. It was awful - you couldn't see a single detail when you tried to pause it. Not very useful for costume research, but it helped a lot with choreography. 

Articles would also in other mainstream magazines - especially around every 'anniversary'. I would dig through library catalogs to find "Rocky Horror" in back issues of People and Time Magazine. Sometimes they'd even have a physical copy of the magazine on hand and some pages may or may not have gone missing from a library in rural Arkansas...

In 1989 MTV aired "The Rocky Horror Video Show" which was a 30-minute condensed version of the film - it had Dammit Janet, Time Warp, Sweet T, Hot Patootie, I'm Going Home, and (new to me!!) Super Heroes. And of course by then we all had VHS recorders! 

My costume was constantly being upgraded as I corrected mistakes and found better materials. Nobody in our cast had everything - we shared a lot. I had a gold tailcoat that a lot of other Columbias borrowed. . 

Space Suit Experiment

I've been dying to experiment with both this fabric (gold spandex) and my longarm (quilting) machine. I'm using some Warm & Natural batting I had on hand and a black Kona cotton backing. I stitched 1¼" squares with a 1½" unquilted border.

I updated my spacesuit pattern and it's available for free to download from my Google drive (below). If you print it on large format at Kinko's or Office Depot make sure it prints 100% to scale. If you need to resize it larger you can simply scale the whole pattern up, or you may need to modify the quilting to keep the squares the same size.

Space Suit Front 
Space Suit Back

Here's the materials I used for one tabard (of course coupon discounts and tax rates will vary):

My tabard pattern (~$7 for large format printing)
1 yd Metallic Foil Gold Spandex ($7.99/yd + tax & shipping = $17.16)
1 pkg Warm & Natural batting 45" x 60" ($19.99 + tax = $21.63)
3 pkg Wright's 7/8" Single fold bias tape ($3.99/ea + tax = $12.96)
6 1-1/8 Fabric covered button kit ($6.99/pkg + tax = $7.56)
2 yd Black Kona Cotton backing ($9.99/yd + tax = $21.63)
Large snaps (for neck opening and tabs)

= $87.94

You can see why it's not really feasible for me to make/sell these when it costs over $80 just to make the tabard without the belt and wings. There's not much room left for cost of labor.

I'm hoping to make separate blog posts for the belt and wings...

Magenta's Boots

Magenta wears her stiletto boots up until the Takeover scene. The scalloped button edge is very Victorian-esque, though the stiletto heel definitely is not. They appear to be brushed satin, and there are 7 working buttons (notice her left boot is unbuttoned in Touch-a). Some years back Betsey Johnson released a very similar homage; though it's suede, has 6 faux buttons, and a zipper for easy wearing. They still turn up on sites like eBay and Poshmark regularly - search for "Betsey Johnson Wing It" boots.

From Mick Rock's book
My Betsey Johnson "Wing It" boots

Space Suit Wings by Ruth

Years ago Ruth sent me a draft of her space suit wings. I finally got around to getting them uploaded and digitized on my computer. I recommend making a test pair out of paper or something so you can adjust the size accordingly. 

As for materials and maintaining the stiff wing shape, I leave that up to you to explore. Some people have used 1/2" sheets of upholstery foam with wire on the edges to shape. I've tried stiff interfacings and milliner's buckram with mixed results (once they get dented or bent they don't recover). I've even made 'disposable' wings with black garbage bags and cardboard and 1/8" craft foam, and just replaced them after several uses. 

A 5/8" seam allowance has already been added to both sides of the pattern. All you need to do is place the top end on the fold of your materials. Basically, your wings will look like a boomerang when laying flat. 

Click to download full size (22" x 35")

Frank's Robe/Kimono (Research)

This style of robe (kimono) was fairly common in the '70s and you can still find a lot of similar designs even if they aren't identical. Frank's robe was probably silk (most were), and it has a red lining (which is also common). The dragon is red and gold, and there are some embroidered clouds on the front chest. 

I realize not every cast performs this scene, but I think it's hilarious when they do. Our cast used to have a mask with spackle to look like cold cream, and a wig with rollers tied up. Always got a nice reaction from the audience - although it helps if the other Floorshow performers are already on stage.

Frank's Floorshow Gauntlet (Research)

I was messaging with my friend Scott V. today about Frank's floorshow gauntlet and realized I never made a post about it. Definitely seems like the sequins were applied (in a continuous, meandering pattern) to the fabric before it was closed up. He also loses most of the feathers in the pool (but y'all know that). Not certain, but it looks like the split may be on the side of the wrist - or it could just be twisted. Never found a better view of that to confirm.

Click for full size image

Guest Post: A Seasonal Guide to Rocky Horror Costume and Prop Shopping by RM

When you’ve been involved in Rocky for decades, you notice it’s easier to find certain items during certain times of year and impossible to find them during other times. Seasons have a big influence on what colors of clothes, shoes, and accessories are sold in stores. For example, don’t go Janet costume shopping in the dead of winter! The same usually goes for yardage fabric and trims, although some colors and types are sold year-round. Here’s a simple calendar-based costume and prop shopping guide. It’s mainly based on the US/North American calendar—if you live somewhere else, your results may vary. Check out the post-holiday or post-season clearance sales to save money and stock up. If you’re looking for something out of season, your best bets are usually thrift stores or online shopping sites like eBay, etsy, or poshmark. Now you can get almost anything online, but remember: we’re cosplaying a movie from the 1970s! Styles go in and out of fashion, and some things will only look right if they’re custom-made or vintage. Also, be aware that metallic ribbons (for your Columbia shorts) that are meant for gift wrapping may not be very durable or washable—use at your own risk.

New Year’s Day (January 1):

  • Transylvanians (party hats, noisemakers, plastic champagne glasses)
  • Frank (party hats, plastic champagne glasses)
Lunar (Chinese) New Year (January or February)

  • Columbia (red and gold items like metallic ribbons)
Valentine’s Day (February 14)
  • All floorshow characters (lingerie like corsets, bustiers, sexy black underpants, garter belts; hosiery like fishnet pantyhose, fishnet thigh-highs, sheer thigh-highs)
  • Rocky (gold underpants)

Columbia's Ring

No idea what the blue is - some kind of enamel? But this is one of the easiest parts of the film to see it.

Visiting Embassy Park in Hamilton, New Zealand

 At the end of February 2020, before the world shut down, I traveled to New Zealand (and Australia) and got to visit the Riff Raff statue (erected in 2004) in Embassy Park. It's in the historic part of downtown Hamilton, and features a winding path down to the river. The public restrooms look like Frank's lab wall, and there are numerous film quotes throughout the parks (on walls, park benches, etc.)

As of October 2021 the statue is "temporarily on the move" until early 2024 while the city plans to redesign the Waikato Regional Theatre and Riff Raff's park.

Guest Post: Frank's Patches by Brandon Sutrina


I find Frank's jacket to be one of the most iconic jackets in film. Others and myself have obsessed on every little detail. There's lots of confusion about what are the accurate patches for Frank's jacket. Let's do our best to clear it up. 
If you are looking for patches, some of these pull up on eBay every now and then. Some have current productions available. You can also find fan made replicas at the following people. Tyler Garrett, Dave Spelling & others, and myself - Brandon Sutrina.
If you want to discuss the jacket, see reference/verification photos, etc feel free to DM me HERE

Patch: Tiger Head
Dimensions: 4" X 4"
Notes: The Tiger Head patch was made by Lewis Leathers with the first run made in the 60's. There is a later production of the patch in which the orange has more of a red tint. Lewis Leather's also started reproducing the patch in 2021. This is a motorcycle patch for Triumph Tiger motorcycles.
Photo: Dave Spelling

Guest Post: Quick & Dirty Rocky Wraps by RM

I came up with this solution for Rocky wraps that look good, are fairly easy and quick to put on and take off, and don’t immediately start unraveling as soon as they’re on. Believe it or not, I used 3-4 yards of white polyester interlock fabric left over from my Princess Leia costume. It’s a lightweight, drapey, slightly stretchy knit that stretches in both directions (not super-stretchy Lycra or the stiff double-knit polyester they used to make leisure suits from in the 1970s). I had no trouble sewing it on a normal sewing machine with a standard needle. The raw edge can run a bit, but it doesn’t fray like a woven fabric. I bought this in Asia, but I think the US equivalent would be “Jetset” from Jo-ann Fabrics or “polyester interlock” from the now-closed Hancock Fabrics.

For the leg wraps, you’ll also need about 2 yards of snap tape and about 2 yards of thin white cord.

Floorshow Boas

 Ruth's Anal Retentive Rocky Horror Costume site has some amazing, detailed photos (taken by Sarah K. of Chicago) of Columbia's floorshow boa (from Larry V.'s amazing collection).

Boa detail (photo by Sarah Kucera)