Costume “Rules”

I always laugh about how people talk about my “off season” times at the costume shop. While it IS true that I don’t have hundreds of people walking into the store during the majority of the year like I do during October, there is no true OFF season anymore. The economy is getting better (or so they say) and people want to have themed parties, attend conventions, dance at masquerade balls, and parade about at historical re-enactments and faires year-round. And why not? Costumes are fun!!!

There are no rules as far as costumes go, no matter what people have told you. There are merely guidelines depending on the groups you may be spending time with. While you may find groups like the Society for Creative Anachronism, the 501st, or those like them, remember one important thing. If you aren’t having fun with them, there isn’t much point in being there. Don’t let someone who has to be “correct” ruin your day. They’ll puff themselves up being right, and eventually they’ll find themselves alone while you’ve moved on to better things.

That goes for more casual affairs too. If you get excited at the thought of being dressed from head to toe in the costume of your choice, and you are invited to a party, GO ALL OUT! If you are shopping with a friend and they aren’t into it, don’t let that stop you from enjoying yourself. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had a pair of people in the store and one person was happy and excited until the other acted like a jerk. It drives me crazy.

Go out. Find your happy. Dress like a pirate to go grocery shopping like I do occasionally. Why not? Worst that can happen is you end up on “the people of Walmart” website. And if you are wearing a Mandalorian mask no one will know its you.

Had a blast at Emerald City Comic-con 2015!

So, been recovering from con-crud as we all lovingly call it. Eating gluten by mistake made me miserable and open to catching a cold, and then working Norwescon 38 the following weekend didn’t help. Hey, when they pack 80,000 people into a convention center, you are bound to catch something! I had a good time though. Didn’t get to see as much as I wanted because we didn’t go Friday like usual, and I volunteered Sunday with the 501st for over 4 hours (leaving directly after so that Manbeast could watch WrestleMania… sigh) but it was worth it. I got to meet Tom Hodges, but most importantly, Anthony Daniels (He is so incredibly funny and awesome!) Manbeast volunteered with me too, and I must say, our RSO outfits looked awesome! Here we are with my friend Nikki!

RSO Emerald City Comiccon 2015
Saturday we spent with some amazing friends of ours. Dena was a steampunk vampire hunter, and I was her vampire. I loved the subtle light/dark looks we had, even though I was the evil one, I tried to wear my lightest colored steampunk costume pieces, while hers was a lot of darker pieces, even the rosary and sword were dark. It was glorious! I loved it.

Steampunk Vampire Comiccon 2015luring me in with her sweet blood, little did I know that the hunter had a silver chain in her hands!

Steampunk Vampire 2 Comiccon 2015The holy silver chain! HOW IT BURNSSSS!

Steampunk Vampire 3 Comiccon 2015
She pierces my heart with her wooden sword! Curses!

Steampunk Vampire 1 Comicon 2015 Yes, cleavage happens. Its called a corset.

I hope everyone else loved Comic-con as much as I did! I will post photos of the final Steampunk costume and a more in-depth look at the bustle skirt that I made for my friend Taylor’s wedding in my next post! (I’m eagerly awaiting the photos from the wedding! I loved my hair and my tiny black top hat from Brigid’s Whispers, you have no idea…)

If I didn’t make my costume, most of the pieces I wore came from the costume shop I own/work at, or from other local businesses and vendors at Ren Faire’s and Conventions.

 

Hoof Covers for Santa’s Reindeer!

So we covered how to make Santa’s footwear more stylish, what about his trusty companions? Rudolph needed some new hooves this year, so I made a set using a pair of boot covers from the Santa Suit to create a pattern.
WP_20141119_007So you remember that bottom portion? I cut the rest of the leg portion off, cut up the back, snipped the elastic, and laid it flat. Since I want them to be able to open in the back, I extended it a bit so that they would overlap on the back side of the foot. I also made it long enough to fold the back side over once so that I could put sew-on Velcro there and make it look more finished.

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Gather all your materials. You need some nice heavy-duty fabric (a yard should be plenty, but you can take your pattern piece to the fabric store with you to make sure you get enough), I picked a dark colored vinyl with a soft suede underside, darker than the fur of the reindeer suit. You need black Velcro to secure the back, double-sided bias tape to finish off the edges, and thin elastic to keep the “hoof” secure to the foot. Here are pictures of the fabric and bias tape. One packet was enough with this little bit left over:

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Cut out your vinyl piece, and fold in half, right side together. Sew a straight line in the middle of the front of the piece. Deer have split hooves, so this makes the two “toes” of the hoof:

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Next you need to sew on the Velcro to the back. fold the back like so:

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Sew the edge close to the fold first. I used heavy duty needles again, because the vinyl and Velcro are pretty thick. After the edge near the fold, I sewed the other side. Remember you need one piece of Velcro on the outside, and the opposite piece on the inside. I made the two hooves opposite each other as well. Trim the extra fabric from the edge of the Velcro.

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Now that you have your Velcro attached, and the backs can be fastened closed, you need to attach the bias tape. Fold the end over so you don’t have any issues with fraying, and pin it down and around. Use the elastic on the old boot cover to see where you need to attach the elastic. As you are sewing the bias tape you need to make sure you catch both the top and bottom of the tape to make a clean, finished look. When you reach the elastic don’t be afraid to double or even triple stitch over it to secure it.

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Do the same for the top of the shoe-cover as the bottoms. Fold under the ends and make sure you catch both sides!

There you have it, two shoe covers for your reindeer costume! Full mascot costumes will have furry legs that come down and cover up the tops, leaving you with split-hooves.

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(My nails are Espionage cosmetic’s wraps again! this time in “literary”)

Boot Toppers For Santa

So you are interested in being a Santa! You’ve grown the beard, bought the plush suit. Sweet! What did it come with? Jacket, Pants, Belt, hat, and… Boot-covers? Oh Santa… this won’t do! Do you have a pair of black boots, but they don’t have fur? Never fear! I am going to show you how to make these:
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into this ensemble:

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in just a few easy steps!

First, you want to trim off the bottom portion of the boot-cover. I cut it so that there was about 6 inches of black pleather material left. You want to leave this so that the boot topper has sufficient material INSIDE your boot to stay in place once you slide your leg inside it. Fold the faux fur up and out of the way and measure from where the faux fur ends and the vinyl begins.

WP_20141119_005Measure six inches and use a rotary cutter and ruler to make an even cut across. Press down hard enough to cut through both layers of the boot-cover.  WP_20141119_006WP_20141119_007

You can discard the bottom portion or use the vinyl for another project if you wish, I used the portion that covers the foot to make a pattern for a foot-covering I made later. (Spoilers, that will be my next holiday project that I post!)

Next you want to lay the boot you will be inserting these toppers into on top of what is left, and give yourself about an inch out for a seam allowance. The boot cover is much wider than your boot, so you will be trimming off the back portion, and then re-sewing it.

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Lay your ruler down and use your rotary cutter again. Faux fur is pretty thick so be sure to press down firmly.

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Once that is trimmed away, turn your piece so that right sides of the vinyl are together. If you want to sew the boot-toppers with a machine, use a heavy-duty needle. These are the ones I used. I hand-stitched the faux fur though, it always jams my machine. If your sewing machine is heavy-duty enough you can use it for both parts. Just remember that you have to turn the boot cover and sew the faux fur up so that the seam will be hidden when its turned down over the top.

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As you can see, it makes a nice clean seam, just be careful, vinyl likes to tear, so sew up the back once and be sure to get as close to the fur as possible.

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So with needle and thread I backstitched up the rest of the back. I turned the boot topper so the right side of the black vinyl is out and the furry part of the faux fur is together and then did a running stitch. When you are done, stick the boot-top into your boot.

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Fold down the fur and there you are! The Santa I made these for needed something to go into his rubber boots for outdoor trips, in case of mud. I hope my project helps you too!

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 *** My fingernails are from espionagecosmetics.com, if you were wondering 😉

Padme Picnic Dress Project

***Note: This is a continuous project page, and I will update it with my own photos as I go! (Updates will be dated and marked with asterisks)

Padme 1 and three quarters

This is probably one of the hardest projects I’ve ever taken on. The first source that I have to give credit to is MiraxThorn’s post on the Jedi Council forums, here: http://boards.theforce.net/threads/padmes-meadow-picnic-dress-v4-0.24588679/. YES THIS COSTUME IS ADDICTING. She was completely correct. And although many of the links in her post are not working now, the incredible wealth of knowledge and tips written there has been priceless. I couldn’t have gotten this far without that thread and all the costumers that helped make it. This costume is a product of all the trials and time others have taken before me.

I think a good place to mark as my starting point was after reading through that thread and comments and posting in it in April 2014. Today’s post is my progress after 7 months of on again/off again research and acquiring. So here we go!

My very first task was to gather images from many angles. This is a good location for that: http://www.padawansguide.com/flowered.shtml (Don’t skip over the images from museum shows and the like either! There are some shots people have taken that you never get from the film. The shots from the exhibits and fashion show really helped with this project.) A lot of the pictures are high definition, which is great for fine details, like the brooch. This location is also a favorite: http://www.rebelshaven.com/SWFFAQ/picnic.php. All my photos here will either be of my own project progress or from those two sites. Especially the close-up shots of some of the costume details. The Star Wars Costuming exhibit is coming to a museum near me this January so I’m hoping the Picnic dress will be there so I can see it for myself too! The final resource I grabbed was the book “Dressing the Galaxy” for the information it could give me. The close-up image of the corset embroidery is one of the pictures in that book. (Though they cut off the top of the picture. Lame sauce)

Assembling the materials has been a major challenge, and not just because of time, but also because screen accurate items are tough to get a hold of and good quality stuff is expensive. When Trisha Biggar decides to costume, she doesn’t mess around. The head costume designer for the prequels, she would track down fabric designers after seeing fabrics at shows and have things made from scratch! There are vintage pieces of fabric used that simply cannot be recreated unless you make the fabric yourself. All her costumes for the movies are truly one of a kind works of art, and I know I can’t match it stitch for stitch, but I’m going to do my best to make something close.

***Nov 18th update: I’ve started a physical project page to record materials used! It doesn’t seem organized, but its my way of visually matching colors and keeping track of number of strands for embroidery, etc. Its a good organizational tool to use if you don’t already do something similar. You can also keep track of dye lots and such this way!

Project page

The easiest way to do THIS particular costume is to break it down in its parts, starting from her head and going down to her feet. I’ll break it down into three major sections, Head, Upper Body, and Lower Body, with subsections for each.

Head:

Hair: I have very long light brown hair. Rather than dying and trying to get my hair to hold a curl/add extensions for fullness, I’ve ordered a wig from Westbay (The wig company we order stuff from at Lakewood Costumes) that I think will do the trick. Its called “Tyra” and I got it in 4, a dark brown. It goes down to the shoulder blades and has a wavy curl. I’m going to pad out a Styrofoam mannequin head once I have it and see if I can pull it back in the style from the movie without showing the weft too much.

***Nov 21 update: I got my wig! It looks great! Dark brown, with a wavy curl. I’m going to sketch out what the hair style should look like. Once I have the buns, ribbons, and the forehead band done, I’ll be able to style it. The wig is pretty thick so showing the weft shouldn’t be a problem.

Padme Wig

Buns: I’ve ordered the clip-in braided buns (H120) in the same color from the same company as the wig, they are 4 1/2 inches wide.

***Nov 21 update: The size of the buns I ordered is WAY too big for this costume. The color matches the wig, but they are Princess Leia sized, not right for this. lol. I have to order the smaller size.  Sucks, means I have to wait another week or more.

***January 12, 2015 The smaller size is perfect, and I have finished them! Here they are!

Gold snood Bun Cover 2

I have crocheted my own snoods for them using crochet cotton in a gold color. (I’m not going to post a pattern, as there is a lady online who makes these. If you don’t want to figure it out yourself or don’t crochet, go to http://www.snoods.com/bunsize.html and order a pair.) I’ve bought Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Thread in metallic gold, size 10, and it looks lovely. I’ve finished both, and I will either end up sewing clips to the backside, or I will just pin them in once I am finished with the forehead ribbons.

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Forehead Ribbon Band: (The hair ribbons match the ones on the sleeves, so more on that later when we talk about the shirt, with one note, the hair ribbons are only three colors, dark pink, light pink, and dark green. The arms are all five.) The forehead ribbon I’ve bought from http://www.ribbonerie.com. Go into collections, specialty, and then page 4-5 for the correct ones. They are made by a company in France which no longer makes them! They are a silk ribbon bordered on each side by a gold twisted braid. The correct color is number 4-hd-10_col_3, but it has long ago been bought out and discontinued. I bought some of the greenish blue col_4 that they had because that is the last of that style in a lighter color that they possess. I’m hoping a little dye might make it look better, I bought two yards of it so I have a little to play with dye-wise. I wish they had had a white version, so dying it could have been more possible. Once I get the color to something close to what I want, I will sew two strips together using gold thread and I will sew the embroidered roses onto it. (More on the roses in a bit in the shawl section) The forehead band goes all the way around the head and part of the hair, I will make it snap closed with clear snaps and the join will be hidden by the wig.

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Upper Body:

Shawl: Walmart to the rescue on this one! Better Homes and Gardens has a line of “vintage” styled shower curtains sold at stores and online. The embroidered curtain has vines with clusters of three roses in dark variagated pinks and also single roses, and it is the closest I’ve found to the shawl material. It cost me a little over $15 dollars after tax, and the roses aren’t embroidered as well as the original vintage fabric used, but what they lack in quality they make up for in time saved.

Shower Curtain Valance

Embroidering hundreds of little roses is not my idea of fun. I already have far too much embroidery ahead of me on this project as it is! The polyester fabric of the curtain is a white, I’m going to have to dye the fabric the golden color I need. I’m going to use a color fast product to protect the color of the roses as well, or attempt to anyways! The edge of the shawl is a green thread, and then it is PAINTED yellow. Crazy, I know, but I think I’m crazy enough to attempt this.

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Brooch: This is either going to need to be something where I find a real metalworker/jeweler who can make something similar for me, or I’m going to have to make it out of silver colored clay. I’d rather do the former but its going to be pricy. More research is needed on that.

***Update January 12, 2015: Success! I have found a jewelry maker that is re-creating this pin! I’m so excited. I will share photos once they send me something, but I’ve decided to make it with real gemstones. Pink Tourmaline, topaz, sapphires and emeralds will be the stones. I’m so excited! This will be a real showcase piece, I want to do the rest of this costume justice to really bring it all back to life. The Jeweler is Anubis Collections: https://www.facebook.com/AnubisCollections

dragonfly brooch

Above the original, below the wax piece before it has been cast:
dragonfly brooch

The reason there are some visual differences is to increase the longevity of the piece. It is being made with silver and the stones will be held in better so that I don’t lose them like the original costume has.

Corset: I’m having issues getting started on this because I haven’t been able to find the right fabric. I found a crushed silk Dupioni from NYfashioncenterfabrics.com, and I thought I had an almost perfect color, but then this happened:

Swatch problems

The swatch is the color I wanted, the silk fabric behind it is what they sent. I was told that silk and dyes make it so colors don’t always match, but this is a significant color difference. I’m wondering if they sent me a Rattan colored crushed silk swatch by mistake because the crinkled chiffon in 238 is almost the same color, and then the color 29 is the light yellow of the fabric they sent. Oh well. I messaged the company and they said I could send it back with the swatch and they’d try to find a better color match. We shall see!

*** January 12, 2015: The company did not have any more of the dye lot of the swatch they sent me. Let that be a warning, call customer service and make sure you are getting the same dye lot of the fabric swatches you have ordered!!!! I have credit with the company, I think I might just have to order it in the white and dye it myself.  A task of which I’m not really prepared for, but will undertake if necessary, especially since I have to dye other things as well.

Embroidery: *** Nov 18th update: These color choices are a labor of love. I agonized, holding first one color up to the high-definition photos, and then another. I used the book’s photo so that I wouldn’t have to worry about screen differences, as the colors all depend on the camera and lighting. The embroidery is machine done, but I don’t know if my machines could handle something like this. So here is the floss for a hand-embroidered corset:

Thread colors are the following in DMC floss:
Gold outlines: 5282 (I bought it in Pearl Cotton form because it was cheaper and in larger amounts than the regular floss skeins, with no visible difference.)
Flames: Lightest to darkest, 744, 743, 742, and 3853
Scalloped Sunbursts: 745 (I’ve seen some embroidery where they are two colors, but the high-definition photo in the book showed no visible difference or shading attempts inside these bits)
Leaves and Stems: 746, 734, and 731
Daisies: 744 for petals and 742 for centers
All of it is done with two strands of floss held together.

I have studied photos, and you can see that the straps are attached to the corset, not the shirt. The straps have snaps for the shirt and shawl to attach to, as well as a couple roses sewn on. This is great because the size of the roses helps determine the strap’s width!

I haven’t settled on a pattern for the corset either, but it is going to need to have a back opening that I can cinch up, and then cover with a hook and eye flap to disguise it, because I am not shaped like Natalie Portman. Either that or the corset will have to be a lot bigger, and won’t look right, because my waist won’t look slim enough. No bueno on that. I want to look as slim as I can for this. That also means steel boning. And dark yellow coutil for the inside for strength. (And if I make it adjustable I can wear it even if I lose weight!!!!!!)

Here is the embroidery image from Dressing the Galaxy and a shot of the back. You can see the way it closes in this picture from Padawansguide.com:

corset front detail4 back of corset

Ribbons: The ribbons are 5/8 of an inch wide silk ribbon. Not your normal ribbon that you can buy at the store! The ribbon colors are a gold, a light pink, dark pink, dark avocado green, and a light bluish green. There are five sets, two for each arm and one for the hair. I think I’ve found a company that I can get four of the colors from. Based in Seattle, Of the Earth (flowerseedpaper on Etsy) dyes ribbon of the size and type I need. Its cut on the bias, so there is a seam every two yards, but if I’m careful I think that will be fine. They do a good job hiding it. I can’t get the gold color, but if I get white then Dharma has a dye close to the color I want. I will list the colors I get once I order them.

Ribbons on arm
Blouse: I’ve found a crinkled chiffon from nyfashioncenterfabrics.com, in 238 Rattan, which I think will work for my outer layer. It is very sheer, but with an added layer of old gold polyester chiffon from Joann’s under it the blouse should be modest enough. The smooth polyester chiffon can also be used to finish the sleeves and make the straps. I will be embroidering the blouse fabric with viscose thread from Gutermann in 8910 (a dark olive green) for the “vines” and using the four petaled off-white sequins I acquired from Afaeryschild on the Jedi Council Forums. The fabric also has “flowers” on the vines, which I decided on the 1440 Gutermann Viscose thread. Each flower has a tiny seed bead. I’m using size 11 beads that are a clear shiny bluish-green color.

Skirt embroidery

Lower Body:

Skirt Top Layer: The skirt top layer is done in the same fabric and embroidery as the blouse. Its a circle skirt with a fitted waistband, with no gathering at the top. The skirt is not just one circle however. Most of the re-creators have found that you need an extra half of a circle to get the proper folds in the skirt hem. I plan on adding the extra half-circle like they did. All the edges will be done with my serger, to give it a perfect rolled hem.

Skirt Under Layer: The underlayer is a semi-sheer ivory color with splotches of pinks and yellow dye all over it. I haven’t gotten this far yet, except I ordered dye for polyester from Dharmatrading Company for it. I plan on using a polyester ivory chiffon layer because I’m spending A LOT of money on the silk for the corset and top layers of the blouse/skirt. This fabric is also on the underside of the blouse. The pink color shows through in several photos.

Shoes

Shoes: I haven’t decided how I’m going to go about finding these yet. I hate buying shoes online and these are not a favorite style of mine:

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And here, later, on Kelsey for the Rose Parade:

Padme Picnic Dress Shoes

An ivory color with a pointed toe and strap, but no heel, but a wedge. I’m fairly certain the shoes in the rose parade are different from the ones in the film, but the style is similar. Yay for no heel! (Easier to walk in at conventions!) This might be something I just end up finding randomly, or I may search through the shoe catalogues at work and see if I can find something similar. (Though costume shoes ALWAYS have heels it seems like…)

And that is the breakdown of what I’ve found so far, and what I need to find. Woo… this was a long post. Forgive me! If you stuck with it, congrats, I hope the links I included helped! I will update more once I’ve gotten more fabric in!

Amazing support for a small business, MadeYewLook is a makeup rock star!

I’m like a true pixie. I feel like I can only have one emotion at a time, and right now I’m brimming with happiness and excitement!

The talented artist, MadeYewLook, or  https://www.facebook.com/MadeULookbyLex has done not one, but TWO makeup videos while wearing costumes we sent to her and given my store Lakewood Costumes a shout-out! AHHHH! I was so amazed that she even asked for our help. She is a popular artist on YouTube, approaching 1 million subscribers, and for someone like her to want to support US is a huge compliment. She also uses a lot of products we sell, so it was a fabulous chance that I couldn’t pass up.

I’ve followed Lex for over a year now. Her videos first came to my attention through Mehron. The store had just had a representative from the company come and go over their makeup in August 2013, showing proper application, various uses, and explaining things/products that I hadn’t even been aware of before. I’m not a trained makeup artist or esthetician, so I learned more in one day from Gene than I had ever learned before. (THANK YOU MEHRON! YOU HAVE FOUND A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE!). We have been a retailer for them for a long time, but it was the first time we actually understood a lot of their products, and so we were better able to help customers find what they need.

This experience also helped me to understand makeup tutorials that I had been watching for a long time, and why products I had tried using in the past hadn’t worked. Now that I had an understanding on the differences between oil and water based makeups and the proper way to apply them, now that I knew about pigment levels and other information, I could see the problems that many artists on YouTube were not addressing, and that the popular looks were often being done with makeup that wasn’t going to last or look good for more than a few minutes. Some products artists love to use were never meant to be used that way, and could damage skin! I was amazed and determined to do better.

Lex had her Little Red/Wolf makeup from Halloween 2013 on Mehron’s home page, and I was hooked. Not only was this woman talented, she was using quality products. She was showing different techniques, she was making videos on skin-care, and she was doing it with a positive outlook. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a truly negative word out of her. I watched the other artist’s videos for the Ryan Seacrest Halloween Guru contest , and I had no problem using my vote for her. She deserved every vote she received. Not only that, but if I ever find it difficult to explain to a customer why a certain makeup will work for their costume better than something else, she has given me a visual way to show uncertain folks how a product can be applied, that they can watch again and again at home!

I highly recommend her videos for people who love makeup and body-painting. She is a gem and promotes good stuff. Check out the videos she made for the Monster High costumes we sent! You might end up watching videos for hours, beware!


Finished RSO/ISO Gal!

Short and to the point! Here she is, my RSO/ISO gal, all done!

Hair and makeup shot:

RSO Finished head shot

And finished full length shot:

 

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A side view so you can see the RSO patch on the right shoulder:

RSO Side

And so there you have it! Not too hard. I had fun doing this, especially because I got to do my hair and makeup with a friend.