Picture of Black and White Silent Film Costume + Makeup Tutorial

Re-Create the Era of Black-and-White Film, And You're The Star!

In Four Steps, and One Additional Bonus Step.
A Paramound Picture

....Okay, that was cheesy. Here is a tutorial for a classic costume for your next costume party! It takes a little bit of time to set up and apply- but the materials, accessories and wardrobe are affordable and easy to source. It's a really original and recognizable costume that hasn't been done to death.

It doesn't require any sewing or particular skills. The main component of this costume is the makeup work, which is quite simple when you use my shnazzy trick! (Step 2)

Good luck!

Step 1: Source Your Wardrobe and Accessories

Picture of Source Your Wardrobe and Accessories
Finding the wardrobe for this costume is quite simple. Also, because you aren't purchasing a flimsy, pre-packaged 'halloween'-labelled product - you can save a boatload of money by sourcing your pieces from a thrift or second-hand store.

Before you head out, a few tips,

+ First, pick what time period your going for. Black and white films spanned quite a few fashion eras. We opted for a silent film era, but the fashion of the black and white talkies is also a good choice.

+ Stay within your era. If you aren't too familiar with the dress of the time, research! Don't add elements to your costume that don't fit your era. If going as a couple or group, try to all stay within the same era.

+ Remember, you're not trying to look like you're wearing solid black and white. You want to look like you have been grey-scaled. Try to add some grey elements to your accessories and wardrobe. Having a straight black-and-white outfit looks too contrived, and takes away from the costume.

+Watch your greys. When adding new grey elements to your costume, have any you've already selected on-hand to compare together. Some greys have blue, or even brownish undertones. It's best to try to stay within the same grey-tone, or the costume will not come off correctly.

+ Cover your skin. The more you have covered, the less of you have to paint! Unfortunately the flapper-era for women bared a lot of shoulders, but you can get around revealing all of that arm real-estate by purchasing a long pair of gloves. The gloves also help when you go to the washroom, you don't have to worry about washing all of the paint off of your hands. For ladies, a dress is a must. Source a pair of opaque grey tights or leggings. Either match the grey tone of your skin paint if you're looking for a 'nude' leg, or pick a darker shade of grey to look like you have dark but translucent pantyhose on.

+Little details. If your fingernails will be exposed, apply a creme black or grey polish. Wear black socks. Be sure the soles of your shoes are black.
hedgesvt1 year ago

I get what you're trying to do, and I hate to be the odd one out here, but it does look slightly racist. It just looks a little too much like blackface

ddippary hedgesvt8 months ago

This is completely NON racist and so far from black-face, the differences are glaring.

Really creative!
It would be interesting to show pictures actually converted to B/W in photoshop and then side by side the same picture in color.
ecurtain1 year ago
This looks really great. The dialog cards are perfect.
yellowcatt1 year ago
Excellent instructable.
The dialogue cards are an inspired idea.
I was thinking about the best way to print them. To keep the traditional white text on black would be expensive on ink if printing at home. I think the best way would be to make JPEG files and have them printed as photographs at a photo store (or order online) I think 5"x7" prints would be OK for size and the unit price for machine prints is not too much.
TheGreatS1 year ago
Marvelous! You pulled this off very nicely.
That's an awesome idea! I like the addition of bringing dialogue cards with you :)