Intro: 1950 Diner Waitress Costume
I got this idea from a costume I saw online by a woman who marched in 2011 in the West Village parade in New York. I wanted to make it a 1950s diner waitress because I like the look of the 1950s. The box that serves as the diner counter is 24x24x18, and I bought it at a store that sells moving boxes. I went to home-builder store and bought a can of red spray paint, a roll of marble-patterned adhesive shelf paper, and metallic tape. I also got a free piece of cardboard from a big box they were breaking down to serve as the background of the costume.
At home, I used a box-cutter to cut away the parts of the box I didn’t need, and I used duct tape to secure and reinforce the part of the box that is the counter.
I spray-painted the outside of the box red. When it was dry, I measured and cut the shelf-paper that would serve as the Formica counter. It has adhesive, so I removed the backing and carefully pressed it down.
Here comes the good part: I wanted to make the sweet little edge of chrome that Formica counters and tables usually have. It turns out that corrugated cardboard has that crimped layer on the inside. I peeled away the Kraft paper on one side of a piece of cardboard, cut it to a size that looked right for the counter lip, and then used metallic tape to cover it and stick it to the box.
I stopped by a restaurant in my town, Athens, Ga, called The Mayflower, which has been owned by the same family since 1948, and took a photo of the area behind their counter. I sized the photo to 24” wide (the size of the box) and I added a part from another photo that said, “Diner Open 24 Hours” in neon because I thought this would help people understand the costume at a glance. I had an oversize print made of this photo (it cost only $10 at a copy store). I spray painted red on one side the big piece of cardboard that serves as the support for the background of the costume and when it was dry, I used ModPodge glue to paste down the photo on the cardboard side. I used duct tape to secure the backdrop of the costume to the box that is the counter.
I cut two slits in the back of the box and ran a belt through it so I could wear the box and have my hands free.
The rest of the costume is gathering stuff for the counter and thinking about what to wear. Whatever you put on the counter, use clear Velcro or duct tape to hold it down. Also, consider the weight of these object and go for as light as you can. I bought a cheap plate for a dollar that is really light. I used my own salt and pepper shakers. The other items I got from a thrift store. I got the uniform, which was vintage but unworn on eBay for $25. I know that the cost of this starts to add up, but by this time the costume had a life of its own!