Why rhinestone encrusted costumes aren’t always a good idea

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Don’t encrust costumes in rhinestones

In the summer of 2017, Dita Von Teese came to Denver on tour. I had never seen her perform and was dying to go, but was short on funds. My love got me tickets for my birthday to see her. It was quite the treat.

One thing that everyone notices is her abundant use of rhinestones throughout her acts. Costumes, props and shoes are encrusted with the coveted crystal gems. Her secret to dazzling the audience may be to add more rhinestones, but it’s not always the most effective use of your costume budget.

It’s a bit much, in my opinion.

(Yes, I admit that I won’t ever encrust a costume piece with stones ever again.)

Why I don’t encrust my costumes in rhinestones

If you look closely at all my costumes, none of them are encrusted. There is breathing room and purpose to the design. None of the costumes I wore at Jubilee! were completely encrusted either. The reason for that was CONTRAST.

Using a combination of sequins, rhinestones and mirrors was the secret to the sparkle on the costumes in Jubilee, and the purpose of how I design and embellish my costumes now.

Go for top of the line

No matter what the debate is, I value the most expensive rhinestone because of the unmatched quality and clarity of Swarovski.

No matter how hard they try, the companies that try to mimic or knock off Swarovski always fall short. (That is mostly due to the fact that their crystal is of poor quality and the quality control of the cuts is substandard. Details they don’t want to pay for.)

It is my own personal value of the stone and why I choose to spend more for my costumes. I make my own face wash because I refuse to pay more than 5¢ a wash for my face, but you may feel differently and splurge on that particular product. It’s all about what you value in your life.

I choose to spend on Swarovski.

Swarovski Resellers

My favorite dealer is Dreamtime Creations. I have a wholesale account through their site and am able to buy in bulk to save money.

Tip: Make sure you are buying from a reputable Swarovski reseller! Some may have been in the past, or still are, but are actually selling you the knockoffs! (Ex. eBay) Beware!

Buy in bulk

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In my post about saving money on costumes, I wrote about several ways you can save money. One of them is buying rhinestones in bulk. The benefit to this is to save money per stone and to create costumes that you can interchange and create more acts with. Plus, just having some extra stones lying around can help fill in from rhinestone fall. (Yes, I just made that up. But they do fall off, and you want to maintain those costumes to keep your appearance at its best!)

The difference between $14 a gross and $5 a gross is pretty much the only reason NOT to buy per gross. It also depends on your dealer, the color of stone etc. but it’s like buying the $10 box of popcorn at Costco. I would rather spend $10 on 44 bags of popcorn that $3.99 for 6 bags at the grocery store. But maybe that’s just frugal ol’ me. (Hah! Yes, I just said that I am frugal in a post about spending the most on a rhinestone as possible. Again, it’s where I value putting my money.)


Like I said in this post about 5 little known ways to cut costs on burlesque acts, a great way to save money on costumes is to make them all similar colors that can work together eventually. My favorite Swarovski stone colors are:

  • Jet Hematite (special finish, no foil that really catches the light)
  • Moonlight Crystal (better than plain crystal due to the finish and adds a bit of blue to the overall look)
  • Crystal Aurora Boreal (CAB, pink tinge that REALLY sparkles)
  • Crystal Golden Shadow (CGS, my go to gold that has a special coating)
  • Scarlet (My favorite red, has a bluer appearance than reds from past releases)
  • Fuchsia Shimmer (the shimmer really adds another dimension and pulls many colors in the cool family, mostly blue)
  • Volcano (just a gorgeous purple that also pulls reds, oranges and yellows, sometimes green, depending on what it is placed on)

How to Rhinestone

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This could be a whole post in itself, and will eventually be, but some tips while you stone:

  • Make sure to rhinestone your whole costume. Nothing is worse than seeing a performer have the most dazzling décolletage and then she turns around and her ass is completely bare (meaning unrhinestoned, flesh wins every time). Spread them out if you can’t afford all of them in the beginning, then you can fill in evenly over time.
  • Follow the pattern of your fabric. Use the seams or boning channels as inspiration; add to the lace bits. What you are trying to do is enhance the design of a fabric, not cover it up.
  • Use a variety of sizes. I personally use 12ss, 16ss, 20ss, and 30ss for all costumes. For my showgirl body chains, I use 34ss or 40ss, depending on what I can get in a particular color. The reason for using a variety of sizes is to create texture as well as sparkle. The little ones tends to do more work than the larger ones and cause more catching and refracting of light to help the larger ones sparkle more.
  • Add texture with sequins and mirrors. Don’t encrust your fabric, the stones will all fall off no matter what glue you use. Use rhinestones with sequins and mirrors to create a variety of textures and light reflectors.

Rhinestones add sparkle and the appearance of magic to your costumes. When used correctly, they can add to your act. Don’t go crazy spending money on stones until you understand the rules—then break them. These are just my rules that I stone by, and probably vary from costumer to costumer. All of this information I share with the intent to help you be better at what you do onstage. A well stoned costume adds so much to the value of your act, and the magic that you use to capture that audience’s attention. I hope this helps!

If you have any comments or questions, please comment below!


Amplify You | A podcast series created to inspire you to take up more space and shine in a world that has conditioned you to be small.

Amplify You Podcast

A podcast series created to inspire you to take up more space and shine in a world that has conditioned you to be small.

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