Last weekend I attend a preview of The Avengers and two days before the event I got an email saying that costume was encouraged. I love cosplay, so seeing the film dressed as a character from the film was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. The only problem was that by the time I read the email I had just over 24 hours to pull together an outfit.The first question was: which character to go as? The second question was: what do I already have in my wardrobe that will work? My thoughts initially turned to this awesome She Hulk pajama set from Spencer’s, below, but despite the pajama look being really in right now (apparently), I didn’t really feel that turning up dressed for a slumber party was appropriate. Plus She Hulk does not appear in The Avengers so I had to go back to the drawing board.Unsuprisingly, The Avengers is, pretty male dominated (by pretty males) so my choices came down to the Black Widow, Pepper Potts or Maria Hill. (Having said that, one girl came to the preview as Peggy Carter from Captain America, which was a great idea.) Neither Pepper nor Maria really have a distinctive enough outfit (nor are either of them leading ladies) so that pretty much left the Black Widow. Luckily, her costume wasn’t one of the more complex concoctions from the Marvel universe.
How to Put Together a Black Widow Costume in 24 Hours
First off I pulled off some reference photos. The one above is an early concept for the outfit from Iron Man 2: Scarlett Johannsen’s hair is much longer than in The Avengers (see the photograph below), although it’s the same colour. The outfit stayed almost the same bar minor changes to the belt and seams on the suit.I also looked at some other images of the Black Widow. I particularly liked the one below, which is a Bishoujo Statue Concept Art from Kotobukiya. By the way, if you’re going to Google search ‘Black Widow’ make sure you add the word ‘Marvel’ unless you’re an insect fan.With the reference photographs I was able to work out what I would need and what I already had: effectively the costume consisted of a leotard with some military looking accessories although the wrist cuffs would be the hardest item to source as they were really unusual. My first port of call was, despite what you might have thought, not a costume shop. Instead I browsed high street stores online (to save time: if they had what I wanted I would call the local store and ask them if it was in stock since there wasn’t even enough time to order it at that point).
When putting together a costume high street stores are often overlooked but they offer the most variety at really decent prices. Whilst it is possible to buy a full Black Widow costume, there wasn’t enough time to get one shipped and my local costume shop didn’t have it in store. Besides, costume leotards and bodysuits rarely fit well and they take the fun out of the challenge.Above is the full costume with all the pieces I used, modelled by my Lego storage head.
First off I had to get a leotard. I am emphatically not a girl who generally goes out in public in a leotard (and trust me, a lot of soul-searching and Spanx-fitting was done before I wore this one out). But the leotard was the item that would pull this outfit together: it just wouldn’t have worked as well with a seperate top and bottom. I knew it was unlikely I’d find one in the same heavy duty fabric that ScarJo seems to be wearing in the reference photos so I had to suck it up (and in) and go for jersey. Jersey doesn’t really hold you in very well (hence the Spanx) but with some hardware I knew it would give off the right vibe. I first tried looking for one in American Apparel but for a store whose bread and butter is dance clothing they never seem to have many leotards, particularly ones with long sleeves (I’ve tried them before when I attempted to make a Kitty Pryde outfit). The leotard was eventually sourced from Asos.com and without their incredible next day delivery service (with an email detailing the very hour at which the item would arrive) I wouldn’t have pulled this off, so thank you Asos!In terms of the hair, I picked up this 1920s starlet wig from my local costume store, Escapade. It was the only one in vaguely the right colour (I preferred the Black Widow with long hair so the length didn’t bother me, even though it wasn’t accurate in terms of the film). I’m not a huge wig fan (you have to pay a lot of money to get a realistic looking one) so on the morning of the preview I actually first tried spraying my hair red with some temporary hair spray but it went horribly, horribly wrong and resulted in a bathroom that resembled something out of Psycho and an emergency hose down. After emerging from the bathroom looking like a bedraggled baby sloth I had just enough time to blow dry my hair and stick the wig on it. Phew: saved by the weave!The cuffs. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent looking for the wrist cuffs, first online and then on Oxford Street. I tried every high street store: Topshop, H&M, Forever 21 (where I couldn’t find anything even after scrolling through 42 pages of bracelets). Eventually, someone suggested to me that what I needed was a ‘bullet’ bracelet. There wasn’t enough time to order one or go hunting for one in Camden Market (the place most likely to have them) so I went for some fake bullets from Escapade instead. Voila! The bullets clip onto each other so it was really easy to clip a few of them around my wrist. If I’d had more time I would have sprayed them black, although in the comics the Black Widow is often drawn with gold/bronze cuffs and a gold/bronze belt.I also spent ages looking for a belt. I eventually found a pale gold one with D-rings for £1 from Primark but decided it looked too bling with the outfit. I therefore used this military-looking belt instead, which was pulled off a men’s rucksack. The gloves originally belonged to my mother: I have no idea where she got them from but they did a good job in covering my nails, which where coated in red hair dye (see above).
Ok, so here’s what happened when I put it all on…
Don’t forget to check out my Avengers review if you’re planning on seeing the movie – it’s spoiler free!
By the way, Marvel is running a competition to win tickets to the European premiere of The Avengers on Thursday in London. This is what it said in the email they sent out: