Costume College Derby Girl

The Costume College weekend was everything I dreamed of and more!  I met lots of new people, spent time with old friends, and saw so many beautiful costumes. I'm going to take you through the weekend costume by costume over several posts, but if you want to see all my pictures right now, of me and lots of other people, check out my album on Flickr!

This is a bit out of order for a recap, but it's my blog, and I do what I want! So I'm going to start with my Retro Derby Girl Costume! It only seems appropriate.

I based my costume on images of early roller derby from the 1940s and 1950s. All derby at the time was played on a banked track, had very different (and flexible) rules from modern derby, and was very theatrical. It wasn't quite as fake as it became in the 70s and 80s, but it wasn't necessarily "real" in the way the sport is played today. We don't do fist fights or hair pulling, for example. It was still fast-paced and hard hitting like modern derby, however. And probably way more dangerous because they hardly wore any safety gear.

From my research, the standard early roller derby uniform was some kind of striped shirt - either crew neck or rugby style -  high waist satin shorts, leggings with built in knee and hip padding, and white skates with white socks. And, don't forget, a full face of make-up and styled hair! I do actually still wear make up when I play derby now, but I don't do drawn on lips and Elizabeth Taylor-inspired hair like I did for this outfit.

Note the differences between Retro Derby and modern derby under the Women's Flat Track Derby Association: 

Why are only some of them wearing helmets?!

Helmets for all! And wrist guards! And knee pads! And elbow pads!
Photo by Keith Stanley of Quick Draw Sports Photography.

I purchased the rugby shirt and satin shorts from eBay and made some minor fit alterations. I bought the leggings and added the padded "leather" sections with vinyl and cotton batting from my stash.  I had to unstitch the seam of the leggings to get the padding sections on and, wow, was that whole process a pain. I do not recommend sewing vinyl to small pieces of stretch fabric.

I couldn't find a record of any particular team colors from this period (to be honest, I didn't look very hard), so I just went with a color scheme that I liked and was easy to purchase. 

Derby Girls: Never afraid to take up space.
Putting the numbers also turned out to be a huge pain because I didn't get it professionally done like a smart person. I ended up appliqueing them on, which was probably more period but also annoying. It looked good in the end though! Since I could not skate in the hotel, I carried vintage skates from eBay with me (and used them as a purse).

36 inches in a yard, get it??
I wore this running around the event on Friday during the day. It was really fun for me to wear, but I'm not sure that people really "got" it. But I was pretty pleased anyway. I think this will get a repeat at Halloween!

Much, much more from Costume College to come!


  1. I think the idea was quite brilliant, and using the skates as a purse even more so! It turned out fantastic!

    1. Thank you! It makes me laugh that you had to point out to me that I could just carry the skates since I was lamenting that I couldn't wear them!

  2. I think the idea was quite brilliant, and using the skates as a purse even more so! It turned out fantastic!

  3. OMG, I totally didn't get 36" = yard, but now it's SO FUNNY!!! (& the outfit was adorable at CoCo :-)

    1. Hahaha, I'm glad you like my silly fabric joke! And thank you! It was fun to wear.


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