How to Make a Can-Can Costume

by Aksana Nikolai ; Updated September 28, 2017

Inspired by fashion of the late 1800s, a can-can dancer's attention-grabbing outfit is playful yet classy. Whether you are preparing for Halloween or are planning to attend a costume party, wearing a can-can outfit will allow you to experience the thrill of assuming a different character while looking great. Decorating a bodice and skirt, as well pairing them with the right accessories, is all it takes to create a homemade can-can costume.

Measure a strip of ribbon that is long enough to wrap around your skirt. Cut a strip of ribbon twice as long as the length you measured. Hold the ribbon against the skirt, and scrunch together the top edge of the ribbon between your fingers to create a ruffle.

Secure the ruffle between your fingers to prevent it from unfolding. Sew the ruffled edge of the ribbon to the skirt by running the needle first through the skirt, then through the center of the ruffle and back through the skirt. Continue for the rest of the ribbon length.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to cover the skirt with layers of ruffled ribbon.

Use a glue gun to attach the feather vertically and off-center on the plastic headband.

Arrange and sew strips of lace onto the bodice. If desired, add a short ruffled sleeve.

Cut a strip of lace long enough to fit around the middle of your thigh. Sew the two ends together to create a garter.

Complete your costume with black knee-highs or stockings and Mary Janes or high-heeled boots.


  • Traditional can-can costumes consist mainly of red and black garments.

    Because dancing the can-can involves a lot of sashaying and leg lifting, a loose skirt that allows for easy movement is essential.

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About the Author

Aksana Nikolai is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in language studies and international affairs. Nikolai is currently working in online marketing and communications. She has been writing since 2008, specializing in made-for-Web content and maintaining her fashion and beauty blog.