When it comes to our Halloween costumes, some of us are perfectionists, ordering exact replicas of our favorite TV show character’s outfits online. Others are running out day-of to pick something up or putting together a look based on what they’ve already got in their closets. But no matter how much planning you put into your ensemble, accidents happen. Luckily, Dancing With the Stars costumer Maria Giagiozis is sharing her expert advice on how to fix any outfit emergency. The seamstress chatted exclusively with Life & Style to share her best tips and tricks.
Her number one secret? Topstick. Though Topstick advertises itself as “Men’s Grooming Tape” and Maria admits it was originally made for toupées, she assures Life & Style that “it works really well.” When it comes to making sure your outfit stays in place, the double-sided adhesive is ideal for everyone. “It’s a very reliable, go-to brand,” she shared, calling it an “industry secret.” Made for garments and skin-to-skin contact, you can use it like any other brand of fashion tape. And you don’t need to use it on every edge of your costume — just the places that you’re worried about, like around your chest or under your butt.
“We use a lot of it on the girls because they’re moving so much,” Maria revealed, explaining that both the pros and the stars have their outfits taped in place so that there are no, uh, accidents on air. “It’s live television and it’s ABC,” she joked. Gotta keep it family-friendly. But even if your costume is decidedly less family-friendly, the tape can keep your look from crossing the line from risqué to risky. It should stand up to sweat, too — and it does for the professional dancers during their majorly athletic routines. But if you do manage to sweat it off during the heat of the party, Maria says it’s no problem. Just duck into a bathroom, pat yourself dry, and reapply.
One of the seamstress’ other favorite tools is an as-seen-on-TV product called the Micro-Stitch, which you can get on Amazon. If your costume doesn’t fit quite right and you don’t know how to sew (or simply don’t want to permanently alter it), the Micro-Stitch can help you doctor it up in just a few minutes. You know when you buy a new shirt and it has the little plastic tag attached to the actual price tag? The Micro-Stitch uses plastic tags like that — only they’re way smaller — instead of fabric stitches. The best part? You can cut them all out at the end of the night. So if you’re borrowing a dress from a friend and you keep tripping over the skirt, you can quickly hem it to make it a few inches shorter. You can also cinch a shirt at the waist to make it more fitted or a surplice top at the front if you want to show less cleavage.
And if part of your outfit is uncomfortable, like a scratchy skirt, a sequin top that rubs your skin raw, or shoes you haven’t broken in, use some moleskin. You can buy adhesive tape or patches to add to the inside of your costumes where you need it. And don’t sweat it too much if a little peeks out. If you’ve got a red dress and you need to fold the moleskin over the bottom of the armholes so that the sequins don’t bug you, you can always just color the nude material in with a red marker. “It’s better than bloody pits,” Maria joked. And when it comes to shoes that are too tight, save yourself from bloody blisters by picking up a shoe-stretcher to break them in on your behalf (the costumer recommends using a wooden one like this, but if you only want to spend a few bucks, there are plastic ones, too). “It only takes a couple of hours, maybe a day,” she said. For shoes that are too large, “toe halters” — a.k.a. those gel inserts go into your shoe at the ball of your foot — can be a lifesaver.
The real key, though, is to steam everything. You know that trick where you hang up your outfit while you hop in a super hot shower? Maria admits even she can’t always make that work. What you can do instead, though, is buy a handheld steamer on Amazon like this one for less than $30. “It’ll elevate your look,” the expert promised, revealing that it can make fast fashion pieces from shops like Forever 21 and H&M seem more expensive than they actually were. It’ll also just make it look like you put in the time and effort. Need extra “pro tips” from a real pro? “You can put a thin sock over the steamer holes,” she said. “It prevents water spewing out. [Also], only use distilled water.” Yep, it really does make a difference.
What happens when things go wrong after you’ve already headed out for a night of spooky, silly fun, though? If you’ve got room in your bag for a small emergency kit, Topstick should be your go-to item. Maria advises that when things rip — like a strap on your top — you can tape it back together. If that’s not your vibe, you can even just tape the top back in place and forget about the strap entirely. Item No. 2? A small pair of scissors. You always want to be able to get rid of any loose threads, and sometimes when you’ve got a rip or a dragging hem, it’s better to just cut it off completely.
When it comes to stains, the DWTS costumer finds that a dry sponge can be your best friend. If your body makeup — or worse, someone else’s body makeup — accidentally rubs off on your top, she recommends trying to rub it out with a dry sponge before bringing any liquids into the occasion. If that doesn’t work? “Try Shout Wipes first, or even Wet Wipes.” When it comes to deodorant marks, she’s got another secret. Skip the stick entirely and instead use deodorant wipes like the dancing pros do. You can keep them in your purse in case you feel like you need to reapply, and you’ll never worry about getting white lines on your outfit. “And that way, you also get to wipe away whatever sweat is already there,” Maria shared.
One last tip? “Accessorize,” the seamstress advised. When it comes to last-minute looks or hastily handmade outfits, “it covers a lot of mistakes.”