Stage Inspiration: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Editor's note: This is the third post in our series on fashion inspired by musicals. In case you missed them, see Fashion Inspired by Wicked and Fashion Inspired by Les Miserables.

Fashion inspired by the Rocky Horror Picture Show

It's spooky season and that means one thing for fashion girls like us -- the perfect excuse to craft crazy costumes! The Rocky Horror Picture Show, though originally a musical, is now most popularly known as a cult film. Around Halloween, many theaters host midnight showings of the movie, complete with messy props, full-fledged costumes, and maximum audience participation.

Last year, Glee devoted an episode to this musical and introduced it to mainstream audiences. While some people are annoyed with Glee for "selling out" certain musicals, I take the opposite standpoint. I think it's AWESOME that there's an avenue to expose people to Broadway who wouldn't know about it otherwise. After all, the more people begin to love musicals, the cooler it makes us theater geeks look :)

So you've heard about these midnight RHPS showings, and worked up the courage to attend one in your town -- now what? Don't worry, we're here to help! Read on to learn everything you need to know before catching the Rocky Horror Picture Show Experience!

Science Fiction Double Feature

As I'm sure you've heard before, RHPS has an insane cult following. Superfans have seen the film dozens of times, know every lyric and every bit of dialogue, and craft costumes that look nearly identical to the ones worn on screen. There are a few things to know about the RHPS experience before you attend:

  • Know what you're getting into. This may be obvious, but the show is pretty racy. There's a lot of pan-sexuality involved, so this probably isn't the greatest event to bring your young siblings/grandma/super-conservative boyfriend to.
  • Initiation. Before the show, a host will usually call everyone who is attending a midnight showing for the first time to the front of the theater. Typically, they draw a "V" on your forehead with red lipstick and have you all repeat a racy oath of allegiance. Often, they have other silly or embarrassing games for Rocky Horror "virgins" to participate in, but don't be afraid to opt out if it's something you aren't comfortable with.
  • Costume contests. It is customary for audience members to dress up as characters from the film. At some point before the show, there will be a costume contest for each character and the winners get to act out scenes as they happen in the movie. Obviously, if it's your first time to see the show, watching from the audience will probably be your best bet.
  • Props. Be sure to check and find out if props will be provided at the venue you're seeing the film or musical at, or if props are even permitted. It's traditional to toss things like prunes, toilet paper, cards, toast, confetti, etc. at certain parts in the movie. Click here for a full list of things you might need.
  • Call outs. Catching a midnight showing of RHPS is also fun because of the callbacks shouted in response to lines the characters say. Click here for a full script of what people say, but don't worry too much about this part -- enough people in the audience will know the shout-out script by heart.
  • Time Warp. The one part of the film that virtually EVERYONE takes part in is the Time Warp dance. Not to worry, it's simple and silly, and they tell you exactly what dance move to bust out (kind of like the Cha-Cha Slide!). Click here for a step by step tutorial if you want to come super prepared.

Creatures of the Night

Here comes the fun part -- figuring out what to wear! Just to warn you, die-hard fans take this very seriously. They go to great lengths to make an absolutely PERFECT looking costume. If this is what you're craving, click here for some official RHPS costumes. But if you're like me and prefer creating costumes that you can reuse (or even wear in real life), check out the outfits below for some fun costumes that work great as separates as well!

Another warning: if you don't dress up for a midnight showing (which is totally fine!), but sure not to wear anything striped. For a brief second in the film, crew members in striped shirts were accidentally caught on film. It's now considered taboo to wear stripes to RHPS showings (unless they're part of your costume).

Janet: A Heroine

Janet from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Janet Weiss is an innocent girl who gets caught in a storm while traveling with her fiance, Brad. To capture her look, wear pastel colors and lots of lace -- you're pretty much good with anything girly that contrasts with the look of the rest of the characters. Finish the outfit with Janet's signature floppy sun hat.

Outfit inspired by Janet from the Rocky Horror Picture Show


Dress, Cardigan, Hat, Shoes, Socks, Barrette

Party People

Party People - Rocky Horror Picture Show

If you don't want to dress up as a specific character, dress up as a party-goer instead! This look is simple -- pair a black blazer and slacks with any silly party favors you might have laying around -- things like party hats, plastic shades, noisemakers, and anything glittery! Finish the look with white socks and black shoes, and get ready to pelvic thrust until you go insa-a-a-a-a-ne!

Outfit inspired by Party People from the Rocky Horror Picture Show


Jacket, Pants, Shirt, Bow Tie, Shades, Hat

Columbia: A Groupie

Columbia from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Columbia is a tap-dancing glitter enthusiast and Magenta's partner in crime. Snag her look by, well, wearing as much glitter as possible. Columbia's signatures are her top hat and mary-jane tap shoes, so be sure to include those in your outfit! Finish by adding brightly colored makeup and hiding your eyebrows with foundation if you want to be extreme.

Outfit inspired by Columbia from the Rocky Horror Picture Show


Corset, Jacket, Shorts, Bow Tie, Tights, Shoes, Hat Headband

Magenta: A Domestic

Magenta from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Maid and Riff Raff's sister Magenta gets to sing the opening song of RHPS, which is my favorite number! She wears a traditional french maid costume, but Magenta's true signature is her giant frizzy mass of hair. Get her look by pairing a simple black dress with an apron -- if you have a lacy one, that's great, but a girly one you can use around the house works, too! Finish with dark eye makeup and red lipstick.

Outfit inspired by Magenta from the Rocky Horror Picture Show


Apron, Dress, Bow, Shoes, Lipstick, Tights

Frank-N-Furter: A Scientist

Frank from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Frank is the mad scientist and the main character of RHPS. If corsets and garters aren't really your thing, go for a most toned-down gothic looking dress instead. Add some badass boots, his signature pearl necklace, and dramatic make up to complete the costume!

Outfit inspired by Frank from the Rocky Horror Picture Show


Leggings, Dress, Necklace, Lipstick, Gloves, Boots

Don't Dream It, Be It!

Have you been to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show before? What did you think? Did it surprise you? Would you consider dressing up and acting out one of the character's parts? Who is your favorite character? What's your favorite song? Tell us with a comment.

I hope you had as much fun reading this post as I did writing it. As always, let us know what musical YOU would love to see us write about next!