Turn Back Time (aka the incredibly true story of 12 years worth of one amazing Cher costume)

Way back in 2004, I decided to be Cher for Halloween. But not just any Cher.

My Halloween costume was based on the infamous outfit that Cher wore in her If I Could Turn Back Time music video from the late 1980s.

Twelve years later and I’m still wearing (and performing!) in that costume. I’ve worn the costume on multiple occasions, including doing a few performances as my faux drag queen alter ego, Glamdromeda:

photo credit: David S. White

The reason I made this costume started out as a joke between friends.

My friend Connor was a DJ at the club we went to regularly. Sometimes my best friend and I would tease him and ask him to play ridiculous songs for us, ones we KNEW he would never play.

Then one night, a few weeks from Halloween, I asked him if I dressed up as Cher, if he would play If I Could Turn Back Time.

Now, this was a gothy / electroclash / dark wave sort of club night. There was no way he would normally play an 80s pop tune by Cher. But he told me if I wore that costume on Halloween, he would play it for me, that one time.

The glove had been thrown down, and the challenge was on.

I made the costume, figuring it all out on my own by looking at the music video and concert stills.

Then Halloween came, and I wore the costume. It was a big hit.

Not only did Connor play my song, but as I danced and lip-synced on the dance-floor, a whole group of girls joined in too, like adoring fans.

It was a great Halloween!

It will take a little help from your friends if you want to make it the way I did. Here’s the recipe:

What you need:

– Cher wig (similar to this one)
– lots of makeup
black leather motorcycle jacket
black hooker boots
– crazy fishnet leotard
fake rose tattoos for your butt! (or an awesome friend to paint them on)

Optional props:

fake microphone
– adoring sailors
– a battleship!! (or maybe you could have one of your sailors carry around the boardgame Battleship??)

Stuff I forgot:

belly dancer style gold belt
gold chain necklace costume jewelry

When I made this costume originally, I forgot the gold jewelry and belt. But I think the rest of it was fairly accurate!

The first few times I wore this, I borrowed the black leather motorcycle jacket from my boyfriend, and luckily had a pair of over-the-knee suede black hooker boots that I had inherited from a friend who was cleaning out her closet.

I bought the wig, fake rose tattoos and toy microphone for my first Halloween out as Cher.

The tricky part is making the leotard. First, I bought a black fishnet body stocking for the base. Then I bought some stretchy black velvet fabric to sew on top to cover the, ahem, most important areas.

You’re basically creating a big V shape in the front with the fabric, and then I made the fabric go straight up the back. (You know, to cover my butt crack. The motorcycle jacket will cover the upper part though.)

Here’s where it gets tricky… because the fishnet bodysuit is super stretchy, and gets all tiny and mis-shapen when you’re not wearing it, I had to hand-sew the velvet V shape on while I was wearing the bodysuit. This makes for some interesting contortions, and you have to try really hard not to poke yourself with the needle!

Also — you must have friends who love you very very much. Because both my best friend Ashley and my boyfriend David were enlisted to help me sew the finishing pieces of the V of velvet fabric to the fishnet…

I also did the hand sewing / velvet fabric trick to make the gartered part of the stocking. I carefully cut the legs of the stocking while I was wearing them, and then created “garters” using the velvet to put them back together. You might be able to find a body stocking that already has the garter effect, but this is what I did!

(What if you haven’t done any hand-sewing before? Don’t worry it’s easy — check out this video for a quick tutorial on how to sew a whip-stitch by hand.)

For the most recent wearings, I added a nude bodysuit underneath the fishnet bodysuit, and I enlisted my friend Elizabeth to paint two fake rose tattoos directly onto the nude bodysuit, so I wouldn’t have to deal with putting on fake tattoos each time.

I hope this helps some of you put together a truly FABULOUS Cher costume for Halloween, Mardi Gras or any other time of year.

(We all need a little extra Cher, right?)

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The original version of this was published on my site, MissMalaprop.com.