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DIY 1920s Costume from 1980s Dress

How to Refashion a Dress into a Top Without Sacrificing Bottom Details
DIY Little Free Library (from an Old Newspaper Box!)

You guys. We messed up.

With the 2020s looming ahead of us we got too excited and did something rash.

I blame this:

great gatsby
It wasn’t even that good.

We got way ahead of ourselves and started throwing Great Gatsby theme parties back in 2013, and all because of a mediocre movie that was pretty to look at. Why did we do that? Now we’re actually in the Roaring Twenties, but are already over 20’s fashion again. 🙁

Or are we?

refashionista 20s dresses
These days can come again, right?

When Historic Columbia announced they were throwing a Speakeasy-themed happy hour at the Seibels House (a lovely historic home here in Columbia, SC), I was all about it.

Unfortunately, the closest thing I had to a prohibition-era ensemble was this:

refashionista 80s before image
Hey…the ’80s and the ’20s were only 60 years apart, right?

Thank you, 1980s for bringing back the dropped waist look for a minute, as it suits my costuming needs quite nicely!

Of course, alterations were needed.

ReFashionista shoulder pads
My first shoulder pads of the new year!

Those sleeves had to go as well.

refashionista seam ripper
Benson helped.

Next, I closed up those raw armholes…

refashionista arm hole
First pin!
refashionista whirrr
…then stitch!

I took in the sides a bit…

refashionista taking in
Just a smidge on each side!

…and then narrowed the shoulders by turning the top shoulder seams under and tacking them.

refashionista shoulder
Just like this!

And that was it!


Remember those flowers I removed from my last refashion?

DIY 1920s Costume from 1980s Dress 1
C’mon…It was just last week. Try to keep up. 😉

Well, I put them in a baby dye bath with these:

refashionista rit dye
Whatever could I have in mind?
DIY 1920s Costume from 1980s Dress 2
The transformation begins!

And here’s how they turned out!

ReFashionista dyed flower
So pretty!

I hot glued the flowers together in twos and then glued them onto an elastic hairband.

refashionista hot glues a flower
I love my hot glue gun!

And here’s how it all turned out!

refashionista 20's after
If I knew how to Charleston, I’d be doing it right now!

Erin, Ken, and I enjoyed an evening of cocktails and a lecture on what it was like to live in Columbia during the prohibition era. Sadly, Mr. Refashionista was under the weather and could not attend. :'(

Hey guys!
refashionista 20s
This is my 20s face.

So, if you have any fun 1920s parties coming up, just head to your nearest thrift store and grab an 80s drop waist dress (or two!)!


refashionista before after 20s dress
How to Refashion a Dress into a Top Without Sacrificing Bottom Details
DIY Little Free Library (from an Old Newspaper Box!)

66 thoughts on “DIY 1920s Costume from 1980s Dress”

  1. Oh!! You nailed it for sure. The lace flowers took a dye well and the headband is a very nice touch. Looks just great. Excellent refashion!!

  2. That’s so smart! (I never would have remembered that the eighties also had a dropped waist craze. The 1980s and the 1920s do not connect, fashion-wise, in my mind.)

    [Sorry for double posting. Previous comment linked to wrong person. I’m sure she’s lovely, but she’s not me.]

  3. You always do a great refash and look great in it. You are a very clever and confident girl. Thank you for sharing. it is inspiring.

  4. So cute! I love 1920s fashion. We had a high school dance themed in that era and I loved it. It was a very long time ago but I still remember what I wore very well.

  5. We spent the day at the Biltmore House yesterday in Asheville. They’re hosting a Downton Abbey exhibit until April 7. We didn’t do the entire exhibit–it’s split up at two different places on the grounds–but we did do the small exhibit at The Biltmore Legacy in Antler Hill Village. It was made up of costumes and clothing from the show. You might love it!

    P.S. So glad that you’re back!

  6. This is super cute. And I am not sure how short it would be, but I can see how removing the pleated bottom would leave you with a super cute “today” dress or tunic top (if it’s too short as a dress)

  7. Congratulations on your marriage!!! Love little Benson. He is adorable…. Crying over his past life. Those people should be hung up by their short ones!!!!

  8. I truly have missed you!! You are such an inspiration and a pick-me-up on a snowy day here! Dress is smashing, and I love the headband!

  9. I am SO glad you are back! I love your refashions and although I am hopeless at them myself, they have inspired me to look at everything in a different light and find new uses for old things.

  10. I’ll add another “I’m glad you’re back!” I really am, I can feal the positive energy coming from you, what a fun way for me to start my day! Thank you and God bless!!

  11. Another winner! Your post is the first one I read in my email this morning. Your 20’s dress turned out great! So glad you’re back, missed you.

  12. So cute!!! I mean you, more than the clever dress! I’m so glad you are back and sharing your amazing transformations. Happy new life as a wife. Your hubby is cute too!!! I’m very happy for both of you!!!

  13. Looks great! I enjoy your post and have missed seeing your awesome refashions. I’m glad your back! Congratulations on becoming a Mrs! I hope your Mr feels better soon.

    • This post came at the perfect time! Next month I’m going to a 1920’s themed murder mystery dinner, and I have nothing to wear. Now I know I can search for something 80’s and refashion it like this one. That’s way cheaper and easier then sewing a costume from scratch 😀


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