When I first competed, five years ago now, I spent a lot of time thinking about potential costumes.
Having spent most of my life in plays and working in the theatre, I’m used to (and love) dressing up and getting into character. I must say I also love any occasion to dress-up… much like halloween where I think what would be scary – ohh, I know, a sexy cat! Let’s face it, we’ve all done it.
Anyway, when deciding what to wear for this competition, I decided to go for the classic black shorts and black crop top – very gym appropriate. I reasoned that this competition focused very specifically in the rules on the ‘sport’ and ‘fitness’ aspect of pole, so why would I need to dress up?
Oh, how wrong I was…
Needless to say, my feedback was to get a costume!
The next year I had bought pole shorts and a yoga top with straps across the back. I was still told to get a better costume.
In fact I was told by someone associated with the event but not judging, that she loved my routine but wished I had a better costume.
All of my feedback said the same, and it turns out I had lost a lot of marks from not having a costume to help tell my story and portray the theme.
You know when someone tells you that it’s okay to go out and buy yourself something nice – you deserve it?
Well that’s how I felt. (Okay, so no one has told me this before, but I tell myself a lot!)
It was game on!
I was so excited and looking forward to finding a costume but I had no idea where to start. I made the old mistake of googling ‘pole costume’ or ‘pole wear’ which just won’t help you find anything appropriate for a competition. Some do look fun though!
I then saw one my pole idols Charlotte Robertson (before I even knew her) on stage in the most amazing pink butterfly inspired dress, designed and made by who I now know to be the super-talented Fi Bourke Design.
I have got to get me some of this!
I did the old Facebook stalking thing and spent so much time going through all of Fi’s work that I could find. It was all amazing and not only made to measure, but made for you – the design that you wanted!!
It took me a lot to convince myself that this was the right thing to do and spend money on, but given my feedback I thought it was worth a try.
My First Piece
I knew that I wanted my next competition piece to be inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and so approached Fi with what I thought was this crazy idea that would never happen. I knew that I wanted a suit, waistcoat and tie outfit – very business like, very Phantom.
Very shortly she got back to me with a sketch that was literally perfect! After a few quick emails, my outfit was being made. Woo hoo!
I was so happy when my outfit arrived, it was perfect and fitted so well. I’m so ridiculous that I treat it like the most special thing on Earth – it doesn’t see direct sunlight and no one is allowed to touch it. (I know, I’m ridiculous!)
I then decided that I wanted a skirt to match and it arrived in perfect time for my competition. This time I placed. Woo hoo!
I had so many people compliment me on my outfit. That was really when I realised how important ‘looking the part’ in competitions really is – and this isn’t a vain thing. It’s a professional thing.
For the first time backstage I felt like I belonged there.
So, I now have a considerable number of pole costumes by Fi!
It takes me a long time to finally decide on a theme for a performance and end up working on moves first, and theme last that I usually end up a with a random selections of outfits.
I saw the most beautiful dress worn in a dance TV show. I immediately sent the picture across to Fi and she made it for me. I had no idea what I wanted to use it for, but I knew I wanted it – of course the end game is always to use it in a competition, but I also know it’ll get used for a photoshoot or showcase.
A photo posted by Holly Munson (@polefreaks) on
I then did a photoshoot with the Image Cella and we decided to try some simple colour shots – blacks, whites and greys. Well, I tend to avoid white clothes as I’m clumsy but happen to stumble across a white outfit with a skirt in a sale album. I almost want to keep this album my own secret treasure trove, but I guess I’m feeling nice today!
I have to say that on the day of the shoot, the white outfit was the last one I wore and I literally did one climb and a bit of a swing and got the most amazing picture out of it.
Get A Costume
I know this probably reads like a sales piece (go team Fi!) but my message is to show you how accessible it actually is to have a costume hand made for you… rather than something that ‘will do’!
I thought bespoke costumes were only for the super rich and fancy, but some of the costumes I have bought cost little over what you’d pay for a normal set. Of course you might not get the same amount of wear from it but given that it would be for a show or photoshoot, it’s definitely worth it.
Something I’m very pleased to have done is bought a couple of skirts which match different outfits to give me more options from existing sets.
I know some people sell their costumes on after use, so you may get a good deal there too.
I don’t think I’ll be able to part with mine (I keep everything) but I’m more than happy to help someone get rid of theirs 😉
Back in the day it really surprised me how much emphasis was placed on costume in competitions. Now however, it seems so normal – of course you’d have a nice outfit with your hair and make-up done.
And hey, I love any excuse to dress up 😉
Do you have any pole costumes? Share your pictures with us – we’d love to see them 😀
All images by the Image Cella