Cabaret is a blanket term for an entertainment venue with a stage for performances and tables for clientele, where the audience can eat, drink and socialize while watching various dancing and comedy acts. The details of cabaret shows vary by country and time period, but all cabaret relies heavily on colorful, provocative costumes, especially for women.
The tuxedo is a staple for male cabaret performers, such as comedians and singers, but women have also used it to make a bold statement about fashion and social mores. Marlene Dietrich shocked audiences by wearing a tux during the cabaret scene in the 1930 film "Morocco," and since then, the female tux has become commonplace onstage. Choose a classic male design or spice things up by replacing the trousers with a form-fitting skirt or shorts. High heels complete the look for women.
Berlin cabaret in the 1920s and 1930s paved the way for revealing costumes. The trend for female performers to wear lingerie spread across the continent of Europe, and corsets, garters and stockings became inextricably connected with the genre. Fishnet stockings, high heels, canes and top hats are common accessories. If modesty is an issue, consider finishing the look with a silk kimono-style robe, a look popularized by the character of Sally Bowles in the musical and film "Cabaret."
The dance line is an important part of cabaret. Dancing girls are generally dressed in identical costumes, which include short -- knee-length or higher -- skirts with petticoats. Tops are form-fitting with low necklines. Accessories may include long gloves, a hat or headdress and a fan. Hats and fans are often made with plumes of feathers. Jewels and sequins add visual interest to the dress. Shoes should have a high heel, but still be suitable for dancing.
A saloon girl costume adds an American West twist to the traditional cabaret dancing girl. A staple of old Western movies, the saloon girl sports a full skirt with crinolines, a lacy, low-cut top and an elaborate coiffure. Footwear consists of the style of lace-up ankle boots colloquially known as "granny boots," worn with stockings. A lace fan and hair comb with a plume of feathers complete the look.
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