"Bye Bye Birdie" Costume Ideas

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The musical "Bye Bye Birdie" was originally staged in 1960. Its plot, centering on rock star Conrad Birdie and his draft into the U.S. Army, was inspired by the real-life draft of Elvis Presley. In the show, Conrad is to perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and debut a new song, "One Last Kiss." For any production of "Bye Bye Birdie" you'll need costumes that are consistent with the 1950s fashion era.

Conrad Birdie

  • Conrad is an outrageous, over-the-top rock star and his costumes should reflect that. For the "Ed Sullivan Show" scene, he should wear an Elvis-inspired jumpsuit with flashy details like sequins or gold fabric. For more casual scenes, black jeans, a T-shirt and a simple blazer will work well. When Conrad dresses like a woman, go for a '50s housewife look with a floral-print dress, hat and a fur overcoat. Conrad's hair should always be bigger than that of any of the other men, perhaps with a high pompadour if the actor's hair is long enough. You will need a wig or scarf for Conrad when he dresses as a woman.

Male Characters

  • Conrad's manager, Albert, is always a professional, so he should wear suits throughout the musical. Two-piece suits or three-piece suits with a vest will make the character. Simple loafer-style shoes and a hat to match each suit complement the look. Young men like Hugo could wear a casual costume in the "greaser" fashion consisting of jeans and a T-shirt, while older men like Mr. McAfee might wear trousers, a white collared shirt and suspenders.

Female Characters

  • Conrad's young fans should wear poodle skirts or similar full skirts that flow to the knee or just below the knee, short-sleeved blouses, bobby socks and saddle shoes. Saddle shoes are flat leather lace-up shoes that are black or blue in the center with white panels at the toe and heel. Costume young women like Rosie in dresses with empire waists and full A-line skirts, or in a button-down blouse and cardigan sweater with a knee-length pencil skirt and low pump shoes. Middle-aged women like Mrs. McAfee might wear a floral print dress with a cinched waist. Add an apron over Mrs. McAfee's dress to highlight her role as a housewife. Accessories like hats, gloves and shrugs will work well with these costumes.

Hair

  • Most of the male characters should have slick, well-groomed hair. Hairstyles for women should help to define their age groups. Conrad's young female fans can wear their hair in high, bouncy ponytails tied with a ribbon to coordinate with their outfits. Rosie could wear her hair down with a flip at the end or pulled back into a neat ponytail. Older women like Mrs. McAfee should have well-polished hair with a lot of wave, pinned back away from the face. If your female characters wear hats, add some curl to the sides of their hair to accentuate the headgear.

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  • Photo Credit 1950s pink satin dress with hat image by DSL from Fotolia.com
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