How to Make a Flashdance Costume for an 80s Party

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Flashdance​ was a hit in 1983, but its fashion legacy endures – largely thanks to Halloween and '80s party themes. Even to people who haven't seen the movie, Flashdance costumes are just as recognizably '80s as Top Gun, Ferris Bueller, Dirty Dancing, Heathers, Madonna or any other iconic Halloween costumes from the decade.


Dressing up as Alex Owens, the young exotic-dancer-turned-ballerina played by Jennifer Beals, makes an easy last-minute costume. This character gives you a few easy Halloween costume ideas to choose from. A word of caution: If you're headed to a Halloween party or '80s costume party on a snowy night, a Ghostbusters jumpsuit might be comfier. Despite living in chilly Pittsburgh, everyone's favorite 18-year-old welder/dancer is known for some skimpy costumes.


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Here's how to make a flashdance costume for an 80s party.

The Iconic Costume: The Oversized Sweatshirt

When you think "Flashdance Halloween costumes," one look probably springs to mind: a gray sweatshirt with a collarless, off-the-shoulder neckline. It's what Alex wears in a memorable scene in which she spends some alone time with love interest Nick.


Prepackaged Flashdance costumes are often designed as a gray sweatshirt dress with leggings plus a headband and other '80s accessories, but in the scene, Alex is wearing a light gray sweatshirt with a dark above-the-knee leather skirt and red high heels.

DIY the look, starting with an oversized sweatshirt – the bigger, the better. Iron the neckline. Use chalk or a washable marker to draw a line about an inch below the collar so you can create an even neckline, and then cut along the line with scissors. You can also make a more jagged, freestyle collar for the sweatshirt if you prefer that look. Pair it with a stretchy skirt in a dark color and red shoes.


The Big Finale Costume: '80s Ballet

It's a dance movie – so obviously, ​Flashdance​ ends with a high-stakes dance scene in which our heroine shows off her talent and unique personal style to silence her critics and win the guy. In the movie, the big final dance is an audition for a prestigious ballet conservatory. Alex's costume is super simple in this scene. All you need is a sleeveless black leotard, black leg warmers and black dance shoes.


Keep Irene Cara's "What a Feeling" playing on a loop from your phone throughout the party; it's the music Alex dances to during her triumphant audition. Throw on an oversized retro leather jacket to go to and from the party.

The Less Conventional Look: Steel Mill Chic

Flashdance​ opens with a montage set in a dark, misty steel mill. We see a worker in a dark jumpsuit and welding helmet with "Alex" written across the forehead in light script, only for the welder to pull off the helmet and shake out her curls. Surprise! Beautiful young women can be welders too. If you happen to have access to an old-fashioned welding helmet (today's models look too sleek to be accurate), this costume is easy. Paint the name on the helmet and wear it with a gray jumpsuit or gray pants and a long-sleeved gray shirt.


Finishing the Look: Hair, Makeup and Accessories

Jennifer Beals' shoulder-length brown curls are as enviable today as they were when ​Flashdance​ premiered. The rest of a Flashdance costume is simple enough that you need the hair to sell the look, so you might need to add a wig to your costume if your hair doesn't come close to brown curls. Her character styles her hair in several ways throughout the movie. Wear it down, in a half-up/half-down style or piled on top of your head with a sweatband tied around your hairline.


For makeup, aim for dewy skin with lots of black eyeliner, bright pink blush and bright lipstick – aka an '80s girl who just came off the dance floor. Add bangle bracelets and earrings in neon colors to sell your costume as an '80s fashion look.



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