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Costume Tailcoats

Updated on November 12, 2014
Party Girl profile image

Hi, I am Adele, and I have run a large fancy dress shop in Essex, England, since 1998. I'm happy to pass on my knowledge to help others.

Fancy Dress Tailcoats

Are you looking for a fancy dress tailcoat? The ones featured on this hub are fully washable, 100% polyester and come in a variety of colours including red, black, white and blue. I hope that this hub shows you just how flexible a tailcoat can be and maybe in the future, it may be a costume you chose to purchase.

A tailcoat can be used for the following:

  • Ringmaster
  • Dance Shows
  • Cabaret
  • Rocky Horror Show
  • Victorian
  • Halloween
  • Master/Mistress of Ceremonies


We are all familiar with the ringmaster at a circus, the Master of Ceremonies who introduces the acts. His 'uniform' is based on the outfit worn for an equestrian Dressage.. Aside from the tailcoat, add a white shirt, bow tie, black trousers, top hat and a whip.

Ladies, why not be a sexy ringmistress? Wear fishnets and long black boots, a leotard (or black shorts with a basque). Finish the look off with a bull whip and you will have all the men wanting to be 'tamed' by you! For a 'couple' costume, you can use this outfit for a lion-tamer with your other half as the lion (or vice versa).

A tip on wearing fishnets if you are a little intimidated by having your legs out. Put on a pair of 'American Tan' tights before you put on your fishnets. The base tights will give your legs a nice tan as well as helping to give them a nice shape.

Black Tailcoat
Black Tailcoat

Dance Shows

Tailcoats are ideal for dance groups. The tailcoat should be light enough to be comfortable but heavy enough to hang properly. It is also quite important that they can be washed and dried quite quickly, in time for the next show. Dance groups are normally made up from men and women who are all shapes & sizes, so a good range of sizes is something that you should look for.

The ladies tailcoat, shown right is available to buy in red, white and black. The deluxe version is shown in its own section towards the end of this hub.

Halloween Tailcoat Ideas

Another use for a tailcoat is at Halloween. Follow the following advice and, for males, you will have great Grave Groom costume. (Ladies need not worry - we've ideas for you too)

What you will need to do is distress a black tailcoat. The easiest way of doing this is to cover the tailcoat with a dusting of talcum powder so that it looks like dust.

Do the same with a top hat and black trousers. If the trousers are old, the effect will look better if you can rip some holes in them, but please only do this if they are not going to be used again! The top hat will look better if it has been bashed about a bit as well.

Get an old white shirt, and sprinkle with a bit of fake blood. This will stain the shirt, so again, only use an old one.

Other character ideas include The Phantom of the Opera, The Phantom of the Rock Opera and the Phantom of the Paradise (from the film of the same name) - all variations on the same idea!

Finally, get some spider web wool and spread this thinly all over to give a cobweb effect.

You can then add whatever you need to create the dead groom effect, maybe a dead looking flower in the lapel, tatty cravat and a grey 'madman' wig.

Another popular Halloween idea is Baron Samedi, a long-established character within voodoo, but made more widely popular through his appearance in the Bond film 'Live and Let Die'. Essentially this is a skeleton in a tail-suit, but despite the name, this is by no means a costume just for the gents - Lady Gaga channelled a similar look in her video for 'Born this Way'.

By the same token, increasingly more people are 'extending' the Halloween festival to include the Dia de los Muertos 'Day of the Dead' celebrations seen in Mexico and other Latin American countries on 1st & 2nd November. Decorative Sugar Skulls (and people made up as such) form a feature of these celebtations, and a tail-coat (or waistcoat) can work as a good costume to complement the look.

The Time Warp - Rocky Horror Show

Rocky Horror Show

Seeing is believing!!! If you've never seen the Rocky Horror Show you just have to believe me that it is completely insane but great fun. Use your tailcoat as become 'Riff Raff' one of the main characters, wigs are available to purchase. To be honest there is a bit of an 'anything goes' policy but a popular look for both men and women would be a tailcoat over a basque, shorts and fishnets. To get you in the mood view the 'Time Warp' video - bet you can't stay still!

Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Liza Minelli - Cabaret

Liza Minelli in Cabaret and Burlesque Beyond

Although not shown in this video, Liza Minelli is often portrayed as wearing a tailcoat over a basque (or leotard), fishnet tights and stilettos. Just add a bowler hat, dance cane, heavy eye make up, huge, black eyelashes and a short black, bobbed wig for a great decadent movie look.

Cabaret was set in the 1930s, and around the same time Marlene Dietrich was creating a stir with her cross-dressing roles in movies - often using tail-coats to good effect. More recently, with the rise in the popularity of the Burlesque costume styles, outfits based around the tail-coat (albeit in glitter or cut-down form) are now available.

Add a top hat to get a Victorian look
Add a top hat to get a Victorian look


Male fashions do not change as quickly as those for females and the early Victorian era saw the frock-coat 'tail', cut away from waist, gradually 'shrink' into the tailcoat to become the main part of an 'upper class' male Victorian outfit. The requirement to dress up as a Victorian seems to be increasing. Victorian markets grow in popularity every year normally just before Christmas. If you are a teacher at Primary school, you will be aware that Victorians are covered as part of the curriculum. If you are involved in these type of activities it would probably be cheaper to purchase your own tailcoat rather than hire every year.

How to become a Victorian Gentleman:

  • Tailcoat - as discussed
  • Stovepipe top hat- a taller version than our modern design
  • Wing collared shirt
  • Cravat
  • Standard pair of trousers
  • Moustache and/or Mutton Chop whiskers (Optional)
  • Spectacles (Optional). The half-moon style can work well

Ladies Deluxe Tailcoat
Ladies Deluxe Tailcoat

Deluxe Tailcoats

Ladies deluxe, lined tailcoats are now available to purchase. Available in 3 colours:

  • Black with pink
  • Red with white
  • Pink with black
These are superior quality to make you look fabulous!

Hopefully, this hub has shown you how flexible a tailcoat can be. Most people do not mind purchasing a fancy dress costume if they believe that they can use an item a few times to basically 'get their money's worth'.

Using a tailcoat as a base, this hub should have shown you that it can be used in many different ways. The tailcoats that we stock are all fully washable and can even be tumble dried on a low heat.

We'd love to know what you think...

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    • Party Girl profile imageAUTHOR

      Party Girl 

      8 years ago

      Just contact us by phone on 01245 327156 if you want to purchase any of the tailcoats shown on this page, or visit

    • profile image

      elaine hayes 

      8 years ago

      where can i purchase the deluxe tailcoats? asap!!! xx

    • Party Girl profile imageAUTHOR

      Party Girl 

      11 years ago

      Hi Jo, if you are in the UK give us a call on 01245 327156. We are open 7 days a week. We will send abroad but the carriage costs may make it too expensive for you.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Does anyone know where I can buy a deluxe tailcoat? Attending a circus-themed ball... thanks!

    • profile image

      Deborah Marsden 

      11 years ago

      Boy, if I had legs like these girls I'd wear them all the time!

      Great costumes and videos. I know where everyone should go if they need tails!

      Deborah Marsden

    • Linda Ruth profile image

      Linda Ruth 

      11 years ago from Peterborough, NH

      Hi--tailcoats connect us with a more formal and elegant age, but are playful and sexy too. A good looking guy looks great in one, and for a costume you can hardly miss. I think of the days when there were morning coats and evening coats and you would NEVER confuse them.

      Great hub!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great content. Shows how many great uses there are for tailcoats both for men and women.

    • profile image

      Carol Bentley 

      11 years ago

      Great hub,

      I'd never realised how versatile tailcoats are, for both sexes too! Some great ideas on how to use them in different outfits - would certainly make it worthwhile investing if you have the chance to use it frequently as suggested.

    • escapethematrix profile image


      11 years ago from Lindon, UT

      A blast from the past! Great hub, my high school age son and daughter are both on the ballroom team, they'll enjoy this too.

    • John Austwick profile image

      John Austwick 

      11 years ago from Bolton

      Great subject with elegance and style a real eye catcher.

    • Elsa is Elsa profile image

      Elsa is Elsa 

      11 years ago from Anywhere - Canada most of all

      One of my pleasures is ballet jazz - and your tailcoats bring up memories of movies with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and Gene Kelly. Great hob - and good memories. Elsa

    • JosefS profile image


      11 years ago from Lisa Wellington from Canada

      I really enjoyed reading this lens about tailcoats.

    • Addison profile image


      11 years ago

      I know where to go when I need a tailcoat next.

    • profile image

      John Charles 

      11 years ago

      I saw a few stage shows where Tailcoats were worn and I thought they were wonderful. I think they can be nicely worn at Weddings and special events. A Formal Rental store will be the best bet for such garment. Best of luck with it.


    • Treadmills101 profile image


      11 years ago from Utah

      What a fun page. Rocky Horror is one of my favorite movies yet, I forgot about the tailcoat. Although I don't know of any need for a costume - however, you never know.

    • Be Dog Savvy profile image

      Be Dog Savvy 

      11 years ago

      Great hub. My sister used to be a dancer and liked wearing tail coats to dane in the best.

    • Kyle Bruening profile image

      Kyle Bruening 

      11 years ago from Florida

      For costume tailcoat advice this is a good place to go.

      Kyle Bruening (the Captain)


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