The Cony Island Mermaid Parade. It was pretty much invented for me. Ok, it had nothing to do with me but it combines all the things I like into one thing: making stuff, wearing ridiculous costumes, performing, being covered in sparkles & of course, mermaids. Yes, I am a child, an no, I don’t care and also shut up.
The parade happens every year in Cony Island, Brooklyn. It’s a crazy bohemian art parade in celebration of ‘Fuck it. Let’s have a parade.’ (AKA a celebration of art and culture and rituals of the seaside, according to the website.) Everyone wears insanely elaborate mermaid/nautical themed costumes they make themselves, pasties and body paint abounds and we all just have a grand old time marching around Cony Island.
I liked the parade so much I wrote a separate piece about it for UnSceneComedy.com detailing the experience itself. For fashion blog purposes, I’m just going over how I put together my costume.
Now, right off the bat, I’d like to point out that I am not a costume designer, and many of the people at the parade actually are, so while I think I did a great job for my first try, what I did was not even close to the coolness you’ll actually see there. I didn’t want to do anything too crazy because I didn’t really know what to expect, so I just went as a traditional mermaid if that mermaid was perhaps, going to Coachella.
For the top, I bought a nude strapless bra from Primark. This particular bra had the added bonus of having a clear plastic back strap, which is damn near impossible to find but works great if you don’t want anyone to see you just bought a cheap bra and covered it up with a bunch of shit you bought at the floral department at Micheal’s, which is exactly what I did.
Since I figured everyone would be wearing shells, I decided to go for a bunch of stuff that looked like coral and seaweed. I had to cut everything down to fit the bra and hot glued/sewed everything on to it. I might have gotten away with just using hot glue, but I wanted to reinforce everything so that it would get through a full day of marching.
On the sides of the bra, I sewed on some big iridescent sequins overlapping each other to resemble fish scales. After that I added some strings of peals of a couple of different sizes and added whatever that metal star embellishment thing is to the middle. I have no idea what it’s actually used for. I bought for 50¢ in a vintage store and its not really a pendant or bead or tie tack. It took a billion years but I finally found a use for it.
I made the flower crown out of an old headband and some more floral stuff. I started out with hot glue, but ended using tacky glue for the part with the flowers on it because the gold stuff was in danger of melting. I was able to pop the backs of the flowers into the gold coral stuff pretty easily.
Now, for the love of God, someone invite me to a music festival because I desperately want to wear this again.
I can sew (kind of) but sewing anything spandex is a giant pain in the ass, so I opted to buy my mermaid skirt. There are a bunch of different places that sell them on Etsy and they come in a rainbow of colors. I got my skirt in particular from Coquetry Clothing. Everything they do is made to order, has custom sizing, is made well and came quickly. I’d highly recommend them for any of your mermaid tail needs.
The fun face gems I’m wearing are a combination of gems I got at Primark and crystals I got at a craft store. Some of these had adhesive on them, but if that isn’t the case, the best way to get this stuff to stick is by using eyelash glue. I’m also wearing teal clip in hair extensions. They are okay but not amazing. They don’t look super realistic but they worked for my purposes. I probably should have worn two sets.
I think next time I’d go for a regular wig, but these extensions got the job done and they we’re only around $5. You can buy these them on Amazon but be prepared to wait about a month for them. They came factory direct from China.
I also threw a few random fishtail and regular braids in my hair, wove a few sea shells into them and put in an extra string of pearls.
I used roughly 5 different colors for my eyeshadow and just kind of went with it. It still didn’t turn out as bright as I wanted it to. I just used stuff I had lying around but in the future it would be best to use either highly pigmented eyeshadow, like something from Melt Cosmetics or straight up costume makeup.
I had a great time putting together the costume and even more fun at the parade. Also, somehow, miraculously I did not get sunburned. My foundation has sunscreen in it, I wore regular sunscreen over everywhere else and I carried around a parasol, as one does. It’s a lot of time in the sun so be prepared. In fact, to close things out here are…
A Few Tips
- Go big or go home! The costume you’re wearing has to be seen from afar so the crazier, brighter and bolder the better. I think I spent too much time on small details and not enough on overall pop, which is really what sets people apart.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously, marching or no, you’ll be doing a lot of walking and no one’s looking at your feet anyway. They are looking at your tits.
- Prepare to be photographed. Seriously, the place is absolutely MOBBED with photographers of all skill levels and all degrees of creepiness. If you’re uncomfortable with it, don’t go.
- You have to be cool with a lot of (mostly) naked people. Think body paint and pasties. You know, equal opportunity, artsy nudity but nothing too extreme. If you’re uncomfortable with it, this probably isn’t the place for you.
- Wear sunscreen. I know its annoying but so is looking like a lobster the day AFTER the parade.
- Get there early. The parade starts at 1pm but people get there much earlier, especially if they are marching and haven’t preregistered.