How to Easily Make a DIY Ringleader Costume for Halloween

by Janel
12 Materials
4 Hours

There’s just a couple of weeks to get your Halloween costume ready! If you love the circus, you’ll love this female ringleader costume. This DIY ringleader costume is a bit more intricate and expensive than maybe some other costumes.

You can still get everything from the dollar, thrift, and fabric stores as I did to create this ringleader costume jacket. It’s absolutely perfect to wear with black or white pants and maybe a tophat if you like. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • Red trench coat (from the thrift store)
  • Several yards of gold trim: flat and rope style
  • Gold fringe
  • Black felt
  • Chalk or marking pen
  • Gold spray paint
  • Buttons
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun with glue
  • 6000 glue or other strong glue
  • Wooden dowel - 12 inches
  • Black fabric ribbon
Marking the red jacket with chalk

1. Mark the jacket

I’m using the red trenchcoat I bought at the thrift store. Circus ringleader jackets have 2 points in the front and the back dips into a tail. I’m freehand drawing the outline on the trenchcoat, making sure to keep it as symmetrical as possible.

Cutting the shape the of the jacket

2. Cut the jacket

Cut the jacket along the chalk line. I cut one side and used that as a reference for the other side. I’ll finish the raw edges later on.

Marking the back of the ringleader jacket

In the back, I make the tail and keep the original slit from the trenchcoat.

Cutting black felt for the jacket collar

3. Cover the collar

I cover the entire collar with black felt. Trace the felt over the existing collar. Cut out all the pieces. Hot glue into place. 

Hot gluing the black felt onto the jacket

You only need to cover the portion that will be seen when you wear it. You don’t need to cover all the sides of the collar.

Adding gold trim onto the ringleader costume

4. Glam it up with trim

Hot glue the flat gold trim on the outside of the black felt of the entire collar. I kept it in one long strand because this type of fabric frays easily when cut.

Finishing the edges with gold trim

I used the gold rope trim I found at the dollar store to line the entire bottom of the jacket. This is on the portion I cut off and helps finish the edge beautifully. Hot glue into place - it really helps finish the entire jacket!

Spray painting the buttons gold

5. Add big buttons

Spray paint the bigger buttons with the gold spray paint in a well-ventilated area and on a piece of heavy paper to protect your surface. 

How to make a circus ringleader costume

Cut some gold trim to serve as the button connectors in a sort of horizontal figure 8 to put on the front of the jacket.

Making a DIY ringleader costume for Halloween

Hot glue the gold trim closure to one of the buttons on the side. They won’t actually work as closures. It’s just for looks!

Gluing the buttons and connectors

Glue the buttons using 6000 glue or another very strong glue. This is because I am attaching it to a metal button and I want to make sure it adheres tightly!

Hot gluing gold trim onto the shoulder pads

6. Add the shoulders

Make shoulder pads with the black felt. Cut them into an oval shape and hot glue the gold fringe to the underside. The gold fringe is the most expensive part of the circus ringleader costume so I tried to stretch it as much as I could. 

I suggest trying the jacket on first and see where the best placement for the shoulder pad is based on your body type.

How to make a circus ringleader costume

Hot glue the shoulder pad into place.

Making the whip for the ringleader costume

7. Make the whip

Take black fabric ribbon. Add a little glue to the top of a dowel and wrap the ribbon around tightly.

Easy circus ringleader costume DIY

Make a rectangle from black felt. Fold in half with the fold at the top. Glue the open sides to the top of the dowel.

DIY ringleader costume

Women’s circus ringleader costume

Fun ringleader Halloween costume

DIY ringleader costume tutorial

You’re done! You’ve made a DIY ringleader costume perfect for Halloween or any sort of costume party! You can bring the fun and excitement of the circus to any event wearing this fun and easy jacket.

Please let me know in the comments what you think and if you’re planning to make this ringleader jacket!

Suggested materials:
  • Red trench coat (from the thrift store)
  • Several yards of gold trim: flat and rope style
  • Gold fringe
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