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Sci-Fi Costume

Case Study: Jeanette Sudlow

Competition: Southern Pole Championships 2021 Online

Position : 1st Place Beginner Pole

The best performances are when everything comes together in synergy: the concept, music, dance and costume all work together.


Costume design is only one part of the mix...but it is heavily informed by the music and dance itself so always give your designer as much information as you can to get their creative juices flowing.

1:Conceptualise the Theme

Jeanette was very clear about her theme right from the start: retro sci-fi.

She sent me some reference images so I could visualise the tone of what she wanted to achieve. This was really helpful from a designers point of view because it created a specific visual concept to refer to.

From there I made myself a mood board to focus on the key ideas.

The costume had to be kitsch, playful and non invasive to the dance itself. This meant having open shoulders at the back and hip for floorwork.

2: design

fashion drawing sketch
Original sketchbook page

Jeanette knew she wanted her costume to be a 2-piece design. I sent her 4 design variations and she selected the one that she liked the most.

Having some kind or ornamental shoulder piece that echoed the outlandish fashions of 70's sci-fi was very important and some sort of quilted look was also predominant in the style of the era.

After initial designs were decided by Jeanette we looked at colour way and texture concepts.

I didn't want the base polewear to look like it had been shop bought so decided to put in some triangle shapes as mesh inserts to add some variation to the pole wear top and bottoms.

Fashion illustration graphic photoshop
Colourway exploration

Silver was very important in the costume reference so we had our colour.

I sent over 2 colour concepts, one a bright silver and one more platinum. Jeanette liked the lighter one the most.

The centrepiece of the costume were the metallic shoulder and hip harness so the 2-piece polewear garments needed to be understated...but still have complementary design and have some detailing so not to make the costume dull and boring.

3. construction

Going through the nitty gritty of costume construction can be utterly boring unless you are a maker, so I will spare you the details. Have a look at these nice photos instead.

The hip and shoulder piece was done completely by trial and error, built directly on the dress form. I must have been completely zoned in on doing that because I didn't document the process at all, sadly.


sci fi pole dancer
Image by Simon Hooley, The Image Cella


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