How to Make an Edna Turnblad Costume

Written by jennifer claerr
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The Broadway musical "Hairspray" has been made into two very popular movies. Whether you would like to emulate Harvey Fierstein's flamboyance, Divine's boldness, or John Travolta's demure shyness, you're sure to make a hit with this costume. While the role of Edna Turnblad is typically played by a man, this costume is acceptable for either a man or a woman. You don't have to be fat to carry it off, either. There are plenty of ways to increase your girth so that you better resemble the character.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Find a plus size women's dress in size 20 or larger. To create your Edna Turnblad after Travolta, get a dress with pink sequins. To make Fierstein's Edna, buy a dress with large pink and blue paisley swirls and add a matching feather trim. To fashion your Edna after Divine, get a large teal skirt and pair it with a sleeveless top with a multicoloured '60s floral print.

  2. 2

    Stuff a DD or larger size bra with socks or pantyhose, if necessary. Also, if you're more slender than the Edna Turnblad character, wrap some towels around your hips and waist to increase your size.

  3. 3

    Purchase a shoulder-length brown wig from a costume store. Set the hair in sponge curlers and allow it to rest for several days. Remove the curlers, then rat the wig by pulling the hair upward and gently combing the strands down. Shape the wig into a '60s bouffant style either by turning the ends upward or shaping the curls to frame the head.

  4. 4

    Pluck any stray hairs from beneath your eyebrows, or if you feel adventurous, shave them off. Apply some foundation to your face. Make sure that you also apply the foundation to your eyelids, but don't get it in your eyes. Seal the make-up with loose powder. Brush on blush in a bright colour such as red or magenta. Apply a bright powder eyeshadow to the eyelid with a brush. Then brush some more shadow in the crease of your eyelid, gradually shading upward. The colour should become less intense as it moves nearer your eyebrows. Apply eyeliner and mascara very carefully. Use a very light touch to darken the eyebrows with the eyeliner pencil.

  5. 5

    Put on queen sized pantyhose, high heeled shoes, clip-on earrings, a necklace and any other accessories you would like to add to your Edna Turnblad costume after you don the dress. Put a cap made of pantyhose over your head before applying the wig. Apply a thin layer of hairspray to the wig to hold its shape. Put on accessories, such as a bow for the hair and gloves, last.

Tips and warnings

  • Water balloons and well-sealed hot water bottles can also help you to make you look fat. Just take care that they don't burst.
  • If you're not heavy, make sure your dress has sleeves.
  • Check the thrift stores and resale shops to find costume clothing and accessories.
  • Place tissue paper around your neckline to protect the dress from being stained with foundation.
  • Wash the make-up off your hands before continuing with the costume assembly.
  • Never use hot rollers or a curling iron to style a synthetic wig.

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