Ruffle Tuxedo Shirts: A quick fix

One of the things I enjoy the most about doing costumes for my high school shows is working with the kids.  They never cease to amaze me, and they are SO.MUCH.FUN.

This year for “Grease”  I decided to dress Vince Fontaine in a zebra jacket (the original costume plot calls for a pink zebra jacket . . .I found some white zebra taffeta on clearance for $1.99/yard, so he got white 🙂 ).

I hadn’t really decided on a shirt, but when we were costume hunting at a local Community Theater, we found some ruffled tuxedo shirts.  My co-volunteer and I  wishy-washed back and forth on whether a ruffle shirt would be “OK”.  Sometimes, my way is the only way and you wear what I tell you to . . but . . for many things, I want the kid to feel good about what they are wearing, so I will work with personal tastes and opinions.

I had the cast member come in for a fitting . . and I hesitantly showed him the shirt . . . expecting some eye rolling, or skeptical looks, and to my surprise, he LOVED it!  He was so excited to go try it on.  I sometimes forget that boys like to wear fun stuff too.


Borrowed finery 🙂 His jacket was the collaboration of two volunteers, constructed of new material, structure provided by a thrifted blazer. The tie and cummberbund were upcycled from an old sparkly dance costume.

That shirt, and one other ruffle one we had borrowed, needed to be returned.  I did however, determine that making a few to have in stock would not be a bad thing.

Ruffled tuxedo shirts start at about $20+ on ebay (with shipping), and go up to $80+.  That is more than my budget can tolerate.

I have started picking up white shirts when I see them on 1/2 price or at my favorite $0.50/most items thrift store.  I am also keeping my eyes open for potential embellishment.

Some shirts have the ruffles extend all the way from the top to the bottom, and some have the ruffles stop part way down.  The two I did stop part way down, as that is all the length that I had.


White fabric ruffle with red edging. Source: box of donated trim.


White pleated trim. Source: curtain


The original curtain. I have a feeling the ruffles on the 3 sides opposite the pleated rod pocket may show up on a future shirt!

I started with two shirts.  One of them is fairly old, with a tab and snap at the neck.  The other was slightly off white, but that should’t matter under a jacket.


I divided the trim equally–the pleats in thirds, the red edged in fourths.  The pleats extend over the button placket.  I just sewed it at the top and bottom so you could still reach the buttons. (You could add black beads or buttons, or even dabs of fabric paint or felt for studs if you wanted to).  I pinned the trim on, and stitched it down.  I felt that having short ruffles on these shirts was particularly OK since they are small shirt:  14.5 neck, so the guys wearing them will likely be short.

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And there you have it, two ruffled “tuxedo” shirts.

ruffled "tuxedo" shirts

Time:  about 10″ each.

Cost:  $1.60 for each shirt, $0.50 for the curtain, red-edged trim was donated.

A note to the small shirts:  if you are starting to thrift for costumes for a high school production, in particular be watching for small mens’ clothing, especially in tall if you happen to be so lucky as to see it.  Freshmen boys have often barely started their growth spurt, and it can be hard to find garments that fit, especially things like suit jackets, and once they start to grow, they often shoot up, so you need tall slim costumes.

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