Rosie the Riveter, the woman on those "We Can Do It!" posters from the WWII era, is just as recognizable today as she was then. With a few key pieces, you can create a costume of this iconic character that will make you say, "I can do it!" If you'd rather buy a costume ready made, you have that option too.
Do-It-Yourself Rosie the Riveter
This costume is incredibly easy to make, and you don't need the exact clothing items from the poster to bring this character to life. It works for adults as well as children; simply chose items in the size you need.
- A red bandana - The bandana shown in the poster is red with white polka dots, but if you don't have one, any red bandana will do.
- A blue work shirt - Choose one in denim or dark blue cotton.
- Work pants - These can be denim or dark blue cotton.
- Romper or jumpsuit alternative - Use one of these pieces to substitute for the shirt and pants.
- Work shoes and socks - The poster only features Rosie's top half, so you can use whichever kind of shoes you want. However, the women that Rosie represents were factory workers so work shoes would be an ideal choice.
- A Rosie badge - This will probably be the most difficult piece to find, so feel free to substitute another suitable badge or just leave it out altogether.
Putting the Costume Together
Once you have all your pieces, you're ready to transform into Rosie.
- If you chose the shirt and work pants, put them on and tuck the shirt in the pants. Roll up the shirt sleeves above your elbows and roll up the pant legs just above your ankles. If you chose a jumpsuit, put it on and roll the legs just above the ankles. If you chose a romper, you can roll the legs up to mid-thigh if they're long enough to do it. Otherwise, don't bother rolling them at all.
- Put on the socks and shoes.
- Add the optional badge.
- Put on the bandana after you do your hair and makeup.
Recreating Rosie's Hairdo
Rosie's hair is mostly hidden under her bandana, so you'll only need to do a couple things to make your hair look like hers.
- Create one large pin curl in front and just off center and secure it with bobby pins and a little hairspray.
- If your hair is long, pull up everything except the pin curl into a ponytail and use bobby pins to secure it in a bun in back. If your hair is short, you can leave it down and just put the bandana on over it.
- Put on the bandana, taking care to cover up the bun in back, and then tie it in a square knot and let the ends drop naturally.
Recreating Rosie's Makeup
Rosie's makeup look is a bit stylish for a factory worker, but you're basically going for a vintage 1940's look that features gorgeous red lips.
- Apply your favorite foundation.
- Line your eyes and apply a touch of shadow in a natural tone that's a little deeper than your own skin tone.
- Apply black mascara to your lashes.
- Lightly apply rouge to your cheeks.
- Apply red lipstick to your lips and don't forget to blot.
Where to Find Rosie Costumes
If you're not sure you're the do-it-yourself type, there are a number of places to purchase costumes. Some offer complete costumes while others offer key pieces to complete Rosie's look.
Party City offers a Rosie the Riveter costume that's available in adult sizes small through extra large. It comes with the bandana, a belt, and a navy romper with a patch that says Rosie, and it's priced around $45.
If you think you'd prefer a costume with a more daring take on this character, Party City also offers a Riveter Darling costume that comes with a bandana, belt, and bodysuit-style romper. This style is available in sizes small through extra large and sells for about $50.
Amazon offers the same costume as Party City, but it's priced closer to $60, and the greatest availability is in sizes extra small through medium. Amazon also offers a Rosie wig and headscarf set the retails for about $25.
You'll find quite a collection of Rosie costume components on Etsy, including collar pins ranging from $9 to $15 each as well as bandanas that are mostly in the $10 range. This is one of the very few places that offers costume components for infants and toddlers with prices that range from $25 to $45.
Become the Icon
Whether you make your own Rosie costume or purchase one, you're taking on an iconic character that epitomized the contributions made by so many women who supported the war effort by going to work in factories. Don't forget to portray Rosie's spunky, can-do spirit when you wear this costume, and you'll surely be a hit at any event you attend.