5 Quick Tips To Help You Find Mermazing, Well Made Costumes!

As you’ve probably noticed over the past few months, mermaid conventions are one of the many places merfolk get to express their creativity--and one of the ways we do so is through truly fin-tastic costumes! But if you don’t sew, coming up with the materials to make your costume can be intimidating; especially if you don’t know that the costume is good quality, or if it was made by taking advantage of people or our environment. So here are 5 quick tips to help you discern the trash from the treasure while shopping for your next mer-costume!

Xandria Wilcox

6/6/20242 min read

1. Stitch Length

Many fast fashion brands rely on using sweatshop labor, forcing their workers to prioritize quantity over quality. The worker’s rush to meet quota also produces poor-quality garments--but also allows you to figure out if what you’re looking at is a well- or, ethically-made garment.

Look at the hem of the garment. Is there stitching, or is it just surged? Surging will look like X’s along the hem, and is common to see on the hems of many T-Shirts or fabrics that are prone to fraying, so it is not necessarily a sign that the garment is poorly made. But if you see no stitches at all, or if the stitches are long, that may be a sign that the garment was rushed. Small stitches take longer, even on a sewing machine, so companies that care about their clothing lasting a long time will have smaller stitches.

While everyone knows that plastic isn’t good for the environment, a lot of people don’t know that we wear plastic on our bodies every day. Polyester, nylon, and other synthetic fabrics are made using plastic, and leave behind microplastics that end up in our environment and pollute our water. It’s very hard to completely avoid synthetic fiber, and cotton has its own environmental impact to worry about, but looking for natural fiber cloth like wool when you can is a great way to help reduce your impact on our environment.

“Drop Shipping” is probably a term you’ve heard tossed around before, referring to shops that buy small, cheap items in bulk and resell them at a higher cost. But how do you spot a drop-shipper, and tell the difference between one and a reputable clothing brand? One way to do so is stolen photos or videos.

Look at all the photos on the website. Does the same model pop up multiple times, or only wearing the one garment you were looking at? Are the swatches of the clothes photoshopped to be different colors, or are there multiple photos of the differently colored dresses (preferably on different people, so you get a feel for the fit)? Over time, you’ll very easily begin to discern a stolen photo or article of clothing from the original--and even if it wasn’t stolen, companies that only invest in the bare minimum for their photos, likely aren’t investing more than the bare minimum into their product.

3. Stolen Photos
2. Fabric Type
3. Thrift When You Can

Thrifting isn’t always possible for everyone, but when it is, try to find the article of clothing you need in a thrift shop before you go hunting for it on Amazon. Not only will you be helping a small business if you’re shopping local, but you’ll also be avoiding fast fashions; which, as we talked about before, emphasize quantity over quality and environmental impact. When you can find that perfect piece in a thrift shop, you’re also finding something more unique that will help your costume stand out amongst the rest!

If you can’t find something while thrifting, check out the Second Hand Shop on MerMapp! People post things there every day from all over the world, so you may find the perfect costume piece just waiting for you!

3. Watch Out For Word Salad

If you’ve done your due diligence and you're still not sure if a piece of clothing is legitimate or not, check the name and description of the item. Does everything match what they’re selling? Does the price make sense, given the time it would take to make that garment ethically? And most importantly, is the title and description just a bunch of nonsense meant to make the algorithm show you the product? AKA: SEO World Salad. If there is no word salad, if the description matches the garment, and the price makes sense, use your best judgment! One way or another, that perfect mer-costume is waiting for you!