Britney Spears – “Slave 4 U” VMAs Costume

Apr 11, 2022 | Other Costumes

My youngest child left for college a couple of years ago. She was part of a Musical Theatre BFA program where the kids have (pretty much) weekly theme parties where they dress in costume. So, when she decided she wanted to go to the Halloween party as Britney Spears, and dress in the iconic “Slave 4 U” costume that Britney wore for the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, I agreed to make a replica of the costume.

    Costume Top

    Top Materials

    The Top Process

    I started the top with a dark green swimsuit top, purchased at Target for a deep discount at the end of the summer. Target and Walmart offer pretty deep discounts on their swimsuit separates starting around September, so if you time your purchase right, you should be able to pick up a green swimsuit top for $5 – $10. Otherwise, Amazon always has some good choices, such as this one.

    Alternatively, you could start with a green bra, but I prefer to use a swimsuit top. Swimsuits were intended to be worn in public, and bras are intended to be worn under an outer garment, so a swimsuit usually provides a bit more coverage. If you don’t mind spending a bit more money, you could start with a ready-made top (like this one) that doesn’t need much work, and skip most of the steps that follow.

    I covered the bra cups with dark green stretch mesh fabric, and draped a piece of mesh fabric from the center to each side of the bra. I also added scarves made from the green mesh to the back of the top on each side of the center back hook.

    The only green stretch mesh fabric I could find was darker than I wanted, so, after adding the fabric to the bra, I did a quick once-over with bright green fabric spray.

    Then, I added embellishments at the center front, and on the straps. I had an old rhinestone hair clip and some leftover pieces of rhinestone trim that I broke apart and re-glued to make my embellishments. Any old rhinestone costume jewelry that you can have around can be used. If you don’t have anything available to use, a rhinestone applique can be cut into pieces and used. I used E6000 glue to attach my embellishments (gluing on the heavier jewelry pieces requires a generous amount of glue). For more information on my methods for embellishing costumes, see this page.

    Costume Shorts

    Shorts Materials

    The Shorts Process

    I have seen this costume created with blue metallic shorts, but I started with these black dance shorts, then made them shorter to look more like the tiny shorts in the original costume. To do this, first I removed the waistband and re-sewed it further down, removing 1.5” of the length. Then, I shortened each leg by turning under the original hem an additional time and machine-sewing around the new hem, using a zig-zag stitch to maintain the stretch in the leg, shortening the leg by about an inch.

    For pieces that hang down to make the skirt, I used a mixture of purchased scarves (one blue and one green), fabric scraps, and recycled pieces of thrift store formal dresses. I attached the front pieces on each side (the green panels) by attaching them to silver-colored o-rings, then sewing the rings to the waistband of the shorts. The other pieces I attached by sewing them directly to the waistband of the shorts, using a zigzag stitch to maintain the stretch of the waistband.

    For the decorative embellishment on the front of the shorts, use a panel cut either from brightly-colored sequin fabric, or from a sequin or beaded applique. I found a colorful sequin fabric (stretch works best here), cut out an appropriately-sized panel, and hand-sewed the panel to the shorts. I was careful to stretch the shorts along the way to assure that the shorts would still stretch after the panel was attached.

    For the waistband, I applied a scrap of stretch glitter fabric over the waistband of the shorts. Then, I hand-sewed a jeweled trim to the edge of the waistband, gently stretching the waistband as I applied the trim.

    The Boots

    Boot Materials

    The Boot Process

    I bought and embellished cheap tan high-heeled boots on Amazon to use for this costume. The ones pictured here were ~$27. They were originally over-the-knee boots, which would have been cute, but I decided I would rather have them look more like the originals, so I made them into knee-high boots by removing the top section and sewing a piece of elastic to the inside of the tops to hold them in place. If you choose to do this, make the elastic 1.5” shorter than the wearer’s calf circumference, sew the ends of  the elastic together, and tack the elastic to the inside of the boot near the top edge, stretching to fit the boot.

    To embellish the snake boot, I used an air-soluble marker to draw an outline of the winding snake onto the boot. I free-handed this drawing, using the picture of the original boot as a guide. Then, I glued the green and gold sequins over the outline, one sequin at a time, with the sequins overlapping each other slightly. After the snake was complete, I added a red rhinestone for each eye, and a line of 3 red rhinestones for the snake tongue.

    Fort the other boot, I glued on clear AB rhinestones, red AB rhinestones, peacock AB rhinestones, and random plastic flat-back baubles in a pattern that resembles the one on the original boot. Here are some close-ups of the original boots that I used as a guide.

    The Snake

    The snake is just a purchased stuffed snake. I did sew on an elastic loop to hold the snake onto the wearer’s arms so she could wear the snake around her shoulders (a la Britney) without having to hold on to the snake.