DIY: Make A Rhythm Nation Costume; Janet Jackson

My cousin, a friend, and I attended a Janet Jackson concert dressed as Rhythm Nation dancers for her  State of the World Tour, which ends on December 17, 2017.  The Queen was on FIRE!  (You can see pictures and videos from her October 26th Chicago concert on my Instagram page.)  This was the cheapest and easiest costume I have ever put together.  Just improvise.  If you’re trying to put together a last minute costume, I highly recommend it.  If you don’t have every item in your wardrobe, just wear all black.  The only thing I purchased was a black ball cap at T.J. Maxx although I wish I had bought pins at Michael’s or Target (I thought I had them at home).  I improvised using masking tape.

What You Need For Your Outfit:

  • Black pants
  • Black military jacket
  • Black hat
  • Black shoes (preferably boots)
  • A Key
  • Hoop Earrings
  • Silver chains & buckles (I actually didn’t have these)
  • Black gloves (I also didn’t have these)
  • Two badges*
  • Attitude!  (Remember: It’s Janet. Ms. Jackson, if you nasty!)

*Here’s What You Need To Make The Two Silver 1814 Badges (One For the Hat and One for Your Jacket):

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Black Sharpie marker
  • Cereal box or shoe box (something cardboard)
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape
  • Cap of medicine bottle (if you have a hard time drawing perfect circles)
  • Ruler (if you have a hard time drawing straight lines)
  • Pin with clutch backs (found HERE on Amazon)

Step by Step–How To Make the Badges:
The badge for the hat should be smaller than the one for the jacket.  In a hurry, my badge for the jacket was actually a bit big.  Whatever the measurements, try to make the badges proportional to your hat and jacket.  But, again, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

  1. Get a cereal box or shoe box (something stiff) and cut out a rectangle from the cardboard.
  2. Use a ruler.  Make sure the width is greater than the height (see my hat).
  3. Take some foil; cut enough so you can wrap it around the rectangle you’ve made.  Use scotch tape to wrap the foil around the back (like you would wrap a gift for the holidays).
  4. Smooth out the foil in the front.
  5. Get out a ruler and something round (I used the cap of a medicine bottle).
  6. Make three small horizontal lines on the upper left corner and on the bottom right corner using a black Sharpie marker.
  7. Use the ruler to make a thin 1.
  8. Trace two circles using the cap to make the 8. Now, color them in.
  9. Use the ruler to draw another 1.
  10. To make the 4, make a thin line on the bottom using a ruler.
  11. On top, make a triangle.  On the left side of the triangle, make four small dots.
  12. Finally, use pins to affix the badge to your hat.
  13. Repeat the whole process for the jacket badge but make it bigger than the badge for the hat.

Full Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.

We are a part of a Rhythm Nation!

Don’t Forget the Key!

This was actually the most fun part for me.  I can’t think of any other occasion when I’ll be hanging a key from my ear.  Find some hoop earrings.  And a real key (it’s easier than making your own key with foil and cardboard; I tried it).  Now, hang the key from your earring.  Note: the key can get a little heavy.  I don’t know how Janet wore that key throughout the 1980s!  It’s in many of her live performances and videos like this one and this one (not just Rhythm Nation).

Key Earring – Rhythm Nation Costume
Rhythm Nation!

Now, go out and take some pictures.  If you can, practice some Janet moves.  Have fun!  BONUS: check out the Bay Area flash mob performance of Rhythm Nation here.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno


Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

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