How to be Princess Leia | The Geneva Convention: How to be Princess Leia

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How to be Princess Leia

Here's a fun story:

I have always had long hair, assuming you choose to block out (as I do) the brief phase in elementary school when I had a bob, complete with bangs I insisted on cutting myself in a fit of 8-year-old pique. I first saw Star Wars at the age of 5 or 6, and Princess Leia quickly became a role model. She was a princess, a diplomat, and she had amazing hair: the trifecta. However, I distinctly remember trying to recreate the cinnamon buns many times as a child, failing miserably, and eventually coming to the conclusion that my hair role model had betrayed me. Those crazy, amazing cinnamon buns were not her real hair!

This sense of betrayal and resentment followed me until the age of 20, when I discovered the sock bun. It's invention has made as much of a positive impact on my life as any hair accessory ever could, and because I cut up my old pair of Quidditch tube socks to make them (a story for another day), I had exactly what I needed to construct two identical buns.

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

Creating this style at its best requires a barrel brush, a boar's hair comb, two small elastics, and about 10 bobby pins, plus mousse and hairspray to help it hold. Obviously, you'll also need the sock buns! I find the best socks to use for this are tube socks that rise to the knee (the shorter the socks, the smaller the resulting bun) -- simply cut off the toes at the seam, and roll from the top down. I used yellow because it's what I had to hand when I made these a few years ago, though ideally they would be a closer match for my hair color.

Start with your hair long and de-tangled. Brush through a dollop of mousse (if using) and mist the whole thing with the hairspray -- I've found this really helps, especially with slippery hair like mine. Part it straight down the middle.

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

Next, continue the part down the back of your head and secure it into two ponytails. Leia conveniently wears her buns over her ears, which gives us not only an alternative to ear muffs, but an anchor point for the pig tails. The elastic should rest at the top of your ears (actually a little higher than they appear in this photo, but you get the idea).

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

When satisfied with the positioning and smoothness of your pigtails (the boars hair brush comes in handy for that), it's time to turn them into cinnamon buns. Pull your first pigtail through the hole in the middle of the sock, slide the sock towards the end, and begin rolling your hair into a bun.

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

As you roll, you'll want to shift the position of your hands constantly so that your hair fully covers the bun, but make sure you don't twist the pigtail as you do this, or you'll make your life unnecessarily difficult! When you get to the top, use your thumbs to make sure that the entire pigtail has gone through the sock. Now it's time to secure (carefully) with a few bobby pins -- sometimes I prefer to have a hair-competent friend help me with this so I don't accidentally expose a bit of sock I can't see.

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

Voila! Half a set of Leia buns! Just repeat on side two . . .

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

Do some fidgeting . . .

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

And you'll have your own set of buns to show off around town!

DIY Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns

(No need to tell anyone you got implants, though they may guess!)

The buns are unquestionably the most important part of becoming Princess Leia, but if you're interested in how we got to the rest of it, keep reading!

As we all know, Princess Leia doesn't need a man, but who would say no to the opportunity of a swashbuckling scoundrel like Han Solo? Fortunately I have a willing partner in crime for this.

DIY Han Solo

We had great success with James's costume at the thrift store -- we found a white semi-turtleneck that was made for someone both wider and shorter than James; all we had to do was cut a slit in it. He also found a decent pair of black boots, and a black children's dress shirt that I turned into a vest with a little creative ripping and hemming. James provided the belt, jeans, and chest hair all by himself.

My costume proved a little trickier. After spending a few hours combing thrift stores for a suitable Leia dress, I just went home and raided my own closet, reasoning that with the cinnamon buns, I could get away with wearing just about anything I wanted, provided it conformed to Leia's signature color -- white. My recommendations for finding a Leia costume in your own closet? Look for weird cuts and synthetic fabrics. I ended up wearing a wonderful asymmetrical skirt I've had for years but don't often wear due to it's odd cut and color. I added a white underarmour shirt that I normally wear skiing, a white sweater cape, and a silver chain belt. And black boots, because I can't be bothered with wearing white on my feet.

DIY Han and Leia Organa Solo

So, to sum up: a relatively inexpensive and authentic Star Wars couples' costume is not as far out of reach as you might think!

(p.s. I realize I'm writing this after Halloween, but as Liz Lemon so wisely says of a Princess Leia costume: "Halloween? A girl can wear this anywhere! School, church, alone on the playground, a child therapist's office. . . .")

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