Winners are far from rubbish

University Centre South Essex has announced the winners of its’ ‘Rubbish Costume Competition.’

The challenge, set by the BA (Hons) Costume Construction team, gave entrants a chance to show off their innovation skills during the Covid-19 lockdown by creating a garment out of everyday household objects or rubbish.

The winner of the over 18’s category was Charley Finding who designed a Shakespeare costume mainly out of cardboard. Charley, 22, also submitted a poem to go with her entry.


“Picture me, a humble bard,

Finery made with board of card

Those of you may call it litter,

But one’s own trash, is another man’s glitter! 


Minstrel of rubbish,

Poet of plastic, 

you’ve challenged me here to make something fantastic! 


So it is without further ado,

A turned out look, 

I bring to you!”


She created bishop sleeves out of bubble wrap, pantaloons out of black rubbish sacks and even made a codpiece from cardboard. The judges were very impressed with her attention to detail and the humour she added to her submission.

Judges said: “What a wonderful, carefully considered response to the competition brief. The design was a fully realised interpretation of a character, showing clever construction skills and an accurate interpretation of the period.”

Jennifer Woodgate, 14, was crowned winner of the under 18’s category for her elegant ballgown made entirely out of crisps packets. Jennifer’s grandad helped collect the many packets by getting his colleagues at work to save them for him.

Judges said: “Great use of materials, lots of crisps must have been eaten in the making of this dress! It had a great form and shape with clever construction details such as the dramatic train.”

Each winner won a costume mannequin so they can continue to create designs, plus there were also two runners up in each category and they were awarded Amazon vouchers.

Lou Cox, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Costume Construction at University Centre South Essex, said: “We received entries from across the UK and I want to thank everyone who submitted a design. It was fantastic to look through all the creativity on show and it was tricky to pick winners.”

The BA (Hons) Costume Construction programme places an emphasis on the knowledge and use of both historical and contemporary pattern cutting, construction, textiles and finishing techniques. Areas of study may include opera, dance, theatre, musical theatre, performance art, film and television. For more information about the degree, visit