Shay Rose proved there’s a dress for every occasion after designing a gown to help her stay socially distant.

The 21-year-old, who uses the pseudonym “Shay Rose” online out of privacy concerns, is a college senior studying communications and film at UCLA. Rose said the dress was simply a fun project, born out of an idea she had in September amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“I feel like everyone always had that question of like, ‘What would it be if you had like a social-distancing bubble around you?” Rose said. “I make dresses. So my first thought is, ’What would I be if I had like a dress that was a social-distancing bubble around me?’”

Shay Rose, a 21-year-old senior at UCLA, is pictured in her handmade dress in Los Angeles, California. (Photo credit: Shay Rose)

That nagging question prompted her to pull out her needle and thread and buy some fabric. Rose has amassed a following on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok for her love of cosplay and has been hand-making outfits inspired by her favorite television and movie characters for years.

She got the inspiration for the COVID-friendly dress from historical photos, when big dresses were in style.

“A lot of it was going by the seat of my pants,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing.”

It took her nearly two months to design a dress that had a 6-foot radius and a 12-foot diameter, a perfect fit for the social distancing guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Rose said the skirt is made out of hooping wire, with a big PVC grid at the bottom for the dress to sit on. The dress comes with wheels, giving it the ability to roll. She pleated the top to give it a design flair. 

Rose said the dress doesn’t weigh too much because it’s mostly made out of light fabric.

“You feel like a little bit of a princess because you have this giant dress around you and you’re like in the middle and it’s all poofy,” she said. “It’s really hard to move because it’s so big.”

Her dress has a 6-foot radius and 12-foot diameter, creating space between the wearer and others amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo credit: Shay Rose)

Rose documented her progress on Instagram and posted the final product in November.

“It took 300+ yards of tulle, two months to make, and a whole lot of trial and error,” she wrote. More than 200,000 people have liked her social media post.

Rose said she often reuses supplies for future projects and had originally intended to make the dress into something more wearable, but she might see if she can improve upon it. She hopes to continue making more dresses in the future.

“I like to have a nice balance between fun and creative and kind of goofy, and being really pretty and something you would want to wear,” she explained.

The UCLA student added that pandemic precautions this year meant to curb the spread of the virus have been difficult and she misses seeing friends. But she hopes her creation will highlight the importance of social distancing as cases continue to surge in California and across the country.  

“I think that that message is just, social distancing sucks but it’s important to do, and you can make it kind of fun,” Rose said. “You can be inspired by it, you can create by it. And just make the best out of a bad situation.”

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This story was reported from Los Angeles. Kelly Hayes contributed from Cincinnati.

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