Tag Archives: dressing up

Hallowe’en: Costumes and Fun

I’m not going to rehash last week’s comments on women’s costumes all being sexy or costumes being politically correct, except to say that where I work three people showed up dressed as Indian (North American First Nations) women. Of them, one woman is Arabic Asian, one is white and one is mixed blood. None of them seem to feel they’re making fun of or disrespecting the historical dress of long ago.

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Kali was a last-minute creation. (no creative commons on these)

So I’m just going to go through some memories of my past Halloween costumes, with pictures. A long time ago a friend sewed me a costume out of pewter satin. It involved a cape with shoulder pads and a skirt rucked up into gathers. I wore green with it and maybe antenna and was an alien of some sort. I’ve been a witch, a fortune tell, which in it’s second incarnation involved sitting at my desk at work and having people pay .25 cents to get a fortune, like those old, glass-enclosed fake tellers. I’m big on theme parties and have done one where it was blues and therefore blue clothes, gods, bad boys and bad girls, fairy tales and a mad hatter party. The Kali costume to the right was last minute. I bought a bunch of dolls from the dollar store and strung their arms and legs around my waist, their heads around my neck and had a spare pair of stuffed arms. Really, I should have had at least another set and I should have been blue but it was good enough.

I’ve been Little Bo Peep, complete with sheep purse, and Sleeping Beauty. I’ve been a pirate, a virgin (as in the Medieval sacrifice style), and a Middle Eastern dancer (which is cheating since I do bellydance). I’ve done Bride of Frankenstein, twice. The second time I used chicken wire to pull my hair up around the frame, already having the blonde streaks. I painted the skin

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Zombies are popular, with or without brains (no creative commons on these)

appropriately, used actual thread that I made into stitches and adhered with spirit gum, and cut a thread spool in half and glued it to my neck. I recycled the cheaply sewn dress into a zombie costume last year. The makeup is fairly time-consuming and can take up to two hours to do. I’ve also made up a few friends as zombies.It’s pretty each to start with white, add blue and black for shading, or even greed. I then draw blue veins over the top, and add fake blood. The good thing about being a zombie is that your makeup doesn’t need to be very precise. Splotchy is okay. Some zombies are with just white makeup and some red blood. Some are greener. It all depends on how you want to do it.

The problem for me is that I never start thinking about a costume early enough and then slapdash stuff together last-minute. This year, I was going to go as fall. I picked up a bunch of leaves of the ground (before the rain started) then dipped them, before they dried out, in paraffin wax. I was then going to sew them into a garment. Well, I couldn’t quite figure out the logistics of waxed leaves and sitting down. Maybe they’ll become a wreath.

Instead I lucked into a costume through a friend who sews for the stage and sometimes checking your local stage production groups might net you a costume for a rental and cleaning fee. I went as Marie Antoinette, and though the costume worked, I couldn’t get in or out of it by myself.

costumes, Halloween, dressing up, Halloween costumes, Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette (no creative commons on these)

My sister tells me that in Calgary some religious fundamentalist group was trying to “reclaim” Hallowe’en and call it Jesusween, saying costumes were evil. That’s pretty typical of any fundamentalist religion, where facts aren’t checked and sweeping statements are made. Hallowe’en was never a Christian holiday, though they did adopt the day after as All Saints Day. Something tells me that the stupidly named “Jesusween” is not going to catch on. I think dressing up isn’t just for kids, nor just for Hallowe’en. That’s why I’ve had theme parties. It’s for fun, when life gets too heavy. So here’s to Hallowe’en, in all its connotations, from a time to dress and forget the cares of the world, to a time when the veils thin between the worlds and the spirits step near, and a time to honor the dead who have passed in the year before.

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Theme Parties

Here’s something light to balance out the dark thoughts about our police. It’s spring, finally, in Vancouver with rumor of our temperatures getting up to 22 (centigrade) today. The cherry trees finally burst their blooms full force. Daffodils, weeks late, are now out and tulips are on their way. Everything is late this year because of all the cold weather so we are relishing the warmth.

And thinking of parties and barbecues of course. Over the years I’ve been known for having theme parties, much to the annoyance of a few friends. These themes have nothing to do with a particular time of year but more to do with having fun. Adults should get to dress up too. Here are a few themes I had.

  1. Nothing But the Blues: everyone was required to wear something blue. Easy enough for the blue jean people, and an excuse for me to wear a vintage 50s dress in blue satin.
  2. Come as Your Favorite God: open to people’s interpretation of god. There was a football player, someone’s personal god. My landlords came as household gods; she was dressed in apron, 50’s hat and full dress, rubber gloves with lace on them. He was dressed in underwear and tool belt. Then there was a smattering of other gods, Greek, Roman, Celtic.
  3. New Year’s come formal from any century or place: Although most people opted for your traditional fancy dress I had one goth, kilted, black booted friend, one very drunken guy in a toga that ended up in the shrubbery, and three Atlanteans dressed in shimmery blue-grey with glitter everywhere.
  4. Bad Boys Bad Girls: you guessed it. There was a manga, tousled schoolgirl (with panties in hand) and a bad biker dude. And there was a priest. Anyone not dressed up got handcuffed together, including my landlords.
  5. Mad Hatter: this was by far the most elaborate and the most fun. My partner at the time and I both had a fair number of hats. We made it Alice theme. Anyone who didn’t show up was  given a hat to wear. But people went all out and the costumes were fantastic. Here is a list of a few that we had: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the walrus and the carpenter, Charles Dodson, two caterpillars, a griffon, a card, a flingo, a male, female and child Alice, a male, female and child cheshire cat, a mad hatter of each gender, and I think a mad queen.

I haven’t always had themes nor remembered all of them. There have been some people who do themes based on paintings. They send out an invite with a picture of the painting to be recreated, find and decorate a space and then everyone comes in costumes suitable to the recreation. I would presume that if one goes to the much effort they’re going to party afterward as well, because partying before might be too chaotic for the picture. This would be fun to do and some day I’d love to do that.

Then there are murder mysteries. They’re harder to find these days but the few we had friends would come and play the part, dressed to resemble the particular character. Those tend to be limited dinner parties of about eight people but the roleplaying makes it way more fun.

My few disgruntled friends can come to my parties dressed normally but everyone, even the big kids should get a chance to have fun and dress up as a space alien or a squid. It’s great to see what imaginations can create. I’ll be interested to see what people do for the next theme party and here are just a few ideas for the summer, where gods really should be wandering.

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