the ghosts of Halloween costumes past


Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. I have always loved costumes, plus the goth in me¹ loves the dark and creepy trappings of the holiday. While I may not be able to tell you every costume I’ve ever worn for Halloween, I can sure remember a lot of them. What’s more, I’m a big fan of making my own costumes. While I do like to see so many people get fired up about getting into the holiday spirit, all those cheaply made polyester costumes you see in stores these days make me a little sad. Part of the joy for me is in the creation, or at least the assembly, of the costume.

You may well be wondering what great schemes I have devised for this year’s costumes. The sad answer is “not much.” I have been very focused on work and other life things. Having perhaps gone a bit overboard with last year (cf. last Halloween’s post: “Quiz: How compulsive are you? (Halloween costume edition“), I decided that I would try to meet Halloween with a better attempt at sanity.

Phoebe had decide a few months ago that she wanted to be a witch, and I heartily approved. I thought I might be able to make her a dress. But then I was shopping at the second hand children’s store (and no, they don’t sell second hand children), I found a witch’s dress and hat on the rack. In Phoebe’s size. Since I had made a point of not asking Theo about what he wanted to be (in part so that I could have a chance to run with a theme, and in part because I didn’t want to get stuck committing to something tricky when he’s not likely to even remember this costume by the time he’s 6), I didn’t have anything particular in mind for him. I thought I could go with another traditional Halloweeny costume (ghost, mummy, frankenstein, bat…), but didn’t find any such costumes on the rack in his size. I did, however, find a rather cute green frog. Theo likes frogs. And green. I bought it.

So, while one might be able to relate the witch and the frog in a more narrative way, I’m not really working with a theme. And I don’t have any schemes for a costume for myself that would tie things together. So be it.

Instead, I will have to console myself by looking back at some of the fun costume themes I have put together in the past:

  • butterfly (Phoebe), caterpillar (Theo) and munched-looking plant (me) (2010)
  • firefighter (Phoebe), dalmatian (Theo) and fire (me) (2009)
  • bunny (Phoebe) and carrot (Theo) (2008)
  • squirrel (Phoebe) and tree (me) (2007)

carrot squirrel

Other Halloween costumes that I have worn as an adult have included:

  • a witch
  • a spider
  • Morticia Addams
  • a ghost
  • a mummy
  • half man/half woman

At some point, I’ll have to dig up descriptions and/or photos of some of these. (Well, I already wrote about the mummy.) For the record, none of these were pre-fab or packaged costumes, though I did buy and assemble occasional pre-made parts. I’m rather pleased that some of my descriptions of past costume creations have been of use to others out there. I even once heard from someone who modelled her daughter’s squirrel costume after the one I made, and she and her husband were trees following my tree costume.²

I’m going to declare this post to be among the posts on Things I Like: I like costumes. This is only number 4 of the proposed 40 posts on things I like. I’ve realized that my slowness is in part due to my wanting to give each of the Things I Like its due attention, and in part to my having trouble deciding how to sort out the things I like into individual posts. (There is often overlap. I mean, I like costumes, and Halloween, and Halloween costumes, and themes, and themed Halloween costumes.) There is also this desire to have them presented in some sort of logical order. I need to get over that. (Screw logic!)

¹ The goth in me shares space with the hippy in me, the uptight schoolmarm, the curious 12-year-old, and a variety of other characters, including a short balding guy named Ned who won’t share his Cheetos with any of the others.

² If a tree costume falls in the closet, and nobody hears it, do you still have to pick it up? ³

³ No. But you may later need to rake.

10 responses to “the ghosts of Halloween costumes past

  1. I generally like making costumes too, but give in to the pre-made when I don’t have time–too often in my opinion. I did better when there was just the one kid and I was only teaching. E. and I were a cowboy and cow one year and Frodo and Gandalf the next. J. and I were a bee and flower last year.

    My school decided last minute we’re letting students (and, therefore teachers) dress up on Monday, so I’ve been trying to think about what to do. I was leaning towards a bunny with my gray sweats and hoodie but am now contemplating a squirrel.

  2. It’s too bad you couldn’t unleash your creativity on Halloween this year, but there will be more Halloweens!
    I just attended a costume party where the theme was to dress like a First Lady. There were two Lady Bird Johnsons, a Pat Nixon, an impressive Barbara Bush, two Nancy Reagans (at different ages), a Dolley Madison, an Edith Wilson, a Hillary Rodham Clinton, a random Chelsea Clinton (she was trying to be Hillary but everyone agreed she looked more like Chelsea–who, I have just read in Wikipedia, was Acting First Lady for the last two weeks of her father’s presidency, when her mother had already been sworn in as a senator–apparently it is not uncommon for a daughter, daughter-in-law, niece, sister, or other female relative to serve as White House Hostess/First Lady if the president does not have a living or available wife), and a Carla Bruni, plus a man in cavewoman drag. I made a nod in Michelle Obama’s direction by wearing a sleeveless dress, but ruined the effect by wearing stripey tights.

    • Wow, a First Lady party! That is a very specific theme. I like it! Though I admit that I would have had no idea what Edith Wilson or Dolley Madison looked like.

      Glad you dressed up, too! (Though I also am inclined to believe that Michelle Obama is not the stripey tight sort of woman. But you never know!)

  3. I will admit that my only Halloween ritual is checking in every year to see what you’ve come up with. My favorite Halloween photo of yours? Phoebe, dressed as a black cat, having a staring contest with a jack-o-lantern.

    • Awww, thanks! It’s nice to know that I’m part of your Halloween ritual.

      Phoebe did make a very cute black cat her first Halloween. (Though I didn’t at all make that costume.)

  4. you could be the cauldron

  5. The last time I dressed up, I was a senior in high school and I was a cow. I learned that people cannot resist tugging on an udder.

    We usually do pre-made costumes, because I am not crafty. This year we pieced BubTar’s together at the thrift stores, as they don’t make Doctor Who costumes! It was probably the most expensive costume we’ve ever done, because the Chucks alone were double the cost of KayTar’s costume. But he can wear them for a long time, so it seemed practical.

    • “I learned that people cannot resist tugging on an udder.” Heh.

      I can’t believe you haven’t dressed up since high school, Kyla!

      Also, BubTar had a super cool costume. He made a dashing Doctor.

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