Monday, October 13, 2014

Cutting Up with Costumes

LUCY BURDETTE:  I think my love of costumes must date back to the time I watched my parents waddle down the road to a Halloween party dressed as corn stalks, with carved pumpkins over their faces. Though I don't remember my childhood costumes, since the moment I learned to sew, I made my own.

Here's one of my favorites ever, Kermit the frog. You're not seeing the little webbed hands and feet that I also made to go along with the costume. I had a marvelous Wonder Woman (which I can no longer fit into so will not demonstrate) and a Marilyn Monroe complete with blond wig and sparkling evening dress. And here's a photo from my nephew's wedding just this past weekend...with my brother and one of my sisters...


Lucky for me, I will be spending Halloween this year in Key West. Fantasyfest involves an entire week of Halloween activities, some XXX rated, which I will not report on. I know that I will be riding in the zombie bike parade. I already have an appointment for my face painting and have the spooky tutu that will go with. And I would not miss the tutu party with my pals. 
And some of you probably remember the wiener dog parade from last year. The truth is, I have no shame...

How about you Reds, a yen for costumes? Any wonderful memories from your costume history?
HALLIE EPHRON: I confess, I'm costume-challenged. My go-to costume as a kid was "bum." Baggy pants, dirty shirt from my dad, and old hat, and voila. My daughters made costumes for themselves every Halloween, mostly with minimal help from me on costume and their dad on makeup. Here's what my youngest did with a red cocktail dress we bought at a rummage sale, a few props, and charcoal makeup. 

LUCY: That's brilliant Hallie!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, I am totally costume-challenged!  I can't sew, and I seem to have no imagination in that department. I'll miss Halloween this year as I'll be doing a college event, but maybe next year I'll get my daughter to help me. She always has great costumes, and I'd love to dress up as something fun, or have zombie make-up. Ideas welcome!

RHYS BOWEN: I love dressing up, but not to the extent of actually sewing things. When my kids were small I did make costumes. I remember daughter Clare wanting to be a tree one year. Lots of burlap and glue gun involved. But luckily as soon as they were in school there was pressure to buy this year's popular costumes. Always good fairies, Disney princesses and never anything scary. When they were teens they invented creative costumes on their own. Clare, always creative once went to a party as Harry Potter, carrying her baby son as Dobby, with a sock pinned to him!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I love the Dobby idea! Fabulous.  It's a challenge for me to think of something for me and Jonathan to do together. Because he has the built-in beard, which narrows the possibilities, right?  And one of my triumphs (If I do say so,) was the year we went as the Arcs.   I was Joan, and Jonathan was Noah.

The next year I didn't have time to come up with something too new, so we added cowboy hats and bandanas to the exact same costumes, and went as Noah and Joan of Arkansas. 


  1. Sad to say I am totally costume-challenged. I never seem to have creative ideas [at least not ones that work out the way I've seen them in my imagination].
    I am in total and complete awe of my Colorado daughter who makes costumes [and props] for both of her children. Every year.
    Alas, the best my meager sewing talents ever managed was to make the skating dresses sparkle when the girls were competing.
    Sigh . . . .

  2. Rhys, I went as a pine tree twice! Burlap sack and fresh branches from the woods. I won a Horribles Parade costume award one Fourth of July with the same outfit and the children's tercentennial parade the following year.

  3. Joan, sparkly skating dresses sounds important:)

    Reine, very impressive record!

  4. One year I sewed a Pepto Bismol pink dress and white apron and went as Flo the truckstop diner waitress. My favorite fast, easy costume involved a full slip (over a dress) with the words "id, ego and superego" and "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" written on it - a Freudian slip.

  5. I haven't done a half-way decent costume since a friend of mine and I went as a box of Crayolas to the Halloween event our senior year of college (200 Daze).

    Every year my office dresses up. I go as an overworked tech writer/unpublished author/exhausted mother of two. Requires very little.

    I can't sew and I suck at makeup. My daughter is good at both, so she makes her own costumes (this year is something anime). My son wants me to buy a Batman costume but, um, he wears adult sizes now and I'm not spending beacoup bucks on something he'll wear once.

    I will admit to being a bit grinchy on Halloween. Costumes are part of the reason.

  6. Just as Hubby does the doodles, so too the Halloween costumes....

  7. Sandi: How clever! This is a day when I wish Blogger allowed pictures with comments.

  8. Oh, how I love to play dress-up!!!! I wish I could sew, but I'm hopeless at that talent. So, instead I pull what I can out of the closet and a big box full of past costumes and wigs and accessories. My fall back costumes are either fairy, complete with big sparkly wings, or witch complete with broom and big tall silk hat. Not very elaborate or creative, but a bunch of fun. Donald has a dreadlock wig and that's sometimes his entire costume. LOL!!! We have a neighborhood Halloween party which the hosts call PumpkinFest and it's next weekend. We look forward to it every year.

  9. Halloween is my favorite day of the year, largely because of the costume potential (decorating is the second reason, and funky food is the third). Since childhood I've been making costumes, and just love the opportunity to dress up--myself, and my loved ones.

    We always turned our little brothers into girls for Halloween when we were kids; I made the goofiest wig out of a headband with our mom's old nylons as "hair". They were five and ten years younger than I, so they didn't have a lot of choice.

    My own kids had a million different Mom-made costumes: crayon, clowns, pioneer girl, Dorothy from Kansas, stop sign, angel, fairy, dinosaur, pirate, and so on.

    My own costumes included: gypsy wench (my date won the contest for his bizarre and more than slightly obscene "flasher" costume, complete with outrageous and fake rigged up "apparatus"), Charlie Chaplin, and Wicked Witch of the West.

    My husband and I have done couples costumes for years: Pierrot paired with Emmett Kelly, Snow White and a terrifyingly believable Dopey, Faye Wray and Karamojo Bell the Great White Hunter (pith helmets!), Wolfman to my WW of the West, Jill Sparrow and her first mate, "bitten" flapper and her Dracula, and cowgirl and cowboy.

    We have had a biannual Halloween party for the last ten years or so. It would kill me to do it every year, since I go all out to decorate, cook, and make costumes, plus choose a signature cocktail, but it's such grand fun. Wish you could all come!

  10. I buy candy every year, and leave the porch light on, so that the costumed trick-or-treaters will stop by so I can see them, but I have never been tempted to wear a costume myself. The last time I can remember doing so was at a Georgette Heyer tea at a fan convention-- I wore a cotton batiste nightgown that, when you tied a ribbon at the appropriate place, became an Empire dress.

    Oh, wait-- I did wear a costume at a shipboard costume contest: cut the letters "ANNETTE" from black construction paper, double-sided taped them across the front of a white t-shirt, wore it with a black skirt and a set of Mickey Mouse ears we'd just picked up at Disney World. But you have to be really really old to get THAT.

    Dress-up is NOT my thing. I feel like I'm in costume when I'm not wearing jeans and a sweatshirt or t-shirt.

  11. Sometimes inspiration strikes.
    One year we went as cat burglars, wearing cat masks from Venice, carrying pillow cases with stuffed animal cats peaking out, and toys and cans of cat food.

    Another year we went as an Alfred Hitchcock Double Feature. With a slap board title to be sure people got it, I had a Psycho shower curtain with bloodied hand prints and the famous silhouette with knife and my husband was The Birds. He had variously sized black crows from the craft store all over him--Sticking out of tears in his shirt, hanging from his pants, sitting on his head. The one on his head had an eyeball in its beak to match his blacked out eye! And blood all over the appropriate places.

  12. When I was a small kid I went as an elf every year until I grew out of the costume (handed down to my sister). The costume had been my mom's from her partying days in Europe -- I think she wore it for fasching.

    The sad thing is that I grew out of it by the time I was seven. :-)

    After that, my go-to costume was gypsy.

    I love Halloween, and I like the idea of dressing up, but I never get my act together. This year, I'm going to a friend's crazy haunted house extravaganza (they get 500 trick or treaters) as a crime scene photographer. That, I can do!

  13. I remember as a kid my go-to costume was "gypsy" -- wear a square dancing skirt of Mom's, a scarf around the hair, lots of makeup ... voila.

    I also remember trick or treating (this was the 70s in Montana) in parkas because it was snowing and wearing plastic masks that got sweatier as the evening wore on. Oh the fun.

  14. I love seeing and hearing about the different costumes of the Reds and others. Lucy, how great that you can sew your own. Not a talent I possess. And, being at Fantasy Fest in Key West has to be festive indeed. I haven't managed to be there during that event, but I know from my daughter's description it is wild and wooly. Oh, and please post a picture of your zombie self either here or on FB. Can't wait to see that! Hank, the Arc/Ark themes were a hoot! Hallie, your youngest has some real talent in costume designing. Debs, I'm so glad to have a fellow non-sewer in the group, and I hope your on-the-road Halloween is a good one.

    I am so crazy for Halloween and it's one of the things I'm delighted to have passed on to my children, first is reading. I still decorate for Halloween, didn't stop after the children were grown. What is surprising is that I don't seek out Halloween parties on the day or do something special on that date. However, this year is the year of the Halloween Party. My daughter's in-laws are having a party at their cabin, and I'm invited. I'm so excited, but I have to come up with a costume. I will probably be a witch, since I already have a long black skirt and top and hat. I do wish I were more creative with costume ideas. Hmm.

  15. Oh, you all are SO clever!! Boo...

    Maybe next year I'll dress up as Caspar:-)

  16. growing up when very small we had store bought costumes with those awful plastic masks

    by the time we were probably 3rd & 5th grade we were making our own, bums, a Pillow, orphan annie, whatever we could come up with that was in a closet and not brand new - went as my dad one year, shirt, tie, his hat and work tights, a little charcoal for the 5 o'clock shadow :)

    I can't remember last halloween party I went to - before I was married as my DH has no sense of humor when it comes to dressing up for halloween, he just refused

    For years I dressed up to answer the door to the kids who loved it, I would always dress my dog at the time and they were a big hit with the kids, big and little

    In the early 80's I made a witch's costume and a clown costume and I rotated them every other year - face makeup - did myself and I dressed up until about 15 years ago when the malls started doing trick or treat and churches trick or trunk, etc and we were down to about 30 kids for the night - it just was not worth the time it took to do my makeup and get ready

    Plus Unfortunately, I cannot fit into either costume anymore :( (the cookie monster needs to quit throwing those pinwheel choc/marsmallow cookies in my grocery cart !!!!)

    when I was around 20, my friend and I dressed up and drove an hour to trick or treat at a friends then on to the hospital to see her husband, also a friend who was a ob/gyn Doc - I must say I was disappointed with the receptionist at L&D - she had no sense of humor and didn't understand why 2 "adults" were dressed up waiting to see one of "her" doctors (eyes rolling) - the people in the waiting room thought it was great, stopped in the hospitals we worked at too before heading to the bars

    My Dad and a family friend use to dress up and go trick or treat at house of people we knew - their best costume ever

    Grass skirts over rolled up shorts, coconut bras, leis, hairy legs and I don't remember shoes - also some headband with straw attached and carried a fake spear

    Debs - with is really easy, old black dress - cut hem by cutting triangles out to make a zig zag type hem - black tights, witch hat, green makeup for face, neck and hands, black fingernails (real or fake) red lipstick and black eyebrows, add a wart or 2 and you are a witch

    clown - 2 pair of colored tights (diff color) cut one leg off each pair about 6-8 inches down so they don't fall below shorts, but help keep other leg on. I had a pink and a blue pair......pair of patterned shorts (thrift store)plus I added patches of scrap material to shorts and shirt, suspenders and an old shirt way too big- thrift store sneakers that are too big but will fit your sneaks inside for stability - you can spray paint them diff colors, typical clown face makeup and a clown multi color wig...all through the 80s I worked for companies who encouraged employees to dress up

    went as football player one year - had an old FB jersey from old boyfriend, padded shoulders with rolled towels I think, jeans padded knees, prob towel pinned to inside jeans, sneaks and black charcoal under eyes to reflect sun, that is an easy one only thing missing was helmet

    For those dressing up have a great time !!!

  17. Oh Karen in Ohio, we so want to come to your party--what a blast!

    Libby, brilliant ideas! Love the Hitchcock...and the cat burglars... Lisa, love the crime scene photographer!

    Kathy, you have amazing ideas right here on the page--and Mar even explained how we could do them:)

  18. Annette! Love it.

    HI all! xoox travelling so Ill be sporadic for a little while..xoxo

  19. I LOVE LOVE LOVE costumes! There have been many years when my sewing machine sits in a closet for 11 months and comes out in October. Right now my living room is covered in pieces of white fur because I'm making a giant lab rat costume for my boyfriend (he insists he must dress as something scary. Giant lab rat is definitely scary to me!)

    I've done so many costumes that I love that I started a pinterest board for them. This year I'm doing Logan's Run, which maybe nobody will recognize, but I saw the movie in June and decided that was it!