Since college, I have been a bit obsessed with Halloween. You’d think it would have started as a kid, but then I was only obsessed with the candy. Once you can no longer (really) go trick-or-treating, you have to come up with something else.
I started going all-out with Halloween costumes.
Back then, I didn’t know much about Halloween makeup or special effects. I did know how to make great fake blood though, with school glue and food coloring (lots of red, a couple drops of blue). The fake blood would dry then peel off later.
Now, my costumes are a bit more elaborate. Sometimes they’re pretty dark, to the point that one friend pleaded with me to at least be pretty every other year. That worked for a while. But I like the gory costumes so much more!
In 2008, I was a Victorian lady. I had a corset, and I wanted to build a costume around it. The lower skirt was a prom dress from Goodwill, complete with a train! I cut off the top portion and used the fluffy cap sleeves as a hat (along with some feathers). The bustle was the bridesmaid’s dress from my sister’s wedding, carefully pinned in place because I didn’t want to cut it. The top portion is an ’80s dress, also from Goodwill. I cut off the skirt and sewed a wristlet to carry my phone and other necessities. The cameo is a necklace I already had. One new thing I discovered while wearing the corset all night – it takes no time at all for alcohol to start affecting you. I’m guessing because you can’t take deep breaths, so you’re not getting as much oxygen to your blood. It was a fun evening!
In 2009, I was a dead hipster. Stupid summer scarf got caught in the bike chain. I wore an ironic T-shirt (literally, I added “IRONIC” to the front of a white shirt), skinny jeans, flats, a scarf with a gear stuck in it and carried a messenger bag full of horrible beer. One arm, the side of my face and a leg were covered in fake blood. And I carried markers to let party-goers draw new, weird tattoos all over my arms. It all started because I really, really hate summer scarves. So of course Halloween was the perfect time to wear one.
In 2010, I was a WWII nurse. I complied with my friend’s request and went with pretty. I already owned the white dress (which is actually NOW at Goodwill), and the earrings and necklace. The only things I bought were shoes (which didn’t fit, so I ended up wearing black wingtip oxford heels) and the flowers in my hair. I spent a lot of time on research for this costume, though, mostly watching YouTube videos on 1940s hair. It ended up taking me two hours to curl and put my hair into victory rolls. It’s hard to see here, but the rolls actually turned out great.
In 2012, I started really going crazy with Halloween. (Extenuating circumstances forced me to skip 2011.) I was Zipper Face. I spent countless hours watching YouTube videos, again, to figure out how to get this costume right. I had the zipper already, but I bought the dress at, you guessed it, Goodwill. I cut off the edges of the zipper at the top, then glued it all down with liquid latex. I blended with … makeup. On the raw skin area between the zipper teeth, I painted my face black for depth, then added the wonderful homemade fake blood. It’s still a little purple in this photo because it hasn’t dried (so the whiteness in the glue is still present). This is my all-time favorite costume.
In 2013, I was a steampunk robot. It was the first time I ever wore the same costume twice, (minus the corset for work). I bought the bustle, belt and shrug from Goodwill, and bought the corset online. I spent at least an hour hand-sewing the belt to the shrug (which had been a long-sleeve T-shirt before I got to it). The gun was my favorite part – it was a Nerf gun that I painted and added parts to, and it still worked! Then there was the painting of myself. It took an hour to put twists in my hair (using aloe), and another hour of applying Mehron copper metallic powder. Then I used an entire eyeliner pen to draw lines all over myself, with dots for rivets. I especially loved the effect on my hands.
In 2014, I was The Alien Within. I loved the Mehron powder so much that I had to buy more. Part of my “human” face is ripped off to reveal the true green “alien” underneath. It was probably the most simple costume I’ve done, but it took a lot of work. It was definitely my best blending job for skin tone, thanks to a very inexpensive palette of concealers. I used paper towels instead of toilet paper (my usual medium) for the peeled-up skin, and it worked out well.
Sometimes, my friends come to me with Halloween costume requests, especially if there is some kind of zombie event. My friend Nicole created the collage at right after I did her makeup for a zombie run. I kind of love the peeled-back skin on her cheek. Gross is just so much fun!
This year, I have all sorts of ideas, but no plan yet. I’m far behind my usual planning schedule, which usually kicks off in July. I have cheesecloth, googly eyes and rhinestone sequins but the idea hasn’t come to me yet. I started feeling the pressure a few years ago when someone told me I had the best costume ideas. Really, I just watch a lot of videos and do a lot of searches on Google. Inspiration is out there, and not just for me.