Yesterday Jezebel posted this Target ad in which a kid is clearly embarrassed by his homemade Iron Man costume made by his proud mom. It’s meant to be cute, and obviously Target is in the business of convincing people they should buy their costumes rather than make them, so you can’t get all that annoyed at them, but it did get me thinking about homemade Halloween costumes and why I always find them so much more interesting.
What a kid wants to be for Halloween is a big deal, it reflects who they want to be, what they’re afraid of, or who their role models are. It also lets them express themselves and can be both a fun bonding experience and a creative challenge for kids and parents alike. While a kid, or an adult, can have just as much fun dressed in a store-bought costume, there is something about homemade costumes that’s uniquely charming. Whether answering the door for trick-or-treaters or attending a party for grown ups, it’s always exciting when you see a one-of-a-kind costume. Obviously, as the Target ad shows, it can be hard to make a costume for a licensed character who looks a very specific way, but plenty of kids want to take on a persona that can be created without buying a package.
For example, my older sister as Cyndi Lauper in the early 1980s at around age three, there was no sewing involved, just stuff we had around the house, some spray-on hair color, creativity, and lots O’ fun, the result—adorable!
Here is my fiancé as Hulk Hogan a few years ago. I’ve gone to the Halloween parade in Manhattan many times and I’ve never seen people as excited by a costume as they were when they saw him that year. People were constantly stopping to take his picture and shout catchphrases at him—and he threw this costume together in a couple of hours. There were other Hulk Hogans in store-bought costumes, and they didn’t get nearly as much attention.
This owl costume was a combined effort, I made the head-piece and the glasses to wear one year, and my lovely future sister-in-law improved on my original costume a few years later with the fur trim, feathers, and orange owl feet—hoot!
My friend Jessica donned this awesome Joan Holloway costume last year, I’m shocked there aren’t packaged Mad Men costumes out there yet, but this shows how you can use stuff from your own closet (plus a few store-bought accessories) to come up with a great costume.
My Grandma made these adorable Campbell Soup kids costumes for my dad and uncle sometime in the mid fifties—simple, creative, and cute!
Me as Courtney Love and My fiancé as Ernest P. Worrell, both fun and easy costumes to make.
This was the first costume I made all by myself. My mom made me wear that stone-wash jacket over it since it was cold out so you can’t see it here, but I found an old satin dress, tore it up, caked on a bunch of face-paint, put baby powder in my hair, and threw on a tiara just for kicks. I called it “bloody Mary” I think I got the idea from an episode of Are you Afraid of the Dark?
Anyway, my point is that sometimes (like if your kid wants to be Iron Man) a store costume is necessary, because moms can be busy and kids are easily embarrassed. But putting together your own costume whether you’re a kid or an adult, can be lots of fun, and usually yields more entertaining and memorable results—plus those packaged costumes can be damn expensive.
If you don’t have anything in your closet that works as a costume, check out a thrift store, or the sale rack at Forever 21, you may even wear it again unlike the flimsy polyester packaged costumes. Get any accessories you may need that you can’t make (horns, wings, wigs) at the bigger stores, and never underestimate the potential of pipe cleaners and a hot glue gun!
On a side note, clicking through the pages on the Party City website has convinced me I need to do a whole post on inappropriate packaged costumes—I’m truly disturbed by some of the stuff out there for both kids and adults.
Send me pictures of your best homemade Halloween costumes—I know you must have some great ones!