Playing Dress UP

So, with Halloween coming on, I’ve been thinking of a good costume.  Though… I’m not even certain if I will even dress up.  I love dressing up for Halloween, it’s just that my town is rather weird about it.  If one goes out on Halloween day/night dressed oddly people will mock you.  “What’re yeh wearing that blue hair fer?”  “Ummm… like why are you dressed all weird?”

I think it’s that this town is of the mentality that A} Halloween is of the deebil and is evil and if you’re a good Christian you should shun that sort of thing.  B} That Halloween is only for children.  Though my town didn’t always feel this way.  Needless to say, without friends to invite to parties, or parties to go to, being accosted on the street on Halloween got real old, real quick, and dressing up just sort of lost it’s pizazz, so to speak.

But, I want to talk about some of the things I and my family have been.  I wish I could find (or wish we had taken) some photo’s, but I’ll make do as best I can.


My sister and I were forever playing dress up.  She’d dress me up because she liked to pretend that I was her baby doll.  Other times I’d just dress myself up.  Sometimes we’d play dress up together and mom would take photo’s of us.


Just a random Wednesday dress up session & then because our Sister friends spent the night, so our older sisters dressed us up.


Running around in a bunny suit, like ya do… & trying on the Hawaiian garb that my grandparents brought back from their trip.


We’re just so dramatical in the kitchen!


It’s not something we happened to grow out of either.  We still enjoy dressing up and being goofy.  I chalk it up to our artistic/dreamer parents.  My mother was in theatre as well as painter.  Like a for real artist working in oil paints and actually knowing what particular brushes do what and having had lessons.  Our dad was a dreamer (he still is, if he allows himself to be).  He sketched some, but mainly he made tangible art like wire sculptures and soldering/welding… he even went into fine jewelry and created all the work.  They also liked sleeping late as most artists do.


Seeing what it was like to wear Burka … & trying new make-up designs from the Kevin Aucoin make-up book I had.


Growing up, I didn’t realize we were an odd family, but apparently we are.  The way my parents handled child rearing is not how their parents or their friends were handling it.  What I could get away with would have gotten them slapped or my childhood friends to be in serious trouble.  Others called it back-talking, but really we were free to express our opinions and ask questions so long as we weren’t overly emotional about it.  But, if we were, that was OK too, because everyone else got overly emotional and we’d all yell and scream and then everything would be alright and we’d be laughing and having ice cream or something afterwards.  People who weren’t members of our family thought one of us would die if they happened into one of these scenes.  “Nah.  If one of us was in trouble or really about to die, you’d know.  Knives would be drawn or we’d be running or something.”, is what I would tell people.


Wearing wigs and film Noir expressions for an impromptu photo shoot. There’s even fun to be had in the Old Navy dressing booth.


That time I got my hair cut and went wait a minute… and donned my fake fur trimmed winter coat because I knew I looked like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club.


Anyways, what I’m get to is that my entire family likes dressing up for Halloween and I think it’s because of our artistic sides.  That’s the point here.  I don’t have any pictures of my mom but basically since right before I was born, her costume was always a witch.  Always.  When I was really young she’d do green make-up and this prostethic costume hag nose with a wart on it and her witches hat.  In later years, she wears some Old Navy T-shirt with a glittery moon and black cat on it and will don a witches hat or just wear purple-y-red lipstick and a little glitter around her eyes.

Dad doesn’t dress up a lot, but he does enjoy Halloween.  Most Halloweens he’d just wear some fake vampire teeth or those candy lips and that was all the fun he needed apparently.  One year he went as Obi Wan Kenobi.  Actually that year, someone else dressed us as Obi Wan as well.  There’s a picture somewhere of both of them.  Dad insisted on watching the first film that night to make sure that he could actually be Obi Wan.  Now I know where I get that bit of wanting to be exact from.


Paul as Paul Bunyan, because of course!


Then there was the year he decided to go as Paul Bunyan and really went all out with all the things he already had, including his for real, deadly, wood chopping ax.  Isn’t it the best thing ever!  Such an awesome hand-made costume.


Black pompom headed witch is my sister & I’m the shepherd between the clown and Dracula.  Then my first Halloween and I’m the bunny and my sister is the little girl witch.


My mom threw a Halloween party every year when we were kids, but it wasn’t just for kids.  It was as much for the adults as it was for us.  Even my mothers sister, my Aunt Jan, dressed up.  She’s the really scary witch in the second photo.  But, while my mom and sister always got to be witches, for some reason my mom wanted me to be something wholesome.  So, for the first 5 or 6 years of my life she deemed that I had to be a sweet little shepherd boy.  You read that right.  A shepherd boy.  It wasn’t until I was about seven that I could start choosing costumes on my own.




The first costume I remember was a little Moroccan outfit that my aunt and grandmother got for me on holiday in Morocco.  It was about the same shade blue as above with gold trimming.  There was a pillbox style hat, a little vest, and pants that cinched at the ankles.  My sisters’ version was maroon and we wore these for Halloween the year that we received them, though I can not find that photo.

I was also in dance classes.  Because Disney’s The Little Mermaid was such a big deal, we had mermaid costumes and danced to Under The Sea that June.  The following October, I used it as my Halloween costume.  Can’t really remember a lot of the costumes I chose over the subsequent years, but when I was thirteen I chose to be Eric Draven from The Crow.  Mom refused to take a photo of me.  The following year I was a ghoul and she refused to take a photo of that look either.


Eric Draven from The Crow.

It was a pretty good costume for a thirteen year old kid without money.  No black leather pants, but I had black jeans.  I also had a 3/4 length sleeve black shirt and my dad’s military issue combat boots (the one’s he’s wearing to be Paul Bunyan).  My hair’s naturally wavy, so I just kept getting it a little wet all through the day and the make-up was easy with my moms face powder and black eye liner.  The ghoul, I used black eye liner to colour my nails, because they didn’t yet sell black fingernail polish around here.  And black around my eyes and to gaunt my cheeks and white powder again.



Then The Fellowship of the Ring hit theatres, and the following Halloween I went as Frodo.  I used my dad’s brown suit vest and one of his fancier shirts.  I used some black dressy capri pants I had and borrowed my friends really cool cloak.  I also just washed my hair and let it dry all wavy curly and even purchased some fake costume hair (I suppose fake beard hair… or to help you be a werewolf?) and afixed it to my feet.  And someone had given me a LotR bookmark that came with a fake One Ring that I wore on a cord around my neck.



After Memoirs of a Geisha came out, the book not the film, I went as Maiko.  It was A LOT of work.  I fixed the wig just right with red ribbon for the back and fake flowers and that dangly silver bauble you see, I made that and stuck it in there.  Painted my face, shoulders, and neck (even the back) all white, with the strip of flesh showing that isn’t white (obviously someone else had to help me with that bit of make-up & the obi tying).  And I’m not fortunate enough to own kimono or obi, so I had to find pretty patterns of material or bed sheets at yard sales and put it all together.  I even had a pair of wooden shoes similar to geta that I wore.  I think this also was a really awesome costume.

I’ve never been someone who thought tacky costumes or sexy geesha girl or sexy squaw or sexy anything cultural was OK.  I do the for real for real as best as I can and I also play the part.  So, as Maiko I didn’t get drunk and get crazy, I use acting skills and I am Maiko and glide and am lady like, or any other character, I’m not just dressing as them, I am being them.


The Aunts, Frances and Jet of Practical Magic

The first time I ever went as a witch.  Had some nice pointy black shoes, and black frilly clothes.  Put my hair up like Stockard Channing’s character (for I was to be Aunt Frances) and I had gotten these hair pieces for 50 cents total and just put them in my hair to make it longer.  It was a fun year.  My sister went as Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter.  And we went to a for real Halloween Party!


T’su Shi


My first time to be an older lady and I chose T’su Shi the last Empress of China.  Really it was her niece, but as her niece didn’t rule, I don’t technically count it.  She was, however, the Empress Dowager and last real ruler (with power) of the Qing Dynasty (and in China at all).  They called her Old Buddha.  I made the head piece by hand and found a different photo online that showed makeup.  I couldn’t do the dress as fancy, so I found a pretty floral flat bed sheet at a yard sale and used some RIT dye on it to make it pink.  It was a pretty awesome outfit, everyone agreed.  I do wish I had a photo of it.



Aja from Jem & The Holograms

I remember watching Jem & The Holograms as a kid, and this was before the new film came out, but I just kept thinking about it and remembering the blue haired girl, so by gosh I was going as her.  It was easy anyways.  I already had a blue wig and just painted my face up like hers (though it’s difficult to tell in the low lighting) and found some tacky 80’s-esque clothes at a thrift store.


T’Pau from Star Trek TOS;; Amok Time

My second older lady.  T’Pau, the older Vulcan Lady in the Star Trek (original series) epi Amok Time.  She’s presiding over Spocks arranged marriage.  She’s like one of the most awesome one time characters on that show.  My picture is not that good for several reasons.  One, my mom only got a bust shot, so you can’t see the entire outfit.  And no one knew how my hair was supposed to look so didn’t tell me that my wig had slipped backwards.  I had a black wig that I did all the braids for, and then a white hair pieces that I braided and affixed to the black wig.  In the mirror, before descending down the stairs, my hair looked like hers.  So, that’s all a shame.  My face would’ve been fine if I could have found latex to cover my eyebrows with before penciling Vulcan brows on.  But I couldn’t find any, so it’s a weird look.  I did find Vulcan ears though, but you can’t tell in the photo.  Anywho…  It actually was a fine costume when my wig would stay upright and if there wasn’t a flash on my face (because in low lighting you couldn’t tell my eyebrows were all that amiss)



Took this one in the car, obviously, so it’s not a great shot, but it too wasn’t a bad handmade costume.  I’d just read the Legends of the Dark Crystal manga’s and it’s set before The Dark Crystal film, so the Gelfling population hadn’t been decimated to just two.  They had all different girl Gelflings in the two books.  Blue hair, red hair, blonde.  I chose the orange haired one.  I also chose earrings that remind me of the Dark Crystal.  Used the Vulcan ears again as they look like Gelfling ears.  I also had wings, but of course those can’t be worn while driving in a car.


Lion Tamer

This is the year that I went as a Lion Tamer.  I already had a pretty awesome blue fitted coat and a white shirt and a whip and a cute stuffed toy lion.  The top had was easy (& cheap) to acquire and we had red ribbon that I could attach to it.  Some black eyeliner for a handlebar moustache & a little around my eyes and I was in business.  It was really a fun costume.  My sister (right in front of me) was actually wearing my mermaid costume from 1989, as she went as a mermaid that year.



And this past year, I went as Matroyshka.  Ya know, the nesting dolls from Russia.  They are actually, originally, from Japan, but were brought to Russia and they just took off with them, so now everyone only ever associates them with Russia (including myself).  I didn’t even do a full costume.  Just smoothed out my face with foundation, darkened in my eyebrows and used black eyeliner to draw overly dramatic eyelashes.  Then a pink shade of lipstick for the rosy cheeks and a darker shade for a sweetheart lip and lines out from it.  Wrapped myself Babushka (grandma/old lady) style in this scarf that reminds me of Russia and that was it.  The clothes I was wearing were just normal clothes.


Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard

A few weeks ago I rewatched Sunset Boulevard and instantly wanted to be Norma Desmond for Halloween.  Obviously I have nothing as good as her clothes, though I could cobble together something similar to the first outfit in black.  I could possibly pull the second outfit together (but none of the other ones from the film).  And I can make my hair wavy and fashion my own finger cigarette holder.  However, being Norma Desmond doesn’t really mean the clothing, I’d have to be her.  Talk like her, act like it.  I could do it while the film was on; imitate her facial expressions, hand gestures and patterns of speech, but now it’s all gone.  This is not a good costume to do because I do not have the time to prepare for it properly, yet it’s what my mind goes to first, every time.


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