I have a girlfriend who is totally convinced that “slutty [insert word here]” automatically makes for a great Halloween costume. I truly think this is an enviable talent as all my attempts at slutty armadillo or sexy fire hydrant have turned into actual horror shows far too terrifying for even the most ardent Halloween fanatics. The ghoulish holiday has never been a high point in my year. As a child I would make my own costumes as my mother was a proper working woman of the 80′s and didn’t do things like PTA, bake sales or play Barbie dress up. In college, I steered clear of Halloween parties because the best way to get murdered, roofied or robbed in NYC is to go to a parade or club on Halloween. Imagine my surprise when one year out of sheer necessity, I discovered that I have a secret talent of putting together fashionable Halloween costumes from the contents of my own closet! It all started with a mint green Anna Sui embellished bolero, a huge sheer scarf worn as genie pants and a Gucci cashmere top in the same color and suddenly I was dreaming of way more than Jeannie.
It was a revelation to match that of Retin-A, nude fishnets and turbans! I generally start with one item from my closet that I feel like wearing and then reference characters from history, literature or fashion to see how I can incorporate the piece. For example, my Navajo headdress lead logically to a Pocahontas get up and my kimonos inspired Zelda Fitzgerald, Cleopatra and Iris Aprfel costumes (although at the time I was wearing them as outfits rather than costumes).
Pocahontas. Native American headdress made by Navajos can be purchased here and come with a certificate of authenticity.
When referencing a person from history or a fashion icon, it’s best to choose someone who is highly recognizable with a few trademark looks. Audrey Hepburn a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s is an example of a recognizable yet fashionable costume that you could very well pull out of your closet.
Zelda Fitzgerald-inspired outfit referencing the end of the Belle Epoque and Paul Poiret’s aesthetic. Photo taken with Instagram.
Cleopatra headdress fashioned out of brass chain, wire hanger, tin foil, blue paint and gold leaf.
I suspect my newfound love for Halloween came with the realization that the secret to a convincing costume lies wholly in the accessories. It’s all about grasping the essence of a character and being able to replicate it. When I think Native American, images of feathers and turquoise come to mind; Holly Golightly needs a huge pair of sunnies, elbow length gloves and a diamond necklace; and Cleopatra needs heavy kohl eyeliner and blue eyeshadow. Don’t just go with generic costumes, a fringed dress and strand of pearls do not a flapper make. Do some research, find an angle that isn’t overplayed and then simmer it down to its most crucial aspects.
This year I think I might dress up either as artist Yayoi Kusama or as a drag queen version of myself. Of course no fashionable Halloween costume would be complete without Bill Cunningham following me around snapping street style shots so I might force Immigrant Husband to wear a blue painters smock and strap a camera to him!
The Yayoi Kusama window at Louis Vuitton’s Fifth Avenue flagship. Taken with Instagram.
Bill Cunningham, photo taken from here.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,