Have a Scary but Comfortable Halloween

| Oct 30, 2017

Dear Readers — BOO! And a Happy Halloween! Let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects: COSTUMES. I make ’em, and I wear ’em. And I LOVE Halloween — it is one time (or a week) wherein we can seriously get our freak on, experiment with gender stereotypes, scare the crap out of strangers, and “Don’t Dream It, Be It.” So here’s my take on important considerations for choosing, obtaining and working a costume!

Could you go to the restroom in Heidi Klum’s 2010 Halloween costume?

The most important thing about any costume is this: Can you pee while wearing it. No lie — you can go as Miley Cyrus, straddling a wrecking ball, but if you can’t get to a bathroom and pee, your costume is NOT a success. Oh, and this doesn’t apply to those who choose to “cath up” to abolish urinary needs — that’s your own business, and please leave the rest of us out of it. I had an incident once (Okay, more than once, I’m a slooow learner) where my costume required a foundation undergarment; it was a one-piece “body briefer,” like a long girdle, with bathroom access through a torturous hook-and-eye crotch closure. Oh, it opened just fine, but you just try re-closing a set of four hooks and eyes while in a long velvet costume, IN HEELS, in a tiny restroom stall, after having a few beers … it never ends well. So my real-world advice is this: when you are completely costumed, hie yourself to a bathroom and TRY IT OUT. Can’t get to your equipment? FIX THIS BEFORE LEAVING THE HOUSE! It won’t get better on its own! Snap crotch-snaps are easier do do up than hooks and eyes, and Velcro is easier than both. Some Spanx® have a clever little opening of stretchy fabric, no hardware required — really easy!

Practice dealing with long dresses.

Dealing with longer-than-normal skirts can be an issue too; how many of us regularly wear a sweeping, 17th century full satin skirt? Or a hoop skirt, 6 petticoats, or a train? Okay, maybe a few … Here’s what you GOTTA do — PRACTICE! Practice WALKING; you will need to know how to gracefully gather up and elevate your hemlines and skirts, to step over drunks, puddles, and the shreds of other people’s dignity. The best method is to practice in front of a mirror, and find spots on either side of the skirt where you can just reach down and grab a handful of skirt and petticoat and lift them just enough to show your shoes. Don’t gather up from the HEM — this will just look awkward and show your undies, but delicately collect a big ole handful of fabric and raise it demurely. Another option for an outfit with a train is bustling; this is done ahead of time, like a wedding dress, and gently gathers up the train in an attractive way, using hidden buttons or loops. First, you walk in to the venue OWNING it, with train dragging sumptuously after you. Then when all assembled are suitable dazzled, retreat to a room or corner with a pre-chosen associate or friend who will help you bustle it. It is much easier than it sounds, and will keep you from ruining the costume by having drunks and oafs stepping on it, or tripping over it and suing you.

As always, when you are in your costume, check for bra straps and tags showing, pins left in, and ensure that you have an appropriate way of carrying ID, money, phone, and other necessities. A pocket is best, or a period-specific bag is nice. Lipstick, safety pins and extra bobby pins are smart to carry, and maybe a business card. Make sure nothing is showing that you don’t WANT showing — like your buttocks. Wear them proudly, but intentionally.

Anther area that requires vigilance is hair! Especially wigs; use a wig cap, and really nail that sucker down! Hundreds of bobby pins will often be needed, or that wig is gonna slip. If you have a crown or headpiece, consider having it attached to the wig, as this will give you one less thing about which to fret. If you have on a lot of rings and/or bracelets, remember they can get stuck in your wig! And if you are drinking, for god-sakes just leave the wig on! You always run the chance of, when becoming irritated or tired of the wig, taking it off and losing track of it — one of mine was spotted in a TREE outside of Henri David’s Ball the next morning … still living that one down.

Make sure you can walk in those extreme heels.

SHOES — always an area of potential disaster! We dearly want our costume footwear to be cute as “HAIL” — but you gave got to be able to walk and stand around in them for up to five hours! A trial run is essential here. Wear them around the house for 4-5 hours — if you are not hobbling in agony, you’re good to go. I try to bring what I call my “drunk shoes.” They are a lower-heeled version of the towering heels I started in, and once you have made your triumphal first impression, nobody’s going to notice you have changed footwear.

Well, those are my major costume hot-points!  Practice, think ahead about peeing and about footwear, wigs and a purse, check yourself with a three-way mirror and/or a truthful friend, bring bobby pins and safety pins, don’t drive drunk and remember — there are cameras in the parking areas.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Contact The Occasional Woman for a head start on next year’s Halloween costume, or for custom made clothing for any occasion.

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Category: Fashion, How To, Style

Lorraine Anderson

About Lorraine Anderson: I am a native Californian who has been based in the Philadelphia area since 1984. My first CD fashion creation was a gold lamé dress for the now esteemed editor of this publication. Since then I have made tons of fabulous frocks and other fashion apparel for the crossdressing and transgender community. Visit my website, The Occasional Woman or my Facebook page.

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