Do costumes the creative way this Halloween.

Posted on October 23, 2011


Below is my column on Halloween that was printed in the Red & Black last Thursday. It has more allusions than I ever thought my editor would allow, which I consider a personal victory. You can find the original online post here. Use my ideas for inspiration, or leave some of your own in the comments!

There’s a certain “mad” science to the Halloween costume. Or, at least, I wish there was. But every year at the end of October, many University students seem plagued by the same incurable disease: unoriginality. This disease takes the form of polyester-blend, stiff and store-bought French maid get-ups, police officer costumes, men in diapers and doctors with exposed plastic rears.

Indeed, for a culture that takes such joy in Halloween and drops fistfuls of money into the scare industry every year, I cannot believe we still haven’t found a way to avoid making a cheap wig itchy. I’m beside myself with the hoards of cartoonish political masks and boorish couples’ costumes.

And as a college-aged woman, I witness how many of my female peers “sexify” their Halloween looks, and they never fail to unnerve me. To quote Cady Heron, “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

But, I have to say something. I’m tired of sexy costumes ruining everything I loved as a child — Hogwarts, Disney princesses, the Catholic church, what have you. I still can’t help but wonder how and why so many girls use Halloween as an excuse to “sexify” the most inane things. Sexy crayons? Sexy mice?

Dear Lord, please let no one try to dress as sexy Rebecca Black this year.

As the proverbial Cady Heron of the party (and in a sense the voice of reason in lieu of concerned parents), I’ve taken it upon myself to present a few guidelines for University students in considering a 2011 Halloween costume.

Instead of fishnets, hot pants, a bandeau and some animal ears that make it possible to say, “I’m a mouse. Duh,” I prefer the creatively executed women’s look — one that exudes both attractiveness and forethought. This might take the form of an iconic starlet, a romanticized historical figure or something timely. Try dressing as Kate Middleton, a hot-but-not-slutty Hermione, or the universally appealing Joan Holloway.

For hipsters, on the other hand, an emphasis on taste or irony replaces the hotness factor. A character from “Breathless” or a zombiefied, obscure historical figure might suffice (see: zombie George Washington Carver. Or perhaps zombie Art Garfunkel).

For others, like manly men, Halloween can be more of a challenge. In this age of man purses and Zac Efron, pop culture leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not always easy to play dress-up and still look badass. But this year, I’ll make it easy for those testosterone-ridden creatures that fear a massacre of masculinity by costume.

The first, and in my opinion the best, is “Parks and Recreation’s” carnivorous Libertarian, the mustached — the legendary — Ron Swanson. Even though Swanson might disavow something as petty as Halloween, it’d still be fun to embody his character for a night — especially if you enjoy drinking scotch in stoic silence.

The second of my 2011 Manly Dude Trifecta is Ryan Gosling’s stuntman-turned-avenger from the film “Drive.” Gosling has swiftly become one of the most widely accepted man crushes in America. As such, it’s completely acceptable to don tight pants, sunglasses and a scorpion-stamped leather jacket this holiday season in his honor.

Finally, for the guys’ guys with a nerdy side: anyone from “Game of Thrones.” Or, for the brave, I suggest Steve Jobs — either earthly or angelic — keeping in mind, of course, that it’s a tribute and not a mockery. If you’re still struggling with a costume, just throw on some tighty whities, a bald cap and glasses and call yourself Walter White.

See, outside of the price traps of Halloween surplus stores and the unsightliness of any outfit embellished with pleather, there’s a bountiful bulk of original costume opportunity this year.

And, if you’re wondering, I’ll be channeling Miss Frizzle, the lizard-wielding Magic School Bus driver, this year. A sexy Miss Frizzle at that.

Update: this is my take on Miss Frizzle. Judge as you will.