People are usually surprised when I say I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. I’m a theater kid, we’re supposed to love any opportunity to embrace a costume, particularly if a theme is involved. Setting aside the fact that I haven’t been onstage since 2003 – almost half a lifetime ago! – the truth of the matter is that Halloween becomes a lot more work and a lot less fun when you’re a larger lady.
I’m 5’9″ so those flirtatiously short costumes that you see on other girls put me in danger of an indecent exposure arrest. It’s also just too damn hard to try to buy a costume off-the-rack; most costumes run small and the cheap fabrics do absolutely nothing for my body. So if I want to do a costume, I have to make it myself – and since I can’t sew, that usually means trying to think of something I can build around existing wardrobe pieces.
My all-time laziest costume was “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – I dressed in all black, wore a pair of dark sunglasses and lots of pearl jewelry, and I carried a Tiffany’s bag filled with donut holes. I loved this costume, but very few people understood it, so I spent most of the night explaining myself to increasingly drunk party-goers. On the plus side, drunk people love snacks, so the donuts were a win. I don’t have any pictures of this costume, because in every picture from that Halloween, I just look like the lame friend who showed up in normal clothes – although my hair does look fantastic.
I knew I had to step it up the following year, so I went as Miss Piggy. I wore a strapless black dress I already had in my wardrobe, and I made a purple and silver sequined belt to wear with it. I bought purple velvet gloves and a purple feather boa (which molted all over my friend Steph’s apartment – sorry, Steph!) and recycled the mountains of fake pearls left over from the previous year’s Tiffany’s get up. I made pink pig’s ears from craft foam and glued them to a headband, and I put a Kermit the frog picture on a stick and carried it around to make it completely clear who I was meant to be. (In other news, check out that REALLY AWESOME photo quality – this dates back to 2009, and I grabbed it off of Facebook. Those pictures were 100% taken with someone’s crappy Canon point-and-shoot digital camera. Thank you internet for making these things so easily accessible. Also, can we show a little love for my commitment to the Snookie poof?)
I really outdid myself with Miss Piggy, and I have absolutely no recollection of my costumes for the next few years. The internet is also no help here – 2010 through 2013 were apparently dark years. I’m going to go ahead and blame that on the fact that it is just so damn hard to figure out a costume when you aren’t a size 6.
2014 marked my return to costume life, and I scaled back a bit from Miss Piggy. I went as a minion, based purely on the fact that I had a denim dress that would work as a substitute for the minion’s overalls. Yellow tights, a yellow long sleeved tee, and black boots completed the look. I kept the crafting to a minimum, making a belt with the Gru logo on it and crafting together a pair of goggles. The goggles fell apart at the first party I wore this costume to, but luckily it was hosted by a world-class DIY-er who had spray glue on hand to help me fix things. We got a little overzealous (I blame the tequila and not her skills with spray glue, for the record) and my beer bottle was stuck to my hand the rest of the night, but otherwise it was a success. This was also the comfiest costume I’ve worn in ages.
I went from that – pretty simple, minimal effort – to the most involved costume I’ve ever made. In 2015, I decided I could not live another day without channeling Cruella DeVille. I wore a simple black dress, and made a red sequined belt to go over it. I bought the wig and teased it within an inch of its life, and I carried around a stuffed dalmatian with a noose tied around its neck (sidebar: there are two types of people in the world – the type who finds that hilarious, and the type who thinks it’s horrifying and that I’m a bad person for finding it hilarious. Excellent way to help me weed out the people who lacked a sense of humor at the party.) I also decided to sew my own cape, with a dalmatian-print exterior and a red sequined lining. Only one problem: I can’t sew. At all. And the printed fabric was super thick, so getting a needle through it was a challenge. I worked on that damn cape every night for hours in the week leading up to Halloween, but in the end it was totally worth it. This costume was SO expensive to make, and while it wasn’t uncomfortable, it wasn’t exactly easy to wear – the cape was super warm, and the wig didn’t really fit properly on my gigantic head. I held onto the whole thing and will definitely reuse it at some point in the future, but it’s retired for the time being.
I’m in the process of making this year’s costume – the Queen of Hearts. I originally considered Alice to take advantage of my straight blonde hair, but 1) I don’t own a blue dress to serve as the foundation of the costume and 2) Alice is boring. as. fuck. I love a villain and I love a diva, and the Queen of Hearts is both of those things. I’m recycling the red sequin belt from last year, and I’m making most of the other costume elements – a headpiece (I LOVE a headpiece), a royal scepter, and a tutu. I’m crafting some flowers from playing cards using this tutorial, and I got rose beads to serve as the center. The head piece will be made from silk flowers and glitter craft foam for the crown, and the scepter will be made from playing cards and more craft foam. The tutu is a work in progress – it’s incredibly easy and involves NO SEWING (I learned my lesson last year), but when I tried it on halfway through the process today, I realized it extended a full two feet in front of my body. Not. Good. So I’m restarting and hoping it’s a little less full if I use a single layer of tulle instead of double up.
I want to look cute on Halloween just like any girl, but for that to happen, I have to put in a hell of a lot more work (and time, and money) than most people. It’s just not possible for me to walk into a party store and leave with a flattering costume. Luckily, I consider myself to be pretty crafty and creative, and I don’t really mind the time it takes to make these costumes happen — but I just felt like I needed to acknowledge that it is a process, and sometimes it is kind of a pain in the ass. And if I woke up tomorrow and had magically shrunk to a size 6, you bet your ass I wouldn’t be spending my time in line at Joann’s waiting for the fabric cutting counter. I’d be at Party City picking up something premade and enjoying my newfound free time leading up to October 31.