If you’re thinking of making this year’s Halloween costume yourself, you can stick with simple or go Hollywood pro. Neither has to take much time or money, and either can create a convincing costume, whether you’re looking to draw guffaws, shrieks or admiring nods.
Brenda K.B. Anderson, who builds creatures and costumes for the touring “Sesame Street Live” show at VEE Corp. in Minneapolis, says some of the same theories she uses there also apply to making Halloween costumes. A good costume blurs the line between reality and fantasy, she says; even simple subterfuge, such as donning a wig or wearing thick-rimmed glasses, can suffice.
“When people can’t see what you really look like beneath the makeup, hair and clothes, you are much more believable,” says Anderson, author of “Beastly Crochet” (Interweave, 2013).
For instance, she suggests padding a costume such as around the middle for a clown or bear to disguise your own shape and make it more authentic.
Start pulling your costume together by visiting a thrift shop, Anderson advises.
“Thrift stores are kind of a gold mine for the beginnings of Halloween costumes,” she says.
Kim Conner, of Burlington, Vt., writes about thrifty craftiness at her “733” blog.
“I try to utilize things that I have, and what I have to buy is inexpensive,” says Conner.
For instance, her simple pig costume: Felt ears attached to a pink headband, a plastic bottle cap wrapped in felt and topped with a pink button to resemble a pig’s snout. Her mermaid costume, a little more complicated, involves sewing.
An added challenge is trying to keep her children warm on Halloween night without having to cover up with coats. Some tricks: Incorporate a hat, wig, hooded cloak or long gloves into the costume. On bare arms, wear nylons. Legs stay warm in thick-cotton stockings, leggings or tall boots.
The editors at Real Simple magazine also focus on scrounging around the house for supplies, such as brown paper bags and cereal boxes, or buying the bare minimum to fashion costumes for kids and adults. For a flapper, for instance, attach horizontal rows of fringed pink Post-it notes with red metallic tape to cover a simple dress; glue two mini cupcake liners, with gold-dot stickers in their centers, as flower decorations.
Many of Real Simple magazine’s adult costumes can be assembled moments before a Halloween party. The outfit often hinges on a pun. For example, wear a white chef’s hat and apron, and carry an iron (real or toy) to be an “iron chef.”
The creative types at Martha Stewart Living have turned out another Halloween Special Issue magazine full of costumes, some of which can be had in a flash: Glue blue and green craft-store feathers and a beak cut from yellow paper to green plastic glasses and wear a matching boa. Presto! You’re a parrot.
What’s really enchanting in the magazine this year? The plethora of faux lashes, contact lenses, lip appliques and gruesome tattoos.
“Special-effects makeup is really making its way into the marketplace,” says Marcie McGoldrick, editorial director of holiday and crafts for Martha Stewart Living.
These items aren’t cheap and require planning ahead. But the effect can be haunting. The “snake charmer” costume includes contact lenses, faux lashes, snakeskin-patterned lip tattoos, ample eyeliner and a rubber snake around the neck like a choker.
Other makeup effects include 3D scars and the latest in tattoos that mimic bruises, cuts and scars, all easy to apply, McGoldrick says.
A parrot costume is worn with a feathery boa and colored feathers. A yellow paper beak is attached to cheap, plastic glasses.×
Kim Conner, a Burlington, Vt., marketing director and mother of three, designed this mermaid costume for her daughter.×
A zombie costume with makeup, including white greasepaint, and 3-D scars, creates a convincing zombie look.×