Re: Minimalist Halloween Costumes

Pineapple CostumeKelly Mindell modeling her pineapple costume. Photo by Jeff Mindell.

One of things I became fascinated with this past year was minimalist Halloween costumes. I was turned on to the idea by Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY in Los Angeles. Above is a great picture of her pineapple costume. Check out her other costume designs on her blog. Kelly helpfully adds links to basic dresses you can customize.

For the purposes of this post, I’m defining a minimalist costume as one that creates, as simply as possible, a striking and unmistakeable graphic image. Which set me to thinking: what kind of Halloween costumes lend themselves to these stripped down, but powerful designs?

Bedsheet Ghost

The classic bedsheet ghost costume is probably the most basic minimalist Halloween costume of all time. Unfortunately, the old bedsheet-over-the-head costume has lost ground in recent years to the more realistic specter costume.

Skeletons are very bare bones (pun intended) and have been gaining ground in recent years, thanks to the popularity of Day of the Dead celebrations.

Skeleton Family

Pumpkin costumes are readily recognizable as a Halloween staple

Child's Pumpkin Costume

Love the vintage vibe of this fantastic child’s costume.

Pumpkin Costume

A more standard take on the traditional pumpkin motif.

Moving away toward more modernist designs, I really like the streetlight costume. It’s bold, graphic, and colorful. If you’re able to find some battery-operated lights, that just adds to the fun. Do a search for “traffic light costume” to see some of the great variations out there.

Traffic Light and Cone Costume

Janelle from Canada submitted this traffic light and traffic cone couples costume to Coolest Homemade

Anything that creates a strong visual image is a potential costume generator including Surrealist paintings.

Son of Man Painting

Son of Man painting by Rene Magritte.

Son of Man Group Costume

Son of Man group costume.

Re: Crimson Eeeek!

Crimson Peak Poster

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a handsome, brooding, Bryonic hero possessed of decaying mansion full of dark secrets must necessarily be in want of an innocent bride to share it with.

Okay, that’s not how Crimson Peak opens, but it should.

It’s a shame that a perfect Halloween movie like Crimson Peak should come out too close to Halloween to make an impact on this year’s costume season. Not content to allow all these cool Victorian Gothic costume ideas to go to seed, I have come up with a couple of ideas for re-creating major costumes from the film.

I picked what I regarded as some of the most iconic images from the earlier trailers and stills–the Sharpes in their black visiting outfits and Edith in her long white nightgown. The idea here is not create exact reproductions, but to mimic the look of said costumes for the average Halloween party or costume masquerade.

The Sharpes Crimson Peak

Although Lucille and Thomas Sharpe have other outfits, I felt that their “vampire visitation” gear was the easiest to reproduce. For Lucille’s outfit, I would recommend finding a Wicked Witch of the West costume and adding black and white lace to it. If you already have a Victorian-style blouse and Gypsy style-skirt with ruffles that you can tuck into the back for a bustle effect, that would probably work, too. Complete the outfit with black fingerless gloves, black parasol, a red rose pin, and a black lacy hat. Extra points for adding the blackened floral trim. You might be able to get away with a black placemat with added lace for the hat.

Lucille Sharpe

Thomas Sharpe

Thomas Sharpe’s outfit is a lot easier. Black pants, black vest, white shirt, black cravat, and black frock coat. Extra points for adding the silver watch chain. If you can find a Victorian vampire or Abe Lincoln costume, you may be able to re-purpose the frock coat.

Both siblings sport tinted round spectacles. I would recommend raiding the “hippie Halloween costume section” for John Lennon-style shades.

Edith with Candelabra

The extra-poofy sleeves of Edith’s white nightgown are the hardest part of this costume to get right. If you have a poofy shrug, you can wear that over any sort of white nightgown or white dress with a  wide skirt. Failing that, I recommend checking out thrift stores for a wedding dress with puffed sleeves.

Since Edith is a damsel in distress, it seems only right to distress the hem of her dress with red paint or dye in a spray bottle. Important props: long blonde wig, candelabra, and bloody knife.

Re: Krampus Your Style

Krampus the Christmas Demon

Krampus the Christmas Demon (

Every now and then, I run across a Halloween costume that just makes me insanely happy on a very deep, spiritual level. Krampus the Christmas Demon, which I found browsing the Theatrical Costumes section on the Spirit Halloween website, is one of them. Most people are generally aware of the Germanic tradition of St. Nickolas rewarding good children on Christmas. What most people (or at least most Americans) aren’t aware of is that traditionally St. Nickolas is accompanied by a helper who punishes the bad children. This helping figure is known variously as Black Peter or Krampus and he either hands out switches or, in the case of Krampus, pops the kids into his sack and eats them for dinner.  (‘Cause it’s not really a Germanic holiday unless some kind of punishment is being doled out).

The very best part about this costume is that you can scare the beejezus out of  your neighbors on two separate holidays–Halloween AND Christmas. Heck, catch your neighbors at the right time on Christmas morning and Mommy and Daddy will happily stuff little Johnny into your sack for you. Your problem is going to be giving the little devil back.

Add to this the Krampus movie coming out in December and this costume couldn’t be more timely.

Re: Halloween Costume Forecast 2015

And for our fearless (or fearful) Halloween costume forecast for this year. By shaking my trust Magic-8 ball, I see that the most popular costumes this Halloween will be as follows:

  • Zombies and Minions will still be going strong as will Pirates and Vampires.
  • Politics will produce the usual strange bedfellows (Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for this year).
  • You can’t rid of superheroes with a stick (although Ultron gave it a good try).
  • There are interesting costume flicks/TV shows out there (Crimson Peak and Outlander come to mind), but they are too new to make much of a showing.

Re: Fourth of July Humor

Hey Girl Revolutionary War


Re: Outlander

Here’s a great interview (with pictures natch) with Terry Dresbach who is the costume designer for the Starz series, Outlander. Nice quote here about watching Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall) transform from regular guy actor into bad guy British officer just by putting on his uniform. That’s the magic of costuming!

Re: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Brown Outfit

Miss Pettigrew brown dress.

I’m working my way through Lee Pace’s backlist and while doing so discovered this little gem of a movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008). The film is a throwback to the screwball comedies of the 1930s with heart, depth, a great soundtrack, fabulous costumes, and splendid sets. Miss Pettigrew (Francis McDormand) is a middle-aged governess who is down on her luck. Dismissed from her last position and desperate to stay off the streets, she wangles her way into the next job the temp agency has open: social secretary to the glamorous American singer, Delysia LaFosse (Amy Adams). Over the next twenty-four hours, Miss Pettigrew defuses a series of crises for her new employer and in the process redefines herself.

When our story opens, we find Miss Pettigrew looking very dowdy in her dark brown sack-like dress and coat. Frances McDormand says she decided that Miss Pettigrew probably hadn’t had any new clothes since she put together her trousseau as a young woman back during the Great War so many of her oufits appear to be stuck in an earlier era.

Miss Pettigrew Blue Scarf

The first change we see is when Delysia gives Miss Pettigrew a blue scarf. The scarf immediately brightens up Miss Pettigrew’s outfit and becomes an important prop later on as we shall see.

Miss Pettigrew Delysia's Blue Dress

Delysia’s blue dress gives her an all-American girl appearance.

Delysia first makes an appearance in her frou-frou peach dressing gown, then changes into a smart blue dress and hat for her visit to Edith duBarry’s Beauty Salon.

Miss Pettigrew Lingerie Show

Miss Pettigrew Lingerie Show

The lingerie show that Miss Pettigrew and Delysia attend serves as a commentary on the contentious relationship between Edith (Shirley Henderson) and her on-again-off-again fiance, Joe Bloomfield (Ciaran Hinds).

Miss Pettigrew Lingerie Corset Closeup

Miss Pettigrew Edythe duBarry

Edith’s designs are heavy corsets filled with whalebone and steel–a conservative approach aimed at older women such as the two matrons who look so disapproving when Delysia and Miss Pettigrew sit down next to them. It’s implied that Edith is a self-made woman whose worked her way up the social ladder and her lingerie designs reflect her conservative, unsentimental, and business-like nature. Although Joe is an older man, his designs are light, flowing, and very modern. We learn during the course of the scene that it’s Joe who has designed the blue scarf Miss Pettigrew likes so much–and the first point of attraction between them is established.

Miss Pettigrew Trio

Miss Pettigrew as nature intended.

Since Miss Pettigrew’s current ensemble is unsuitable for her current role as social secretary, Delysia and Edith give her a makeover. Miss Pettigrew re-emerges in a simple blue dress, updated but still appropriate for a working woman.


Miss Petttigrew Delysia's Cocktail Dress

Undoubtedly, Delysia has the best wardrobe (and the most costume changes) of any of the characters. Here we see her pink dress that she wears to an afternoon cocktail party.

Miss Pettigrew Delysia's Gold Gown

Delysia’s gold gown. Probably my favorite costume in this film.

The piece-de-resistance is her gold evening dress that she wears for her job as a singer at The Scarlet Peacock nightclub. It’s a wonderful Grecian draped, 1930s piece.

Blue Dress Waltz

Miss Pettigrew’s blue velvet dress in action.

Miss Pettigrew also gets an evening wear upgrade, a blue velvet dress with a rose. The small white ruffle is symbolic of her tentative flirtation with high fashion. The waltz with Joe, of course, cements their growing attraction to each other.

Miss Pettigrew Delysia's Traveling Outfit

Delysia’s final outfit, the white traveling suit.

The story ends, of course, as all good fairytales do with the all the lovers reunited. Delysia wears a very smart, off-white traveling suit which suggests bridal wear in her final bow to the camera.



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