Re: Vox Article on Halloween Costuming

“Halloween outfits shouldn’t cost a ton of money. Think about the colors, shapes, and silhouettes needed for a costume to help you identify the look’s building blocks. For a gargoyle look, for example, you’ll need a lot of gray apparel and makeup. “Think about the shapes of things instead of the actual items,” says Ryan Walton, the producer of Halloween experiences for RWS Entertainment Group. “[Say] I need a round hoop-like thing. What can I do that’s round and hoop-like that’s not going to cost me a lot of money and then I can refabricate?”

Re: The Multi-Purpose Wardrobe

I have a love/hate affair with the capsule wardrobe. On one hand, I love the tangram-like possibilities of mixing and matching different outfits from a set group of pieces. The promise of both saving money and simplifying your wardrobe are as enticing and they are enchanting. On the other hand, I find it next to impossible to make the capsule wardrobe work in real life. First, as an apple-shaped person, I find it difficult to get matching tops and bottoms. If something fits my top, it won’t fit my waist and hips and vice-versa. Second, I find a limited selection of anything boring. I enjoy the new and the different. Three, as a denizen of the Far North, I require different seasonal pieces for the change in weather. Just in terms of coats, I have early fall, early winter, deep winter, late spring, and summer jackets.

My solution has been to pick those clothing items that can play a number of different roles as possible in my wardrobe. Below are my go-to pieces in hopes that you will find them helpful when building a multi-purpose closet of your own.

Tunics: I love tunics and I cannot lie/You other fashionistas can’t deny/that when a top hangs down past your waist ….well, you get the idea. As a long-waisted apple, tunics are my go-to piece. They work as a top, as a night gown, as a swimsuit cover up, and, if they are long enough, as a dress.

Leggings: I heart leggings. They work as exercise wear, as long underwear (a must for winter in a Northern climate), for dressy occasions under a tunic (see above), as casual pants, and, depending on your workplace, as workwear.

Waterfall sweater/jackets: I have two lightweight rayon open front “waterfall” sweater/jackets and I have become a complete convert to this style. The key is to find one in a fabric that is fluid enough for a flattering drape, but still easy to tie into a midriff top. This piece works as a lightweight jacket, a robe, a workout top, and a dance costume piece (if you’re a belly dancer like I am). You can wear it to work or for everyday, it works as well for formal as casual events.

Blazers: I’m a newcomer to the idea of “third” pieces, but I have become a blazer enthusiast. I really like how just adding a blazer gives any outfit a more pulled together look. The key here is to pick one that is both cool enough to wear indoors, but warm enough to function as a light jacket outdoors. I have several different blazers in different styles, but my favorite is the tie front blazer I got from Torrid. Made from stretchy material, it’s kind of like a heavy duty sweater.

Re: Finding Your Personal Style

National Public Radio’s Life Kit series featured a story on finding your personal style. The illustrated comic is great, but take time to listen to the podcast, too.

Here’s the link:

Re: Tax the Rich Dress

Vogue’s Getting Ready for the 2021 Met Gala featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

One of the best outfits in a sea of eye-catching fashions at the 2021 Met Gala was New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a white mermaid gown with “Tax the Rich” emblazoned on the back. It’s the perfect combination of activism and sheer tongue-in-cheek chutzpah. In this video, Alexandria and her designer, Aurora James, talk about their political advocacy and the inspiration behind her dress.

Re: Halloween Costumecast 2021

As autumn draws in and the leaves begin to fall, our thoughts turn once more to Halloween costumes. This Halloween is likely to be masked and socially distanced again. I’m eyeballing the commercial costume sites along with pop culture news in order to bring you this fashion forecast.

  • Political costumes: A less highly charged category than it’s been in years past. President Biden masks are available, but I had to search in order to find them. There are no Jill Biden masks that I can find. The Handmaid’s Tale costume remains popular especially since it can be worn to political rallies. Following the Met Gala, I fully anticipate someone slapping “Tax the Rich” on a bridal gown and going as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • Skellies, skellies, everywhere: Skeleton costumes continue to be popular. In addition to the traditional Day of the Dead costumes, skellies have branched out into fossil dinosaurs as well.
  • Movies and TV: The Cruella film has fanned new interest in the classic Disney Villain. In the Star Wars category, the Mandolorian remains strong (it is the Way). I predict that Marvel’s Loki will create an uptick in various Loki costumes as seen in the series. Go, go, President Loki and, my personal favorite, Alligator Loki.
  • Classics: Halloween favorites such as Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, and the Corpse Bride continue strong. Universal Classic Monsters has brought out a line of monster masks featuring those oldies but goodies the Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Dracula among others. Scary clown/scary circus trend continues as well.

Re: Halloween Costume Forecast 2019

Once more the fog of Halloween fashion swirls in the mystical crystal ball. What scary sights can we costumers expect to see this October 31st? Read on, gentle friends.

Merpeople: Mermen, merwomen, mermaids–you name it, if its got scales, swims the Seven Seas, and isn’t named Nemo, it is very in–or should I say “fin”?–this Halloween. Part of this wave is due to Jason Momoa’s turn as Aquaman in the movie of the same name, part is due to the continuing popularity of Disney’s Little Mermaid. A new twist is the development of the “dark mermaid”–a gothic twist on the cheerier “under the sea” versions.  While I have seen prop mermaid skeletons, I have yet to see a skellie or zombie mermaid costume, but who knows? One could float into view–belly up–in the near future.

Scary clowns/creepy circus characters:  The popular re-boot of Stephen King’s It is partly to blame here. The demonic clown from It is very popular as are generalized scary clowns and gothic circus performers.

Video game characters: This is a category that has been building in popularity for awhile. Legend of Zelda and Mario Brothers costumes have been gaining fans for a couple of years now, but Fortnite seems to have taken dressing as video game characters to a whole new level.

Astronauts: The 50th anniversary of America’s moon walk has inspired new interest in realistic NASA astronaut costumes for both adults and kids.

Pop culture TV and movie characters: Some major TV series/movie series came to an end this year which has encouraged a burst of Avengers/Game of Thrones costumes. Star Wars characters continue to be popular especially with the new movie coming out in December.  Superhero costumes continue to make a strong showing as do supervillains like the Joker and Harlequin.


Re: Padmaavat

If you are a fan of Bollywood and fabulous costumes, I would like to recommend PadmaavatPadmaavat is a historical epic about the romance between King Ratan Singh of Chittor (Rajastan, northern India), his Queen, Padmavati, and the ambitious sultan, Aluddin Khaliji who desires both his kingdom and his queen. Spoiler: it doesn’t end well. Think Game-of-Thrones-level of unwellness.

While the sets, cinematography, music, and especially the costumes are second to none, the story line itself is very simplistic. The characters are presented in very black and white terms–the Hindus are noble and good, the Muslims are barbaric and bad. The actors do the best they can with what they have been given–Ranveer Singh as Sultan Aluddin is a particular standout–but a more nuanced script would have really elevated this movie.

The costuming of this film is a good example of how costume designers have to make compromises between historical accuracy and the storytelling demands of the movie itself. Let’s take a look at the costuming of the one of the male leads to see how this dynamic plays out.

The historical Aluddin Khaliji was of Turkish-Afghani descent and, as head of the Delhi Sultanate, ruled over a large swath of India. His clothes would have most likely been similar to the Persian court costume see here in this 18th century print of him:

The problem with showing that on film is that both he and Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) would appear to be dressed alike. The costume designers’ solution was to emphasize Aluddin’s Turkic/Afghani heritage, giving him a more Central Asian look.

Here is a young Aluddin preparing to fight the invading Mongols. Note the Afghani-style turban he wears.

In this clip from the movie, you can see the contrasting styles that have been established for the two kings. Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), the good guy, is always well turned out and dressed in light, warm colors (ivory, cream, red orange). Even Ratan’s informal, hanging-around-the-palace clothes are embroidered and beautifully made. Everything about him says class, elegance, and civilization.

Aluddin (Ranveer Singh), the wicked sultan of the piece, by contrast, is almost always attired in dark colors that tend toward the cooler end of the spectrum (dark blue, off white, black, etc.).  His clothes are much simpler, more rustic and primitive than his Hindu counterpart. Fur is used to suggest his Central Asian origins and, by implication, his otherness.




Re: Halloween Costume Forecast 2018

And we’re back! Kinda like one of those serial killer villains the studios refuse to quit making movies about. (Looking at you, Jason). So what’s on the radar for Halloween in the Year of Our Lord 2018? Read on, gentle costumer.

  • Political themed costumes. The Handmaid’s costume from The Handmaid’s Tale is a good example since it epitomizes the convergence between pop culture (the TV show) and political protests against the policies of the Trump Administration.
  • Halloween classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus are still going strong.
  • Ditto superhero costumes with Wonder Woman and Black Panther taking prominence.
  • Coco, the heartwarming film about a young musician looking for his family in this world and the afterlife, will be generating a lot of costumes especially since it is tied into the Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead celebrations play a big part in the film. With Hotel Transylvania 3 coming out, expect to see character costumes from that film at your front door.

Re: Halloween Costumecast 2017

Ah, fall! That time when a costumer’s thoughts lightly turn to that best of all costume holidays, Halloween. Although to be accurate, Halloween is never far from our thoughts. What can we expect to crop up from this year’s crop of Halloween costume offerings? Read on, gentle readers.

  • Wonder Woman rides again! The popularity of the superhero characters in general and the well-received Wonder Woman movie this summer will see a spate of both the comic book and movie Wonder Woman characters this Halloween.
  • Superheroes of all kinds will continue in popularity as will zombies and pirates.
  • Minions continue their rise, spurred on by both their general loveability and the upcoming Despicable Me 3 movie.
  • President Trump. Although this isn’t an election year, I would be greatly surprised not to see various Trump costumes, possibly even the President and First Lady get-ups.
  • In the Disney film category, Beauty and the Beast costumes are being heavily marketed. Even so, I’m inclined to believe that Frozen will continue to beast beat them out.

Re: He Looks Like Angel


He looks like an angel/Walks like an angel/But now we’re wise /He’s the devil in disguise.

Jude Law stars as Cardinal Lenny Belardo who is elected to the papacy as Pius XIII in The Young Pope.  This TV series poses the question: what would happen if someone like Donald Trump became Pope? The answer is “a lot of well-dressed chicanery in beautiful surroundings.”

While the settings are spectacular and painterly, the costumes deserve a mention in their own right.


If there’s one photo that sums up the series, it’s this one of Lenny casting some shade (literally) in his papal bling and sunglasses. The whole pose has a certain gangster vibe which suits the character.


Here’s Lenny’s more everyday wardrobe–a white cassock with gold trim and a white shepherd’s hat. Next to him is Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), the foster mother who raised him. If you’re not Catholic, you may be wondering “what sort of awesome outfits do nuns have?” The answer is: “you’re looking at it.” Nuns don’t get bling because women, even a fairly high-ranking woman like Sister Mary, have no political power within the church. With great power comes great embroidery.


Even when he’s dressed more informally, Lenny wears some version of white–in this case, a cream-colored tracksuit.

The following sequence shows Lenny getting dressed for his big speech to the College of Cardinals.


He starts with a shirt and knee breeches, adds the shoes, and then goes for the cassock layer.


Over the cassock goes a second one made of white lace. He then adds the heavy mantle. Lenny is a hyper-conservative traditionalist so he favors very medieval-looking vestments.



And for the crowning touch, the triple tiara representing the pope’s temporal power. Set aside over 40 years ago by a previous pope, Lenny has it returned to the Vatican for his big address.

Finally, here’s the costume (and the actor) in action. Lenny makes a grand entrance into the Sistine Chapel.



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