Re: Howl-o-ween

Werewolf T-Shirt Craftster

Jilltheimpossible shows off her newly stencilled werewolf T-shirt (Craftster). She didn’t make up the quote, but she did do the shirt.

Werewolves don’t get no respect–and they don’t get any decent costumes either. Think about it.  Vampires get the all the press, the babes, and the smart yet brooding outfits. Werewolves are lucky to get second billing, if they get any billing at all, and they almost never get an attractive transformation sequence.

Let’s face it. Most werewolf costumes are just plain unattractive and clunky-looking. They don’t say “scary yet sexy wolfperson” as much as they say “I got too near a vat of latex” or “sorry, I seem to have an unfortunate body hair problem”.

This Halloween I would like to challenge all the costumers out there to reinvent the werewolf for the 21st century. The first step is to see werewolves for what they are–cool shapeshifters, not  some demon or ungainly man-wolf hybrid.

With that in mind, let’s take a fresh look at werewolf costumes. Below are a couple of looks I like.

Werewolf Costume 1987 brykmantra

Dashing young werewolf about town  Brykmantra won several local costume contests with this 1987 wolfman costume. He improved on the look by lightening up on the brown face paint and layering the hair. (Flickr)

The enterprising Brykmantra kicks it old school by going with a classic wolfman interpretation–basically a suit with facepaint and a little extra body hair. Comfortable and–dare I say it?–tasteful, too. You could make this look more working class by dressing down–jeans and a T-shirt or long-sleeved flannel shirt. Think Wolverine from the X-men movies.

Werewolf Costume Simplicity Flickr

His night to howl. An unnamed gentleman models the Simplicity werewolf costume at Costume Con 27 in Maryland (2009). Posted by oldpatterns on Flickr.

The Simplicity option is a good one if you expect to be trekking around in nippy Halloween weather or if you prefer not to do heavy makeup. Basically, the outfit consists of a furry hood with ears, clawed gloves, and a sculpted chest protector-type vest that ties around the neck and at the waist.

Werewolf Costume Simplicity Flickr II

Same model with coat off showing the back of the Simplicity werewolf vest (Costume Con 27, 2009, Maryland). As you can see, a coat or overshirt is necessary to cover up this part of the costume.

Werewolf Costume Simplicity Flickr III

Call of the wild.  Designer Andrea Schewe poses with her creation (Costume Con 27, 2009, Maryland). Posted by oldpatterns on Flickr.

Werewolf Makeup I Flickr ktb8293

Flickr user ktb8293 posted this photo of her great werewolf makeup.

Another idea is to go with animal facepaint. I like that ktb8293 completely relies on makeup, not fake fur or fangs, to give her a “wolven” expression.

Werewolf Makeup II Flickr ktb8293

A close up of ktb8293’s werewolf face paint (Flickr).

Werewolf Mask Closeup Kory Bing Flickr

Kory Bing constructed this great werewolf mask from paper mache, ribbon, and rabbit fur for Halloween 2004. The design is based on the story, “The Wolves of St. August”, from the Hellboy comic by Mike Mignola (Flickr).

If you don’t like the full face makeup idea, a classic, lightweight, animal face, masquerade mask is a great option. I like that Kory has gone for a realistic “wolf” look here and eschewed (no pun intended) the fake fur and latex snarl.

Werewolf Mask Kory Bing (Flickr)

Kory shows off her full costume (Flickr).

Two Wolf Princes

Jedi Elf Queen created this Big Bad Wolf costume for a college production of Steven Sondheim’s  musical, “Into the Woods”.

I love the fact that the wolf has pirate boots as well as a furry peruke (wig), tied back in the proper 18th century, and a furry jabot.  The clothes are made using the Simplicity pirate costume pattern. Check out Jedi Elf Queen’s pictures here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Wolf/Pirate/Prince Costumes”. She has an especially clever “spat solution” for the swashbuckling boots.

Werewolf T-Shirt Back Craftster

The back of Jilltheimpossible’s wolf shirt. The clawmarks are a nice touch. (Craftster).

Re: My Halloween Costume Predictions

The costumes people choose at Halloween are a snapshot of the zeitgeist of that time.  Fearlessly, I look into my crystal ball and predict the following for Halloween 2009:

  • Akasha, Queen of the Damned and Heath Ledger’s Joker have lost none of their appeal judging by the number of hits on this blog.
  • Zombies and pirates will make a good showing once again.
  • Michael Jackson costumes will be popular, driven both by the Gloved One’s celebrity status and by his Halloween-themed music videos like “Thriller”.
  • With the 2008 Presidential Election over, expect a sharp drop-off in political-themed costumes. Persistent names-in-the-news Sarah Palin and Bernie Madoff may show up.

Re: Piratitude

Blackbeard

Blackbeard (Edward Teach) makes his last stand in this painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris.

Avast here, me hearties! Aye, it be true that Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th) has come and gone and once again we be found a-wantin’ in the piratical gear department due to a scurvy bout with the flu bug. Obviously, now that we’ve recovered and the wind is in the riggin’ so to speak, we must away to pillage yon costuming ports, but what should we be looking for?

Let’s aloft, says you, and ascertain.

Let your first stop be that den of wicked seafarers, the Gentlemen of Fortune, whom I have referred to before on these pages. In particular, I suggest checking out their Sailor Slops section (say that three times fast, especially after some grog). They talk about the clothes that a sailor re-enactor should be acquiring so let it be your guide to the costume items you should be looking for.

Burt Lancaster as Captain Vallo

Burt Lancaster as Captain Vallo in the 1950s swashbuckler, “The Crimson Pirate”, still and away one of my favorite pirate flicks.  You could bounce quarters off of Burt’s physique as he swings through the rigging showing off the skills he acquired as a circus acrobat.

The second question for professional pirates is do you want to be a realistic pirate or a fantasy pirate? Both are good–and a little mixing never  hurts—but you need to understand the guidelines.

Barbary Pirates

The caption reads “Decatur Boarding the Tripolitan Gunboat”, painting by Dennis Malone Carter. The painting depicts Lt. Stephen Decatur of the newly minted U. S. Navy going mano-a-mano with Barbary (Berber) pirates in either the first or second Barbary War. Barbary pirates were located in North Africa (you can see that some of them are wearing Algerian dress) and made it a habit to seize luckless crews and passengers, either holding them for ransom or selling them as slaves.

There’s nothing like a little historical research to set you on your way which brings us to the third question: do you want to be a Western pirate or an Eastern pirate? Choosing a Far or Near Eastern persona opens up a whole new world of fun and exotic clothing options. If, on the other hand, you are looking to be recognized by the general, non-privateering public, you will want to stick with Western dress of the 18th century.

Once you have answered these questions you are ready to set sail on your quest for the perfect pirate costume. Let us assume for the moment that you have opted to go with the Western pirate dress. You will need the following:

  • A tricorn hat or a headscarf
  • A big peasant-style shirt. Extra ruffles say “captain”, plain cotton says “sails before the mast”. Alternately, if you’re going for that Mr. Smee look, you could wear a horizontal striped T-shirt (which says “look out for crocodiles and flying kids”, but that’s another story).
  • Knee-length pants. These can be knee breeches  or capri (cropped) pants. You can also use loose harem pants pulled up to the knee.
  • Vest (hip or mid-thigh length). Optional but useful especially if you don’t have a coat and want something to tie the outfit together.
  • Frock coat. If you’ve got one, wear it.  If not, skip it as this can be an expensive item to make or buy.
  • Belt (optional). Could be leather, a length of rope, or a sash. Should have room to stash your dueling pistols or knife. If you are carrying a sword, you will need a baldrick  (a strip of leather that goes across the chest) in order to hoster your weapon.
  • Boots or buckle shoes (critical, but difficult to find). If you have some sort of riding boot, by all means wear it. If you have short boots or shoes in a dark color, you can create a swashbuckler-type spat to go over the top of the shoe and around your calf.  The spat method is the easiest way to go if you want the look of a boot without shelling out the money for it.
  • Accessories (eyepatch, earring, parrot, treasure map, treasure chest, temporary tattoo saying “Mother”, you be the judge)

Women have the option of either dressing like men (historically accurate and more practical) or going with a “tavern wench” outfit (just add a gypsy-style skirt and a tight bodice to the above list and you’re good).

Comfortable Pirate

Now this outfit says “comfortable”. This gentleman of fortune was photographed at the Washington State Rennaisance Faire (Flickr).  He’s wearing a Turkish vest and what look to be harem pants to me.  I like the way the pants and the headscarf coordinate.

Long John Silver by Munro Orr

Long John Silver (“Treasure Island”) as envisioned by Munro Orr.  I highly recommend both the original novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and the movie version featuring Charleton Heston as Long John.

Lord Gregor (Flickr)

Long John’s near doppelganger, Lord Gregor (Flickr). Notice that Gregor has his own treasure chest carefully tied to his belt.

Commodore Wierdbeard

Commodore Ashton “WeirdBeard” Synn (Flickr). I would call this look “Goth pirate”. Never be afraid to put your own personal spin on your costume. Allowing your personality to come out is what makes your character unique. And, yes, Commodore Synn is a leather worker who makes all of his own gear. [Update: check out the link to Nyghtcraft Leatherwerks in the comments section].

Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook & Smee

If you haven’t seen the remake of “Peter Pan” with Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook, go forth and rent it immediately. The movie takes the Peter Pan story back to its roots, not as an adventure story for boys, but a coming of age story for girls. The costumes are beautifully done and Isaacs is alternately charming and scary as Captain Hook.

Seafaring Tricorn

The tricorn goes uptown with this charming, sea-themed creation by Darla Teagarden (Etsy).

Lingerie Pirate (Flickr)

A lady pirate from the 2006 Dragoncon (Flickr).  I call this look “lingerie pirate” and it is definitely a fantasy creation. Extra points to our pirate belle for finding a way to recycle her bellydance bra.

Live Pirate Parrot (Flickr)

The ultimate accessory: a live parrot. Just be sure your shirt is washable–if ye take my meanin’, matey.  Pirate and parrot were photographed at the Washington Renaissance Faire (Flickr).