costumes

When you don't know what you're dressed as

For halloween I don’t dress as anything in particular (like green skin, black fairy wings, all black, pink hair with no overarching theme), or something pretty obscure, and I get a lot of “Oh! What are you?” type questions I can answer, but not so many times in one evening. Any advice on how to handle that, without having to change my costume?
 realsocialskills said:
 
Would it work to say: “I’m dressed as a costume!”, and then ask them about their costume? (Eg: “That’s an awesome rainbow tail. Are you Rainbow Dash?” Or “Your sparkly makeup is amazing, how did you do that?”)
 
I’ve found that most people will take the opportunity to talk about themselves if it’s offered.
 
What have y'all found effective in this situation?

Blackface Halloween costumes hurt people

If you are white (or not black), it’s very important that your Halloween costume not incorporate blackface. Blackface means painting your face brown or black as part of a costume of a black character.

Blackface is racist because it is part of a long tradition of white people dehumanizing black people. White people put on shows where they would paint their faces black and act out extremely racist stereotypes for their entertainment.

This was an extremely popular form of entertainment among white people, not limited to particularly horrible people. Blackface as a form of intentionally racist entertainment has become a lot less socially acceptable since the 60s, but it has not died out completely. (And many people are old enough to remember it being extremely popular, and many more people are old enough to have parents who remember that.)

On Halloween, some white people continue the blackface tradition. They paint their faces black or brown and dress up as racial stereotypes. (Eg: calling themselves thug or ghetto). That’s wrong.

But even if you’re not doing it on purpose, even if you don’t mean to dress up like a stereotype, if you paint your face as part of dressing up as someone who is black or a character who is black, you will end up dressed as a racial stereotype. You will end up participating in the same tradition of mocking black people, together with the people who are doing it on purpose.

For instance, if you admire President Obama greatly and want to dress up as him for Halloween, you would still be invoking a racist trope and hurting people if you painted your face brown as part of the costume. If you want to dress up as the President, dress as the President, not a racial stereotype.

Some other forms of face painting are different. For instance, it’s ok to paint your face white and dress up like a clown. That’s because clowns are just clowns; they’re not part of a tradition of dehumanizing others for entertainment. History and symbolism matter, and they’re about how they’re perceived as much as your intentions.

If you use blackface in your costume, regardless of what you intend to dress up as, you will inevitably actually be dressed a racist symbol, and that will hurt people.

If you need ideas about other things to dress up as, this post on costumes might be a starting place.

ghostsneverleave:

realsocialskills:

lostlittleelephant:

realsocialskills:

impfreak replied to your post “Some strategies for wearing costumes”

If you paint your face like a wolf, you can wear regular clothes and be a werewolf/ teen wolf! All you need is face paint, and if your clothes are old and you don’t mind shredding them up a bit, that can be a little extra fun.

realsocialskills said:

Note that if you are going to do this, it’s important to use face paint and not another type of paint. Paint not designed to go on skin can cause problems.

lostlittleelephant said

Also there are multiple types of face paint; the really sticky (but cheap) créme-kind is irritating for me, multiple others have claimed this to. The more waterpaint-alike type works better, it doesn’t itch, you don’t feel it and in heatened places it won’t feel like a bag on your face. 

realsocialskills said:

Where do you get the more waterpaint-alike kind? Do they also sell that kind in costume stores?

ghostsneverleave said:

This may be of interest to you peeps: http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=233#halloween

Further down the page there’s DIY recipes for face paint. You can make it with food colorings or even stuff like turmeric and raspberries.

Or here: http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-homemade-face-paint-thats-safe-enough-to-ea/

It’s all food-safe stuff, so if you want face paint for young-ins that might try to eat it, this is a pretty safe bet. ^_^

loki-zen:

realsocialskills:

lostlittleelephant:

realsocialskills:

impfreak replied to your post “Some strategies for wearing costumes”

If you paint your face like a wolf, you can wear regular clothes and be a werewolf/ teen wolf! All you need is face paint, and if your clothes are old and you don’t mind shredding them up a bit, that can be a little extra fun.

realsocialskills said:

Note that if you are going to do this, it’s important to use face paint and not another type of paint. Paint not designed to go on skin can cause problems.

lostlittleelephant said

Also there are multiple types of face paint; the really sticky (but cheap) créme-kind is irritating for me, multiple others have claimed this to. The more waterpaint-alike type works better, it doesn’t itch, you don’t feel it and in heatened places it won’t feel like a bag on your face. 

realsocialskills said:

Where do you get the more waterpaint-alike kind? Do they also sell that kind in costume stores?

loki-zen said:

Snazaroo (www.snazaroo.com) is pretty good for not feeling like it is on.

evalilith:

realsocialskills:

lostlittleelephant:

realsocialskills:

impfreak replied to your post “Some strategies for wearing costumes”

If you paint your face like a wolf, you can wear regular clothes and be a werewolf/ teen wolf! All you need is face paint, and if your clothes are old and you don’t mind shredding them up a bit, that can be a little extra fun.

realsocialskills said:

Note that if you are going to do this, it’s important to use face paint and not another type of paint. Paint not designed to go on skin can cause problems.

lostlittleelephant said

Also there are multiple types of face paint; the really sticky (but cheap) créme-kind is irritating for me, multiple others have claimed this to. The more waterpaint-alike type works better, it doesn’t itch, you don’t feel it and in heatened places it won’t feel like a bag on your face. 

realsocialskills said:

Where do you get the more waterpaint-alike kind? Do they also sell that kind in costume stores?

evalilith said:

I’m not sure where to get the different kinds (though a quick search for water-based facepaint turned up some results at Walmart and craft stores), but another tip for if you are worried is to try out a small amount on the back of your hand or somewhere else where it won’t be as big of a deal if you react to it. It is a good plan to do that when trying out anything you plan to put on your face in large quantities, especially if it is cheaper stuff.

I’ll also add here that while people mentioned to get a warm costume if you are going out, you should also be careful to make sure you have a cooler costume if you are going to be indoors, especially if there will be several or more people present. This is even more important when doing facepaint, as too much sweat might affect the paint.

Some strategies for wearing costumes

Some people like to buy bagged costumes for costume stores, but that isn’t a good option for everyone.

Some reasons bagged costumes are not a good option for everyone:

  • Bagged costumes are often really expensive
  • They tend to have unpleasant textures, fabrics, smells, and seams
  • It might be hard to find one in your size, especially if you are a woman and don’t want to wear a sexualized costume.
  • You might not find one you like
  • The costume store might be too unpleasant or overloading to tolerate

Luckily, there are other options.

One option (probably the hardest one) is sewing your own.

  • That’s a lot of effort, particularly if you do not have a sewing machine
  • The advantage is that if you go to a fabric store, you can pick a pattern
  • There might be some less-difficult patterns available
  • There are a lot more non-sexual options for costumes in fabric stores than costume stores
  • Also, you can pick the fabric and make sure it’s a texture you like or can at least tolerate

Another option: Making a costume out of a box:

  • If you have a big cardboard box, you can cut out a hole for your head and your arms, then paint it or draw on it
  • The easiest box costume is to go as dice. You just draw the right number of dots on each side (or glue pieces of construction paper).
  • If you google “box costume”, you will get a lot of different options and instructions for box costumes.
  • This is fairly cheap and can be fairly straightforward (it can be complicated too, but it doesn’t have to be)
  • If you use paint, it will be messy. So either make your costume outside or put down newspaper or a tarp first
  • The major downside of box costumes is that they are unwieldy. They make it harder to move, and especially to use your arms. This might be very uncomfortable.

Another thing you can make out of a box or cardboard: flat cardboard costumes:

  • Cut out a piece of cardboard in a shape you like.
  • Some shapes that work well: Hershey’s kiss, star, Easter egg, rainbow
  • (You could probably make a Tardis costume this way too)
  • Decorate the shape you’ve made.
  • Some things that work well as decorations: aluminum foil (works great for a Hershey’s kiss or star costume), markers, colored duct tape, paint, stickers
  • Attach a string to the costume and hang the costume from your neck with ribbon or string. You can either poke holes in the top of the costume and tie on ribbon/string, or tape it on with strong tape (regular scotch tape will not be strong enough to hold it up for long)

Wigs or hats:

  • Buying just a hat/wig can be cheaper and more tolerable than buying and wearing a whole bagged costume
  • You can dress as a clown by putting on a big rainbow wig.
  • It helps to paint your face and/or use a clown nose, but it is not necessary.
  • You can wear a jester hat and go as a jester
  • You can wear a witch’s hat and go as a witch. (Wearing black clothing helps, especially a black skirt. Or, if your hat is not black, clothing can be the same color as the hat)
  • If you wear a crown, you can go as a king/queen. This works especially well when paired with velvet clothing.

Going to a party dressed like one of your friends:

  • Eg: if you usually wear tie-dye and flowing skirts, you could borrow clothes from a friend who dresses conservatively.
  • Make sure that this is ok with the person who you’re dressing like. If you show up in a them costumed and they think you’re making fun of them, it will end badly
  • Be careful about costumes that involve cross dressing. Make sure that you’re not making trans or gender nonconforming people the butt of a joke.
  • Be careful about dressing in clothing associated with an ethnic group or religion other than your own. That usually ends poorly.

Minimalist or pun costumes:

  • Costumes that aren’t really a full outfit, but will look like a costume.
  • If you google “last minute costumes” or “minimalist costumes” you will get a lot of suggestions
  • Eg: holding a sign that says “nudist on strike”.

A fairly easy cat costume

  • Get an old pair of tights to use as a tail.
  • Stuff one leg with newspaper
  • Tie the other leg around your waist to hold the tail on
  • Paint your nose pink and draw cat whiskers on your fac
  • (Preferably with face paint. You can use a marker for this, but it’s likely to be very annoying to get off later. OTOH, (non-toxic) markers might be more tolerable from a sensory perspective)
  • If you like, you can make cat ears out of paper and attach them to a headband or hair clips

Other things that look vaguely costumey:

  • A hat with flashy fake plastic jewelery
  • Spraying or dying your hair a bright unnatural color (this will create a smell though; it’s probably best to check if you can tolerate the smell before putting it on your hair). You can also dye your hair with koolaid if you hair is light.
  • A feather boa
  • Face paint
  • Zombie makeup can be particularly effective. Because you can wear whatever clothes you want and be like “A zombie college student” or wear a tie-dye shirt and be a zombie hippie (might be inadvisable around kids because could be read as a drug reference) or a suit/tie/jacket and be a zombie executive
  • A mask, even without other costume pieces (be aware that in some areas, it is illegal for adults to wear masks, or illegal to wear masks that cover your whole face)
  • A prom dress can look like a costume on Halloween

You can also go to a thrift store and find interesting stuff to wear or build a costume out of. That is usually pretty cheap.

Anyone else want to weigh in? What ways of wearing costumes have and have not worked for you?

lostlittleelephant:

realsocialskills:

impfreak replied to your post “Some strategies for wearing costumes”

If you paint your face like a wolf, you can wear regular clothes and be a werewolf/ teen wolf! All you need is face paint, and if your clothes are old and you don’t mind shredding them up a bit, that can be a little extra fun.

realsocialskills said:

Note that if you are going to do this, it’s important to use face paint and not another type of paint. Paint not designed to go on skin can cause problems.

lostlittleelephant said

Also there are multiple types of face paint; the really sticky (but cheap) créme-kind is irritating for me, multiple others have claimed this to. The more waterpaint-alike type works better, it doesn’t itch, you don’t feel it and in heatened places it won’t feel like a bag on your face. 

realsocialskills said:

Where do you get the more waterpaint-alike kind? Do they also sell that kind in costume stores?

sabrinix answered your question “Some strategies for wearing costumes”

wings are pretty versatile. goes with any outfit. mostly you’ll find fairy wings, angel(feathers)wings, bat wings also magic wands maybe?

realsocialskills said:

That’s a good point. Wings pretty much always count as a costume. Particularly if you also have a wand, particularly if you are wearing bright-colored or sparkly clothing.

Some strategies for wearing costumes

genderhaunt:

realsocialskills:

Some people like to buy bagged costumes for costume stores, but that isn’t a good option for everyone.

Some reasons bagged costumes are not a good option for everyone:

  • Bagged costumes are often really expensive
  • They tend to have unpleasant textures, fabrics, smells, and seams
  • It might be hard to find one in your size, especially if you are a woman and don’t want to wear a sexualized costume.
  • You might not find one you like
  • The costume store might be too unpleasant or overloading to tolerate

Luckily, there are other options.

One option (probably the hardest one) is sewing your own.

  • That’s a lot of effort, particularly if you do not have a sewing machine
  • The advantage is that if you go to a fabric store, you can pick a pattern
  • There might be some less-difficult patterns available
  • There are a lot more non-sexual options for costumes in fabric stores than costume stores
  • Also, you can pick the fabric and make sure it’s a texture you like or can at least tolerate

Another option: Making a costume out of a box:

  • If you have a big cardboard box, you can cut out a hole for your head and your arms, then paint it or draw on it
  • The easiest box costume is to go as dice. You just draw the right number of dots on each side (or glue pieces of construction paper).
  • If you google “box costume”, you will get a lot of different options and instructions for box costumes.
  • This is fairly cheap and can be fairly straightforward (it can be complicated too, but it doesn’t have to be)
  • If you use paint, it will be messy. So either make your costume outside or put down newspaper or a tarp first
  • The major downside of box costumes is that they are unwieldy. They make it harder to move, and especially to use your arms. This might be very uncomfortable.

Another thing you can make out of a box or cardboard: flat cardboard costumes:

  • Cut out a piece of cardboard in a shape you like.
  • Some shapes that work well: Hershey’s kiss, star, Easter egg, rainbow
  • (You could probably make a Tardis costume this way too)
  • Decorate the shape you’ve made.
  • Some things that work well as decorations: aluminum foil (works great for a Hershey’s kiss or star costume), markers, colored duct tape, paint, stickers
  • Attach a string to the costume and hang the costume from your neck with ribbon or string. You can either poke holes in the top of the costume and tie on ribbon/string, or tape it on with strong tape (regular scotch tape will not be strong enough to hold it up for long)

Wigs or hats:

  • Buying just a hat/wig can be cheaper and more tolerable than buying and wearing a whole bagged costume
  • You can dress as a clown by putting on a big rainbow wig.
  • It helps to paint your face and/or use a clown nose, but it is not necessary.
  • You can wear a jester hat and go as a jester
  • You can wear a witch’s hat and go as a witch. (Wearing black clothing helps, especially a black skirt. Or, if your hat is not black, clothing can be the same color as the hat)
  • If you wear a crown, you can go as a king/queen. This works especially well when paired with velvet clothing.

Going to a party dressed like one of your friends:

  • Eg: if you usually wear tie-dye and flowing skirts, you could borrow clothes from a friend who dresses conservatively.
  • Make sure that this is ok with the person who you’re dressing like. If you show up in a them costumed and they think you’re making fun of them, it will end badly
  • Be careful about costumes that involve cross dressing. Make sure that you’re not making trans or gender nonconforming people the butt of a joke.
  • Be careful about dressing in clothing associated with an ethnic group or religion other than your own. That usually ends poorly.

Minimalist or pun costumes:

  • Costumes that aren’t really a full outfit, but will look like a costume.
  • If you google “last minute costumes” or “minimalist costumes” you will get a lot of suggestions
  • Eg: holding a sign that says “nudist on strike”.

A fairly easy cat costume

  • Get an old pair of tights to use as a tail.
  • Stuff one leg with newspaper
  • Tie the other leg around your waist to hold the tail on
  • Paint your nose pink and draw cat whiskers on your fac
  • (Preferably with face paint. You can use a marker for this, but it’s likely to be very annoying to get off later. OTOH, (non-toxic) markers might be more tolerable from a sensory perspective)
  • If you like, you can make cat ears out of paper and attach them to a headband or hair clips

Other things that look vaguely costumey:

  • A hat with flashy fake plastic jewelery
  • Spraying or dying your hair a bright unnatural color (this will create a smell though; it’s probably best to check if you can tolerate the smell before putting it on your hair). You can also dye your hair with koolaid if you hair is light.
  • A feather boa
  • Face paint
  • Zombie makeup can be particularly effective. Because you can wear whatever clothes you want and be like “A zombie college student” or wear a tie-dye shirt and be a zombie hippie (might be inadvisable around kids because could be read as a drug reference) or a suit/tie/jacket and be a zombie executive
  • A mask, even without other costume pieces (be aware that in some areas, it is illegal for adults to wear masks, or illegal to wear masks that cover your whole face)
  • A prom dress can look like a costume on Halloween

You can also go to a thrift store and find interesting stuff to wear or build a costume out of. That is usually pretty cheap.

Anyone else want to weigh in? What ways of wearing costumes have and have not worked for you?

genderhaunt said:

If you play a sport or have some kind of uniform from a job that you’re allowed to wear outside of work you could use that as a costume as well.

I spent a number of years being a soccer player/referee for Halloween because I do both of those things so I have the outfit and I know that it’s comfortable.

Something like that can be a good idea to wear under a box costume because the box can get uncomfortable/damaged and you might still want a costume.

theoriesofminds:

Some strategies for wearing costumes

realsocialskills:

Some people like to buy bagged costumes for costume stores, but that isn’t a good option for everyone.

Some reasons bagged costumes are not a good option for everyone:

  • Bagged costumes are often really expensive
  • They tend to have unpleasant textures, fabrics, smells, and seams
  • It might be hard…

theoriesofminds said:

If you’re going to be outside and it’s cold out, you may want a warm costume. A queen’s costume with a robe will be warmer than a costume that uses a leotard and tights (like some superheros or a ballerina). Other costumes that involves warm clothes might be a 50’s guy with a letter jacket, or a zombie-something-warm (zombie Christmas caroler? Zombie lumberjack?). You can also wear long underwear under some costumes.

If the weather is unpredictable, you may want a backup warm costume just in case.

If you’ll be wearing the costume for a long time, comfort can be important, especially for people who have sensory issues. Some costumes are scratchy or overly tight. You might want to try wearing it for a while ahead of time to make sure you can put up with it.

ischemgeek:

Some strategies for wearing costumes

realsocialskills:

Some people like to buy bagged costumes for costume stores, but that isn’t a good option for everyone.

Some reasons bagged costumes are not a good option for everyone:

  • Bagged costumes are often really expensive
  • They tend to have unpleasant textures, fabrics, smells, and seams
  • It might be hard…

ischemgeek said:

Shopping at used clothing stores  can yield good pieces for making costumes on the cheap, without having to sew your own if like me a total lack of fine motor coordination makes sewing hard-to-impossible.  You have to be flexible with what you’re going to go as, though. Once, I lucked into a beautiful white, embroidered, hooded coat at a used clothing store . It had a coffee stain which I was able to remove with spot treatment, bleaching, followed by lemon juice and sunlight. Because it was stained, they gave it to me for $1.

I combined this with some white on-sale, discount scrub pants I found at the dollar store ($1) and a pair of white boots a friend was willing to give me since she’d bought them without realizing they were the wrong size and they’d been sitting in the back of her closet for a year. A spare banister end from a friend (free) and a wooden dowel ($2) with a screw (nickel) made a staff, which I painted (I had extra white paint on hand, and spent $2 on toll paints for the rest of it).

It made an excellent - and warm, which is important in Canada if you’re going to an outdoor halloween event like I was - white mage costume, which all together cost me about $5.05. A lower-quality and not warm at all costume for the same concept was going for about $30 in stores.

If I’d been really hard up for cash, I could’ve just grabbed a prop on hand from my martial arts stuff and eliminated the staff, which would’ve given me a costume for $2 and some stain-removal work. If I didn’t get the white boots, I would’ve gone with sturdy hiking boots I already had on hand, under the reasoning that a white mage adventurer should have sensible shoes. :P