The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts November 4, 2005
O Style
Choosing a non-traditional Halloween 

by Emily AscoleseEven when I was a young girl in Catholic school indoctrinated with the importance of religious ceremony, Halloween was my favorite holiday. It never meant staying home from school or getting an untold number of presents, but the thrill of becoming someone else for one night simply by changing your clothes struck me as a certain type of magic.

And I’m not the only one. According to the National Retail Federation, over half of consumers (52.5 percent) stocked up for the holiday this year, with the average 18-24 year old spending about $50 for a costume. With the 31st just days ago and campus Halloween parties on the horizon, I find it appropriate to dedicate this week’s column to different types of costumes and just what they can do for the average Obie.

The Traditional Scary:
Witches, Frankensteins and vampires will forever be acceptable Halloween personas, but none of these costumes will be very fun unless you find some way to get creative.

Sure, everyone will immediately recognize what you’re trying to do and you won’t have to go through the annoying explanation demanded of those who don more innovative outfits, but really, who wants to be the 11th ghost at the party? The wearer of this category should be aware of the competition they will be up against: Who’s the palest ghost? The prettiest Elvira/Vampira? Given that standards are fairly well known, if you’re gonna do this type of costume, make sure you do it right. The up-side is, last minute shoppers will find plenty of supplies at Gibson’s and CVS.

The Slut:
Well-explored by the motion picture Mean Girls, this type of costume will work best for those who don’t exhibit the characteristics stereotypical of the above epithet in their everyday lives. If your black-lace bustier and tantalizingly soft bunny-ears are going to shock your friends into only being able to repeat your name in disbelief for the first five minutes they see you, by all means, go for it. Your outfit will be a beautiful success. If, on the other hand, you suspect that breaking out your garter-belt yet again is only going to induce rolling eyes and the suspicion that this is only your Safer Sex outfit from two years ago revamped, perhaps you should consider putting on something warmer this time. You’ll be more impressive (and attractive) if you force yourself to come up with something good.

The Superhero or Disney Character:
More popular with kids, as it’s easier to find ready-made costumes in their size, this can be a playful alternative to the Traditional Scary as it offers many of the same advantages: immediate recognition and available supplies.

In contrast, this type of costume can be an opportunity to embrace the never-too-old-for-this spirit of the holiday without having to feel evil or risk contemplating your own mortality while putting on your zombie make up. As far as negatives, failing to live up to well-known pop-culture icons is a potential embarrassment, and your Spider-man mask may impair your ability to drink.

The Concept Costume:
A chance to display your creativity and wit, the only downfall of the concept costume is that no one is going to know that you’re “all ears” or a “cash cow” until you tell them. But seriously, this is the way to go. Especially at Oberlin; brains are sexy and sarcasm will get you laid.The Obscure Character:

Similar to the pop culture character, except that no one will know who you are. In some ways, this is good; explaining that you’re such and such from the book or movie that none of your friends have read or seen may score points as everyone marvels at your specialized knowledge —or you could just come off as a nerd. While it will be disappointing that everyone thinks you’re Sting when you’re clearly John Constantine from Hellblazer, you’ll have a lot of fun knowing you’ve finally broken through the limits of identification and entered the realm of experience. After all, you’ve always felt like you had a special connection with Willow Rosenberg, now prove it.

The Buddy Costume:
This is when you and one or more of your friends pick costumes that go together. Successful examples include Daria and Jane, Jake and Elwood Blues and Mario and a question block. Collaborating with a friend is fun and lends moral support if you’re timid. Beware of getting separated from your friend; your costume might no longer be understood out of context.

The LARP/Pagan Costume:
I don’t want to pick on the live action role-players and Renaissance-fair lovers because they endure enough as it is, but if you already wear your cape and corset on a monthly, weekly or daily basis, try to find something people would recognize as being a costume to wear. (This means not being a sorcerer, princess, witch, bard, troll or elf or any other creature from Tolkien or Potter books.) The whole point of Halloween is to break from your everyday persona; enhancement is cheating.

The I’m-not-wearing-a Costume:
Very lame, even if you have a “good” excuse such as “I’m a burnt-out senior.” If you’re that adverse to dressing up, trade clothes with a friend and go as them. If even that option is unappealing, find an un-themed party or stay home. Acting otherwise will only make those properly attired feel self-conscious.


Powered by