How To Create a Better Halloween Costume with Items in Your Closet

October 25, 2019

How To Create a Better Halloween Costume with Items in Your Closet

How To Create a Better Halloween Costume with Items in Your Closet

What you might not know about me, is that I have a  background in costuming, theatre as well as fashion design. 


The Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum hired me every year to be a Guest Costume Artist and go to the Black & Orange Bash dressed in costume with the crush of people. It was so much fun and we did it for years. 

So at the beginning of October, I opened my studio read: garage to all my friends. I had them chip in $10 for use of supplies; glue guns, sequins, yarn etc. for their costumes. We would make costumes for the month and then all get together to dress before the event. We would help stitch each other into our costumes, if necessary.

Now in costuming, as well are in art-making - anything Creative really- there comes a time where you hit a wall, and panic can set in. But this is the Time of Possibilities, as I call it. When a little assitance from our Friends can guides us through the rocky shallows of fear that it's all falling apart. 


Melissa as Madame Pompadour

Here's Melissa, in her Madam Pompadour court lady look. She hired the costume but added her own touches, the cameos, ribbons with cameos holding back the side panels. She worked at a zoo so over time collected all those macaw fallen feathers, and created that show-stopper mask. 

So she hit the wall, temporarily, constructing the wig which we made from scratch from 3 separate wigs. Halfway through making the wig she started a mini-meltdown, and you know, we think the whole project is just terrible and tawdry, right? 

So I went over and we discussed different ways we could design the wig in a way that was simple and effective- hence the newspaper topknot addition.

As soon as she saw the way through the Time of Possibilities (melt down) she was on her way again. 

1. construct a tight fitting crown made of strips of plaster over the head. Make is as low as it can go to support upward embellishments. 

2. Layer the wig pieces over the top of the plaster crown with a Glue Gun of course!

3. Crumple newspaper into a top knot hair piece as shown. Tape it all over with packing tape, 3" wide. 

4. Turn it upside down and layer the long strands of a cut wig, as strips gluing underneath. It will look like a ball of taped newspaper with hanging hair, something like Cousin ITT. 

5. Glue the s..t out of the top of the newpaper crown gluing it down to the top of head piece. Take the flopping long strands and grab about 2-3" of hair pulling up from the bottom and over the top of the newspaper form until the entire newspaper crown as disappeared and looks like hair. 

6. Create a hair roll at bottom of wig-at the neck area. 

Now this is where people will think AHA! I've done it! But that is JUST THE BASIC SHAPE- and now comes the accessories WHICH MAKE THE COSTUME or outfit for that matter. 

7. When the wig was done, I got out my cheap little pearl beads and constructed the pearly embellishments. Melissa added the ribbon fans attaching the side of the wig.  Melissa has gone on the go into costuming in a major way doing reenactments of medieval historical theatre. 

Leslie as Vampira

This is Leslie, and she had the "Form" of a basic black dress. And with some shimmery scarves, black ostrich feathers, and old funky metal belts we created arm-bands and necklaces rubbing ink and letting it dry. Again, midway through Leslie lost the "vision" and we got through that too. 

But with some inexpensive black netting, and a loose knotted frontipiece hanging from the neck, she looks fantastic!

As the creator artist, you always have to remember that there is the basic form, that is the Thing You are going use as the Base to build on. And you have to remember the magic of make-up, the layers of the costuming, and the LOW LIGHT!! of the costume party... which forgives all those loose threads and glue-gun mishaps. 

Denise as sss-Snakey Medusa

Denise pulled this together and it was one of the most thrilling costume in the dimly lite Black & Orange Bash! 

It was a two person job for the headdress however, and even I wondered if we could get the height of the snakes on the wires to stay. But this costume rocked all night long.  We added glitter glue along all snakes so they gimmered and shimmered in the night with faux ruby eyes too. 

Dress is a few yards of gold lame, tied like a Grecian sheath dress, adding gold sequin trim along the leg opening. The swath of green satin was pinned and tacked to stay in place. Adding gold bangles and sandals completed the look. 

and the Trick of course is to Stay in Character all night long. 

The leggings with "jewels" created by dying elastic and hand-painting. And of course long long long green fingernails. 

Kristena as Black Spider Queen

Here is one year when Dracula opened with Gary Oldman, and I was overtaken by the costuming! So using as my core costume a black corset and netting skirt, and an ancient seal coat, I built this costume. 

1. Corset: I used high quality very expensive faux diamonds and stitched along the outside of the corset making spirals like Bodacia the Celtic Queen, adding the same glittering diamonds along the base and up the sides of the corset. 

2. the Netting Skirt I took black satin ribbon and cut loads of strips of varying lengths, I added crystals with the high-heat glue gun, and at night I watched TV and hand stitched hundreds of black jet sequns all over it. Also added ripped laces to float longer that the skirt around me as I moved. Adding a hanging Maltese Cross in Silver of course. 

3. Black Seal Coat.... I added goodly weight wire and made inserts of triangles covered in silver shimmery fabric and added black ostrich feathers at the tips. These were inserted and stitched into the opened collar of the coat. See photo of the back...

4. At this point I was running out of time so instead of embroidering the silver spiderweb et al, I got a Silver Glitter Glue Stick and with a hot glue gun whipped this design out. And taking a plastic large spider I spray painted in high gloss enamel the spider Silver. For the final touches of embellishment on the coat, I added loads of high quality Rhinestones along the cuff and over the landscape of the coat. 

5. Added white professional pan makeup, witchy boots, black fishnet stockings spider earrings, and cross necklace. You can't see it very clearly but I added a rhinestone black spiderweb "hat!" And black gloves. In the dark, the black outfit will disappear, so that is why I added all the Rhinestones for shimmer and mystery. 

6. I made a staff of power with a vampire mask to take to the Dark Ball. It was the hit of the party! I am short so I made sure to raise that staff above my head while dancing into the early morning hours. 

Happy Halloween ENJOY your costume!





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