So you ditched single-use plastics and fast fashion, but are still not sure about doable alternatives to cheap party costumes? Not great at sewing or crafting? You can still level up your Halloween game sustainably.
And don’t worry: my idea for your sustainable costume will not (necessarily) lead you into depths of conscious shopping, nor will it require hours and hours of crafting.
My idea of a sustainable costume is, in fact, like a theatre role.
You pick it and you return year after year, developing your role, having fun exploring it… A very RPG-inspired approach! So let’s rock it!
7 Tips: How To Create A Sustainable Halloween Costume
Using the example of the author’s
TIP #1 FIRST THINGS FIRST.
DETERMINE IF YOU TRULY LIKE DRESSING UP
Are you already excited and counting the days until you may dress up?
Or are you anxiously awaiting the big night at your costume-obsessed friends’ house? There is nothing wrong in letting your costume reflect on who you really are.
Now, if you don’t like costumes at all, why are you actually attending a costume party? To make people feel uneasy? Uh-oh. Or are you secretly somehow wishing to dress up? Either way, the easiest costume for you to pull off is to get inspired by Christina Ricci’s character from the Addams Family and go… as a “homicidal maniac”:
“I’m a homicidal maniac, they look just like everyone else.”
— Wednesday Addams
But then stick to the theme and let people have their lighthearted fun, ok?
And if you actually adore dressing up, the sky’s the limit, right? Well, my point is: yes and no.
2 UNLESS GOING TO AN ADULT PARTY, ERR ON THE SIDE OF “NOT BLATANTLY SEXY”
I’m not here for the moral high ground of course, only for the ethical part, but you’ve got to admit — the very “sexy monster” Halloween costume idea has gotten old. Like, really old. It’s just not part of the zeitgeist anymore to dress up as a sexy nurse, sexy pirate or sexy zombie (weird anyway).
Let me put it this way…
“Classy is the new sexy.”
It’s not ethical to dress up as “sexy prey” or “sexy predator”. Yikes!
Now, by all means: you do you, so do choose a costume that suits you best and allows for flirting if you want it. But a serious “sex shop drop” style is just not in anymore.
However, the exaggerated, comical kind of sexy can be hilarious and a lot of fun to do 😉
And don’t forget, most store-bought costumes are fast fashion par excellence: crappy textiles, crappy finishes, crappy working conditions, and will add up to the plastic waste pile in the end. Talking about real horror 😦
3 CHOOSE YOUR ROLE
In order for you to actually enjoy your Halloween role, you should pick something you truly like.
Here is some inspiration:
– Deities from the Celtic, Roman, Nordic or any other pantheon (in 2016, I chose Elen of the Ways, the Celtic Antlered Green Goddess — and I’m returning as her in 2018).
– Notable historical personalities: musicians, kings and queens, adventurers.
– Mythological and lore characters (like my Red Riding Hood meets Steampunk meets Werewolf Hunter from 2017).
– Random cultural figures (like my honestly pretty generic evil Glam Witch from 2017)
– Characters from games, tv series, movies, or literary fiction
You can of course get inspired by art and by the artists, or even by certain aesthetics — Steampunk, Gothic, Punk, Grunge.
The sources of inspiration are perfectly limitless!
4 CREATE A PERSONA CLOSE TO YOUR HEART
Now the really fun part begins. Ask yourself these questions to create a character close to your heart, one that will make your Halloween anticipation a pleasant one for years to come:
– Who will you be? An evil spirit? A benevolent force? A remarkable character from a music video?
– Do you want to reenact it perfectly or to tweak it into something closer to your preferences?
For example, I would never ever have any interest in portraying the classic Red Riding Hood, any at all…
But throw in some werewolf hunt and a little Steampunik aesthetic, and voila: Steampunk Werewolf Huntress Red! Watch your furry arse, Alpha wolf!
My take on the obscure deity Elen of the Ways is by contrast a very minimalistic, modern one. I’m obviously very fond of her — because: Samhain! — but still I’m not going to dress in historically accurate reindeer skins or walk barefoot.
However I decided to infuse the character with a little malevolence, she’s a spirit close to Nature after all, so she’ll be warm and kind to some and horribly cruel to others. I like that. It allows for just a palatable amount of “activism” in an otherwise very lighthearted activity, eh 😉
As a man, I would probably try and create a Werewolf of the Wall Street costume (should be good fun!) or go for something crazy like, I don’t know, a Cyberpunk-Berlin Kreuzberg Loki?
More interestingly: who will you choose to be?
5 CREATE AN OUTFIT — TO LAST!
Now comes the fun part. Rather than shopping ready-made costumes, try and put together an outfit. Think like a movie stylist: what is the persona like? What colours, fabrics and textures will make sense for this persona?
Granted, period costumes are hard to pull off without serious crafting skills, but modernised versions almost always work. Artisans on Etsy offer interesting head pieces, custom-made gear, so you could source something made in an ethical way using sustainable and biodegradable materials.
Elen of the Ways wears a simple summer dress and a headpiece that have been in my possession for years. But I’ve developed her make-up. Here’s Elen of the Ways, 2016 version:
6 “GROW” WITH YOUR COSTUME, DEVELOP YOUR ROLE
My moody, dark Elen of the Ways, 2018 version:
As you can see, the make-up is more elaborate in 2018; it’s part body paint really. I have used Kjaer Weis brand new cream eye shadow in green (‘Sublime’) to create a canvas and added dark green and bright green pigments and loose eye shadows by Alima Pure, Und Gretel, and Lily Lolo. On my arms, I applied a mix of dry pigments using a wet, large foundation brush for a rough texture.
I also added dark green and brown pigment into the hairline and onto the part. Dishevelled looks are a no-brainer to achieve with some Enchanted Island Salt Spray. To see all products used for this make-up and body paint, check out my Instagram page.
I can’t wait to see what I stumble across to make her stand out more in 2019. And that’s the point exactly — I can confirm that you can have a lot of fun developing the style, the character and the looks of your “role”.
7 TWEAK FOR NEXT YEAR’S
Notice the reactions, notice how you “play” your character. Is it fun, is it stupid? What can you tweak to really love the experience of returning to this character year in year out for a few years to come?
Or at the very least, I wish you to discover how easy it is to put together a cool Halloween costume by using what you’ve already had in your wardrobe.