It’s All in There: Unmasking for Halloween

Some thoughts on finding/creating the perfect Halloween costume:

First of all, nix that idea of “perfect.” Add to my growing list of What’s Wrong With America that notion of the perfectly executed holiday. I mean, i love to flip through Southern Living, Sunset, or the Pottery Barn catalogue as much as the next girl. But let’s remember they share IDEAS. By no means does your yard/house/menu/attire/person need to reflect the meticulously coordinated life on the page. Do NOT let yourself get roped into paying a hundred dollars for a costume, a thousand on decorations, and endless, sleepless nights sewing or brewing the new “it” cocktail in your cauldron. Holidays are meant to be FUN. Step away from Better Homes and Gardens, and enjoy it.

That said, on to the costumes. For kids, it’s pretty easy. You let them dress up as whatever phase of pretend they are living in at the moment. THEY don’t know or care if the costume came from the actual Disney store, or if you threw together stuff out of the garage to construct Woody/Buzz/Rapunzel… Pretend is the thing. Let it be. Or, if they are very little and don’t care what they wear, i highly suggest the costume area of (some) Goodwill stores. Here’s the thing. Let the other suckers pay $100+ for their kids’ costume. Said kid will wear it one time, for about 3 hours, and it will be there on the rack waiting for your kid next year, for about $3.99. Beat that with a 50-cent magic wand…

But for the grown-ups… ah, where to begin. Perhaps in the department of, why are costumes for adult women now made by Playboy, Hustler, or a knock-off competitor that’s just trying to LOOK like Playboy or Hustler? Are the men expected to run around naked in 50-degree weather? No, they are not. But speaking of men, what exactly ARE they supposed to wear ?  I mean, most guys are not  actually going to the Halloween store to BUY an actual costume, and very few will be happy wearing one that wife/girlfriend bought and insisted upon.

And speaking of…you may have to give up on the idea of the couples’ costume. More on that in just a sec.

Because to me, the puzzle of what to wear come Oct 31 has a simple solution–unleash your alter ego, and dress it up. We all have an inner-something that’s just dying to get out. Maybe several inner-somethings… One night a year, you can let it out, and let it have run of your life. And i don’t know about you, but none of my inner selves need a houseful of Martha Stewart to have a good time.

The beauty of your alter ego is this–whatever it is, you probably have most of the fixings for the costume already in your house. Case in point–i have a gypsy soul that has driven me around the world and back, on more than one occasion, and moved me to Arizona the minute the door opened. Now, i do not let her out in civilized society. But, most of her wardrobe components creep into my everyday life, at some point or another. Halloween is just the moment that i can wear them ALL AT THE SAME TIME–with some cheap accessories from said Goodwill.

I also have an inner cowgirl, an inner rock star, and an inner biker. You will notice, all of these identities allow for the wearing of BOOTS, of which i have many. A quick trip to the thrift store, and i could let any of these pretend-me’s out to play in about 10 minutes flat.

This is the part where the folks who design, market and sell costumes (aka–Men) are all hoping that the female population of North America will find it’s inner-skank, and put on that naughty nurse outfit.  And hey, if the naughty nurse gig is your dream life, then more power to you. This is your night to shine!

However, you get one night to be your baddest, boldest, most brazen self. Do you really want to waste it on somebody else’s fantasy of you?

Let’s get back to the thing about couples costumes. They can be great. Hilarious, or thought provoking, or good conversation starters. But sometimes, your inner-whatever and that of your significant other may not like each other very much. Or they might just make for lame outfits.

For instance, i thought about being Sarah Palin this year–not because i have an inner tea party self, but because she’s one of the scariest outfits i can think of. But where does that leave Jeremy–would he go as John McCain? Or Bristol? Not much fun for him…

Jeremy, on the other hand, is going as the one thing he barely needs a costume to convey–Clark Kent, of course. Mid-transition to the ultimate alter-ego (via the super logo visible just beneath the jacket…) All his adult life, my husband has had perfect strangers approach him and say, “Hey, do you  know who you look like??” Well yes, yes he does. When we were in Mexico on vacation, more than one local merchant shouted after him, “Hey, Superman!! You want to buy these earrings for your wife?” (Or, of course, “Hey, Superman, you want some cocain?” But, that’s another story…)  Could it be that, beneath the laid-back, aging rock star exterior, my husband has a hidden super hero, just waiting to be unleashed? Perhaps. Or it could just be the striking resemblance he bears to the late Christopher Reeve. (Not too shabby–am i right, ladies?)

But in any case, where does that leave me, costume-wise? Lois Lane? No thanks…try Lois Lame. With nothing but a suit and a press badge, I might as well be Sarah Palin. If the guy goes as the Phantom of the Opera (great costume) the girl has to be Christine–and any costume that bears explaining apart from it’s opposite is no fun at all. Or, the girl gets to be Lady Gaga, and then the boy has to be a drag queen. That doesn’t seem quite fair…

All that is to say, my inner Gaga does not require my husband to come up with an inner drag queen–and his inner super hero does not require a demure female counter-part.  No, he will be donning the fedora that is already a part of his wardrobe (along with the superman shirt, of course), while I indulge all of the flowy, gauzy, shiny things that speak to my gypsy soul. Somehow, we are still a pair, because all those things live in our closet together year-round.

Perhaps the  most frightening thing about Halloween is the transparency it invites. What monsters might we be closeting the rest of the year, that just beg to be released when we play dress-up? What long-forgotten dream might we dredge up, digging through the articles of our past? Whatever it is, it’s in there. The identity, and the wardrobe to let it speak. Just remember, sometimes it is less about putting on a mask, and more about letting one down.

Maybe we are all super heroes, and it’s the suit that needs taking off.

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • Terry T.

    A woman I new made herself and her husband Hershey Bar outfits for a H. Party. His had nuts, her’s without.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X