Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Come On People, Your Halloween Costume isn't Going to Make Itself

Is there a better holiday than Halloween? Of course not. It has no tedious religious requirements. It has no family get-together component. It has no bummer moral underpinning (I'm looking at you, Memorial Day). It can be enjoyed at all age levels, being just as fun to do in your 40s with your daughter as it was in your freewheeling 20s. And, as holidays go, it runs neck and neck with New Year for getting you laid. It's also the only holiday that favors-celebrates!- a creative smartass. Indeed, I may be a humorless grump who too often sees the bad in everything, especially human nature. But for at least one day a year I am a fucking delight. And that day is Halloween.

The problem with Halloween is that too many get started too late. Going down to Broadway's Village Halloween store two or three days before game time usually results in a poor costume. Halloween is less than a month away. Now is the time to start planning.

One key to a great costume is that it cannot be mistaken as something that it is not. [Editor's Note: Yes. Remind me to tell you about the year that I mistakenly went as a Space Prostitute, a la News Radio.] This demands an attention to detail; but more important, one must pick a costume that has an appropriate amount of highly definitive characteristics. As a thought exercise, below are some random suggestions that would make unique, quirky costumes. Each includes a note on the key details that make a costume good and the bonus details that make it unforgettable.

Miles Monroe from Sleeper
This is a perfect New York costume and probably the only Woody Allen costume that would be recognizable as a Woody Allen costume.

Keys: A tuxedo. Chunky black glasses. For the "hat" maybe some kind of colander (though a strainer version with holes will look terrible). White gloves. A red-lighted dial-knobbed chest unit (off an old record player or something). Some kind of silver mouthpiece. White face paint.

Bonus: Have a silver "orgasm" ball. Be petite (this would actually be a good cross-dressing costume for a woman). Display a crushing amount of self-consciousness energy. Be Jewish.

Difficulty Level (1-5): 3.5.

The Stig
The mysterious test driver from BBC's "Top Gear" is an icon. While many Americans may think you're just some F1 driver, all Brits, BBC America fans, and Jalopnik editors will adore this.

Keys: White jump suit. White helmet with black visor (NO EXCEPTIONS). White shoes. White Gloves. Bad-ass stance. A steering wheel.

Bonus: A V12 Vanquish.

Difficulty Level: 2.

The Kuato costume can be done by anyone; but for those with an very young infant this has great potential.

Keys: Get a fake bare upper body/torso costume (like this one) or simply a skin-colored body leotard. Cut a hole in the chest area. Place your infant in his/her BabyBjorn/carrier, allowing only the baby's head and arms to come out of the chest. Put a bald cap on the baby. Don a military surplus jacket. Make zombie face.

Bonus: Bad haircut. Smear the baby with Vaseline. Get your wife/baby mama/significant other to dress as the three-breasted prostitute (NSFW). Teach the baby to say, "Quuaaaaiiiddddd. Quuuaaaiiiiddddd."

Extra bonus: Start the reactor and freeeeeee Mars….

Difficulty Level: 4.

Gene Shalit
Certainly the ONLY movie critic that could be a decent costume. Shalit became a nation treasure after he filed his first report on 1915's Birth of a Nation: "Don't all mob to see D.W.'s tale of hate when it's in your hood!"

Keys: Afro wig (trim out bits and pieces to maximize stringy insanity). Use trimmings from Afro wig for mustache (the more extreme and satirical the better). Insane bow-tie. Loud baggy shirt. Oversize Golden Girls-style eyeglasses. Pillow for gut (if no natural gut exists). Pleated slacks (more pleats the better) with knit-leather belt. Atrocious sportcoat (optional).

Bonus: Tub of popcorn. Speak only in bad puns all evening.

Difficulty level: 3.


Matt Hunter from Invasion USA
What is more fun than dressing up as Chuck Norris? This 1980s classic has it all.

Keys: Tight (light blue) Jeans, Jean shirt with sleeves cut off (leave shirt open). Feathered hair (or get a wig; don't skimp on the hair). Chuck Norris beard. Combat boots. Big round belt buckle. Double Uzis in harness.

Bonus: Stuffed alligator to wrestle. (Alternatively: Stuffed pet armadillo).

Extra Bonus: Ford Bronco (with off-road lifts).

Difficulty level: 2.5.

Hamid Karzai
Named Esquire magazine's 2007 best dressed men, Karzai is an easy costume, especially in New York.

Keys: Nehru-collar shirt. Tented hat. Crazy colored cape. Trimmed beard. Grizzled look. Carry a box marked "Kandahar Ballots" in one hand and a large envelop marked "Payoffs" in the other.

Bonus: Be short and slight and old.

Difficulty Level: 1.

The Man and The Boy
When he woke at the party in the dark and the cold of night he'd reach out to touch the PBR sitting beside him. Heh. The Road is going to be scaring the beejesus out of people in theaters at the exact moment Halloween hits, thus exposing Cormac McCarthy to a whole new generation of people who will start, but never finish, Blood Meridian.

Keys: The Road costume is best with two people, preferably one a grown man and one a young boy; or maybe, a girl/boyfriend if s/he is short and young-looking enough. (This will not work with two normal adults). Other than that, look at the picture and go from there. Ratty coat. Ratty hoodie. Backpack. Pistol (revolver only). Ripped gloves. Shopping cart loaded with nasty blankets and a jug of water. Beard. Everything should be filthy.

Bonus: Smell like that photo looks. Speak only in clipped, two or three word sentences. Also, you may accrue a good deal of spare change throughout the evening.

Difficulty level: 3.


Mola Ram
One of the more forgotten Indiana Jones foes is easily one of the trilogy's best costumes.

Keys: Red and black robes. Bone necklace. Painted bald head with red/black design. Black eye paint. Heart. Knife. Skull from which to drink. Blood.

Extra Credit: Stuffed alligators sewn on back of cape. Real cow heart. Be South Asian.

Difficulty level: 2.

Captain Chaos
We lost Dom DeLuise this year and what better a way to honor his memory than to be Captain Chaos?

Keys: Dehydration-urine shade of yellow mechanic jumpsuit. Sew your own cowl and "Chaos" mask for the extra homemade touch. Don't forget a very poorly filled-in mustache. Brown belt. Blue undershirt.

Bonus touches: Be fat. Very, very fat and effeminate.

Difficulty level: 2.

Zardoz (Sean Connery)
Yes, there are a lot of risks with this costume but the payoff may be worth it. I mean, just look at the trailer. This takes balls.

Keys: Thigh-high boots. Red halter bandolier thing (may have to hand-make this). Red Pampers. Pistol (revolver only). Ponytail. Mustache.

Bonus: Wads of fake chest hair. Scottish accent.

Difficulty level: 3.5.


Obama Rally "Tree of Liberty" Asshole
Yeah, THAT guy.

Keys: White ball hat. H&M Gotti-striped shirt over t-shirt. Jeans (cuffed!). Thigh holster with pistol (water gun filled with Democracy Booze!?) Sign with "IT IS TIME TO WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY!" and little tread-on-me snake.

Bonus: Knock-off Kenneth Cole driving shoes from Kmart.

Difficulty level: 2.

A Gawker Sex Tape Post
Sure, it's an inside joke but how much would YOU laugh if you saw a couple dressed like this.?

Keys: A giant enlargement of the Dane/Gayheart sex tape page. Or draw it. Cut out the "video" part of the page. A man and two women stand behind the cutout. Be as naked or as naked-looking as possible. Women can go with the Noxema-boobed thing. Smoke a lot. (Basically, like this idea.) Don't forget the page-view count fireball.

Bonus: Actually be naked. Be accompanied by a tall, giant-headed third person dressed in Zara with a British accent and wads of money coming out of all pockets and orifices.

Difficulty level: 3.5 (done perfectly: 5).

For more ideas (or, if you are like me, enjoy wasting an afternoon) try theCoolest Homemade Costumes site. And whatever you do, don't be this guy or this guy. Or perhaps you have a better idea?

106 Comments / Post A Comment

HiredGoons (#603)

Zardoz almost made me straight. Fuck you Abe.

Fredrick (#268)

I too couldn't scroll down fast enough.

I would actually like Abe to go as Zardoz and then post pictures. Is that wrong?

Abe Sauer (#148)

Yes. I did the Viking costume (above) my legs got cold. I cannot even imagine the horror of the Zardoz. some dude did it and… well

To Abe, below:
I was wondering about that – the cold I mean. I recall many a Halloween in Alberta when the costume was contingent on whether I could fit a parka over it.

As for the link, it's no more or less mindboggling than the original, but it does prove that some things are best left to the imagination.

(Also, to the editors: when you get some investors and money and things, after you buy a samovar and a massage table, are you going to get it fixed so that we can reply to replies? Some of these threads get very hard to follow.)

Tuna Surprise (#573)

Needs more slutty costumes for the ladies.

My best couples costume idea is Karl Lagerfeld/Anna Wimtour.

mathnet (#27)

Swine floozy

Tuna Surprise (#573)

Perfect. I'll do a micro mini, fishnets, lacy bra plus a pig nose. I think I'll also have to pin on a pig tail so when guys ask what I am I can give them an excuse to stare at my butt.

mathnet (#27)

Yes! And you'll have no choice but to speak with a sexy, sexy raspy voice and be high on pain killers.

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

And another friend could be Andre Leon Talley.

Fredrick (#268)

In an attempt to usher in the wave of 'guy slut' costumes, I'm going as a Mexican wrestler, what with the form-fitting.
I might also suggest 'Power Ranger' and 'Michael Phelps'. For ladies, I suggest Lady Gaga. Anything goes.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Phelps was done to death last year
and is a + bong is a favorite of the college humor crowd so….

Fredrick (#268)

Damn. I worked last Halloween, so I missed out on what was in. 'Perez Hilton crying' then?

Tuna Surprise (#573)

I like the Lady Gaga idea. All you have to do is get a wig and not wear pants.

I was seriously considering doing the Lady Gaga bubbles costume, but I am clumsy and am afraid I will run into far too many things with the extra width. Plus I would have to figure out how to connect plastic bubbles to a bodysuit.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

Lady Gaga Bubbles = balloons pinned to your body suit (buy the smaller balloons and use safety pins to connect them). BEWARE, however, a friend went as a bag of jelly beans (using a leotard, tons of inflated water balloons inside a clear garbage bag she poked her arms and legs through) and passed out due to the heat retaining properties of the balloons and garbage bag.

Go as George St Pierre and totally stuff your cup and wear really tight shorts.

Oooh thanks Tuna!

sakade (#52)

Anyone going as The Stig should also carry a tape recorder playing books on tape…chic lit novels, Margaret Thatcher speeches, basic Italian, etc.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Yes! Good call.

I went as Andy Warhol one year and these idiots thought I was Austin Scarlett from Project Runway. They don't teach *anything* in history classes these days.

dokuchan (#540)

Last year I went as Omar from The Wire…the "going to the store for Cheerios" scene. No one got it, such a bummer. After all that work braiding my hair and scouring Chinatown for aqua silk pajamas!

Tuna Surprise (#573)

That was like the time a couple came to a Halloween party dressed as Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray from Lost in Translation (the scene where she has the pink wig on). It was like two weeks after the movie came out and I don't think it had even been widely released yet. They should've just come as "better than you" or "pretentious".

saythatscool (#101)

"Put a bald cap on the baby."

I'm gonna guess you never had a fidgety baby? They don't really do bald cap.

"Be fat. Very, very fat and effeminate."

Done and done!


Abe Sauer (#148)

Maybe a bald cap with a strip of duct tape underneath to hold it on?

saythatscool (#101)

Now you're talking!

garge (#736)

It might just be easier to shave its head and eyebrows?

Abe Sauer (#148)

Can't Un-do that one for Grandma….

cherrispryte (#444)

OOoh, this is the perfect audience to pose this question to:
I'm going to a concert on halloween, and I'm thinking of dressing up as this girl the band I'm seeing describes in one of their songs. (its an obscure song, i've seen them live 3x and they've never done it) Thing is, there are several references in said song to the girl cutting herself.
Aside from the obvious loser factor in the scenario I've described above, do I make cutting marks/scars out of makeup as part of the costume? or is that too fucked up?

mathnet (#27)

You have to actually cut yourself, duh.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Thievery Corporation? Anyway, I say yes. You're going for broke here so might as well get all the details. The 1% of people who get it will LOVE the details.

cherrispryte (#444)

Nope, the band is the World Inferno/Friendship Society … My gut is to go for it, so I appreciate the yes vote.

Look online for how to make blood I did it one year but forgot how. It was a long time ago. I went as Nicole Simpson with my neck slashed and blood dripping down my chest. I later found out OJ was in the crowd.

hazmathilda (#839)

Red food coloring in corn syrup worked super for my ex who then took advantage of its edible sweet nature and kept getting girls to lick it off him…

Bittersweet (#765)

Is that why he's now your ex?

atipofthehat (#797)

Put the edge of a metal ruler in brick-red gouache or watercolor and pull it over your skin to make good, crusty cuts.

cherrispryte (#444)

oooooh I like this idea. I know how to do liquid blood, but I was wondering how to get the crustiness factor. Will experiment.

Abe Sauer (#148)

BTW, in case you check back, I found this and thought of you:

If you dress as Michael Jackson for Halloween then the terrorists will have won

Mindpowered (#948)

So True.

Mindpowered (#948)

But bonus points if you convince your Kid brother and his 9 year old friends to come along.

WindowSeat (#180)

The thing about the Chuck Norris costume is if you take away the Uzis it's half of the men in Pennsylvania.

Abe Sauer (#148)

that is why… DETAILS!

WindowSeat (#180)

That still from "The Road" was shot about 3 miles from my house. All I need is a shopping cart!

maebefunke (#154)

Keystone State represent! I live in Vancouver now but I would love to dress as a Pennsylvanian for Halloween.

Alex Balk (#4)

Wait, so does the costume not make itself if we come on people? Because I can totally see an upside.

mathnet (#27)

Come off it, Editor.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Apparently I don't write for N+1 so the intentions of my titles are lye poured on the petri dish of erotic possibility.

maebefunke (#154)

HAH good one, Abe.

Bittersweet (#765)


toadvine (#1,698)

Is it too soon to go as "Cancer Patrick Swayze?"

HiredGoons (#603)


Tuna Surprise (#573)

Just go as death and have all of the People magazine covers from our Dearly Departed Celebrities pinned on your cloak.

Bonus points if print up a "You're next ____" cover.

HiredGoons (#603)


Abe Sauer (#148)

Yes. and I don;t know, short of looking exactly like him, how yo do a patrick swayze costume.

toadvine (#1,698)

Sleeveless shirt, acid-washed jeans, bouffant coif wig, dark, dark circles under eyes, etc.?

Abe Sauer (#148)

That's like everyone from 1985 to 1991….

toadvine (#1,698)

Not if I cut-out a life-size Jennifer Grey and have her cardboard legs taped around may waist!

slinkimalinki (#182)

ooh, ooh, ooh. get three people: one goes as patrick swayze, one goes as jennifer grey's old nose, and one goes as jennifer grey's career. Things That Died After Dirty Dancing.

mathnet (#27)


1. silver sequined glove
2. tub of OxyClean
3. clay-covered hands and forearms
4. Farrah hair
5. hideous, "pretty" pink dress
6. audio of Balk yelling

toadvine (#1,698)

OH shit, I love it!

garge (#736)

The clay might throw people, especially when it dries. You might exchange "audio of Balk yelling" for Unchained Melody on loop, and just walk around with your hand in front of your face.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Bravo. I'd add a cardboard Les Paul guitar and DJ headphones,

KarenUhOh (#19)

And a quarter after seven, the guy in the Dan Rather costume sends you home.

OldBillyBaroo (#1,697)

you go as that and i'll wear a motorcycle jacket with a maple leaf on the back and serenade trick-or-treaters with Summer Of '69 wearing a t-shirt that says DR Adams. i'll tell everyone that asks that i write a weak column on the awl about danzig, but nobody will ask. except maybe tim mcgraw. and parker posey.

Abe Sauer (#148)

That would almost be amusing if you had the stones to do it. Instead, it is just another terrible "what if I" costume… and a pathetic one at that.

toadvine (#1,698)

No, it'd be seriously hilarious and awesome, not only because of what it is, but also because NO ONE would ever get it.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Then do it.

toadvine (#1,698)

Because, you know, it's tough being an artist, and no one ever really GETS you, you know??

Abe Sauer (#148)

All talk. No action. Pussies.

toadvine (#1,698)

Dude, harsh. The Twins won.

OldBillyBaroo (#1,697)

Oh! i'll go as abe sauer and wear a ridiculous rooskie hat and smear man-ass all over my beard! YUM. TREATS.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Sounds like you've already got the perfect costume in the human embodiment of 4Chan, why change now.

toadvine (#1,698)

Abe — it was all cool and funny, then you went and got profane. Your defense of your bro is touching. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Let it out man. Winter's coming.

Fredrick (#268)

Lastly, Lil Kim from the 99 VMAs is a thoughtful costume for any guy or girl.

Abe Sauer (#148)

I had to look this up because… Ohhh Yeaaaahhhh. But I see women on Halloween wearing way less than that on a regular basis… Lil Kim = prude?????

Bonus points if you can get someone to dress up as Diana Ross & occasionally come up and cup your flowerboob as casually as if they were shaking your hand.

BoHan (#29)

Louis Vuitton Walker? darn. Probably racist.

BlinkyMcChuck (#202)

Zardoz wins. Though I'll probably still wear my Viking helmet too…

Bittersweet (#765)

Just make sure your helmet doesn't hide the awesome braid, Blinky.

hazmathilda (#839)

Sexy Stig (aka Stiggybird, literally!), if I can figure out a way to get alcohol through that helmet.

hazmathilda (#839)

Best costume ever though: I was a ham radio in kindergarten. Light up dial and everything.

mandor (#1,014)

Forgive me when I say this, but I predict a gaggle of Gagas this Halloween. And god bless her, she offers so many options!

Tuna Surprise (#573)

It's going to be Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson.
A few clueless people will still be doing Sarah Palin and Michael Phelps.

sox (#652)

i've been wanting to go Barbarella for a few years now but fear that no one will get it. now doubly so 'cause they'll just think i'm trying for Gaga! ugh!
there's always that showercap looking thing on Dorothy Mantooth's avatar…

Abe Sauer (#148)

HA! If even ONE person got the "Mantooth avatar" costume it would be worth it.

Baboleen (#1,430)

I have to think about this, but I'd like to go as the Swine Flu.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

Bathrobe, slippers, thermometer in mouth, pig nose.

GetItOn (#1,182)

I think the ladies should go as crazy MaryAnn from True Blood. Or the fabulous Pam and Eric as a couples idea.

Or…go as Julia Child – the real and the SNL version as a couples idea.

Please people let's do something different this year.

atipofthehat (#797)

I'm planning to go as the Awl Change Bowl.

BoHan (#29)

Or the Awl Newsletter, in which case you just wrap yourself in unadorned white butcher paper.

maebefunke (#154)

where is the newsletter? either my spam filter is nixing it or it's on hiatus.

Bucko (#1,599)

Wow. I've got to respond to see if I'm in the loser fifth of the people that Abe doesn't respond to. I'm expecting that I am because I've got the bad attitude that is emblematic of the scum that our American school system destines for failure, but then on the other hand, I do have one or two original thoughts which makes me rare amongst the hither to mentioned throng to which Abe has already responded. All in all, I think "don't wear a fucking mask" is the best possible advice one can give for a Halloween costume. Up next, get as naked as you possibly can given how intoxicated you plan on being. It's reasonably parabolic so if you plan on getting wasted, being naked is probably not a good idea.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Waaaiiiiiit…Is this an N+1 essay on Halloween??????

But I must agree that, usually, full masks = bad news.

I laughed the most at the idea of going as the Obama Rally "Tree of Liberty" asshole.

Women could go as the La Rouche "dining room table" woman from Barney Frank's rally.

So who's hosting the "town hall health care meeting" themed-halloween party?

Every half hour a hysterical woman has to insist that everyone at the party say the pledge of allegiance.

Sakurambobomb (#1,722)

Going as a Tea Bagger is an easy last minute idea – all you really need is some cheap, sloppy clothing and a misspelled sign.

I would love to go as Andre Leon Talley – where does one find those tent-like dashikis? Is there a store for that?

fernanda (#1,853)

um, hello, POLANSKI TEEN. sadly, i have no Quaaludes.

Tyais (#1,604)

Holy package!!! Sean Connery!!!

nat (#1,899)

I can go to a hot dog cart and put together a costume in 2.5 minutes.
1. plastic bucket (on head)
2. entire roll of tin foil (everywhere else)
3. towel (cape)

stupidest C3PO costume ever.

Abe Sauer (#148)

I was there. I know.

lawyergay (#220)

Do I detect a hint of camel toe on Chuck Norris?

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