It's that time of year again: jack o' lanterns and ghosts are materializing everywhere, the candy aisles are stocked, and you need to start planning your Halloween costume. While there are a lot of great individual costume options to choose from, a well-executed group costume is really the jam.
In honor of our current cultural obsession with '90s nostalgia, Halloween is an opportune time to break out a group look that pays homage to some of our favorite YA literary icons: the entrepreneurial-minded, mystery-solving, sleepover-having young ladies of The Baby-sitters Club.
Over the course of the 213 novels published in Ann M. Martin's best-selling series, each member's individual style and personality was described in detail (almost to the point of ad nauseum — did anyone else eventually start skipping the chapter in each book where they would give the background of the baby-sitters? I only need to be told so many times that Kristy is loud and bossy and Claudia loves junk food).
But those distinct personalities made it easy for us to identify with the characters ( Are you a Mary Anne or a Stacey was the middle school equivalent of Are you a Carrie or a Charlotte?) and now, so many years later, they can provide endless inspiration for Halloween costumes that might not be as eye-catching as a sexy carrot, but are definitely a lot more fun. After all, if The Baby-sitters Club taught us anything, it's that things are always better with your friends.
If you're going as KRISTY THOMAS...
You'll need: Jeans, sweatshirt or sweater/turtleneck combo, old running shoes (bonus points for slouchy socks), baseball cap with a collie on it, or official BSC meeting visor. Optional accessories: Baseball glove, clipboard, Kristy's Krushers gear.
How to pull it off: The mastermind behind the Baby-Sitters Club empire is too focused on conquering the world to keep up with the latest fashion trends like her friends Claudia and Stacey. This costume is perfect for short, loud brunettes who want to be comfortable and warm all night. Brush up on your sports stats, pregame to "Run the World (Girls)," and get ready to be the ringleader for the night's festivities.
Need inspiration? In #31, Dawn's Wicked Stepsister, Dawn describes Kristy thus:
Kristy couldn't care less about the way she dresses or whether she has a boyfriend. She thinks planning outfits and putting on makeup and jewelry are a waste of time. So she almost always wears the same kinds of clothes — jeans, a turtleneck shirt, a sweater (in the winter), running shoes, and sometimes this baseball cap with a collie on it.
Nearly every BSC book contains some variation on this paragraph, making this one of the easiest costumes to execute.
If you're going as CLAUDIA KISHI...
You'll need: The funkiest clothing you can find, preferably with lots of sequins, fringe or feathers; leggings; high-topped sneakers in a bright, bold color; one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry, especially big earrings (bonus points if you make it yourself). Optional accessories: Paint brush, box of Ring-Dings, corded phone with its own phone number
How to pull it off: BSC's most artistic member sees everything, including her body, as an opportunity for expression and experimentation. Claudia is fearless when it comes to fashion, boldly mixing patterns, colors, fabrics and accessories, so go nuts! Hit up some thrift stores and find the most eye-catching pieces you can. If you're looking to get noticed on All Hallow's Eve, putting on your best Claudia Kishi costume is the way to do it.
Need inspiration? When Claudia is prepping for an important test in #40, Claudia and the Middle School Mystery, she's not focused on studying, but what she'll wear the day of the test:
I thought I'd start with my lucky earrings — the ones that look like Princess Di's. They're huge (pretend) emeralds, surrounded by thousands of tiny (phony) diamonds. Then I thought I'd work downward from there, wearing my new green-and-blue-tie-dyed T-shirt dress (the casualness of the dress would be an interesting contrast to those fancy earrings) over green leggings.The only thing I hadn't figured out was the shoes — should I go with my old ballet flats, or the black leather high-tops I'd just gotten?
If you're going as MARY ANNE SPIER...
You'll need: Knee-length skirt, knee socks, loafers, sweater, pigtails, reading glasses. Optional accessories: Notebook, pet cat Tigger, boyfriend Logan Bruno.
How to pull it off: Want to play it low-key, and hang in the background this Halloween? Try the Mary Anne Spier look on for size. BSC's secretary might have been the club's most organized and cat-friendly member, but she was also the most conservative when it came to fashion, even after her big makeover in #60, aptly titled Mary Anne's Makeover. While you could opt to go with the "new" Mary Anne look, most of us best remember Mary Anne as the somewhat frumpy girl whose widowed father inexplicably insisted she wear pigtails until she was 13, as if that will somehow protect a child from the evils of the world. Stick close to your friends all night, or grab a drink and post up in a corner and wait for one-on-one chats to complete the look.
Need inspiration? Check out this clip to the classic early 1990s TV version of The Baby-Sitters Club.
If you're going as STACEY MCGILL...
You'll need: Doc Martens, slouchy socks, Calvin Klein or Guess? jeans, jacket with shoulder pads, fun, over-the-top jewelry. Optional accessories: Blossom hat, perm, insulin.
How to pull it off: I learned the word "sophisticated" because of Ann M. Martin's (and her ghostwriters') descriptions of Anastasia "Stacey" McGill. As a die-hard New Yorker, even after choosing to live in Stoneybrook, Conn. when her parents divorced, Stacey was the most fashion-forward BSC member (she was definitely the Carrie of the group, down to the blonde curls), so if you have a thing for trendy late-'80s/early '90s clothes, you'll rock this costume hard!
Need inspiration: When Stacey's parents announce their divorce in #28, Welcome Back, Stacey!, Ms. McGill seeks to improve her mood with a little sartorial therapy:
I put on one of my better outfits — short red pants with purple suspenders over a bright yellow and black sweat shirt. On my feet I put my purple push-down socks and a pair of red hightop sneakers. I added jewelry — a big necklace with wooden bananas and oranges strung on it, and dangly earrings shaped like sunglasses.
If you're going as DAWN SCHAFER...
You'll need: Skinny jeans or maxi skirt, peasant blouse, sandals. Optional accessories: Sun-In, vegan cupcakes, weed.
How to pull it off: Look, Dawn was a hipster before we really knew what hipsters were; now that they've basically taken over the planet, this shouldn't be too hard to execute. Find a bandwagon cause, marshal your arguments about how seitan tastes just like chicken, and roll a J (sure, Dawn may have been straight-edge during her BSC days, but you know in 2014 she's got a medical marijuana card burning a hole in her hemp wallet). You're going to be chilling like a California girl all night long.
Need inspiration? In Dawn's self-description in #31, Dawn's Wicked Stepsister, Dawn points out her über-California girl looks (white-blonde hair and blue eyes) and defines her style as "California casual. I guess that my style falls somewhere between Stacey's and Kristy's."
If you're going as MALLORY PIKE...
You'll need: Red hair, glasses, colored jeans or leggings, sequined blouse, earrings. Optional accessories: Notebook, novel about horses, seven siblings.
How to pull it off: Throughout the course of the series, Mallory's style can be best described as... evolving. She is constantly striving to appear more grown-up, although it's never quite clarified what she means by that (maybe this?). Of course, those feelings of longing to be more adult are familiar to many of us (until we actually become adults, and realize that it ain't all it's cracked up to be), so tap into that state of mind and fashion sense when putting together your best Mallory ensemble.
Need inspiration? We get a sense of what Mallory thinks of as "grown-up" clothes in #28, Welcome Back, Stacey!, when she shows up at a club meeting after a shopping spree: "And Mal arrived last, wearing a totally new outfit — a sequined sweat shirt, a short skirt, and pink leggings."
If you're going as JESSI RAMSEY...
You'll need: Leotard, tights, rolled-up sweatpants, ballet sweater, bun. Optional accessories: Dance bag with pair of toe shoes poking out, walking in turn-out.
How to pull it off: At 11, Jessi may only be a junior BSC member, but thanks to her years of ballet training, she has the grace and poise of someone much older. Get yourself in the dancer mentality with classics like Center Stage and Save the Last Dance, practice all your dance moves, but for the love of all things holy and sacred, don't do this.
Need inspiration? In our introduction to Jessi is #56, Keep Out, Claudia!, this junior BSC member is described as thus:
She often wears her hair up, or pulled back. Her legs are the long legs of a dancer and her eyelashes are so long she looks as if she'swearing mascara, even though she isn't allowed to use makeup.
Images: Baby-Sitters Club Wiki