Moda Memorandum: The Ghosts of Halloween Costumes Past
The shoes that carried you through a New York City summer, a perfume that reminds you of a freshman year crush, the weird vintage necklace that inspires you — these are the pieces that make personal style meaningful, and we’re here to highlight them.
Want to hear something really frightening? I can only find photos of two of my Halloween costumes.
I've been scrolling through Facebook and looking through old batches of disposable camera film, but I can't find photo documentation of Halloweens past anywhere. It makes me feel a little unsettled, like did I forget to dress up? Did Halloween forget about me? I've never been the hugest Halloween participant, since my family didn't celebrate the holiday when I was growing up, and to tell you the truth, elements of it have always freaked me out a little. I like spookily carved pumpkins and ghosts-that-are-actually-sheets hanging from the ceiling, but once you've got realistic corpses swaying from trees in your front yard, I'm out. I just can't hang.
But I have dressed up. I swear! Here are my most memorable Halloween costume moments, from worst to best:
5. Esmé Gigi Genevieve Squalor from A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you haven't read the books, suffice it to say that this lady is crazy and also the bomb. She's obsessed with what's "in" (pinstriped suits, for example) and what's "out" (orphans). She's also totally evil. Her name, if you can't tell, was quite probably inspired by the Salinger short story, "For Esmé — With Love and Squalor."
I wore a sparkly dress, a necklace spelling "Esmé" that I crafted out of foil, and a sash that read "I Love Freaks" (something Esmé wore in book nine). The costume should have been amazing, but it was just one of those nights that fell flat. Our party plans fell through, I was in a really bad mood, my shoes hurt, and my friends and I spent the night half-heartedly watching a horror movie while rubbing at our fake eyelashes.
4. Sparkle Girl. She was a nymph of my own invention. My boyfriend and I had been planning to go to this music festival for a long time, and we just kind of forgot about Halloween (which was taking place the same weekend). Once the day rolled around and we were already on our way to the festival, I realized that everyone else would be dressed up, and I wanted to be part of the fun. So we stopped in a thrift store to see what sorts of costumes we could dream up.
Of course, the thrift store had already been ransacked for costumes, so all I could find was a blue sequined dress from Forever 21. Thankfully, I had a sparkly beanie with me already, so I bought a pair of sparkly fake eyelashes and decided to be... drumroll please... SPARKLE GIRL!
I've had more imaginative moments, but I do look back on the decision fondly.
3. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. As I mentioned Thursday, this was a totally amazing costume idea, because everyone else at the party I went to was a Victoria's Secret model (bra + underwear + heels, in case you were wondering). I really wish I had a photo to show you, but my friend who took photos of that night is no longer on Facebook, and alas! The photos have disappeared along with her Internet presence. I wore a vintage psychedelic shirt, tons of scarves and necklaces around my neck, and wild hair. I just remember feeling kinda cool and having fun, and what more could you ask for from Halloween?
2. Ashlee Simpson circa Pete Wentz. What more could you ask for from Halloween? Um, only my second-best costume idea ever! Remember the year 2008, when Ashlee Simpson was pregnant with Pete Wentz's kid, and they were the weirdest couple ever and everyone made fun of them? I, proactive as ever, decided to go one step further: I became them. Yes, this was the only year I was ever able to convince my boyfriend to don a couple's costume, but it was so worth it. He wore eyeliner and a tight band t-shirt. I dropped $40 on a synthetic red wig, piled on the makeup, and cropped my shirt.
Yes we did.
There were paparazzi everywhere.
1. My dad. You guys don't even know. When I was eight years old, I went to a costume party. It was a birthday party, but let's pretend it was for Halloween. I came up with idea for the costume all on my own — I went as my own father. I wore one of his tweed blazers, carried a briefcase, donned a pair of thick, circular glasses, and best of all, gave myself a mustache out of mascara. There's this one (film) photo of me in my head-to-toe dad gear, standing proudly in the hallway of the party. Smiling? No way. I have on my very best dad face: serious, mature, and slightly burdened by the weight of providing for a family of six. My tiny eight-year-old face looks hilariously world-weary and ready, so help me, to push that imaginary business deal through to the end.