It comes as no surprise that every year for Halloween the adult female costumes leave less to the imagination and seem more like the apparel one would find at a semi-naked drunken party. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be sexy and sultry, but that does not mean being mistaken for a hooker unless that’s actually the purpose of the costume. To me, it seems as though purchasing an outfit at an adult novelty store saves the trouble of having to deal with children and teenagers who will be swarming the regular Halloween shops in hopes of claiming the best, and that is why so many readily choose that option. No imagination required, unless of course your body isn’t exactly like the woman on the package, who is likely a porn actress and artificially enhanced. In that case, it might be time to put down the skank wear and exert effort into being a little more creative, especially if you are a burlesque or sideshow performer.
As an adult woman, I find no empowerment in my costume selection being watered down to ‘sexy’ everything. A black body suit and stockings can be a cat, rabbit or devil with the right bag of accessories and enough alcohol. Why am I pigeonholed into specific roles of characters that somehow all have apparel which requires plunging necklines, short jagged hemlines and materials that are so incredibly cheap they wouldn’t even be up-cycled into anything more than a rag?
There are a variety of matriarchal representatives of historical note that can certainly be portrayed with pride and without the need of showing off skin because it will get you some lame prize in a contest. This guide will allow one to be fun and flirty without looking dumb and dirty with suggestions on how to take generic costumes and add a few creatives touches for a new twist on classic ideas. Also, utilize items in your existing wardrobe with the right accessories in order to save money on having to buy something prepackaged.
While there is a good portion of the population who are afflicted with coulrophobia [fear of clowns], and if you have suffered from bad horror movies that portray clowns as evil villains, than a rubber mask and jumpsuit with floppy shoes will most likely be the best route to take. For those who are aficionados of the various types of clowns, perhaps selecting a famous face from history such as Emit Kelley’s hobo clown would be more suitable. Coming up with a female version of such outfits are a bit harder, especially when there are many who done the familiar Harley Quinn black-and-red ensemble that even I have to admit looks killer on the right frame, especially if the bodysuit is made of latex. Artifice has a lovely rendition in PVC, and both materials are acceptable in a fetish scene. However, there are not that many clown costumes for women that are nothing more than a cute, short dress and perhaps stockings, a wig or a hat, as seen in the photo on the right. No face paint is needed because that would mean hiding one’s natural beauty, as enhanced by two hours of careful makeup application. One of those glitter-coated party masks on a stick would work wonders though.
There is certainly a way one can portray a clown, known for bringing smiles and being a character that works through facial expressions, with flirty flair that won’t get you mistaken for being a Juggalette. This requires a figure flattering corset, red and black polka dot or striped – or even a well-balanced combination of both – and super full two layer organza petticoat skirt from Sterling and Pearls. Continuing with the same color scheme, I am partial to the Rocket Mistress tie on show bustle and Rocket Mistress bustle corset jacket from Lovechild Boudoir, as it carries a sort of Dark Carnival aesthetic I prefer over the usual neon colors associated with clowns. Forget about the floppy footwear and slip your toes into a pair of Bordello Teeze pumps in red glitter, which would go nicely with some red and black layered fishnets, as stripes would be a little too much even for a costume. Accessories come in an assortment of ridiculous with skewed proportions and funny sounds, though keep them limited to things you can carry as opposed to awkward props. Good quality wigs are recommended, but please stay far away from afros, particularly the rainbow variety. While one can find something like this half-and-half Punky Gothic Wig, there are far better options, such as using a cosplay wig as a base and styling it yourself. [Or, have one custom made for you.] To achieve makeup that won’t send children and adults run screaming in the other direction, keep the face mostly white with curved eyebrows and dainty accents such as dots and diamonds.
MISTRESS OF CEREMONIES
Without a doubt the most popular circus costume that has way too many inceptions is the ringmaster, or in this case the ringmistress. For some reason companies seem to think that short skirts or dresses with equally short jackets, high-heeled black patent leather boots and fishnets with a small top hat and limp riding crop is what best represents a ring master. This is the individual who commands attention from an entire audience, a huge presence that sparkles in the spotlights and is the larger-than-life conductor of everything that happens within a circus. Certainly history portrays the ringmaster as a refined gentleman in coat tails and a top hat with shiny black leather riding boots, the style of which is reminiscent of circus’ early roots in equestrian exhibition. How then did it get downgraded into what could be mistaken for the poor-woman’s psudeo-dominatrix outfit? Cast aside those cheap barely there spandex travesties and treat yourself to the finest textiles that let everyone feel your confidence.
Lip Service’s Division LS II Ambush Military Dress takes styling cues from the traditional ringmaster’s jacket and adds a whole lot of feminine curve with stark contrast in blocked black and white vertical stripes. Speaking of the jacket, it should be nothing short of spectacular, and seeing as how military-inspired frocks can usually be found at department or surplus stores, one can easily accessorize it with swarvoski crystals and metallic thread. Bordello’s Lace Up Knee Boot in black and white carries sophistication and is a more feminine alternative to spats over black leather boots. As with all costumes, the right props are very important, and so to avoid being mistaken for a dungeon mistress, be sure to get a decent bullwhip instead of a riding crop. Do not be afraid to display opulence in the form of an over-the-top hat with ostrich plumes, geometrically patterned ribbon and other details, not to mention jewelry whose shine rivals that of the sun. The final touches of course are hair and makeup, which I suggest should follow along with this season’s 40s inspirations, with loose waves and curls perhaps sprayed with a very light dusting of glitter hairspray. Metallic smokey eyes, glowing cheeks with hints of gold and soft coral lips ensure that the face will be the focus more so than other assets.
The final category I would like to cover is how to radiate royalty as a modern burlesque or sideshow performer while finding inspiration in circus’ Victorian heritage and combining it with personal touches that speak of one’s character. This extends far beyond the stereotypical corset, heels, fishnets and pasties that everyone thinks they need in order to portray a burlesque performer. History notes that many wore elaborate stage costumes to compensate for not showing off their figures while singing or dancing. Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee, Tempest Storm, Lili St. Cyr and Blaze Star are just a few of the amazing women who managed to turn the striptease into an art. There is certainly a separation between extravagant ensembles that are meant strictly for sauntering around stage versus what one would wear while mingling with monsters at a Halloween party.
Purple is the unequivocal color of Divinity, though in parts of Japan it is also known as the color of death. Black is beyond tired as a traditional Halloween color, and jewel tones are in this season for makeup, so it won’t be hard to coordinate a look without being over saturated. Begin with a purple taffeta corset that has a sweetheart cut and no extra frills or black panels. The clean lines of the solid material will do wonders for your waistline and photograph well. A simple black Victorian style fishtail skirt also accentuates curves and would work as a nice addition to basic garments one might want to collect. Lady Lovecraft’s De Luxe Silk Shrug from Lovechild Boudoir is made of 100% dupion silk, edged with lace and has a layer of soft tulle underneath for extra volume that will help maintain a bit of modesty and mystery. As with all of the other outfits, so much can be said with the smallest details and accessories. Satin opera length gloves are a must have, and matching them to the color of the corset will make all of your hand gestures pop, where as Iron Fist Muerte Punk heels are a festive alternative to basic black pumps. Wearing a pair of skeleton print tights underneath for extra warmth could provide an opportunity to show off those gams! Staying on trend for fall’s hair accessories, adorn long curled locks with the Vicky Purple Hair Clip, featuring striped purple feathers, a peacock eye and a charming opal and rhinestone brooch. This brilliant pleated black waist belt with beading detail will add even more emphasis to the cinching of your waist while bringing some sparkle into the outfit. Luxury becomes personified with a Tahitian Black Pearl Necklace, though it is perfectly acceptable to opt for a pair of Charlotte Russe faux pearl and rhinestone stretch bracelets, as they might wind up being slipped off with those gloves later in the evening.
In the end, one should always wear things that they feel comfortable in, even when it’s acceptable to be anyone or anything you want. Personally, I am slightly over gore, zombies and all its ilk that appear on Halloween to scare those who don’t want to spend hours on special effects makeup application. Not that the genre isn’t without its charm, but I for one would like to see focus shift to glamour and the effortless beauty that seems like it stepped off the glossy pages of a magazine. It would be a refreshing change from the parade of mid-thigh-length tacky train wrecks that usually swarm the bars.
Photo credit: Sally Rand – vintagemuse.tumblr.com