In a Costume Quandary

Alison Morris - October 23, 2007

Halloween’s a-coming and this year I am stumped. I’d appreciate hearing any costume suggestions you can cook up, especially those that are book-related!

The sartorial plan this season had been that Gareth and I would go to our friends’ Halloween party together as the subjects of Grant Wood’s famous painting American Gothic. But it turns out we cityfolk don’t have easy access to any but Devil-themed pitchforks, which pretty well robs our idea of its linchpin. And so, after a lengthy visit to our favorite vintage clothing and costume shop, our Gothic duo disbanded, leaving each of us to do our own thing.

Because I typically give my costume a second whirl at work on Halloween day this separation is probably for the best.  (I couldn’t exactly have dragged Gareth to work with me, solely for the purposes of rounding out our portrait.) Nevertheless, it leaves me scrambling to find something by next Saturday, and preferably something that I’ll recall with as much fondness as the costumes I’ve created in years past. My best = Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedron’s starring role) from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds; Nancy Drew (created using the same outfit I wore as Melanie Daniels); an anti-social butterfly (I hastily painted "I Hate People" on a black t-shirt and found it worked perfectly with my black antennae and monarch wings); a subtly sinister tooth fairy (pink dress, cute wings, chocolate coins and pliers); and Stevie Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman with big hair, dark glasses, and a lot more soul).

This year I’m turning back to books for inspiration, as I’m finding it nowhere else. Captain Underpants is an entertaining option, but Lorna’s already done that justice at our store, and I wouldn’t try to compete. We both keep saying we’ll take inspiration from the wonderful Stuart’s Cape by Sara Pennypacker — staple many neckties together, add one purple sock for a pocket, and you’ll have the perfect cape — but outside our bookstore I don’t think many will get the reference. The Scarlet Letter? I’ve seen it done, and it’s kinda funny but… Not quite what I’m looking for. Bandying about options this morning I thought I might roll two into one and become Ophelia Earheart (Renaissance-inspired dress, aviator cap and goggles) but…  Too silly, perhaps? I don’t know.

Right now I’m leaning towards Gulliver — blousy shirt, cropped pants, black boots, a tricorn hat, and lots of tiny plastic men dangling from strings. Why I’m hesitant to commit to this one: the tricorn hats I saw this morning were pricier than I’d like, and I don’t yet have a source for cheap little men. (Don’t you love the sound of that sentence?)

So… Anyone got any inspiration for me? Any tiny action figures? How about a free pitchfork, with postage? Send ’em my way!

7 thoughts on “In a Costume Quandary

  1. Hope Vestergaard

    My son was a fantastic Sheep in a Jeep when he was in preschool. White sweats, fleecy hat, cardboard car…Gulliver sounds good, though. Can’t you get any cheap little people at a dollar store?

  2. ShelfTalker

    Hope, I LOVE the sheep in a jeep idea! How great! I think you’re probably right about the dollar store idea, too. Just haven’t had a time to browse there as yet. Could be an eleventh-hour, pre-party trip at this point!

  3. CynJay

    Some friends last year dressed up in brown shirts with a big letter P, and put black eyes on everyone – the Black Eyed Peas. Okay, not literary, but very musical. And easy.

  4. Brooke

    Going as Hester Prynne is always a good idea, but here are some other’s I’ve found that I like: Dress in pale blue and put a big white ribbon around your middle to be “a little something from Tiffany’s.” Or, pair that with some eggs and bacon to be “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” You could always be my personal favorite: “The Rebellious Teenager Who Isn’t Rebellious Enough to Stop Shopping at the Mall.” Let’s just say it involves a lot of body glitter. Male-type personages can always try out Holden Caulfield as a costume. I raise my mug to whoever can pull that off. Good luck!


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