Consisted of: Bellbottom jeans; peasant blouse; hoop earrings, beads. Overall effect of jewelry more “Claire’s Boutique” than “head shop,” but we tried.
Advantages: Subversive feeling of getting to wear highly unfashionable clothing to school in seventh grade without suffering dire social consequences.
Limitations: At school, the only people who understood costume were teachers.
Unexpected benefit: Extra candy from nostalgic thirtysomethings while trick-or-treating. Relatively early experience with 60s-styled posturing allowed me to resist dumb-assed Grateful Dead revival in high school.
Costume/year: Sylvia Plath (post-mortem), 1992
Consisted of: Housedress; bathrobe; blue lipstick; crumpled drafts of poems in pockets; suicide note pinned to front; can of Easy-Off oven cleaner.
Advantages: Total English major snob value; also, way comfortable.
Limitations: You really can only say “Daddy, Daddy you bastard, I’m through,” so many times before it gets old.
Unexpected benefit: Even drunken frat boys knew better than to mess with a chick carrying a can of Easy-Off.
Costume/year: Yoko Ono, 1994
Consisted of: Long black wig; giant sunglasses; wide-brimmed black hat; mod thrift store dress; boots.
Advantages: Looked awesome with best friend who went as John Lennon.
Limitations: Looked dumb when not with best friend who went as John Lennon.
Unexpected benefit: Surprisingly easy to pull off, despite having no physical resemblance to Yoko Ono whatsoever.
Costume/year: Fundamentalist Christian, various years
Consisted of: Two basic variations: either Classic Church Lady, with oversized purse, dumpy dress, cardigan, sensible shoes; or 70s Godspell Teen, with poncho and jeans and a button that read: JESUS IS JUST ALL RIGHT WITH ME.
Advantages: Guaranteed instant rapport with guys in Jesus costumes. Occasional complicated flirting with guys in devil costumes ensued as well.
Limitations: Never had enough religious tracts to give away.
Unexpected benefit: A big hit in gay bars.
Costume/year: Stevie Nicks, 2000
Consisted of: Black lacy dress; lace scarves; blond curly wig; hat recycled from Yoko Ono costume; boots; CD of solo album, simulated lines of cocaine on the CD case using glue and powdered Equal sweetener.
Advantages: Much to my horror, already owned all the clothes needed to dress like Stevie Nicks.
Limitations: Often mistaken for sexy witch costume.
Unexpected benefit: Often mistaken for sexy witch costume.
Costume/year: Little Debbie, various years
Consisted of: Gingham dress; knee socks and Mary Jane shoes; straw hat; basket filled with snack cakes.
Advantages: Banana Twins are a terrific ice breaker.
Limitations: They also get squished easily.
Unexpected benefit: Massive, skull-tingling sugar rush.
Costume/year: Cathy from Flowers in the Attic, 2005
Consisted of: Ballerina outfit, with tutu appropriated from store-bought sexy-witch costume; cobwebs; blond wig with simulated tar and bucket affixed to it; basket with various props, including powdered donuts; precious ballerina music box; and two blond dolls representing growth-stunted twins.
Advantages: Imagining oneself as a tragic forsaken aspiring ballerina woman-child accused of committing filthy sins and confined to an attic is always loads of fun.
Limitations: Trying to drunkenly summarize the plot of the book to people who haven’t read it.
Unexpected benefit: Actually getting to commit filthy sins in a tutu.