Or, How Not To Be A Pain In The Ass While Shopping For A Halloween Costume
Ah, Halloween; that magical night of the year when children are allowed–nay, encouraged to beg for handouts, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is socially acceptable for mainstream viewing, and I never have anything to wear because I’m exhausted from all the costuming I do the rest of the year. Is that irony? I can never remember.
One of the many bizarre jobs I’ve had in my thus-far-brief life was a stint at a costume store. Not one of those soulless “Halloween stores” that spring up in September and are gone by November 2nd, mind; this is a real, honest-to-Nye costume store that was open year-round and does business in quality retail and rental costumes as well as makeup, wigs, accessories, and whatever bizarre shit Jimmy, the manager, decided he wanted to sell. Most of the extensive assortment of rental costumes are made in-house, and the staff (there were about eight people in permanent positions) were enormously weird people who could costume just about anyone or anything.
It was hilarious and bizarre and laid the foundations for a love of costuming, and I loved it. There was one time of year, however, that I did not love. Can you guess what that was, based perhaps on the title of this entry?
The first thing you need in dressing a character is a character.
Actually, no. The first thing you need is a venue–i.e. a place to wear this costume. A venue can be any, all, or none of the following: a renaissance festival at which you are working; a renaissance festival at which you are visiting; a costume contest at a bar; the office Halloween party; the grocery store; the bedroom of your Special Someone(s); or any of seven thousand other things. Wherever you’re going to wear this thing, I’m not going to judge you. Others might, but I won’t!
Your venue is going to inform a lot of your choices. It may have rules, or a bizarre climate, or stairs you have to climb 75 times an hour, or a creepy boss, or that one bitch whom you are determined to outshine, or a million other little things you’ll want to take into account. Furthermore, your venue is more than likely going to inform your first and most major choice: what character are you going to be?
This brings us back to where we began: Choosing a character!
I’m super excited to begin the Dressing the Character Profiles with IK, King of the Trolls, portrayed by actor/artist Bryan Thompson, out of Atlanta, GA! Bryan was nice enough to tell me all about this spectacular and popular character and the costuming that goes with it. His answers to the Dressing the Character Profile are below!
Behold IK, in all his majestic glory!
IK, King of the Trolls can currently been seen regularly at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, but makes rare appearances at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival as well, and even rarer appearances at some other Renaissance Festivals in the Southeastern United States. Other appearances are at events such as DragonCon and ImagiCon, and on three occasions he’s officiated weddings.
Time and Place of Origin: Immortal, usable in any time period. Trolls are traditionally associated with Norwegian mythology, but IK’s costume is more of a Celtic design, with many accents showing his connection to all things natural. The costume is a mixture of earth tones and textures, from the wreath of sticks that is his nest-like crown, to the giant toes bursting out of his perpetually muddy boots.
Let’s talk about the Chemise of 13,000 Pearls.
Lynn McMasters makes pretty costumes, and I like to look at pretty costumes. I found her website while browsing the interhighway looking for just such things, and if I may continue in the theme of understatement, I was super happy. I’ve never used any of her patterns (although after the Great Margo Slops Fiasco of 2010 and 2011, which I may post about if I can ever stop crying about it, I’m in the market), but her gallery of finished costumes is just stunning. Let’s take a look…
So some friends of mine just had a baby. Actually a lot of my friends are having babies, and this is sort of scary to me, but! this is not a blog about my fear of pregnancy, it’s a blog about my fear of sewing!
These friends of mine had their baby baptized on Sunday. My grandma, upon finding this out, insisted on going shopping with me so we could find a little gift for their son. After some time scouring the nearest Christian Bookstore, we found this little guy:
Behold Bartholomew the Bear in his Before state!
Let’s talk about designing a costume!
“But stonebiscuit,” I hear my legions of readers say, “what makes you qualified to write about costume design? You can’t sew, your renderings are shit, and you are less funny than you think you are.” First, that’s kind of rude. Second, my qualifications are many-fold. For one thing, I am very opinionated. For another, I enjoy sharing my opinions. Now that we’ve established I’m qualified to talk about costume design on the interwebs, let’s move on.
We at stone biscuit productions are proud to introduce a new feature here at What Is This I Can’t Even:
Dressing the Character
The idea here is to talk through the process of designing a costume from the beginning to the end, starting with an idea and ending with a workable list or a rendering or a stick figure drawing with lots of arrows or some combination of those. My aim is to go through all the things that one could ever possibly need to consider in designing a costume, from bottom to top, shoes to headgear, underthings to makeup, prosthetics, and accessories. I will most assuredly fall short of this goal, BUT! I at least want this to be a jumping-off point.
Questions I Have Frequently Asked Myself
- Why “Dressing the Character” rather than “Designing a Costume”? I think it sounds better? Seriously though, my degree is in acting, not in costume design. I don’t know shit about how costume designers work, and I don’t want to pretend to; all I know is my process, which is essentially just deciding what my character would wear.
- Will this be a single post, or a series of posts? I’m glad you asked. Dressing the Character is going to be a series, posted approximately once a week. I’ll be aiming for a new post every Friday. I was also aiming to get up before eleven today, though, so let’s not bet the farm.
- What sort of costuming will be the focus? It’s going to be mostly geared towards renaissance festival costuming, since that’s where most of my experience lies, but I’ll include considerations for other venues as I think of them. Honestly, I don’t think there’s that much of a difference once you get past the character creation part.
- Will you be including real-life examples? Why yes! How funny you should ask. I will, in fact, be adding Real Life Costuming Profiles, featuring people whose costumes I love/envy/respect/admire/want to eat. These will go up as I get them from people. Again, most of those people will be renaissance festival performers, because that’s what I have most experience with. If you’d like to be included and I haven’t contacted you, feel free to tell me (empresscats at gmail dot com). I promise nothing.
- Seriously, why do you think you’re qualified to talk about this? Because I’ve got nothing else to do. Boredom is the mother of blog posts.
- Will you accept, encourage, and perhaps even beg for questions, comments, suggestions, discussion topics, links, resources, and guest submissions? Why yes. Yes, I will.
Any questions? Look for the first portion of Dressing the Character on Friday. What day is it? Saturday? Great, that gives me plenty of time.
First, I want to point everyone to this beautiful thing:
Hamstersaurus Rex, the King of the Dinosaurs!
It’s a dinosaur costume for hamsters. Of course it is! You guys I must have this. I have $5; all I need is a hamster and a way to keep the hamster safe from the cats. If you’re similarly interested in this piece of amazingness, check out the Etsy listing.
In the meantime, does anyone have any ideas on how to create a pair of tiny boxing gloves, specifically to fit onto the tiny fists of a small stuffed bear? No particular reason, particularly not one related to an upcoming baptism of the baby of a boxer. I’m just curious.