My mom never got us store-bought costumes. Some we would assemble from garage sale treasures, some my mom would make, but most we assembled from things laying around the house. My mom’s favorite was a dinosaur costume she made for me from an old vellux blanket when I was about 4. My personal favorite was “bubble gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe” at age 20.
When I was a kid, I loved playing dress-up. My sisters and I had a big dress up bin where we kept all our toys and accessories. My last vestige of childhood play was getting dressed up or dressing up my barbies with my little sister, then getting bored and end the game. Then I “grew up” and like all the other 7th graders left “play” behind. Or so I told myself…
Here’s the truth: most little girls never really grow up. They stop playing dress up and go to the mall to dress up “for real” with clothes they don’t intend to buy. They flip through magazines and images on the internet, thinking of things they’d like to wear. They play with hair and makeup, frequently trying out a style at home where they can practice a technique before wearing it out in public. They convince themselves that this is what “grown ups” do, and continue to tell themselves that throughout life. Prom? The biggest Dress-Up Game of high school.
I have always gone all out for costume contests and formals. As I was developing “my style” as a teenager, I would find the most outlandish outfits at thrift stores and wear them for the shock value. 1950’s house dress with combat boots: check. 1970’s bubble gum pink formal to school dance: check. Denim skirt, yoda t-shirt and skate shoes as Sunday Best: check. I’ve had a different cut or color hair every 3-6 months since I was 12. People used to ask my mom why she let me go to church dressed like that, to which she responded “she’s out of bed, she’s covered, I pick my battles.”
Then I grew close to a dear mentor, who is my definition of beautiful. B.J. was in her early 70’s and every year had made her more beautiful. She was the Glam Gram, with loud animal prints, vibrant colors and rhinestones on her glasses. The difference between her and I was that I wore loud and obnoxious, and she wore loud and classy. Over the years, she gently helped me develop my own personal flair while remaining classy. About 3 1/2 years ago, she passed away from a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. While her death was a blissful release from the pain she felt her last years of life, every time I wear something new and striking, I want to run to her house to show it to her.
The past couple years, I have moved from fan-assembled costumes to homemade cosplay. I had a major dilemma: Which of my costumes should I wear on Halloween? My solution: 3 days of dressing up. Fortunately I have a supervisor who was perfectly okay with that. So here it goes:
Saturday: The Saturday before Halloween is the traditional Party Day.