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Thursday, May 26, 2022
Halloween Costume Guide


Halloween Costume Guide

Nothing compares to walking through the UW campus on night one, night two or even night three of Halloween to see who came up with the best costume idea. Any dedicated Madison Halloween participant would know that it's stressful having to come up with as many as three original costumes. But not to worry, this year Halloween Costumes 101 is here to help. We'll provide all the essential steps, from coming up with the idea, to putting together the essential pieces, to where to find any obscure costume accessories.

The idea

This very well might be the hardest part of the entire process. Let's face it; something that might seem original may turn out to be the same ""original"" costume 200 other people thought of.

Remember the black-legging, Uggs-sporting, messy-up-do ""Coastie"" from last year? And, no one likes seeing the same costumes year after year; that means Harry Potter and Hermione are out.

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Group costumes are a fun alternative, but please, no Spice Girls. It's been done a few too many times now. But enough of what not to be.

To offer guidance on what to be, a few UW-Madison students shared how they get inspired year after year.

UW-Madison sophomore Johnny Koremenos describes how he came up with his costumes for this Halloween.

""I have two costume ideas right now and one is inspired by a Saturday Night Live sketch,"" he said. ""Another idea was inspired by my roommate, actually. He was listening to music one day and pointed out to me that we look like Hall & Oates. So, we are going as that one night as well. I like to go as something more creative usually, or something I know others won't do. I'm inspired by music [and] comedy—things that I find funny.""

UW-Madison sophomore Cara Levinson says anyone can put together a costume, even if it's last minute.

""I usually begin to have anxieties about my lack of a costume days before Halloween,"" Levinson said. ""I try to utilize what I already have, though, and see what I can do with that.""

Levinson brings up a useful point. Look around the bedroom to see what's beneath the bed or hiding in the closet. An old sweater or outrageous accessory can be a great character inspiration.

Buying on a budget

Once an idea is formed, it's time to piece together this vision into a physical costume.

There are many approaches, but planning out time and saving money efficiently is something to take into consideration.

Some ambitious seamstresses might just head right to the fabric store and go to make their costume with a needle and thread.

But for those of who aren't Project Runway wannabes, there are plenty of other low-cost, easy options.

One option is to find pre-assembled costumes at any Halloween or convenience store, such as Mallots, Party City or Halloween Express. Others, however, prefer to do a little bit more shopping for their costumes and enjoy being able to hand-select each aspect of their outfit. For this route, some of the favorite shopping hot spots are any Goodwill, special boutiques, or Ragstock on State Street.

Ragstock is packed full of various items to help put together an original costume. From neon leggings to feathered earrings, just walking through the store might be enough to inspire a costume idea or add a personal touch to a generic costume.

Ragstock employee Phil McGinnis credits Ragstock's popularity for Halloween costumes to the store's convenience and wide selection.

""We have the Boy Scout jerseys, prom apparel and tuxes; things like that,"" McGinnis said. ""We have a great variety between all the new and the used clothing and all of the accessories.""

Store manager Jenn Roglin said, ""Another thing that sets us apart from the other stores are our prices. Our prices are extremely low and much lower than other places that pop up over Halloween, so that is definitely another thing that brings students in here.""

Getting into character

It's not enough to just look the part on Halloween. Students must be able to pull off all aspects of their character. No one is going to fall for a Michael Jackson if the imitator can't dance. It's critical to study up on a particular celebrity's or character's mannerisms.

Koremenos suggests, ""YouTube. Definitely YouTube,"" he said. ""I can watch it and break down exactly what I need for my costume. Also, especially since I am going as someone who actually exists, I try to really get into the character and figure out exactly how they would act.""

Levinson recognizes the importance of realism in her costumes. ""I just try to be as authentic to my character as possible. Like, if I was going to be a pirate I would throw in a lot of Arrr's,"" she said.

Putting it all together

Following the steps will guarantee a cost-efficient, time-saving costume that is also something to be proud of.

There are a few extra pointers to remember before embarking on one of the city's most exciting weekends.

First, just because there are three nights of Halloween doesn't mean three costumes are necessary, even without having to repeat a costume.

UW-Madison senior Hannah Vakilizadeh swapped costumes with her roommate last year.

""I was a gothic angel Friday night and I wanted to be something different on Saturday but I didn't want to spend another $50 on a costume,"" Vakilizadeh said. ""My roommate and I switched costumes and she was a sailor and thankfully the sizes worked... I got two costumes for the price of one.""

One precaution to take is to watch out for the weather. Lows can be below freezing, with strong winds, and snow is even a possiblity. Plan to wear a warmer costume for Freakfest, such as a flannel lumber jack costume.

Best of luck with the costume preparations and creations, and have a happy Halloween!

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