Today was the deadline for getting Jeff's Halloween costume ready: the first party of the season. After this it's the subdivision parade that I organize every year, and then his class party and finally trick-or-treating on Halloween night. There is less for Tim to do this year, but he is going to go trick-or-treating. At first we had the idea that they could be the guys from their favorite TV show "Mythbusters" and we started thinking up how to do those costumes but I was concerned that when Jeff went to things alone his wouldn't make sense. And then he announced that he wanted to be ELVIS. How could I argue with that one? Luckily they had an Elvis costume at our local costume shop, although I had to spend a little more on it than I would have liked. I figure that there aren't many big costume years left, so I justified the splurge. Plus Tim's costume won't cost that much, he wants to be a Christmas tree, and I think we already have everything we need in storage.
I just love the Halloween holiday for a lot of reasons, but most of all the dressing up. It is great fun to pull together an outfit, making every detail just right. And you get to pretend to be someone else, it's fun! I already wrote about the ill-fated orange-princess-over-the-winter-jacket fiasco from my childhood (Oh look she's a pumpkin!) but that didn't stop me from trying again every year. In my memory the costume thing was left up to us kids to figure out from what we had around the house, we rarely went out and bought anything. And if you weren't creative the fallback was "bum." Nowadays that would translate to "Homeless Person" and would be extremely politically incorrect.
Another way I know that times have changed is when I look at the flyer for Halloween USA that comes in the mailbox this time of year. It lends credence to the scene in the movie "Mean Girls" where Halloween is a contest for who can look the sluttiest. I know that it wasn't that way when I was that age, at least for me. In those years I made good use of my Grandpa's high quality Knights of Columbus cape and went as a witch.
It's been a while since I've had the occasion to dress up myself. Probably not since last year for Alisa's groovy 60's party. Which was great fun, I found the best miniskirt, and then went and got a lot of mod accessories to go with it. I know I put far more effort into that getup than I would for a similar event wearing "regular clothes." It was a great party, and all of the outfits were hilarious. When I showed my mother the pictures, she gasped. She was horrified that we were wearing things that she used to wear, and now they were silly costumes.
So when do someone's "regular clothes" become a costume? When Elvis Presley pulled on his white jumpsuit could he ever have imagined that 30 years after his death a 9 year old kid would be instantly recognizable as him when dressed that way? I fear that anything we are wearing, at any time could someday be considered a "costume." In a way, everything is. Any time I assemble a special "look" that's really what I'm doing. I'm dressing up like a bike rider, or a wedding guest, or an engineer, witness in a courtroom, stay at home mom going to pick her kid up at the bus stop.
I remember in college the sorority had a special event called "Senior Send Off" where the juniors would make a special breakfast for the graduating seniors, and then perform skits making fun of them. And they would dress up like the person by sneaking into the closets and pulling out someone's signature "look". It was hilarious. And I still remember when a girl named Julie dressed up like me; she put on my ratty old plaid bathrobe and carried an engineering textbook and a pile of junk food.
So maybe that line in between everyday fashions and way out there costumes is actually more of a blur. But if you think about it: if someone went as YOU, what would they have on?