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Halloween costume planningAs a die-hard Halloweenie, you know “it’s never too early” to start planning for the Big Day; but when should you actually start? Dependent upon he complexity of your Halloween plans, the answer could range from a mere month to developing a year-round hobby of it. Most of us fall somewhere in-between even though Halloween tends to sneak up on even the best prepared. One day you look at the calendar and have 9.5 months left, then suddenly you’re rushing around the night before to put together a costume. With so many variables to think about- costumes, decorations, food, treats, haunts, new horror movies, etc.- it can be easy to forget some crucial elements until the last minute. We’ve put together a guide that will help you easily begin planning a killer costume now so you can spend October having fun.

Decide on Your Costume: Make this all-important decision now so you can concentrate your efforts. If you’re having trouble deciding on just 1 costume, try to narrow it down to characters with similar traits. For instance, most super heroes are muscular and wear bodysuits, Jedi wear robes and carry light sabers. This will still allow you to focus, while having some leeway until you are ready to decide.

Money: Yep, C.R.E.A.M. The most obvious place to start whether you’re planning something huge like a Collector’s Edition Darth Vader costume, an elaborate homemade costume or just your standard $100 “ultimate” costume. Squirrel away a few bucks a month and your wallet will barely feel a thing come October.

Hair: Wigs are the standby for costuming, but nothing beats authentic hair for realism. Hair grows at an average rate of .5″ per month, so with 9 months prep time you can add about 4.5″ to your current length (although factor in small trims every 6 weeks to keep it looking healthy). Facial and body hair grows at very different rates for everyone, but most men can whip up some Wolverine chops in a month or less. Alternately, if your hair is already too long and you want to cut it, just plan for a haircut a week or so before Halloween. Some hairstyles, like mohawks, will require both growing and a haircut.

Body: New Years resolutions to hit the gym are easily broken, but dedication to a costume may be the incentive you need to make it happen. Whether your Xena costume requires bigger muscles or you need to drop a few pounds to be a more convincing Jack Skellington, take your time and do it safely. Starting as soon as possible will allow you to make small changes in your diet and lifestyle that will be easier to stick with. For a less permanent solution, investigate your prosthetic and padding options.

New Skills: Napoleon was right; it’s all about the skills! Would you be convinced by a Neo or Agent Smith that didn’t perform at least a little martial arts? Every good costume has at least one ability associated with it, and you’re going to seem much more convincing if you can actually perform them. It may be something as small as learning a couple magic tricks or even becoming a decent swordsman to become Captain Jack Sparrow, but it will sell your costume.

Obtaining Difficult to Find Items: It’s called “limited edition” for a reason. If you wait until October to find that 1995 Boba Fett Don Post helmet that you need, you’ll probably only end up with a crappy substitute. Make a list of every item you think you will need, and any items that can’t be obtained at the store every year around Halloween should be planned for now. This especially includes vintage items and custom made pieces. For many costumes and accessories you can usually find quality fan-made replicas on eBay: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix, every anime and Manga character imaginable, and even a lot of TV shows are represented. Start watching for your rare items now, and you’ll have time to locate the perfect ones for your costume.

Accents, Dialogue & Presence: Humans are sight-oriented creatures and our first impressions of a costume will definitely come from the outfit and accessories itself. After that first glance, though, it is the intangible aspects that will make your character come alive. We’ve all seen badass costumes acting out of character, and although it may be funny, that’s probably not why you’re spending months preparing a costume.

When dressing as a character from film or TV who has an accent, getting that accent down will make a huge difference. Copy what you hear, and Google your desired accent to learn a few pointers. Perhaps even more important, though, is presence. This can be an elusive concept, but the first step is to try method acting. This will effect your facial expressions, your timing, body language, choice of words, and how you react to situations. Become your character, and your costume will knock everyone’s socks off.

What are you planning for this year? If you’ve got a tip for long term Halloween costume prep that we didn’t mention, please let us know in the comments.

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Posted on January 18th, 2007 in
Halloween Costumes by Lauren

One Response to 'Long Term Costume Preparations'

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  1. David Bryant said:

    Excellent article, though I must confess to being the panicky last-minute what-the-HELL-am-I-going-to-wear type. Thus I tend to favor dressing as a corpse: throw on some unfashionable ill-fitting clothes, slap on a bit of grey pancake and a few dirt clods and viola! Instant costume! For added verisimilitude, rice grains with a dot of black at one end make convincing maggots.

    on January 19th, 2007

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