Take Five: Surefire tips for a great costume

Halloween costumes can go one of three ways. Most of them are so mundane that they slip from your memory as soon as they’re taken off. Other ideas simply bomb, and no one gets them or cares to in the first place. The truly great costumes, meanwhile, stick out for years, and they all have a few things in common.

In order to promote fresh, thoughtful ideas, I’ve come up with five ways to make your Halloween getup extraordinary. Hopefully it can help last-minute designers and maybe even prevent some costume catastrophes.

1. Create a costume on your own.

You don’t buy a great costume from a store. Party City and Halloween Express are great places to brainstorm and find accessories, but you should never rely on them for a complete costume. Instead, work on something you can put together yourself. Showing off your costume will be even more glorious if you know you worked hard to pull it off. Even if the ensemble doesn’t turn out perfectly, your dedication will impress people.

2. Don’t do the same thing as everyone else.

Even in April, you can predict a fair share of the costumes you’ll see come the end of October. The same ideas get played out year after year (sexy career woman, athlete, drunk student, etc.). There’s nothing wrong with standing out on Halloween. Your goal should be coming up with a costume that no one else will have. I mean, come on. When have you ever seen a cat wearing lingerie? Oh yeah, last Halloween when 20 women wore the exact same costume.

3. Don’t underestimate the importance of timeliness.

One crucial costume characteristic is how relevant the concept is to everything else going on right now. Some of the most memorable ideas are ones that comment on current pop-culture or allude to something that’s already on everyone’s minds. Sarah Palin, although overdone, was a hilarious idea last year, but it wouldn’t work so well this weekend. Keep your costume up to date to ensure the most laughs.

4. Surprising people is a good thing, usually.

Look back on the best costumes from past Halloweens, and you’ll probably find that many caught you off guard. Really great ideas are unexpected, and a lot of that comes from creativity and uniqueness. But you also have to be willing to push the lines a little bit. Halloween is one of the times people expect you to look ridiculous and make fun of yourself; you might as well embrace that opportunity and capitalize while you can. Just don’t get too offensive.

5. If your costume doesn’t make sense, forget it.

When my art teacher at St. Kate’s told me one of her friends dressed up as a character from some obscure silent film, I thought to myself, “That’s certainly creative, but who would even get it?” You might think you have the best idea, but if no one else understands, your costume is worthless. You don’t want to spend the entire night explaining what exactly you’re dressed up as. Your friends should be able to figure out your costume on first glance or at least within a few words.

Grant Goerke can be reached at gdgoerke@stthomas.edu