Many of you surely recognize that as a quote from American socialite, fashion model, and cabaret performer Edie Beale, or Little Edie as she’s known, greeting filmmakers while wearing one of her characteristically unconventional but comfortable outfits. Her fashion wisdom and bravery first came to light in the classic 1975 cult film “Grey Gardens” – a documentary by Albert and David Maysles about two aging, eccentric relatives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis (Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother, Edith) in their dilapidated East Hampton, Long Island estate. It was renewed in popularity by an award-winning 2009 HBO dramatization starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, and that quote was brought to life once again.
The word “costume” has many meanings today. Truth be told, even the conventional clothing we wear is very much a costume, and getting it right sometimes can be both stressful and uncomfortable. Taking the lead from Little Edie, I think that what works best is when you feel empowered in what you’re wearing.
The seasons change and so do the costumes. We layer ourselves up in the winter and strip ourselves down in the summer months. Along the way, we make purchases that either replace items in our closet or complement them. Costumes, for the sake of this article, are nothing more than the look and feel of the day. Add practicality and sensibility to your choices and you’ll begin your day in the right costume.
For some – including me, I admit – several costumes are required to fill a day. Construction clothing for the makeover show, riding clothing for my English riding lesson, or business attire for those real estate meetings. Each event defines the appropriate costume, and none are interchangeable.
This article title may have made you think about Halloween (or maybe Comic-Con.) Not everyone likes costumes on Halloween but we want to be part of the fun, even if we decide to participate at the last minute. Since it’s the season, let’s dive in.
For me, the most important word for a dress-up costume is comfort. Can I sit in it? Move in it? Drive in it? Navigate a crowd in it? See in it? (Use the restroom in it?!)
I say banish the shame of comfort: embrace mobility and ease! I even brought a more comfortable option to last year’s party and changed after making our entrance and started to overheat. So even if you prefer the “rotting zombie” or “superhero” genres, why not consider the comfort option as a backup?
These types of costumes have another huge benefit: you might be able to shop for them in your own closet, so bring on those last-minute invites. Who has time to run out to the store and rummage around the picked-over remains of party supply stores?
Be resourceful. There are a lot of costumes that can be pulled together using items you probably already own. I am proud to have my brother’s U.S. Marine dress uniform. I’m also proud to say that I still fit into it! Use what you have and a little ingenuity.
Here are a few of my successful, fun and comfortable in-a-pinch costume ideas to get your creative juices flowing. (Note: I fully acknowledge the cheesy nature of some of these!)
Cloudy with a Chance of Rain: This costume consists of a blue or white shirt, cotton balls and a plant mister or squirt gun. Affix the cotton balls to the shirt and when someone asks you what you are, spritz them and say: “Cloudy with a chance of rain!”
Ceiling Fan: Here you need a shirt you won’t mind writing on and a magic marker. Write the words, “Go Ceiling!” or “Hurray for Ceilings!” When someone inquires as to the meaning, tell him or her you are a ceiling fan.
Moving Target: This is another simple costume that transforms a T-shirt into a costume with the stroke of a pen. Draw a target symbol on the front of an old shirt and call yourself a “moving target.” Alternatively, use the logo from a Target® store bag.
Sexy Ghost: Halloween is the time to bring out your wild side. Take that old bedsheet ghost costume to the next level by wearing your bathing suit or other sexy attire over the sheet.
Static Cling: This costume requires you to wear ordinary street clothes. Then tape or pin socks and dryer sheets to the outside of your clothing. Voila! You are static cling personified.
Baby in Pajamas: Want something that is comfortable, easy and fun? Dress up in your coziest jammies. Do your hair in pigtails. Tie a makeshift bib around your neck using a kitchen towel. Wear your slippers. Pull a lollipop out of the Halloween candy bowl and ham it up!
Chef: You don’t need a toque to look like a chef. An apron with a few handy kitchen tools is all you need to look the part. Grab a cookie sheet and spatula or pot and ladle as easy chef accessories.
Librarian: Have a pair of glasses and a stack of books? Poof, you’re a librarian. Ham it up a bit more with a super tidy hairdo and pencil skirt. Put a pencil behind your ear. Remember to shush those who dare raise their voices in your “library,” and scowl at people who talk above a whisper.
Risky Business: Old movies can be great inspiration for last-minute costumes. A pair of sunglasses, tailored shirt, and white socks can be a great costume – and really risqué, so don’t forget the tighty-whities.
Toga: Keep the college frat party spirit alive with this classic costume. Tie a sheet over one shoulder and you are living the Greek life. If you are feeling really adventurous, create a laurel wreath from the branches and leaves that you have in your yard.
These are super simple costumes that you bring to life with your ingenuity and personality. Do not let your ideas be limited to this list. Let these options be a launching point for your own brainstorming. Really have fun with being resourceful, as you look around your house for great, last-minute Halloween costumes. Share what you came up with, and inspire us all right back.
Whether your costume is for fun, for every day, or for expression, everything you choose ends up being a reflection on how you want to be seen. Even RuPaul Charles is famously quoted as reminding us, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” So I ask you: What’s your best costume of the day?