Whether it’s for an office party, a friend’s get-together, trick-or-treating with your kids or simply because you’re looking for a stylish alternative to “business casual,” nothing but nothing can ruin a good three or four weeks like the search for the perfect Halloween costume. Trust me, I feel your pain. I am in a similar predicament. I am most likely going to show up at an associate’s Halloween bash dressed as a member of Mummenschanz, if only because black stockings are cheap and toilet paper rolls are plentiful.
I do not expect my costume to be readily identified by any fellow partygoer under the age of 35.
But while I may indeed be thoroughly incapable of locating proper attire for ourselves, that doesn’t mean I'm going to leave you high and dry this holiday season. Keeping in mind your limited time—and perhaps funds—I have put together the following list of Halloween character costumes that won’t cost much, can easily be assembled in minutes with items around your house and will almost certainly not be duplicated by other partygoers…if for no other reason than the sad fact that this web site has two, maybe three vistors, tops.
1. Paulie, The Forgotten Smurf: You know Papa and Brainy and Handy and Grouchy, Vanity and Smurfette and Hefty and Jokey. But do you recall the most famous smurf of all to take both a bullet and controlling interest in his town’s sanitation and highway maintenance sectors? Perhaps the most colorful resident of Smurf Village (and certainly the only one to sport an olive complexion), Paulie always had one hand on a stogie, the other on his crotch and a third buried somewhere in his backyard, the result of a business transaction gone horribly awry. Quick with a joke, a sizeable loan or a threat so cold and calculated it could drain the blood from Azrael’s face, Paulie was blessed with many associates but few friends on the NBC network staff. His low-brow, high-body-count antics often put him at odds with television censors, family advocacy groups, anti-defamation leagues and, none too surprisingly, both the Yakuza and Russian mobs. In the end his image and voice track were excised from every surviving episode of “Smurfs,” preventing future generations from not only enjoying his routinely profitable hijinks but also from hearing his once-famous catchphrase, “Hey, Gargamel! I don’t go down to where you work and slap the dick out of your mouth, do I?!”
Costume includes green body paint, double-breasted suit and an assortment of steaks and chops “for tips.”
2. High School Drama Department Barbie (AKA “Spooky Girl”): Remember the girl who always wore a boa, even during swim class? The one who when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up replied, “Nora, from A Doll’s House.” The one who liked to sit alone in the front of the bus and gyrate rhythmically to the music of the Cocteau Twins, even though she wasn’t wearing any headphones and the driver’s radio was tuned to the sports station? Well now you, too, can recapture the look of that one classmate who spent her lunch hours developing provocative back stories for each one of her french fries. Brash yet bereft of social skills, High School Drama Department Barbie likes to imagine the whole world is her audience, not realizing that most people don’t even like attending the theater for free. So when it comes to your costume the operative word is “commanding.” Best to dress up in an assortment clashing patterns and color combinations that would shock a Missoni boutique owner. Don’t simply walk but stride into the party as if the foyer to Fiddler’s Green Pub was a catwalk and the drunks by the Golden Tee video game machine were paparazzi from Vogue Italia. And, most important of all, when talking to guests don’t look so much at them as through them, as you imagine what they must be imagining you’re currently thinking. Then, to cap it off, come prepared with a long, feathery pink boa, if only so you have something to dramatically toss around your neck when you suddenly bolt upright and exclaim, “Renaldo awaits!”
3. Lucky Charms’ Less Fortunate Cereal Mascot Brother, “Screwed”: With two girlfriends knocked-up, a job that fails to provide medical coverage not to mention a fixed office address and a rash that actually seems to spread upon contact with Bactine, Screwed would like to think he’s seen better days but, frankly, this constitutes an upswing. As the spokescharacter for the only children’s cereal to be recalled in Mexico and to sport the tagline “I swear, I’m good for the money,” Screwed requires nothing more for a Halloween costume then an open can of Natural Light and an expression that would make a hyena cry. Possessing neither his brother’s unique sartorial flair nor undying passion for emerald green, Screwed instead prefers white tank tops, unbuttoned flannel shirts and—should the mood strike—pants. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive outfit this season—and have recently lost your job, your significant other or maybe just a toe in a bet—surely Screwed is the costume for you.
4. President William Henry Harrison: Granted, he may lack the familiarity of Washington, the gravitas of Jefferson or even the serene idiocy of Reagan, but what do you expect from a man who died less than a month in office, not from a sniper bullet but from “the sniffles”? But his loss is now your gain! Since almost no one can be expected to have a clear recollection of what a President who barely had time to unpack—much less have an official portrait painted—looked like, you’re free to interpret his image any way you damn well please! While prudent costume designers would strongly suggest you avoid Vans and an American Apparel hoodie, who’s to say the ninth leader of the free world didn’t like his morning jog? And who’s to say what kind of sunglasses he wore, Oakley or Tag Heuer? And can anyone here present documented proof that President Harrison didn’t just like to “chill” in an old pair of Diesel jeans and a CBGB shirt from Urban Outfitters, cell phone at the ready? Well, probably no one at the party you’re attending, so be creative! The only limit is your imagination and your guests’ collective knowledge of 1840’s American society and couture.