Halloween is fast approaching and invitations to soirees are being pushed through many a door. It’s a festival that gives rise to an excuse for parties and celebrations, and many choose to enjoy the occasion by dressing up. Halloween themed parties concentrate on the spooky side of the festival; the references to literature and cinematic horror, the folklore and mysticism. I have attended few Halloween functions in recent years, but it made me wonder recently, how I would dress should I be invited to a costume party on the 31st of this month.
It is a party, and yes, dressing up is fun and is not meant to be taken too seriously. I would like to share with you why I believe despite the casual nature of such occasions, why and how I would devote time and thought to my appearance.
Choosing a character
Naturally, one of the main factors in your appearance is in deciding who you will attempt to impersonate. For the man interested in style, there will be restrictions. Firstly, as a style fan, I would not consider characters such as Frankenstein’s monster or the mummy of Imhotep. There is something lacking in their bearing and their garb for stylish men to take interest; something about the bolt and the bandages just does not seem to sit well with the well-dressed man.
Dracula is altogether a different proposition; the elegant Romanian aristocrat, wearing black from head to foot, is a wonderful, if not shamefully predictable choice, for the modish man of the metropolis. A truly stylish choice could be the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It would be extremely difficult to walk with a covered head, but his costume would have been a late 18th century military one; very dashing.
A contemporary character to impersonate for the man of style might be Gomez Addams from the Addams Family. The dapper gentleman from the comedy series was frequently seen wearing a cravat, a velvet smoking jacket, or perhaps a natty striped suit, and had his dark hair slicked back. There was a feint air of the Count about him, but he was less of an animal than Dracula, and due to the comedic milieu of the Addams family, is probably easier to impersonate with a sardonic smile.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is perhaps a challenge because of the difficulty of presenting the duality. However, wearing a top-hat, an Inverness cape and a white shirt, white bow tie and white silk scarf, with some test tubes in the top pocket, some bright green make-up around the mouth to represent spillages of the potion, and perhaps some novelty red contact lenses may give your distinguished doctor the hint of a beast within.
Costume and make-up
A man of style should be interested in presenting the best possible version of his character; a little red make-up around the mouth and a black suit will not do. Study photographs of cinematic representations of the characters. Dracula never wore simple black tie. If any jacket is worn it has to be a long jacket. If you can manage it a tail-coat would be perfect. If not, wearing a cape or a black coat over one’s shoulders is the best thing.
Make special purchases if you wish, but it’s good to try and use as many things from your own wardrobe as possible. A scarf could double as a sash that could be worn from shoulder to hip, and a frilly-cuff shirt is unnecessary if you have a shirt that requires cuff-links – just leave them undone and voila, you have an 18th century look. The more period your look, the more genuine it seems and so adding a few vintage accessories, such as a lapel-pin, or an old medal will improve the outfit.