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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A handful of perfect Halloween costumes*

*that can be sexy, not slutty.
*that can be made with items right out of your own wardrobe
*that no-one else at the party will be wearing (though I make NO guarantees)
*that are of super-cool women
*that will make for better small talk than, "So you're a sexy policeman/traffic cop/firewoman/Elmo, when's my stripsearch?  Bwahahahaha!" and other terrible come-on lines.

That being said, there's nothing bad about sexy Halloween costumes bought from the shop - they're just so damn boring. Life is too short to be a member of the armed forces for Halloween when you could be almost anything else.

Here's my list, in no particular order, of costumes that are easy, quick and won't result in pictures of your bum being circulated on Facebook (hopefully). This post is damn long and took ages to put together (hence there only being two posts this week) so there's much, much more after the jump.

1. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist of Hungarian extraction who lived a very modern life when it was unacceptable to do so. She was married to muralist Diego Rivera, but had many affairs, including with Leon Trotsky, Josephine Baker and Nickolas Muray, who would spend years taking iconic photographs of her. She posed for American Vogue and other magazines in her uniform of traditional Mexican clothing; full skirts, embroidered blouses and ostentatious colours, almost always with fresh flowers in her hair.


Both pictures by Nickolas Muray

Frida in your wardrobe - maxi skirts, florals, short sleeved blouses, shawls, hairbands DIYed with fake flowers.

Further reading - Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's Wardrobe.

Alternates - Tamara De Lempicka, Artemisia Gentileschi, Yoko Ono, Hannah Hoch.

More after the jump!

2. Cruella de Vil

No, not this Cruella.


In the original novel Cruella de Vil is not a middle aged harridan with gigantic flat feet and a slightly deranged look in her eye.  Cruella de Vil is actually incredibly cold and detached, like an evil Grace Kelly.  She also gets expelled from school for drinking ink, which already makes her a hero in my eyes.  She may be a villain - but being bad has rarely looked this good.

Below are some preliminary character sketches for the original Disney film, drawn by Marc Davis, that show that, at first, Cruella was one hot wannabe furrier.



Cruella in your wardrobe - Mink fur coat (faux or otherwise, I'm not judging), anything sweeping and bias cut, preferably in black and strings of contrasting jewels. Add a bucket of bleach to really top off the look.

Further reading - The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Alternates - Maleficent , Captain Hook, Harley Quinn , The Misfits

3. Aviatrix

I'm kinda cheating here, because I chose two female flight pioneers. The uniform is pretty much the same, but the women couldn't be more different.

Aviatrix A - Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world.


Aviatrix B - Pancho Barnes, who has to be the most interesting aviatrix EVER. This may have something to do with that fact that she didn't die a premature death and so had more time to do interesting stuff...

Pancho Barnes is on the far left, Amelia Earhart holds flowers


Pancho Barnes and Amelia Earhart knew each other and flew together in races. When Earhart set the women's world airspeed record, Pancho broke it. Pancho (real name Florence) was born into a wealthy family, got married young and left her husband in 1928 to dress up like a man and travel across Mexico. She was one of the first test pilots for weapons manufacturer Lockheed and established the union for film stuntpilots. When she retired, she set up a dude ranch in the Mojave desert, which she called 'The Happy Bottom Riding Club'. Best name ever.  She also looks incredibly jolly in every photo of her that I can find, which is always nice to see.

Amelia and Pancho in your wardrobe - Masculine tailoring; chino, jodphurs, flat boots, brogues, white shirts, ties or scarves, aviator jackets, shearling

Further reading - The Happy Bottom Riding Club: The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes

Alternates - Sabiha Gökçen (the first female combat pilot), Amy Johnson (the first woman to fly from Britain to Australia) and Bessie Coleman (the first black person to hold an international flying license).

4.  Peggy Moffitt

Photos (and slightly insane video below by William Claxton)


It's great to dress up as Twiggy or Edie Sedgwick, but the real 60's icon has to be Peggy Moffitt.  With trademark five point Vidal Sassoon haircut and possibly the best Op-Art make-up around, Peggy was muse to designer Rudi Gernreich.  I'm very biased, as I'm picking her based on her eye make-up, which is far superior to the Twiggys and the Edies of this world.  I also love that she still has the Sassoon haircut and wears the Gernreich clothing, even though she's now in her seventies.  Now, that's what I call being consistent with a look.

Peggy Moffitt in your wardrobe - a truckload of eyeliner and jewel coloured eyeshadows, sharp minis in bright patterns, your best awkward poses.

Further reading - Pretty Pretty Peggy Moffit by William Pene Du Bois (now out of print but so worth it if you can get a copy)

Great 60's eyes Alternates - Marisa Berenson, Veruschka, France Gall

So there you have it.  Who are your female idols?  Suggestions on Twitter so far include Jane Tennison, Jo from Little Women, Lara Croft and April O'Neil (who is totally kick-ass and was my inspiration to become a journalist - I kid you not).  Any additions or amendments to make? And who are you dressing up as for Hallowe'en?