I’m a dresser-upper. Not in sophisticated jackets with heels and a stylish clutch. I’m talking about costumes. Since I was a little kid I’ve donned the clothes of characters. From a pilgrim on Thanksgiving to a decked out green kid going to school on St. Patrick’s Day, I dressed up whenever I could get away with it.
High school spirit week was the best. I dressed in a toga, painted my face, and wore my dad’s clothes on different days. The costumes made the mundane fun. I joined the Drama club where I could play around with different roles and costumes without standing out as bizarre. Although my friends knew that my yen for flare went beyond the theater department.
I trick-or-treated through college. My future husband took me around as his little sister our junior year (and he still married me). I dressed as Pippi Longstocking. I may have garnered some strange looks, but since I’d made the effort, I got the candy. No, I’m not addicted to bite-sized confections and candy corn. I just love the fun of escaping into a different personality, trying on someone else’s exciting world, and reveling in it.
Hmmm…sounds a lot like creating characters and worlds for my books. Interesting.
My husband and I carried on my love of dressing up into our married life with…Halloween parties (this is rated PG so I’ll stay out of the bedroom in this post ; ). Once again I could be whomever I wanted to be for the night. Zombie bride, fortune teller, German beer hall girl, vampire, black widow spider (when 7 months pregnant), flapper (I can do the Charleston), wood elf, fairy… I attended a Star Trek convention as one of the ill-fated extras in red and Renaissance fairs as a fairy queen.
As my three children grew up I reveled in helping them choose costumes, helping them with their hair and make-up. My favorites include, zombie race car driver (with cardboard car), Medusa (with plastic snake heads on the ends of her hair), and a fairy/unicorn/witch (5yo’s have a hard time deciding on one costume). And of course I still dressed up to hand out candy.
The year I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I happened to find an adult sized complete Snow White costume second hand. The black bobbed wig fit my bald head perfectly. I dressed up and presented a dramatic retelling of the story to my daughter’s pre-school class. They loved it! And for fifteen minutes I wasn’t a cancer patient lugging around a pain-filled, swollen body. I wasn’t a mom putting on a brave face over the terror that I might die and leave my little kids. For fifteen minutes I was the lovely Snow White handing out apples and making a room full of little kids smile.
It’s been three years and I’m cancer free (although the docs check me every three months – ugh!). I still put on the Snow White dress at Halloween. The wig doesn’t fit as well with all my hair, but I don’t mind. I still go into my daughter’s classroom to perform and the kids still love seeing Snow White swoon when I bite the apple.
I know that not all authors dress up like I do. But it certainly would make sense if they did. We create characters, writing them to act out glorious scenes on the page. It isn’t much of a stretch to make those characters come to life by dressing up in Victorian dresses, steampunk cogs and goggles, sex-kitten spandex and handcuffs, and Lara Croft braids with strapped-on faux handguns. And with Halloween closing in, we can do so without anyone questioning our sanity. Although one might argue the sanity of being a writer anyway– LOL!
Tips for working fun dress-up into your life:
- It’s Halloween. Wow your family by putting together a costume this year. Either buy one or fashion a fortune teller costume with a skirt, hoop earrings, eye liner, and scarves. Hold a Magic Eight Ball for effect.
- Fashion a head wreath of faux fall leaves and berries to wear to fall events. Have fun with it! Hats, wreaths and scarves are great ways to start small in dressing up your everyday life.
- Wear funny hats while driving and watch someone smile when they see you at a stop light. You just made their day! I like to bite into an apple while wearing the Snow White wig and make-up.
- Wear a tiara around the house one day. See if your kids notice. Feel free to wear it to the grocery store : )
- Wear a short skirt one night to bed. Bring on the pom-poms and your significant other will be ready to run his best touch down yet.
- Opt to dress up to attend one of the themed parties at a writer’s conference this year. The Romantic Times Convention is famous for them. You’ll be the odd ball if you don’t dress up.
- Volunteer to read to kids in school or hospitals while wearing a fairy or princess costume. Feel free to keep the costume on all day afterwards.
- If your monthly supper club or bunko game has a theme, dress to match. Hearts for Valentines, beer hall maid for Oktoberfest, an eye patch for Talk Like a Pirate Day (it’s in September). If your meetings, dinners, and clubs don’t have themes, suggest them.
- Declare one day a month as dress-up day, informing every member of your household that they must dress up if they want to be fed (a little hunger usually gets everyone to play along). Let them take turns choosing a theme: PJ day, favorite movie day, zombie family day…
- Choose one of your favorite characters from a book (your books or a book you love) and make or purchase the costume. Wear it whenever you want and if someone remarks on your odd dress, just inform them of the character you are portraying with your head held high. After all you are being “literary”!
Do you dress up for Halloween or any other time of the year? What’s your favorite costume?