Halloween costumes: then and now

by Mr. Nobel

You remember Halloween as a child, don’t you? Pumpkins and shit, trick or treating; fucking candy, yo. It was pretty sweet.

You may also remember the proxy war that was fought through Halloween – the war for cool. The other, less happy-slappy side of Halloween was the battle for the having the best, most elaborate costume. You came dressed as one of the Avengers, you’d be set. You come dressed as a leaf, well, meh. Meh was not the end of the world, but meh was not what you craved out of your friends. Verisimilitude, craftsmanship and artistry mattered; six year olds are worse at figuring out costumes than adults, so a costume had to accurately and clearly convey the intended character.

All these requirements and notions fly out the window in college.  What matters the most is not how elaborate the costume is (in fact, the exact opposite is somewhat true), but that you are wearing a costume. This leads to an interesting phenomenon of what I will call the “minimum-costume.”

The motivation behind a Halloween costume is to allow the wearer to role play or pretend to be someone else. The point of a minimum-costume is to expend as little effort as possible on the costume while still asserting that you are playing along with the whole Halloween charade. A fascinating race to the bottom emerges, as people keep one-uping each other in half-assedness. It’s a mix of both physical attire and the way someone wears the costume; a minimum-costume on one person may not qualify when worn by someone else. The most important thing is gesture, somehow, or allow others to intuit that you are roleplaying through either some subtle alteration to way you wear your clothing or a subtle alteration to the clothing.

Halloween is also more of a state of mind than an actual event on a specific date (usually the Saturday closest to Halloween). With that in mind, here are some noteworthy examples of attempted minimum-costumes I saw earlier:

A dude wearing the dudebro’s uniform (backwards cap, white polo, jeans, fresh sneakers) with a piece of brown tape which had UPS scribbled on it.

Some guy wearing a white shirt with some colored circles taped on (Twister).

A girl wearing a jacket, push-up bra and Hooters shirt. This one worked and got me wondering whether or not the wearer worked at Hooters. Two birds with one stone. Good job, I guess.

Some girl wearing a cheerleader’s outfit with very low skirt. This one didn’t work, in spite of its ostensive elaborateness, because the wearer basically treated it as a dress instead of a costume. It took me awhile to even realize she dressed up.

A guy in a sweatshirt wearing one (just one) skeleton glove. Genius in its god-awfulness.

A woman with a Vote Romney button. This one didn’t work because, unlike the UPS guy, it was impossible to tell from a simple visual inspection whether or not she was on the level. If I had known the person and her political views, then sure. But just from looking, definitely not. (NOTE: I’m assuming this was an attempt at a costume because she was with a group of costumed people. It is possible that she’s just a massive buzzkill instead of a lame costumer.)

A kid wearing an athletic tank top, sweatbands and some charcoal underneath his eyes. This one just barely worked because of the addition of charcoal and because the wearer seemed somewhat embarrassed by how half-assed his costume was. This is perhaps the most interesting attempt because it’s almost impossible to discern the intent behind the costume beyond the simple sports theme. Perhaps a Basketball player?