Costume glory: It's in the details
Halloween isn't just about the candy. It's about the costume, and, with several opportunities to strut your inner spook (see our Limelight Halloween guide), there's no excuse to leave the cape at home.
Costume glory is in the details, say our experts, and in a world where the best costume might garnish a cash prize, Halloween costume construction can be serious business.
Martha Marking is the costume queen of Appalachian State University. She has designed costumes for productions at Utah Shakespeare Festival, Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival and Blowing Rock Stage Company, among others, and knows a thing or two about dressing the part.
"I hate Halloween, by the way," she laughed, "because amateurs do what I do every day. It's like having someone pretend to be a brain surgeon."
If there's one thing she hates, it's seeing poorly constructed costumes. It takes time to get the perfect Halloween look, she said, and planning, since the materials aren't always available in Boone.
"I think it's important that whoever it is has thoughtfully gotten the supplies and things they need to Boone," she said.
Great costumes, she said, often have a twist.
"Everybody was Freddy Krueger, so that's not really interesting, but if there's a twist on it, like Freddy Krueger meets George Jetson or whatever, that's interesting," she laughed.
Be creative. But do your research. To research costume designs for theater, Marking hits museum websites.
"I would look at bigger museums that have a nice collection of clothing because then you know it's really real," she said.
Don't just rely on what you think the 1970s look like from television. Do your research. A few extra details may go a long way in impressing a costume judge.
"One thing that always bugs me is when people say they're going to make a toga," she said.
Know the difference between a toga and a chiton if you're going to go Greek. Be creative, authentic and make an effort, she said, and you'll be a step closer to that look you're trying to achieve.
It's not just about the chiton that you wear, Gordon Hensley said. Also an ASU theater professor, Hensley is the brush behind the ghoulish makeup at this year's Tweetsie Ghost Train.
"I'm a detail person, so details matter to me," he said. "You can have the best costume on the planet but if your makeup is sloppy, that detracts from the entire look."
Only use products that were made for your face, he said. Craft glitter? It doesn't cut it.
"It's so big it can obstruct your eye," he said.
Elect for cosmetic grade glitter to sparkle your spook.
Drug stores and grocery stores even sell makeup kits specifically for certain costumes, he said.
"They come with sample photos and some of them come with instructions," he said. "I see a lot of people don't follow those, so it ends up looking sloppy."
It's all in the planning. Know what you want your makeup to look like. For ideas for his own designs, Hensley hits the Internet.
"The Internet is so advanced now that you can look for very specific images," he said. "If you want to be a zombie, you can go to any search engine and type in 'zombie.'"
But don't stop at the first image you see.
"I like to pick and choose pieces I like from different ones to make a comprehensive design," he said.