Halloween is fast approaching, and book lovers understand the need to cosplay their favorite characters even beyond events like New York or San Francisco Comic Con (and the various other wonderful conventions that happen around the country). And besides, we don’t always want to dress up as comic book or manga (turned movie or anime) heroes. Sometimes we want to go classic or original. And so we present to you here a variety of wonderful costumes choices for you and your friends/family, you and your loved one/BFF, or just you:
The Wizard of Oz
Okay, so it’s from the movie version of original The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, but it’s still an amazing group costume. It’s quite a sight to see: an entire family figured out a costume together and managed to make it work. And when you think of how group costumes with your friends are so freaking hard to organize (or maybe it was just my college buddies…). In this happy family, Mom plays Glinda in an epic flouncy pink dress (possibly salvaged from a long-ago prom?) This dad is clearly The Tin Woodman (as he’s called in the book) and is wearing some very cardboard-looking tin, but it’s at least spray-painted silver and looks pretty easy to make. Dorothy, this little cutie-pie, is just wearing a white shirt and a tutu under what looks like a tablecloth sacrificed for the cause of a miniature Dorothy dress. The Scarecrow is an easy one to pull off (even if you’re an adult). Hat: easy, since straw hats abound. Overalls: easy (to have/borrow/find). Flannel shirt: come on, now, you know you have one. Potato sack: pretty easy to get (ask your grocery store for one), cut into pieces, and tie around arms and legs. Perfect scarecrow! This happy family admits that the Cowardly Lion costume was store-bought, but at least it’s pretty great to know that there are costume manufacturers making little lion costumes for tiny tots. The whiskers and nose are pretty easy to draw on anybody’s face, though, and if you’re not as tiny as this little one, an adult onesie will do—and those are pretty much everywhere these days (just find a brownish-one and you’re good to go).
Miss Clavel et al. from Madeline
Remember Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans? Sure hope so, because she and her amazing classmates make great minions to the strict Miss Clavel. For Miss Clavel, dress like a nun (kind of similar to dressing like a wizard or witch—take those old Harry Potter costume cloaks and use them for something better). The harder part is convincing your friends to dress in little blue dresses or capes with a red scarf around their necks and yellow (or light-colored) hats. Bring a Golden Retriever along and say she’s Genevieve if you want to be super accurate.
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Charles and Sebastian from Brideshead Revisited
The tortured will-they-won’t-they, did-they-didn’t-they couple from Brideshead Revisited (never explicit, of course) is a costume that can go two ways. First: one of you wears your grandfather’s vest over a shirt and tie while the other wears their grandmother’s sweater and their mom’s scarf over a shirt and tie, and you both wear Dockers. Second: you both wear tuxedos. Extra points if you carry around a bear named Aloysius.
Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West
Another tortured couple, but in real life. Woolf is, of course, the famous author of A Room of One’s Own and Mrs. Dalloway among many others, and Sackville West was a socialite and a letter-writer (and the love of Woolf’s life). This costume is also fairly easy to pull off: a loose white dress for Virginia (bonus points if you find a dress with pockets and put rocks in them), and for Sackville West, a big hat, a black dress, and some pen and paper (because you write letters to Virginia all the time).
(Source: Wikipedia Commons)
Thing One and Thing Two
Dressing up as the Cat in the Hat is easy and has been done so many times. But Thing One and Thing Two? Now that’s original. And easy. Dress in red and stick on some badges denoting which Thing you are.
(Source: Flickr / William Gunn)
The Old Man and The Sea
Recognize this? Yup—it’s Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea but in the flesh. This is one of the most amazing literary play on words costumes I’ve seen and it requires so little effort. One person goes as an old man (white wig or white hairspray, cane, pants hitched too high, get-off-my-lawn fist) while the other just wears blue. You can get fancy and add seashells and such to your sea-ness, but honestly, it’ll be funny no matter what.
Costumes for One
Hester PrynneHester Prynne is the sort-of heroine of The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Basically, stick a big red A on whatever you’re wearing (preferably some sort of frumpy black dress) and, for brownie points, carry around a baby (real, if you have one; a doll, if you don’t).
(Source: Wikipedia Commons)
Gregor SamsaDepending on which translation you’re reading, Gregor Samsa in Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis is either a cockroach or a beetle. This costume seems to require some assemblage of cardboard and perhaps a spray-painted plastic shield to wear on your back, but if you’ve got the time and want to do it, it’s a great, creepy get-up.
One of the most famous first lines in literature is “Call me Ishmael” from Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. You can buy a pack of stickers with “My name is” or ask a teacher friend who’s sure to have a stack of them. Last minute costume rating? Methinks ten out of ten.
Author extraordinaire, Carson McCullers brought us The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Member of the Wedding among others. All about the gender-bending, a McCullers costume involves a large white shirt, black pants, a hair bob, and a babyface.
(Source: Wikipedia Commons)
You can quoth all over the place dressing up as the raven from Poe’s famous poem, Nevermore. How? Wear black. Buy some black wings. Start every sentence with air quotes.
Remember The Millennium trilogy? Seems like ages ago, but Lisbeth Salander is still one of the most badass of badass characters. If you’ve got lots of piercings already, this is a costume for you—rip your old black jeans a bit more, wear your Docs, and if you don’t want to do anything to your hair, just wear a black hoodie and keep it up over your face. Your brooding look is really all that’s needed. Of course, if you want to buy some fake tattoos, it’ll be pretty easy to find a scorpion one around Halloween time.
Sick/Tired/Feel Like Staying in and Reading?
Emily DickinsonFriends calling you begging you to come out with them? Just tell them you’re dressing up as Emily Dickinson this year and staying in.
Featured illustration: Still AB/Shutterstock.com