Every October people get inspired to dust off their favorite Tim Burton films and I am 110% about it. As a classic teen misfit I always loved the German Expressionist-meets-lighthearted-horror-throwback feel of Burton’s movies. I mean, in light of the recent Hot Topic The Nightmare Before Christmas collection, it’s probably easier than ever to channel spooky stylings. For me, though it’s always been commonplace for me to be a grown-up (“grown-up”) Tim Burton character… and you could be to!

Sure, why not! I’m not sure if you can commit to it as a lifestyle choice like I do, but it could be fun to chill at the intersection of creepy-cute for the remainder of the Halloween season, right? So because I love you and we’re such dear friends, I’m going to guide you through this with my handy-dandy Tim Burton life tutorial. With a few alterations, you two could live like a resident of Halloweentown.

Amp up of the moodiness of your mood

For the most part, you pick either “whimsically giddy” or “morbidly deadpan.” Those are your options. I’ve personally set up shop in the “morbidly deadpan” camp, but there are a few things (free coffee, Morrissey-themed dance parties, etc.) that will get me to visit the other side. You need to do what’s right for you.

Embrace birds nest hair

If you want to invest in some black hair dye for this that’s ideal, but not the make-or-break (as in, I’m chronically blonde). As long as you can put your hairspray and teasing comb to good use, you will look Burton-tastic. Think Robert Smith of The Cure, then think Robert Smith of The Cure electrocuted, that’s a good starting point for the kind of hair you want.

Never sleep again

Tim Burton characters have a look, and that look is tired. The good news is that since I’m a writer so I never not have bags under my eyes. You too, can avoid sleeping more than three hours a night to preserve that exhausted look. SIGH.

Cultivate a wardrobe that is 55% black and 45% black-and-white striped

Tweenage Mary Grace LIVED in striped tights, but I’ve sadly cut that out of my wardrobe since. I DO however, alternate between six striped dresses, five striped shirts, two striped skirts, and one striped body suit on most days. Anything else I own could easily be described as “coven chic.”

Basically find cute ways to incorporate Jack Skellington in your every day aesthetics.

If you look closely you’ll notice that Jack has made a cameo, at least in some shape or form, in about six of Burton’s movies. Now listen, you don’t have to go crazy here, but I think that little dash of his adorable skull-face really brightens up a room. And that is why, 12 years later, I still keep my Nightmare Before Christmas beanie in my regular winter hat rotation.

Play Danny Elfman literally everywhere you go

The easy way to do this is pick up any Burton movie soundtrack and go from there. The Mary Grace way to do this is to blast the best of Oingo Boingo on your way to the bank.

Find a love interest that is rail thin and filled with delusions of grandeur

Bonus points if they’re dark-haired, the living dead, Johnny Depp, or all of the above.

Actually, make as many friends with dead people as you can, because they make the best company

This isn’t snark. This is a call to break out some vintage horror films, because if Ed Wood taught me anything, the classics are the best. So if you’re not feeling Beetlejuice again maybe you could set up a movie date with sexy Draculas like Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, or saddle up with macabre master Vincent Price.

Do your best to co-exist in vibrant candy-colored world where you naturally clash against the social norms

Listen, nobody is more familiar with the terrors of suburbia than me and Edward Scissorhands. Unlike me, Edward Scissorhands, bless his heart, donned his white shirt and suspenders and tried to fit in with the members of his community best he could. But making the best of said community isn’t about fitting in, necessarily, it’s about utilizing the thing that makes you special. For Edward, it was his artistic inclinations with hairstyling and horticulture. For me, it was a few articles in the school paper that made my classmates go, “Hey, the weird witch girl is actually really funny.”

And that’s how I got through eighth grade, the end.

Likewise, find your second home in a supernatural wonderland

It doesn’t have to be the Netherworld or Land of the Dead (wait, isn’t that the same thing?). It could be the wine bar where your friend gives you tarot card reading, or even the movie theater where you find kinship with a cast of kooky characters. If Tim Burton films have taught me anything, it’s that even the strangest teens and saddest skeletons eventually find happiness and a sense of belonging.

(Image via Disney)