Picking the perfect halloween costume in 13 emotionally-taxing stages

Halloween isn’t a holiday, it’s a state of mind.

A mentality that values the convergence of style, performance art, Milky Way bars, booze when you hit a certain age, and all things spoooOOOoooOooky. It is a shining beacon in an otherwise dreary life, which is why I usually have plans for next year set by November 1. But once in a blue moon, the dark forces conspire against me and I’m left totally stumped with what to be, sending me into a downward spiral of despair.

Because listen, if you want to pair cat ears with lingerie or do a makeshift Minions costume, I respect your choice as a friend and woman. But for myself… I can’t do it, dude. I can’t. It’s my one day of the year where I truly feel alive, and I will go to hell and back to find the one perfect costume.

So take a trip with me through my mad descent, as I present to you all the 13 crazy (I mean this, CRAZY) stages I go through when picking out the perfect costume.

1. Someone backs out of half-hearted back-of-your-mind BFF costume idea from last month.

Last year I swatted off an Orange Is The New Black Piper-and-Alex idea because I was NOT about to spend my one night of the year to get dressed up in an orange jumpsuit (and also my friend had moved to San Francisco, so there’s that). This year my roommate aborted our Serena Van Der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf idea because she wanted to repurpose her leggings for Sandy from Grease. Fair.

Most costume break-ups are amicable, mutual, and done with a desire to go in different creative directions. But where do you go from here?

2. File through all your stock Halloween ideas.

For a hot sec I considered Penny Lane from Almost Famous, because of the film’s 15th anniversary, but quickly deduced I’m William Miller if anyone. I always think about being Buffy Summers before relenting that it’s just me in red pleather pants. Finally I tapdanced on the idea of Courtney Love, but I promised to save that idea for my 2016 for personal reasons (my friend Tarra was her in eighth grade, I figured enough time will have passed by then).

3. Several hour Gchat conversation centered around, “What do you think you’re going to be this year?”

With light sobbing and a brief detour through listicles and Leg Avenue takes on modern occupations.

4. Veto green facepaint for the 12th year in a row. 

Honestly, I thought Invader Zim and Gir would be cute if you really COMMIT, but it gets so involved once I have to do green facepaint. Like, don’t doubt my loyalty to the holiday, I’m just exceptionally bad with make-up. I’m more of a wig-and-a-killer outfit kind of girl.

5. Get really introspective about a costume that I’m going to wear for one night.

At this point I lie awake at night and think, “Well, who would best embody my personal journey throughout this past year? What costume would really define who I am in this moment?”

That’s how I ended up Lana Del Rey last year when I was a melancholy angst bucket who had “Video Games” on repeat. That’s also how I ended up as HelloGiggles co-founder (all hail) Zooey Deschanel, the year I wrote a research paper about She & Him. Because I care about the emotional ties I can make back to my identity and my work.

And because I’m actually insane. 

6. Examine the financial situation. 

This is actually a negotiation I have throughout the stages.  I’ll blow serious money on a costume to get the details right. For example, for my Zooey costume I blew $30 on a pink ukulele that I later lost in a taxi. It’s at this point I decide to pick up a few extra freelance pieces to pay for my potential costume expenses (ahem).

7. Meet with other Halloween-obsessed friend to further brainstorm ideas, finally coming up with something substantial.

I tend to collaborate with my friend Jennette, who always resonates with my unhealthy Halloween feels. Together we decided to join forces, cycling through many ideas that only reflected our friendship, fashion prowess, and dedication to the holiday. For shame. Finally we came up with an idea that had promise: Mufasa and Scar from The Lion King (with me taking Scar role, duh).

8. Get cold feet.

“Wait, if I do this will people just mistake us for sexy cats?”

9. Get second opinion.

“Yeah, people will just mistake you for sexy cats,” said my friend Gaby when we met up for a Halloween brainstorming dinner. “Or Sexy Cecil the Lion.” So wise, so true, so heart-wrenching. More dejected than ever, I drink deeply, and bitterly.

10. Off-hand comment about just going as the person you’ve been obsessed with all year. 

“I don’t know, if I’m doing the enemies thing I should just go as Morrissey and Jennette could be Robert Smith.” Gaby gives a laugh of approval at this and says that would be awesome. Huh. Perhaps my luck is looking up?

11. Get second opinion on your second option costume.

The next day I bring this up to my roommate who has far less emotional investment in post-punk mortal enemies. To my surprise she also laughs, even she thinks this would be hilarious. Ok, great, now I just have to propose this to Jennette, I hope she’s not married to our lion idea.

12. Everyone is on the same page.

The next morning Jennette sends me a message saying she had a nightmare about everyone mistaking us for sexy cats at a Halloween party, a one sentence explanation of why we’re friends. Morrissey and Robert Smith is upvoted. There’s only one more consideration.

13. “But will people recognize us? Remember the year we were a flapper and Marie-Antoinette, and nobody knew basic 10th grade history?”

“No, no, no, I live in North Brooklyn, we’re fine.”

And there you have it, after only 13 agonizing steps, the answer was in my author’s bio all along (see: Morrissey). Hopefully you’ll have less stress picking out your own perfect costume. Now where are my gladioli?

(Image via Fox)


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