Costumes for All Seasons
The practice of dressing up in costume is usually associated with Halloween, but pretending to be some other person or character can be fun at any time of year. Costumes come in handy for tea parties, birthday theme parties, school events, stage plays, photo shoots, church events, conventions, murder mysteries, masquerade balls, reenactments, Renaissance fairs, old-fashioned weddings, vintage fashion shows, and various holidays.
Costumes are also ideal for households with young children who enjoy make-believe play-acting. I think every family should have a costume trunk so the kids can play dress-up all year long, not just at Halloween. You can use a cardboard box, large plastic storage container, or wooden toy chest. We got a big Contico Tuff Bin at Home Depot. This will save time and trouble at Halloween and other events if you already have a supply of costumes and related accessories on hand, like the treasures in Grandma's attic.
Outfitting a costume trunk doesn't have to cost a lot. You probably already have some stuff around the house that you can use, like old hats, accessories, and clothes that are out of fashion. Every year you can add a little more to it by stocking up on Halloween items at reduced prices after October 31. You can find an assortment of inexpensive costumes, masks, hats, and accessories at www.orientaltrading.com.You can also visit thrift shops and yard sales for funky, unique clothing and adornments. Military uniforms and accessories can be found in army surplus stores. You can usually buy fireman and policeman outfits in toy stores.
Ready-to-wear costumes on popular themes are readily available at this time of year, but making your own can be even more fun. If you know how to sew – or at least are able to do a few basting stitches – you can choose from a larger selection of costumes. Fabric stores sell patterns which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several days to complete, depending on how complicated they are. A simple sewn costume can be a good beginning sewing project for kids. Non-sewers can use iron-on hem tape.
Or, if you don’t have a lot of time or talent, you can concentrate on capes and masks. An old sheet, beach towel or other fabric can be cut to size for a cape. Depending on the color, decorations added, and other clothing worn, the cape can turn you into a butterfly, superhero, villain, or royalty. You can make swords and shields from cardboard. Masks can be made of cardboard or paper plates. Dixie’s Krazy Kritters plates feature 24 colorful animal and creature faces, which are great for kids masks. For more homemade costume ideas (and costumes for wheelchair users!), go to: www.robinsfyi.com/holidays/halloween/costumes.htm.
By making up a costume trunk for your little girl or boy, you open up a world of possibilities. Creative young imaginations will run wild with all of the potential combinations. It can be great fun on rainy days, at parties, and when friends come over to play. We’ve found that when we read an adventure book aloud or watch a movie, our two young sons like to act out the story immediately afterwards – fighting pirates or alien invaders, exploring the high seas, going on secret missions, posing as superheroes, etc. – so our costume trunk is used quite often.
Girl’s Costume Trunk- Girls love fairy tale princesses, tea parties, American Girls, Barbie fashions, Indian maidens, and old-fashioned Victorian lace. Other ideas: dance costumes, cheerleaders, bridal, Hawaiian, tiaras, slippers, beads, necklaces, glitter wands, white gloves, tea party items, grass skirts, leis, boas, scarves, 1950’s poodle skirts, fake fur stole, fringed frontier tops, etc.
Boy’s Costume Trunk- Boys love knights and armor, frontier and exploration, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, superheroes, Civil War, safari and camouflage themes. Other ideas: construction worker, farmer, sheriff, pirates and pirate accessories (swords, hats, hooks, eye patches, etc.), sombreros, ponchos, bull-fighter costume with red cape, straw hat, bandanas, vest, black gloves, coonskin cap, engineer’s hat, lab coat, bow tie, sailor hat, knight’s cape, sword and shield, bow and arrows, sports uniforms.
Rather than wearing the typical mass-market scary mask or cartoon character costume for Halloween, consider dressing up as a literary character or historical person. Do some research and try to be as authentic as you can. Turn it into a book report, biography report, history report, movie review, unit study, speech, or play – and maybe your Halloween costume will double as an extra credit assignment!
Costume websites such as www.buffalobreath.com, www.fantasycostumes.com, and www.costumeuniverse.com feature photos of thousands of costumes and accessories from every era. Browsing through these can be a great source of inspiration. Styles of costumes that are available include: Biblical, Elizabethan, Medieval, Renaissance, Colonial, Western, Civil War, World War II, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Victorian, Roaring Twenties, Disco, Viking, Pirate, 1950’s, hippie, royalty, Disney, and many more.
Did You Know…? San Diego's oldest and largest costume company – curiously named Buffalo Breath – has more than 25,000 costumes in stock. Their warehouse is filled from wall to wall and floor to ceiling with hundreds of racks of theatrical quality costumes. You must see it to believe it! Arizona's largest costumer is Mardi Gras Costume, 5895 N. Granite Reef Rd., Scottsdale, offering over 10,000 period and modern costumes.
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