Friday, October 18, 2013

Take Back Halloween!

Yesterday a couple of you introduced me to Take Back Halloween, a brilliant online resource guide for women's costumes. The costumes are all no-sew and (supposedly) easily replicated through found pieces or handily linked supplies. (The site itself doesn't sell anything; they just source the goodies for you. Like I said, handy!)

But here's the best part: these costumes are AWESOME. In a push-back against the increasingly bland "Sexy Fill-In-The-Blank" flooding the market, these options are refreshingly imaginative and detailed, drawing from historical figures, folklore, ancient religions, and a little of everything, really.

Annie Oakley

Isis

Queen Mab


Each costume is accompanied by gorgeously arranged reference images, plus a breakdown of all the individual pieces and accessories you'll need, with links to where you can purchase them. There's also a quick write-up on the character, which is surprisingly educational. I spotted quite a few names I've never heard before - like Chialchiuhtlicue here, the Aztec goddess of water:



So if you still need a Halloween costume, then head over to Take Back Halloween and browse their 80+ costume guides! Or, heck, go browse it anyway; this thing is FUN.

Oh, and if you want to support some kick-ass peeps doing something this kick-ass, then go check out the Kickstarter they're running right now. (The site has no ads, and it's obvious these resources and costume shoots take time and effort.) They've already blown past their goal of $4,500, but they keep adding more costumes to the rewards page, letting supporters vote on which characters they'll add to the site next!

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And speaking of awesome costumes; last night John and I got to visit with AnnaMay - our Wonder Woman-loving Exemplar I featured last June  - in her brand new, jawdroppingly awesome Wonder Woman costume, handmade by two of you lovely readers!! Stay tuned for pics; you guys are going to LOVE THIS.

51 comments:

  1. I play in the SCA (medieval recreation...) and am just about done building my own armor.... and THAT is what I will be wearing for Halloween :) Helm, sword, shield and all :D :D Not sexy, but seriously bad ass!!

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  2. Oh my gosh, thank you for this. I have had it with the "sexy this"/"sexy that" costumes. I about lost it when I saw a "sexy elephant" (yes, really) on a costume site a couple weeks ago. I have my costume picked out along with my boyfriend; he's going as Link and I'm going as Zelda as Sheik and it's going to be awesome. I will definitely keep this site in mind though for work costume ideas :D

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    1. Sexy ELEPHANT?? Srsly? Ok, I think that trumps Sexy Crayon and Sexy Hamburger, my top two WTF costume sightings so far this year.

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    2. Yep! lol. I saw it on Amazon while browsing to get ideas. I'm by no means wanting to advertise that such a thing exists, but if you go to the women's costumes section on Amazon search for elephant, it'll come up (in case you need a laugh for the day - or a headshake).

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    3. Ummm...shouldn't "sexy elephant" be more of a costume idea for a guy? Lol!

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  3. Thank you for this Jen for this post!!

    As a young woman I hated dressing up as sexy/vampy/slutty costume that had no personality or even creativity. Sadly, it's the norm to dress like a stripper on Halloween simply because other girls are doing it. I fought against this trend. I have gone as a girl version of Alex the Droog from the Clockwork Orange (my husband loved that one), the masked apparition from Amadeus, the Son of Man painting by Renee Magritte, a gothic Morton Salt girl, "Recyclops" from The Office (no one got that one!!), and last year, a salmon sushi roll! So I will happily peruse Take Back Halloween, since more women (and men) ought to be a little more creative on Halloween and have fun. It's the one time out of the whole year that you can be an undiluted weirdo - don't squander it!!

    In case you haven't seen this, here's a hilarious parody of the "slutty Halloween costume" trend for women: http://youtu.be/V4rUiV_Hh74

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    1. I'm considering dressing up as a sushi roll for work. Cute, but simple (and we're always going out for sushi, haha). How did you do yours if you don't mind me asking?

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    2. Hi Lizikins!
      I can send you some pictures of the costume via email if you'd like. Pictures say more than words!
      But here is the low-down. I wore a white dress (rice), fuschia stockings and fuschia flat-dyed geodite earrings (ginger - I got these from JoAnns), a headband with some rolled up bright green felt lightly sewn to it (wasabi) and some chopsticks sticking out of a bun in my hair. Now, here's the fun part...I bought a cheap pillow at Sears and decorated it with salmon-colored fabric paint. I just drew diagonal lines to simulate a salmon look. Super easy! Then I sewed some dark green fabric to it to tie around my waist. So, the pillow (salmon) is in back, and you tie the fabric up front. It came out really cute. I'm not gonna lie though, the pillow kept moving, so I was constantly readjusting it. However, I was REALLY comfortable all day with a pillow behind me at school/work while sitting. Good luck with your costume! ;)

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    4. Du'h! Thanks for the suggestion. Sometimes, I get so old school on the internet, I forget to think outside of the email box. Will do! :)

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  4. ...or if you don't mind a little bit of sewing, you could wear Historical Greek/Roman dress, like me. Three bedsheets, a decorative toggle clasp for a necklace, some embroidered ribbon, and two big buttons can get you a pretty good roman dress. Which is like the greek dresses, but with the sides sewn together.

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  5. The ones that have always amazed me are the sexy racial stereotype ones. It's hard to imagine how costume designers could exhibit more privilege than that.

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  6. Love it! My daughter is dressing up as Rosalind Franklin for her school's "Mystery History" event. She already has her outfit (a corduroy skirt and a button-up blouse with black bead necklace). I was contemplating printing out the x-ray picture, so the image on this site is perfect!!

    I was just doing research on some Wild West women the other day while brainstorming for my own costume. You know, someone NOT a "sexy saloon girl"?

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    1. I was looking at a Halloween store for some items for my toddler granddaughter, and even the ready made costumes for 3 year old kids and up are trending toward sexified (or at least very gender specific) costumes now. We're making her a 'purple cat' jumpsuit and hat (from Brown Bear, Brown Bear). Definitely will keep the take back halloween for inspiration for next year!

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  7. I'll be doing a victim of the Empty Child plague from Doctor Who. :) Already had a 40s style dress and the local costume store had a gas mask I can paint up to look more similar. (and yes, it will be worn during the 50th anniversary celebrations!)

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  8. Sexy {Insert Object Here} costumes make me feel a little sick. I remember when French maids were the go-to sexy costume and it was shocking to see anyone really young as one. Now, French maids are laughable and most girls are trying to out-slut each other. I went as Hermione Granger one year and people kept asking me why my skirt was so long (knee-length). It was ridiculously demoralizing to be called "old" and "fat" because I was flashing my goods all over the party (ps I was 28 and 130 lbs). I shudder to think what my 6 year old daughter will be forced to chose from when she grows out of the Disney Princess costume phase she's been in (Belle this year!).

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    1. Uhhhh ... "WASN'T flashing my goods all over the party"!! I really should proof-read a little better!

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  9. This site actually inspired my costume for this Halloween (although I will be doing some sewing for it). My husband and I are going to be Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace!

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  10. I really shudder when I look at the costumes out there for tween girls. My daughters are only eight and tall for their age, but even last year it was difficult to find pirate costumes that I felt were appropriate for them to wear. Too many have skirts that barely cover their hooha's. This year one is going to be a cow girl and the other is wearing a kimono. Forget the store-bought costumes, I put them together at home.

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  11. Dangnabit Jen, First I read the superman comic..THEN I read this post and go FREAKING AWESOME.. then i am thinking "AnnaMay I remember that name.." *clicks link(* and im crying again..*facepalm* lol being a girl is so difficult!! and that page is definitely bookedmarked n.n lunch hour will be fun tomorrow

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    1. I did the same thing! My hubby gave me a funny look.

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    2. Hahaha I'm glad i am not alone!

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  12. Awesome! I admit to doing one 'sexy' costume (schoolgirl, but to be fair it was loong time ago, I was 18 and it seemed like a good idea lol), but that's it. I would definitely be grabbing ideas from Take Back Halloween if I didn't already have my Lady Loki costume on the go (and Wonder Woman or my daughter). I will be using TBH in the future though, it would be great for me and my little missy, because do they ever start the skanky costumes early! So instead neat costumes, of role models too? And history? And DIY-ness? Sold!
    sexy crayon? That's awful. I've seen things like Sexy Chewbacca and Sexy Sesame Street.Ernie and Bert were really bizarre.

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  13. You had me at "Annie Oakley," but this site is fantastic! It's just what I have been looking for, for many years...! Two years ago my then-24-year-old daughter was volunteering at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and in October for Halloween they were having their usual special event for kids. My daughter was going to be volunteering at a cart that held all kinds of wolf artifacts to explain to the kids all about wolves, so she decided to dress up for fun as Little Red Riding Hood. It was nigh impossible for her to find a respectable costume! After a long and arduous search, we were finally able to find ONE online that she could wear in a professional setting, thank goodness! I want to put together ALL of the costumes on the Take Back Halloween website, I'm so happy...! :)

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  14. my friends and I decided to come up with the stupidest "sexy ______" costumes a few years ago, and we went as sexy former presidents (teddy hoosevelt, baberaham lincoln, dames buchanan, and jimmy garter). we won several costume contests and had a blast showing everyone how silly the "sexy whatever" costumes are! I wish I knew how to post a photo here!

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    1. Oh my God! Please post on the Epbot FB page. ;) I just put my sushi costume on there. Yours sounds really funny. I think you'd appreciate this video - there's a "sexy Abe Lincoln!"

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    2. Haha! Almost forgot the link...http://youtu.be/V4rUiV_Hh74

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  15. Now THAT'S a worth-while site! The costumes aren't completely from scratch (which is good for non-crafty people), and yet they have that element of uniqueness that store-bought costumes just don't have. I'm book-marking the site for future reference.

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  16. Love that! I think this year I may repeat a simple version of Audrey II. A green shirt that says "Feed me Audrey!", a leafy scarf, and a "flat" newsboy cap that has the exact shape of the upper half of Audrey II's head. Cheap, and transforms back to something normal quickly and easily.

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    1. Oops..."Feed me Seymour!" :)

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  17. I hate the whole "sexy" costume thing too.. but I have to admit I have the sexy crayon costume, lol. The way I wear it though it's not really sexy. I am a preschool teacher and thought it would be fun to be a crayon of my fav color... pink! I wear a long sleeved pink shirt under it and black leggings with pink leg warmers and pink converse, and since I'm short the skirt comes to my knees. The thing that bugs me about the sexy costume trend is they assume all adult women want to wear costumes to go party. I wear mine for classes of 2,3, and 4 year olds, a halloween carnival at work and to trick-or-treat with my son, so need for sexy any of those places.

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  18. Just not entirely sure what "Take Back Halloween" needs money for...they are basically just building a polyvore of potential costumes...um, you can do that yourself, ladies! Find a favorite character, do 10 minutes of Internet research, and go for it!

    Now if they actually MADE costumes, they'd be on to something...

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    1. They do put together the costumes in the photos, though, which I'm sure takes time and money. Those photos are what really bring the idea together for me, since it can be hard to visualize a costume just from the reference images. Plus, speaking as a blogger, I can tell you producing original content takes a huge amount of time, and that's time few of us can afford to spend without some form of income to justify it. Most bloggers use ads for that, but I can respect those who choose to skip that constant annoyance in favor of occasionally soliciting donations instead.

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  19. The models all look so unhappy!

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  20. ooo research photos - that's the real costuming way. =) I'm so tired of the "sexy" stuff at Halloween.

    I canNOT wait to see the photos you took of AnnaMay! I'm dying to see how everything looks all together!

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  21. Jen, thank you so much for this fantastic write-up! We weren't expecting it at all, and it's a big thrill.

    Re the Kickstarter: it costs thousands of dollars a year just to host and maintain Take Back Halloween. And it requires over 2000 person hours a year for content creation and maintenance: costume design, research, writing, graphic design, photos, sourcing, etc., etc. It's a major undertaking. We have no expectation that we could actually raise enough on Kickstarter to cover our real costs; we're just trying to offset the monthly cash outlay so we don't go broke.

    The great advantage of the DIY model for our designs is that it enables people to use components they already have and only buy what they need. It's thrifty, flexible, and encourages creativity. (Personally, I'm not really sure the world needs more mass-produced polyester costumes from China anyway.)

    "The models all look so unhappy!"

    Oh no, they're not unhappy at all. They just have normal facial expressions. If it seems unusual, it's probably because we're so used to seeing women pose with the sex faces and submissive head tilts that seem to be de rigueur in commercial photography.

    Thank you again, Jen, for this wonderful article. We're really honored. Cake Wrecks is one of the funniest things in the world, and I got so excited when I saw you'd covered us. I'm totally planning on turning our costumes into cakes now.

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    1. Thank you for this site. As a costumer of over 30 years, it was utterly nauseating and disheartening to work at A Certain Chain of Halloween Only Stores a few years ago; not only were the costumes cheap crap that cost a fortune, they pretty much encouraged females of all ages and sizes to dress slutty and be vapid, starting with the ridiculous "pop star" costumes for little girls. Just awful, and completely out of line with what Halloween is about; the fun of putting it together yourself! (No shade on folks that go to Spirit or whatever for *pieces* of your costume i.e., accessories, wigs, make-up; I do it too, so hey!)

      And as a feminist Pagan, any site that shows/tells someone how to be Isis or the Trung Sisters is a winner in my book. ;)

      Cheers, thanks a lot,

      Storm

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    2. I don't expect the models to have "sex face", thank you, but how about at least a smile? Don't put words in my mouth.

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    3. Didn't see her response as a personal attack... Just an explanation... That sadly makes perfect sense.

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  22. I really like the website, and the idea of "taking back Halloween"! The past few years, I've done costumes like Vanellope VonSchweetz (Wreck-It Ralph), Velma (Scooby Doo) and a homemade military Pin-up. Which brings me to the part that I think is slightly ironic about the TBH website. If you look at the Glamour Grrrls section, those are some of THE sexiest women ever. But they were sexy in all the right ways! Rita Hayworth, Mae West, all of those beautiful women left the actual, ahem, assets to the imagination. They were beautiful, poised, well-spoken, and above all, talented! If I have a little girl, I hope to teach her that those are the traits that make a sexy, desirable woman, NOT showing off T&A all over the place! I love that TBH has women like that and women that were smart and brave. Definitely the kind of women I would love to get to be for a day!

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  23. Thanks for posting on the issue of the default to "sexy" for women's costumes. I've been thinking of doing a Ghostbusters costume this year for Halloween, and wouldn't you know that while the men's version is a pretty normal jumpsuit, the women's consists of a minidress with a low front zipper. The only way it's recognizable as "Ghostbusters" is by the logo patch. I guess it's off to the Army Surplus store for me...

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  24. I. Love. This. I am already a Naval Officer and am TOTALLY going as Grace Hopper to work - perfect! Just need some horn-rimmed glasses and I can re-use my gray wig (which, incidentally, I got in 2011 when my friends and I went as the Royal Wedding, I am Queen Elizabeth II, and won a "sexy" Halloween contest!)

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  25. Well, that's cool; glad you liked the FB post about Take Back Halloween. The costumes truly are fantastic.

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  26. My daughter went as candy dots (the kind that are on paper) a few years ago when she was about 10 years old. It won a trophy in our town costume contest and was unique and so, so easy to make. Three yards of heavy duty interfacing, 2.5 or 3 inch sytrofoam balls, cut in half, pink, yellow and blue tempura paint and some glue. Cut a hole for the head. She got so many great comments.

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  27. Sexy costumes can be fun in the proper setting. I have a pirate one that I wore with leggings to an adult party (didn't want everything hanging out).
    That said, my daughter is only 10, but some of the costumes I've seen in her size are outright disgusting for her age. I am proud of her for the types of costumes she normally picks. We've had evil mermaid, Zorro, Black Widow, and this year she is being Deborah Sampson. Deborah dressed as a man during the American Revolution to fight against the British. I made my daughter a Colonial-style dress (quite the feat for someone who hates sewing) and she is incredibly thrilled with it. I'll send in a picture of her in it after I get a really good one.
    I'm personally going as Luigi. One of my boys wanted to be Mario and wanted a Luigi with him. Little brother wanted to be Darth Vader so I was enlisted. We went out and bought overalls, shirts, hats, and white gloves. All-told we spent less putting it together than if we had bought the costumes ready made. The Vader costume came from a thrift store and was $5.

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  28. Thank you SO much for posting this! I am a record holder for non-sexy costumes....because I still believe Halloween is about being something awesome for one night. Last year I was Harry Potter, this year Weeping Angel...

    Thanks for supporting the real spirit!

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  29. Oh my god! These are awesome! Thank you so much - I especially love the fact that they have historical and legendary figures from all cultures, not just Western Europe.

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  30. Well, this is certainly a new obsession for me. Not only is it a wonderful costume resource, but it's introduced me to a crazy number of historical figures I am not familiar with and must now research. To the library!

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  31. I just saw a post on the Miss Universe pageant world costumes and as I'm scanning thru it I'm thinking about this costume post and another blog I ran across but can't find now where an artist draws or photographs men in the same "sexy" costumes and poses. Really a good laugh and then a wonder about how our culture got to this point.

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