The ideal costume is like a dream—a vision that comes to you in a fleeting instance, only to disperse before fully materializing.
There are concrete facts, however. Props are a must. Whether you are a 6 year old novice of the holiday, a 22 year old under grad ready to hit a succession of identically decorated bars, or a parent preparing to take the kids around the neighborhood, it’s always fun to wield a pitchfork, shoot a cap gun or raise Captain America’s shield to defect a volley of rotten eggs.
Likewise, additional limbs are always enjoyable. While six extra spider legs are overkill, it’s fun to swing a tail or some other new appendage.
The ideal costume will consume the user, both physically and mentally. Consider Louis Stevens’ lauded “Penguin Jockey.” The user is able to hold the reigns of an animal—a second entity; not the costume, nor the user—and guide the penguin through a crowded party or busy sidewalk. The illusion with the jockey getup is that the user is not walking, the costume is (a costume with actual wheels or a built in seat is clutch).
Consequently, character costumes are rarely the way to go, especially hot topic costumes like Lady Gaga, Kenny Powers or the Black Swan. You of course run the risk of meeting a copy, probably dozens, and ruining the illusion you’ve created for yourself. A few of the copies are bound to have put in a bit more effort than you, too. More importantly, you will half-feel the need to do an impression of your character all night, and no one wants that.
The truly ideal costumes, however, come in pairs, or groups—costumes that would seem general and obscure unless partnered with another. Symbiotic costumes, if you will.
The above costume is too constricting; the ideal costume(s) must be autonomous yet interrelated.
Keep in mind, the ideal costume will draw attention. Choose the costume that attracts the attention you crave: comic, disturbed or sexually inclined.
What will you be for Halloween this year?