“Ghoul” costumes for the pop culture aficionado

By Janam Anand

As the crisp air and fast falling leaves make the presence of fall known, it is clear that Halloween has almost arrived. Whether you are going to a doctor’s appointment or even to the grocery store, the ghosts, black cats and spider webs seem to jump out from everywhere. Aside from all of the macabre ambiance, one question still remains: “What am I going to be this year?”

Each Halloween, we witness those hot, trendy costumes that swarm past our doors in droves, leaving us to ponder why we did not think of the same idea. This Halloween season, however, the line-up of possibilities and the chances to exhibit the most expressive ensembles, are bottomless. From pop culture idols, to Hollywood, to historical eras and even extending into the comfort and affordability of one’s own closet, the ingenuity can be drawn to no end. There is not a “ghost” of a chance you will want to go without a totally “ghoul” costume.

       Halloween costumes often reflect recent developments in pop culture. The deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays and others, mean these personas will be manifesting on the “Halloween Red Carpet” at parties across the globe. As you might have guessed, Michael Jackson costumes are all the rage this year. The death of the King of Pop, whose style epitomized the 1980s, is stimulating an already budding trend in ‘80s style. Sport some sequined gloves, tight black pants, a military jacket and practice those dance moves. Halloween attire retailers such as Target, iParty and Hot Topic are offering fantastic sales on the classic Michael Jackson “Thriller Jacket” in anticipation of a massive demand.

       Even prior to Michael Jackson’s death, the ‘80s have been gearing up to become a searing fad for the Halloween season. Costume companies make decisions based on what is marketable and sought-after in traditional fashion, and since the 1980s styles are in vogue this season, costumes featuring off-the-shoulder sweat shirts, leg warmers, bangle bracelets and glitzy colors like hot pink and turquoise are procurable in an entirely new costume line, maybe even as close as the neighborhood thrift shop.

       This past year has seen an unfathomable buildup of fan-craze regarding vampires. With the popularization of Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series and the consequent revival of vampire culture, a plethora of these sultry creatures will undoubtedly be lingering around on Halloween this year. Noteworthy, however, is the means by which vampire culture has spread within the past year, chiefly within the young adult population. Since the November 2008 film adaptation of “Twilight,” vampire clothing and make-up have become a familiar stock at most Wal-Marts, Targets and Borders book stores, even during the off-season.

Further adding to the vampire rage is the new CW hit television series, “The Vampire Diaries,” based on the novels by L.J. Smith. Luckily, this look is incredibly painless to recreate, calling only for a bit of face paint and some synthetic blood. The vacant, lifeless gaze comes in handy for any unwanted advances during the night.

       Of course, with the Halloween weekend only a few days away, one cannot help but

consider, and conceivably anticipate, the upcoming lingerie-inspired ensembles. Halloween costume companies simply cannot seem to stock enough of the sexy costumes for men and women. New this year in the “Sexy” department is Zeus for men and Aphrodite for women. Seductive devils and pirates, as well as other nautical themed costumes are popular options among young couples. If you are scouting out the local costume stores for a getup that will expectantly make it through an entire weekend of celebrations, consider upgrading to a “deluxe” costume set, as the fabric quality is often much stronger than the standard issue quality.

       The wealth of options for those who might want to opt for something hysterically priceless cannot be ignored. How about a Booberry costume (Who knew there would be vintage cereal attire?) or the Trix Bunny? Other silly and cute novelty costumes on the market this year are the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, Martini or Strawberry Daiquiri drink costumes, a Lobster Pot and Rehab Babe, which is basically a glorified Amy Winehouse costume (Much to our dismay, the bee-hive is not included). Tons of Gangster-related costumes can, very well, be made at home this year, following the trend of playing Mafia Wars on Facebook. There is also a rather dimwitted new costume this year, called Magazine Cover-Star, which looks like a tabloid cover. Though all of these costumes are available for over-night delivery online at www.buycostumes.com (each for under $30), a little imagination and the help of some friends can either cut the price down, or eliminate it entirely.

       For those who are looking for a quick and easy, last minute costume fix, look no further than your closet, or that of a friend’s. Below is a list of five costumes that most people can put together using items they already have on hand.

               1.) Tourist: Just about everyone possesses a Hawaiian shirt. Add some Bermuda

shorts, a visor, a camera around your neck, and sandals on your feet (socks optional). For

a funny effect, stuff the butt of your pants for that extra-dorky look. Find or make some brochures and tickets to stuff in your pockets and you are good to go!

               2.) Cowboy: Everyone owns jeans, and chances are good that you have some kind of western or plaid shirt and boots. If you can get your hands on a cowboy hat, it only adds to the costume. Accessories like a gun belt, lasso, bandana around your neck, chaps, or a vest spice up the look.

               3.) Nerd: This is most likely the most fun you can have with a homemade costume. Just wear your clothes a size too small, or maybe even pin them to appear that way. Button your shirt all the way, and pull those pants up too high. Toss on some long white socks and a pocket protector, mindlessly gel your hair, and you will find an instant nerd in the mirror.

As the generations continue, the themes of Halloween costumes take a slight shift in direction. Naturally, over the years, we have separated from the traditional witches and ghouls and have started edging towards more creative and relatable options. Whether inspired by pop culture, sexy images, food and drink items, quirky characters, or even the clothes of a certain era, Halloween is that one time of the year when slipping out of one’s usual image and adopting a remarkably different semblance is encouraged – even celebrated. This weekend will undeniably accent the originality of an entirely new generation of Halloween costumes.

Janam Anand can be reached at [email protected]