Last Minute Costume Checklist

With only a few hours to go before Halloween (and a little over a day and a half before you have to start getting ready for this year’s Monster Mash for Literacy Bash), now is a good time to make sure that you set for whatever your plans are for this holiday weekend.

Dress appropriately for the event in question

This can be tricky, especially if you are purchasing your costume rather than making it.  It is a well known and much mocked fact that there exist three types of costumes for women — the thing, the sexy thing, and the slutty thing.  For example: the Nurse costume consists of a set of scrubs, maybe an isolation mask, and a prop of some kind (stethoscope, oversized syringe, etc.).  The Sexy Nurse costume consists of something that no one would actually consider wearing in a hospital, say a too short mini-skirt, a crop top, and a headpiece with a large red cross on it.  Then there’s Slutty Nurse, something that most people wouldn’t wear outside of the bedroom, made mostly of lace, adhesive tape, and the power of suggestion.

The same formula can be applied to just about anything: vampire, sexy vampire, slutty vampire; witch, sexy witch, slutty witch; and so on.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against taking the opportunity to dress in a more risque fashion than you normally would.  All that I am saying is make sure to consider the possible ramifications of doing so.  If you are attending a work party with a bunch of stuffy, no-fun, probably-won’t-bother-with-a-costume types, this may not be the time to dress in bandaids and a thong (or your best jungle print banana hammock if you’re a guy).

Then again, it might be the perfect opportunity to let the people you work with know a little bit more about you.  After all, Halloween is your chance to become whatever you want to.

Hell, I’ve seen zombie Jesus at a party attended by nuns

Dress for the Temperature

One of the sad realities of life in Michigan is that sometimes it snows on Halloween.  If you will be out in the weather for any length of time (say, standing in line to get  in that trendy night club) you will want to make sure that you are prepared for the weather.  Conversely, if you are going to be in a crowded room, you might not want to be in period authentic wool.


If you grew up in the days of the plastic mask ‘70s, you may have memories of one of your parents using a pair of scissors to widen the eye holes of your mask.  If you were lucky, your eyes were still reasonably proportional to each other by the time this was done. If you were really lucky, you weren’t wearing the mask at the time.

Hopefully, you won’t have to be crossing a lot of streets while you are out partying, but it is still a good idea to be mindful of any restrictions placed on your vision.  It may not be possible to create the look that you are going for without limiting your peripheral vision, but just keep this in mind while you are moving about the bar.


Let’s face it, we are pretty much programmed to believe that bigger is better.  This often applies to costumes as well.  Whether it be something as simple as a pair of boots which add a few inches or a giant mask which towers over the crowd, additional height is an aspect of many a good costume.  To paraphrase Ben Parker, with great height comes extra caution.  Know how tall you are as you move about the room.  Pay close attention to archways and ceiling fans.

This word of caution applies to added appendages as well.  Don’t do any fast turns if you are sporting a tail and make sure your demon wings and extra limbs won’t knock over anyone’s drink.

Mobility dancing and such

In a similar vein, a good costume should afford you the mobility to move around without too many restrictions.  If you are at a party, odds are, you are going to want to dance at some point.  Even if you plan on being a wallflower, make sure that you at least have the ability to bend easily at the hips and knees.  Failure to do this means that you will be forced to stand for the entire evening.  Plus it will make driving to and from the event close to impossible.

Accessibility (food and drink)

This is a common mistake, one that I have made personally.  You have a great idea for a costume.  You apply your make-up/prosthetics/mask to finish the look.  The good news is that you look astounding.  The bad news is that your facial covering does not allow access to your mouth.

I’m assuming that everyone possesses the common sense required to make sure that they can breathe properly through their facial covering.  However, it is pretty easy to forget that at some point during the evening you will want to eat, drink, or talk to people.  Sure, you could remove a portion of your costume, but that ruins the whole affect.  Take it from someone who was forced to drink through a straw and only eat taquitos, make sure you have enough of an opening to provide access to your mouth.

Acessibility (restrooms)

Speaking of access, if you have followed the advice above, odds are you are going to have to visit the restroom at some point.  Even if you are the designated driver, you’ll be drinking punch or soda.  It is a time honored fact of life that we don’t buy our beverages, only borrow them.  A well designed costume is one that does not require fifteen minutes and the efforts of three people before the wearer is able to safely use the facilities.

Sweat Factor

While we are on the topic of bodily functions, we might as well discuss something else unpleasant — sweat.  It is a fact of life.  When one is hot, one sweats.  It is also a fact of life that covering oneself with make-up, latex appliances, or over the head masks is going to make one hot, leading to the aforementioned sweating.  This leads to some very specific, potentially costume ruining problems.  For the latter, the mask can become so uncomfortable that you have to take it off.  For the first two, the act of sweating can actually destroy the costuming that you have worked so hard on.

Fortunately, there are a number of potential solutions.  A number of special effect make-up companies make sweat resistant make-up.  There are also solutions that you can apply before putting on the make-up or gluing on the appliances which act as a sweat barrier.  I tried one of these for the first time at the Motor City Comic Con this year and it worked great.

There are also a number of low tech solutions.  The easiest is: keep cool.  Cold beverages will not only cool you down, they will keep you hydrated.  Find a spot near the air conditioner or fan.  If it gets too bad, step outside for a few minutes.  One of the benefits of Halloween in Michigan is that you can always go outside to cool off.

To be on the safe side, it is always a good idea to carry extra make-up or spirit glue, just in case you need to do any touching up during the night.


Follow these tips and you should have a great time this Halloween.