There are several bits and pieces that come together to make a good costume. I’ve already described what, for me, a costume needs to do. But when I think about putting a costume together, there are three or four parts that all need to be considered before the costume is complete.
The Necessities What is going to define the costume? What are the absolute must-have elements to make it what I want it to be? These may include any one of the other parts – and all parts contribute – but it is extremely hard, maybe impossible, to be Superman without a cape, or a ninja without all black clothing and a head wrap.
The Base Garments The first thing I do is try to lay down the two or three key garments that I’m going to need for the costume to look right. This may just be a black dress (for a witch) or it may be a leotard and skirt, or it may be a big, puffy white dress. Often, base garments (like my go-go boots) can be used for more than one costume – but I need the basic pieces to start with.
The Accessories More often then not, it’s the details that really make the costume – and accessories are the details. A lion costume could be Simba from The Lion King, or half of a Lion-Tamer couples costume. But when you add a Courage badge, then everyone knows for sure that you are the Cowardly Lion. One comment about accessories. I try not to incorporate accessories that I need to carry – like clubs, hockey sticks or fishing nets. I know that I’ll end up putting them down at some point early in the party, and if I can’t hang them off my body (put the saber in a scabbard, say), I’ll end up without them for most of the evening. Might as well just not bring them, or – if they are necessities – figure out a way that I can have them on my body without requiring them to be held in my hand the entire night.
The Hair and Make-up Once you’ve got the ensemble put together, then it’s time to think about the hair and the make-up. The one exception to this is if the hair and make-up are one of the necessities – like with a werewolf or a Na’vi. In these cases, I’d try to choose foundation garments to minimize the amount of hair or blue paint, respectively, that would be involved. But in general, the hair and make-up will be additional accessories that will make the costume work.
The Attitude Finally, give a little bit of thought about how you want to carry yourself in that costume. Are you wearing an expensive three piece suit, getting your nails done, and coming as The Devil? Then try to be suave and slick, yet formal and a little aloof. Minnie Mouse would likely be friendly, and speak in a high voice. A cave man will probably grunt a lot – unless you’ve gone Geico with him, in which case he’s probably smart, articulate, frustrated, and touchy.