Monday, September 21, 2009

Having an Eco-Conscious Halloween Costume

Halloween is coming up and I am already panicking. I came to the conclusion that my 8 year-old, 5'3" sister would probably have some difficulty finding an age-appropriate costume. While we were at the store I was horrified when she handed me a military mini-skirt costume with words "Major Flirt" as its nametag. She had no idea what the words meant.

I was happy that she didn't, not for a few years at least.

There is a huge satisfaction in constructing your own costume. You are given creative freedom and can, with a little bit of thinking, be just about anyone or anything. For my little sister, she came into the store hoping to find a leopard costume. Unfortunately none of the stores carried anything akin to a catsuit, and she left the store a little downhearted. The furthest we found was an "instant leopard" set, of a tail, ears, and mask.

I reassured her that I could, yes I could, sew a costume together for her. Since she is within my own dress range this year, I figured that we could spend a few afternoons together working to make her a leopard suit using my sewing patterns. Yet, we are missing one crucial part, where can we find leopard print fabric?

After a bit of thinking, we've decided that we should take a trip to the thrift store. Thrift store, not crafts store, because animal prints are bound to be somewhere in that treasure trove, and it's more eco-friendly as well. Bedsheets are the thrifty way out of buying yards of fabric. I have made last years' costume out of a red and white polka dot sheet (I was Minnie Mouse).

And of course, you can find used costumes at the thrift store, making it even easier to go about your Halloween shopping. You don't have to be a sewing pro to pull together a costume, either. A friend came in with a peacock blue corset with a shiny yellow skirt and a peacock fan pinned to her tailbone. Another friend came in with a white shirt and black pants, which we spruced up by pinning brown felt patches on top of them, gave him a brown moneybag, applied eyeliner for a rugged beard, and gave him an empty bottle of Captain Morgan. Instant pirate!

On the green side, you are doing the world a lot more good by recycling old thrift store clothes and giving it new life, even if it is for a brief night. When you're done with it, simply give it back or swap costumes with a friend who wears a similar size.

The thrill of Halloween is about making a costume from the heart. With the mass production of costumes, it's much like risking going to prom only to bump into some girl with the same dress. Sometimes it's better to go custom because you want to show the world what it is about you that makes you interesting. For my little sister, going to school as a leopard speaks volumes about her love of cats (she has 11 of them) and her fascination for wild animals.

Of course, there is the pride in saying that you constructed the outfit together, as well.

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