Fall is coming! It’s the time of year when I start thinking about falling leaves and football and hot cider and campfires and skanks.
Yes – skanks. Because somehow Halloween has turned into Skankoween. And those of you with daughters surely know exactly what I’m talking about – you attempt to find Halloween costumes for your little girls, only to discover that the majority of the options out there should have “skanky” right in the description (all of the costumes below come in kid’s sizes – I didn’t even include the ones labeled as “teen” costumes – not that they are appropriate for teens, either).
You have skanky nurse:
Skanky whatever the heck these are:
I even came across one costume site that had costumes arranged by category & there was an entire section of child’s French maid costumes. French maid! The traditional costume of skanks everywhere:
Look – I get it – it’s Halloween. Everyone wants to have fun and live it up and for a day – be someone else – someone different or crazy or sexy. And if you are an adult – fine – have at it. But little girls need to be little girls! They can dress up and be someone new, too, as long as that someone new doesn’t look like a streetwalker.
It’s easy when they’re infants and toddlers – you can put them in a big puffy teddy bear costume or a long angel dress and they’re fine. When they’re very young children, they’re happy with a big, poufy princess getup. But then, around the age of 7 or so, they’re outgrowing those costumes & they want something different. This, my friends, is when you will lose your mind. Because even when they have a totally acceptable costume idea in their mind, you may not be able to find it (or at least a non-skanky version of it).
For example, a few years ago, my daughter wanted to be a bride for Halloween. I was happy because it would involve a full coverage dress and think about it – what’s more pure and non-skanky than a bride, right? WRONG. I spent a month looking in every single store in southwestern Pennsylvania for an acceptable bride costume. Most stores had none (which amazed me, because I though bride was a pretty standard little girl costume, but it seems it has been replaced by all the skank), and the stores that DID have them were all completely inappropriate, despite being available in sizes as small as 2T – they were all either micro-minis, or had long skirts that were totally sheer. One has padding in the chest! Luckily, twitter came to the rescue when my friend saw my complaint and remembered that she had seen a perfect costume earlier that day & ran back out to get it for me. But not everyone will be so lucky, so here are my tips for keeping your daughter and you both happy on Halloween:
Start early. I’m serious – start looking at costumes right now (or for those of you who are time-travel capable – a month ago) – browse the costume websites and get an idea for what’s out there, lest you be surprised three days before you have to send your 2nd grader to school in a naughty nurse getup.
Don’t depend on the costume stores. Some of the best costumes I have found have not been from the Halloween superstores, but from places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx – they carry reasonably-priced costumes that are much higher quality than the ones from the costume stores. Also – check out other department & discount stores, resale shops, thrift stores, yard sales. Dance studios often sell old costumes – you can find some great deals that will work as costumes.
Pre-select some ideas. I’m all for letting your child decide what they want to be, but sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming. Browse the websites for ideas and present the ones you think are appropriate to your child. The process will be much less painful if she never sees the “Hello Kitty” option:
Think outside the box. Sure, Monster High is popular, but I can tell you from experience that your daughter will be one of 37 Frankie Steins in her school alone. And because of this demand, you may not find the size (or the price) that you want. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with licensed character costumes, but if your child likes to be an original, look for original ideas. Google costume ideas & take a look at the image results. Add “funny” or “clever” or “beautiful” or “unique” (or any other descriptor), to the search to narrow it down to her interests & personality. Does she have a favorite book or movie – think about what those characters would wear. Is she interested in history? Go with a colonial or Civil war era costume. Does she like science? Get her a lab coat, some crazy accessories, and mess up her hair & she can be a mad scientist. Look at ethnic & traditional clothing of different countries (this is what my daughter is doing this year) – you can find some beautiful costume ideas if your daughter likes to be sparkly and colorful.
Make your own. Now – this one comes with a caveat – if you plan to actually make a costume (as in sew, etc), this option can be expensive. It seems like it should be cheaper than buying, but I learned the hard way that it usually isn’t. However – it does give you complete control over the way the costume looks and fits. But if you don’t want the hassle (or can’t sew), you can make your own costume by throwing different pieces together. Does she want to be a princess or a fairy or a bride? Scour the thrift stores for a pretty dress and add wings or a crown or make a veil from a headband & some tulle (we actually tried this, but couldn’t find a dress – so if this is your plan – start early & don’t be too set on one idea). A men’s white button down shirt can be a lab coat for the previously mentioned mad scientist or a doctor. Old dance costumes, bodysuits & stretchy pants (or sweatpants) can be paired up with accessories to be a million different things – cats, cows, dogs, bears, etc. Or add some wings and make a butterfly. Pair up a colorful skirt, top, and some scarves with a bunch of old jewelry and make a gypsy costume. Get a men’s white t-shirt (tall fit if you can find it), create a gold sash from a scarf or fabric, cut a yoke from a stiffer gold fabric like felt, hot glue some sparklies, and throw in a gold headband (the across the forehead kind) and some bangles & earring – voila – Cleopatra! There are a million ideas once you start thinking about it.
If all else fails – de-skank the skanky costume. Skirt too short? Have her wear leggings underneath. Exposed belly? Add a flesh-toned body suit. Even with minimal sewing skills, you can tack on some extra fabric to add coverage to just about any costume – tulle works great – no hemming is needed, and because it’s lightweight, a few basic stitches will do the trick.
Last, but not least – a tip for next year: Head to Kmart or Wal-Mart or Target after Halloween is over and pick up some clearance costumes – or at least some accessories. For a few bucks, you can pick up some basics that will make putting together next year’s costume a breeze.