Costuming for the Overly Ethical?
September 29, 2009 12:14 AM   Subscribe

Prison party fashion...without the prison?

I'm going to a prison-themed party at the end of this month, and I'm having trouble coming up with something to wear because quite frankly, the prison theme creeps me out a little. I see prisons and jails and guards as something real, and it's impossible for me to fetishize something that seems so large and close and terrible.

However, I do want to go to this party, and I like costumes, and I want to have a good time and look good, or at least interesting. And however much it bothers me, I don't want to rain on anyone else's parade.

Is there anything vaguely related that I could do that would be a little farther removed and not so squicky? I've thought about actual prisoner-created fashion like , but I'm not sure enough about getting something from overseas in time for the party.

I may end up going with something generic like a sailor uniform, which is somewhat in keeping with the spirit of the theme but seems more fun to me. Any other ideas?
posted by tejolote to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total)
Pirate in the brig? Maybe a celebrity who has famously been arrested or incarcerated?
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:19 AM on September 29, 2009

You could dress up as a lawyer, or a bail bondsman, and tell everyone you're there to free them.
posted by amyms at 12:21 AM on September 29, 2009

Or as a priest, there to hear their confessions or offer them spiritual solace.
posted by amyms at 12:22 AM on September 29, 2009

Seconding the lawyer suggestion.

(That and I'm guessing you have something formal-looking and a briefcase, and if you don't, you can get one or both fairly quickly and/or cheaply. It's really a simple costume, and very reusable for job interviews, Important Occasions, and the like.)

The foregoing has somewhat more than nothing to do with the fact that IAAL. :-)
posted by tellumo at 12:35 AM on September 29, 2009

You should dress like this guy.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:10 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Carry around a big old wall phone for everyone who's waiting for a last-minute call from the governor.
posted by amyms at 1:26 AM on September 29, 2009

Or you could dress like this guy. And do the knees-and-shoulders movements.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:30 AM on September 29, 2009

attach some numbers to your chest and shoulder, and be a mug shot
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:05 AM on September 29, 2009

Wear a propeller hat and be the helicopter pilot who hovers over the yard and breaks someone out. Tie a little rope ladder to your belt. When you see somebody enduring a boring conversation, swoop in, hand the other end of the ladder to the poor victim, say "Hang on! We're breakin' out of here!" and fly the rescued guest out of the room.

You could make something more elaborate, but you want to be comfortable. And sexy. Someone you rescue may be very grateful.
posted by pracowity at 2:53 AM on September 29, 2009

Come on, don't be shy: everyone looks good in an orange jumpsuit!

If you have time to get creative, arm and/or leg-irons could be fun. You'll want to make them fake-lightweight enough to not be a pain all night, of course.

Or to stand out in a more portable way, roll up the sleeves and decorate your arms with some corny "Mom", anchor, and spiderweb "tattoos" that you draw on with an easy-wash-off blue pen. Heck, bring extra pens and let everyone at the party join in: you'll be the center of attention!
posted by rokusan at 3:05 AM on September 29, 2009

I like the Johnny Cash idea. It fits the theme, but it also says "hey, this IS a little creepy. Jail isn't supposed to be a parlor game."
posted by gjc at 3:59 AM on September 29, 2009

You should really lawyer up.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:06 AM on September 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

It would be cool if you could get ahold of that Rita Hayworth poster from Shawshank Redemption, and rig it up so it's ripping in the center with your head poking through.
posted by mannequito at 4:30 AM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

You could push around a cart full of books, or deliver mail to the other inmates.
posted by orme at 4:42 AM on September 29, 2009

If you're a wallflower, you could also just sit in the corner carving animals out of soap.
posted by rokusan at 5:03 AM on September 29, 2009

Where a Red Cross arm band, and say you're there to assure humanitarian conditions.
posted by Goofyy at 5:19 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you wear a plain grey sweatshirt, blue Dickie scrub bottoms and some cheap blue colored slides you'll basically be wearing the outfit most of my clients are wearing when the Sheriff's Department brings them down from prison for their status listings. In Philly is says "PPS" for Philadelphia Prison System on the back of the sweatshirt, I'm not sure what it would say in Seattle. You could have an artistically inclined friend give you a temporary teardrop tattoo, possibly write a woman's name in flowing script on the side of your neck, maybe the words "Hustle" and "Hard" in graf style letters on the backs of each of your hands with a background of either dollars signs or money bags. I've noticed that "More Money" and "More Problems" is also pretty popular. If you can't get the blue slides you should go with with the Adidas sport flops with black socks, which is what most of my guys wear when they show up for court knowing that they're going to do a jail sanction.

The white boys are rocking Caesar style hair cuts right now, you could go to any black barber shop and get one for like $10 if you really want to go all out on this. Hey, if you're going to do it, do it for real.
posted by The Straightener at 5:25 AM on September 29, 2009

Blagojevich--that guy's hair alone is a costume in the making.
posted by stormpooper at 7:15 AM on September 29, 2009

You're a girl, right? You should totally rock a Velma Kelly costume (and have Cell Block Tango ready to play for people who need a little hint). If I was at a prison party and someone came as that, I'd give them props for staying within the theme but doing a costume that didn't seem so prison-ey.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:22 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are prison librarians. Maybe you could be one of those.
posted by box at 7:31 AM on September 29, 2009

Maybe something Rudy Giuliani-ish... RICO laws, pick a year, make a statement.

I do like the Johny Cash idea. Any Cold Case fans remember the Johnny Cash episode?
posted by mokeydraws at 7:55 AM on September 29, 2009

You could push around a cart full of books

I was coming in to say exactly what box said. The most noticable thing about prison librarians besides the fact that they're librarians in a prison is that they often wear a sort of "panic button" on their person. Since the library is a place where inmates actually move freely they have this so that if there's a problem, they push this button and the guards are supposed to be at the library within 30 seconds. The one time I went to a prison library (for a class on special needs populations in library school) this was one of the more interesting parts of the tour. Paris Hilton supposedly got one of these while she was in jail. I could not find a photo of a real one, but it's easy enough to make one up. The other interesting part was that they stamped the name of the library all over the centerfolds and nekkid pictures of the skibn mags [which they did subscribe to] so that people wouldn't tear them out and put them in their cells.

So if you wanted to be creative, I'd be a lirbarian, with a big button box on a belt that said "panic" and a skin magazine with a library stamp all over the nudie pix.
posted by jessamyn at 7:59 AM on September 29, 2009

Make a sign to wear around your neck that says, "Mikey likes it!"

When people ask you to explain, you say, "I'm a Life Sentence."
posted by el-gregorio at 3:34 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Build a (full or partial) pyramid costume. You're a Pyramid Scheme.
posted by knile at 4:08 PM on September 30, 2009

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