Non-obvious devil costume
October 17, 2009 6:46 AM   Subscribe

Yet another Halloween costume question: I'd like to go as His Infernal Majesty, the Prince of Darkness. But not the obvious horns-and-tail-and-pitchfork version...

I'd like to go as Satan, but not the stereotypical version. Something more like a not immediately obvious version sometimes seen in movies/TV. Where people will have to come up to me and ask me who I'm supposed to be, and I can respond, "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste," and perhaps suggest I can get them anything they want for a very reasonable price...

I'm thinking a dark suit with a solid red shirt, and a narrow tie, either black or red. But it needs one more thing, some fairly subtle touch to suggest I'm not quite human: any ideas on this part? Red contact lenses would be ideal except for the fact that I can't wear contacts. Any suggestions in other areas that would contribute to such a costume are welcome as well.

Other details that may be helpful: I'm a rather hefty male, average height, shortish brown hair with a mustache and goatee (sort of a blockish rectangular goatee at the moment, but I may try to shave it more into a triangle for the sake of the costume).
posted by DevilsAdvocate to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (37 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Pointy devil looking sideburns?
posted by mollymayhem at 6:59 AM on October 17, 2009

A business card reading "Pleased to meet you; hope you guess my name."

Long, sharp fingernails, painted the rough brown of hoofs or the dark red of dried blood.

A mephitic whiff of smoke hanging around you.
posted by Elsa at 7:07 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I did much the same a few years back, though as Lucifer's administrative assistant and not the man himself. Although it's not quite as subtle, you can pick up a very small set of horns at a costume shop. There are many under an inch high. Otherwise forgoing props tends to not work out well; people will think you phoned it in.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:07 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

A wad of cash so that you can offer to purchase the asker's soul.
posted by contrariwise at 7:09 AM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

I second the idea of very small horns, maybe that barely show through your hair. Maybe a tail that they only see when you turn away?
posted by lemniskate at 7:20 AM on October 17, 2009

It's all in the eyebrows. Long and arched… that's how the PoD rolls.

As for clothes, try and think of it like a band: the devil always dresses the part of the lead singer, never the bassist. You don't want to fit in or look like an everyman. So, if you were to wear a hat, it can't be a fedora, for instance. It'd have to be a top hat, or a bowler. Similarly, if you take a cane, it needs to be ornamental-as-all-hell.

Oh, and you need to speak like the devil. Which isn't easy. Think of how Dickens would write the dialogue for one of his bad guys.

Also, flash paper is your friend (link goes to video showing you how to make your own).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:30 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Carry some liver of sulphur?
posted by antiquated at 7:44 AM on October 17, 2009

Seconding the fingernails and smokey smell.

If you already have longish nails, trim them to a sharp point. (Or you could use stick-on nails from the drug store and trim those), and paint with a dark red-black polish. You should be able to find the right color in stores right now, but if not, buy a bottle of red and a bottle of black and mix your own tint.

Smokey smell: If you have access to a campfire pit or a weber-type grill, light a nice toasty fire. If you're using the grill, light some mesquite or hickory wood cooking chips/blocks. When the fire's nice & smokey hang your costume nearby to absorb the smoke. Or you could just wear it and hang out close to the fire for a while. Bleeb me, that savory smell will stick a nice long time until it's washed. (I've done this innumerable times with my own clothes, albeit unintentionally.)
-- If you'd rather have a more refined smokey smell (this would be my preference personally), light a few sticks of your favorite Indian incense (Nag Champa is a common and highly scented one, or sandalwood or there are many others if you go sniff around your local Indian grocery or hippie store) and hang your suit in a closed room with the incense, with the door shut to let it steep. You may need to go through a few iterations of this to get the smell strong enough to stick nice & long.

Oh, and don't forget the eye makeup. You MUST use black eyeliner, and perhaps a little back eyeshadow to give the impression of that devilish intense gaze.

And on preview, what Civil said about the eyebrows & cane. You must be refined, dignified, and sinister. For your display of wealth, try Hell Money. Have fun, I'm sure you'll be wonderfully charming.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 7:47 AM on October 17, 2009

I'm guessing the sulpher comments are partially in jest, but just want to point out that smell-based components to a costume don't go well at parties. You may smell authentic, but you won't be popular.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:50 AM on October 17, 2009

An intoxicating fragrance.
posted by Demogorgon at 7:50 AM on October 17, 2009

Maybe color the inside of your mouth black or some weird color? Not sure if in practice, this would look cool or just weird, but it's something people wouldn't see until they talk to you.
posted by gueneverey at 7:59 AM on October 17, 2009

Passage D'Enfer perfume by L'Artisan.
Cloven hoof shoes.
Exotic orchid boutonnière:
Cymbidium Lady Fire 'Red Angelica'
Cymbidium Death Wish 'Saratoga'
Paphiopedilum Raven ‘Forever More’ x Paph. curtisii ‘Imperial Purple’
posted by aquafortis at 8:03 AM on October 17, 2009

Louis Cypher, perhaps?
posted by TedW at 8:06 AM on October 17, 2009

You could dress like someone who is often called Satan - maybe Franco or Mussolini.
posted by cachondeo45 at 8:08 AM on October 17, 2009

Great idea above to blacken the inside of your mouth! Should be super easy, just put a very tiny little dab of black paste food coloring on your tongue and let it dissolve, roll it around the roof of your mouth to color evenly. (It will color your teeth too but if you don't want your teeth tinted it may help to put vaseline on them beforehand to shield them from the color.) You may need to do it a couple of times over the night as it wears off. You can find this stuff in any craft store in the baking aisle, or in kitchen stores.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 8:14 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a counterpoint to those above, you might think about the way the devil is portrayed in "O Brother, Where Art Thou", to fit with the guitarist's description of having met him at the crossroads...someone in a position of authority, intimidating and cold, but with his eyes obscured.
posted by LN at 8:17 AM on October 17, 2009

In a slightly different vein, you could go the Gary Oldman Prince of Darkness route. That would be a blast!
posted by firei at 8:36 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I did this a few years ago. My setup:

Black suit
Dark red shirt
Black tie
Small costume goat horns that peaked through my hair
Contracts & Pen

The last one was pretty important: Nice contracts written in a gothic font on some heavy bond paper. Gives you a chance to be creative/funny with them and gives you a conversation piece while you roleplay the negotiation.
posted by justkevin at 8:46 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I was in college, one of my professors dressed as the devil. Nice seersucker suit, the kind of straw flat hat that Southern gentlemen wear, nice shoes....and just barely-noticeable fangs.

It was subtle, and surprisingly effective.
posted by Lucinda at 8:57 AM on October 17, 2009

A friend of mine had a similar costume. He dressed impeccably in a black suit and trenchcoat and carried business cards that just said something like "Satan" followed by, on another line, "Prince of Darkness." To complete the effect he got some fake contact lenses that made his eyes red and yellow and evil looking.
posted by synecdoche at 9:21 AM on October 17, 2009

Little pointy goatee.
posted by iconomy at 9:28 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Loius Cypher in Angel Heart. DiNero had that shit down. He wasn't supposed to be readily identifiable as the devil, that was one of the spoilers of the film. Arching/slightly pointy brows, trimmed but sinister goattee, fingernails, randomly peeling hard boiled eggs. He was creepy as shit.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:43 AM on October 17, 2009

Or, for inspiration look at Earl Plastko in 'Highway 61'. The chances that there will be someone who will have actually seen that movie and get the costume are exactly nil, but he was a fantastic Satan.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:48 AM on October 17, 2009

Ciaran Hinds was an excellent devil in The Seafarer. He had a red tie (and, I think, a red pocket square before he took off his jacket), but the rest was all in his manner.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:51 AM on October 17, 2009

I've seen Satan portrayed as a man in an all-white suit in a few different things (most recently, Supernatural), so if you can pull that look off, that could be good.
posted by andrewcilento at 10:20 AM on October 17, 2009

In Arthur Clark's Childhood's End, the devil-like creatures are described as smelling of "acetic acid," which is white, distilled vinegar. It's cheap, pungent, and just odd enough that people will think something's off. Maybe pour a jug of it over yourself in the tub before you get dressed, or keep a sponge of it somewhere on or near the suit. I'm not saying it's a common depiction, but it's definitely odd and unnerving. Sulfur strikes me as too obvious.

I like the black suit and red shirt, but I think the white suit could work well, too. If it were me, I'd just go with whatever you already had that looked/fit well. If you happen to have a snow-white sport jacket, there you go.

Also, most "modern devil" depictions I can remember feature gelled hair combed backwards. Try to look like a too-slick business man, I guess. Here's a clip of a Christian movie about a greedy abortion doctor. Maybe it'll offer some inspiration for dress/lines.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:58 AM on October 17, 2009

My first thought was black or yellow contact lenses, either with or without a set of very small, elegant horns.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:13 PM on October 17, 2009

Along those lines, one of the best costumes I ever encountered was a man wearing a three-piece suit, red shit, and a tie, who carried a portfolio filled with fill-in-the blank contracts for souls. He was the devil's advocate.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2009

In addition you could also rim your eyes in red. I would suggest a shiny suit (sharkskin), pointy toed shoes. Peoples' suggestions are great!!
posted by fifilaru at 12:48 PM on October 17, 2009

I love some of these suggestions!

If you have access to good enough makeup, you could make two bumps on your forehead to suggest horns, like maybe they're about to grow back out but haven't popped through the skin. An easier option would be to have round scars there, or two bloody bandages.
posted by a.steele at 1:41 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you could arrange a small portable fog machine under your jacket, or a bit of watered dry ice in a well insulated flask, say, well, it would be a statement.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:09 PM on October 17, 2009

Just carry a golden fiddle.
posted by mmmbacon at 2:53 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd go the Used Car Salesman look. Slicked hair, some odd vintage clothing choices, y'know the type. Carry a few "contracts" and when anyone asks what you're supposed to be, buttonhole them until they actually sign the contract. See how many you can get.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:32 PM on October 17, 2009

You have got to trim your beard into a Van Dyke. Devils often have them.

If you don't mind ruining the suit, you could paint a little red around the edges.
posted by halonine at 9:02 PM on October 17, 2009

A subtle pointy tail peeking out from below your suit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:22 PM on October 17, 2009

Matte finished red horns, mounted on a very narrow piece of elastic that you wear under your hair. I have a set and they manage to go unnoticed at first glance quite often.
posted by yohko at 10:24 PM on October 17, 2009

Thanks for all the suggestions. I think the black food paste to darken the inside of my mouth will work particularly well. I managed to find some and did a test run and it worked nicely. (Bonus: in the process of just licking my lips naturally, some of the color transferred to my lips as well--not enough to make them black, but enough to make them look unnaturally dark.)

Thanks also to ocherdraco for mentioning a pocket square, which, in retrospect, should have been obvious. I'll also have a number of "contracts" on hand, in an old-looking font and with increasingly small type towards the bottom of the page; and a fountain pen with blood-red ink for signing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:28 PM on October 18, 2009

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