What would Jesus wear on Halloween?
October 21, 2009 10:47 AM   Subscribe

My teenaged son want to dress up as Jesus. He has the hair, but he wants a robe like Jesus wore. However, he doesn't want a crappy polyester costume-shop robe. Also both of us refuse to sew anything. So -- what would be a good Jesus-robe (or just any plausible Jesuswear. This would be daywear, not Jesus eveningwear) that we could buy, in a nice natural fabric? and we're in New York City so if you have specific suggestions for stores that would be even better.
posted by DMelanogaster to Religion & Philosophy (20 answers total)
Try to find a white bathrobe, then get a long white cloth and wrap it toga-like or sari-like to wear underneath.
posted by greta simone at 10:55 AM on October 21, 2009

Maybe a long, white woman's nightgown? It would be hard to find one without embellishment or lace at the top but maybe you could cut that out or off. Get a few yards of dark red cotton to wrap around one shoulder, some Jesus sandals and you're done!!

Also, a hot glue gun will work just as well as sewing if it's a temporary fix and you don't plan to wash the item. MUCH easier and faster!! I made curtains with glue gun a sheets one time. Lasted for years!!

Happy Holy Haunting!
posted by pearlybob at 10:55 AM on October 21, 2009

I was going to suggest a snuggie worn backwards, but it looks like it only comes in three stylish colors. Not sure if Jesus had a wardrobe of colorful robes or not . . .

A bathrobe is a good idea!
posted by Sassyfras at 11:02 AM on October 21, 2009

Ethiopian cotton clothing (look for a simple "coffee dress" or casual women's dress) would probably be perfect. If you have a store or flea market with Ethiopian goods nearby, you should definitely check it out. There's actually a restaurant near me that sells Ethiopian garments, too - and the cuisine is awesome, also.

example 1

example 2

example 3

As you can see, you might have to be careful to find something that's not too ornate, but a simple one of these could be perfect. Unfortunately, the men's clothing is mainly big balloony pants and blousy shirts -- probably not the effect you want. Go for the women's stuff.

It's a nice sundress, too, if his Mom doesn't mind wearing it later.

Sometimes these are a tad expensive, but they can be really lovely.
posted by amtho at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

You could just buy some fabric at a fabric store, cut a hole in it for his head, and have him wear it like a long poncho. You could get something rope-like at the fabric store to use as a belt.
posted by apricot at 11:08 AM on October 21, 2009

How about a snuggie? Accessorize with a wide belt.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:11 AM on October 21, 2009

Easiest but slightly expensive: buy a night shirt and/or short spa robe.

Cheapest, no-sewing idea: have him wear an extra-large light brown t-shirt and shorts or pants of some neutral color. Buy a length of off-white fabric about 3 yards long and wide enough to go from about elbow to elbow on your son. Cotton or burlap is fine. Fold in half, cut a half-circle at the fold for his head to go through. Drape it over him, tie with rope around the waist.

Pair with sandals. Maybe make a circle of silk or plastic leaves (just buy a couple sprigs, bend and fasten with floral tape) to wear around the crown of his head.
posted by misha at 11:22 AM on October 21, 2009

When I dressed up as Jesus for Halloween in high school I cut up and safety-pinned a canvas drop cloth, and wove a crown of thorns out of some bougainvilia.
posted by contraption at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2009

I did exactly what Misha instructed for a photo shoot when I applied to art school once. Except we used a red sash safety pinned together over his shoulder. Those pictures got me into said art school, so I figure they'll work well for a costume. :-)
posted by arishaun at 11:26 AM on October 21, 2009

I second the Ethiopian tunics, and suggest also a traditional Arabic men's tunic - they're called thob, thoub, dishdash. They come in all styles, and a plain white one should be perfect for "jesus".

I don't know exactly where they're sold in NYC, but I'm sure you can find them if you google or check the phone book for Arabic/Pakistani/Muslim/North African garment shops.
posted by Opal at 11:27 AM on October 21, 2009

I'd get him a plain cotton, linen, or raw silk kaftan/caftan or dishdasha or full-length dashiki to wear with a rope belt and sandals, with a plain robe over the top if it's chilly. Surely you have a variety of ethnic stores available in New York where you could find these.
posted by notashroom at 12:25 PM on October 21, 2009

Response by poster: Reading all these great answers, thank you.

I am thinking that the over the head fabric seems more Jesussy than the readymade clothing with the plackets and buttons etc which seem a little more modern.

Thinking about all this!
posted by DMelanogaster at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2009

I agree that the ethnic-wear may produce a better result than working with raw fabric. Often people seem to conflate Jesus' lifetime with something like the Stone Age, dressing in some kind of rough-cut rag or undifferentiated blanket. Jesus lived at a time of pretty advanced civilization, in human-history terms, and people of that time had some pretty nice clothing, depending on role in society, and it was sewn and made of decent fabric. if you did have to use fabric, I would suggest linen or a linen-looking cheap muslin, with a separate few yards of colored cloth for overwrap (see below), and hem everything.
Clothing: The undergarment was called a “tunic”. The outer garment was called a “mantle” – it was loose fitting with fringes, bound by blue ribbon. Men wore a belt – a four-inch wide leather belt or cloth “girdle”. If one was wearing only an undergarment, then he was said to be “naked” or “stripped”. If one was wearing only an undergarment (tunic) and belt, they were said to be wearing a “loincloth”. The phrase “to gird your loins” meant that the tunic was pulled up between the legs and tucked into the belt. People also wore sandals on their feet, and a white cloth over their head, hanging to their shoulders. This cloth protected them from the sun.
An alb, called a sticharion in Orthodox churches, is a plain, lightweight, ankle-length tunic with long sleeves and a hood, or a flap in the back that suggests a hood, and it is generally worn with a rope cincture. The word alb is short for the the Latin phrase tunica alba, which means white tunic; accordingly, albs are usually made of white or undyed fabric.

In the first century, the tunic was the first article of clothing that you put on in the morning. Working-class people wore knee-length tunics, while older people and people with less active occupations wore ankle-length tunics. It was possible to wear more than one tunic at a time, and it was considered gauche to wear a tunic without a cincture.

The tunic was originally sleeveless. Greeks and Romans thought sleeves were barbaric, because barbarians wore them. (The barbarians lived in colder climates.) Tunics did not acquire sleeves until the third century, when a Roman Emperor came back from a military campaign wearing a tunic with sleeves—much to the horror of the fashion mavens of the day. A modern alb has sleeves because we need to cover street clothing that has sleeves.

In the first century, most people wore a himation over their tunics. The himation was a rectangular garment that was wrapped around the body. The designs on the himation, as well as its color and quality, varied depending on the wearer’s sex, occupation, and social status. Because of the relatively precarious way it was worn and the way it hindered movement, people had to remove it when they were engaged in various physical activities. For example, when blind Bartimaeus ran to Jesus in Mark 10:46-52, he threw off his himation. Jesus wore a sleeveless, ankle-length tunic with a rope cincture underneath a himation. Matthew 9:20-22 tells about a woman who was healed when she touched the hem of His himation.
posted by Miko at 1:26 PM on October 21, 2009

If the original question is answered, can we move on to Jesus eveningwear? Because I find my interest quite piqued at that particular phrase.
posted by flaterik at 2:24 PM on October 21, 2009

If you do the head through the fabric thing... and you don't sew... buy some fabric glue (same as sewing) for the places you want to join up the fabric.

( As for Jesus' eveningwear....A friend of mine who does drag regularly says most drag queens use hot glue guns for their sequins because they're men and they're too lazy to sew them on by hand. I don't see it as lazy, I think it's bloody brilliant. )

NB fabric glue is washable and supposedly permanent. Hot glue guns... not so much.
posted by taff at 4:05 PM on October 21, 2009

If you decide to go the dishdasha route, Atlantic Avenue (Bklyn) would be the place to go for shops with a selction of Arab/Muslim clothing. I've mostly seen things for women there, but I'm sure they've got some menswear.
posted by bunky at 5:30 PM on October 21, 2009

I have to ask; is your son going as 'regular' Jesus, or as Zombie Jesus.
posted by K5 at 6:35 PM on October 21, 2009

Response by poster: HAHAHAH

I think he's going as Regular Jesus.

Maybe I should convince him to go as Richard Dawkins instead.

Loved that long long answer about the tunics 'n barbarian sleeves 'n stuff.
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:50 PM on October 21, 2009

Response by poster: oh my husband just suggested our son go as Teenaged Jesus (Hormonal Jesus).
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:51 PM on October 21, 2009

Turn a bathrobe inside out: the modern finishings (buttons, et al.) will be hidden, and the exposed seams wil make it look more primitive.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:15 AM on October 23, 2009

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