Mexican "Day of the Dead"-themed Costumes
October 14, 2011 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Halloween costume filter: Inspired by this AskMe, my wife & I have decided to go for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)-themed costumes. Interested in any and all ideas both for costumes themselves and face-painting patterns (and floral accessories!). A few possibilities we've been looking at: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5. But open to anything. Thanks!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

El Día de los Muertos iis an amazing aesthetic, yes, and fun. But if you are not Mexican, and especially if you live in the US, you might want to step back and consider if you aren't engaging in cultural appropriation. El Día de los Muertos is not chile flavored Halloween. It is a holiday and a tradition that has its roots in the mestisaje of spiritual and cultural practices of indigenous peoples and Spanish conquest. It is a day to honor the ancestors. So, unless you're actually holding off until November 1st and 2nd to do this, you might want to reconsider.
posted by ShawnStruck at 6:41 PM on October 14, 2011 [7 favorites]

I was totally going to do this with a black suit, black tie, white shirt and top hat (If i can find one). Thank you for asking this question!
posted by darkgroove at 6:51 PM on October 14, 2011

Try doing a search on I have seen lots of these pop up on there in the last few weeks. Some have been gorgeous. Be creative in your search terms though, because tagging is hit and miss over there. A quick search for "muertos" just now turned up some nice examples.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:18 PM on October 14, 2011

I would make an actual paper mâché skull about the width if your shoulders (or even bigger!) to wear over your head. (Just cut small eye holes so you can still decorate the sockets.)

Pair it with a long-sleeved black turtleneck and black pants for a floating effect.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:26 PM on October 14, 2011

Fun! I've had friends execute this really well. Here's where thrift stores are your friend (so many great black + brightly colored flowers options in the gowns section for your wife, unless they've been grabbed by now). I love the mariachi idea too. Abby from Skull-a-day posted a great tutorial last year about how to do the makeup. We need to see pics after!
posted by therewolf at 8:25 PM on October 14, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.

ShawnStruck, a fair point, but if you take a look at the prior AskMe that I linked to, the consensus was universally accepting of the idea. The comments included several people who self-identified as being of Mexican heritage and who approved of the idea.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:26 PM on October 14, 2011

Additional data points (though, admittedly, you didn't request them): I was totally planning on the same idea, and just asked around, based on ShawnStruck's comment.

I have two friends, both first-generation-in-the-States, with parents from Mexico. One of them said it was a totally not offensive and the other who self-identified as a "culturally liberal Mexican" said *he* wouldn't find it offensive, but he knows some people who really would find it offensive. A third friend likened it to being about as offensive a costume as a pregnant nun would be to some. YMMV.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 8:49 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I actually did this last year. It was really fun, and there was actually another person who did the same thing at one of the parties I went to. Here's what I did:



posted by two lights above the sea at 8:51 PM on October 14, 2011

Tucson has an annual All Souls procession, "inspired by Mexico's Dia de los Muertos holiday." Many, many costumes, and much face painting.

Galleries of past parades on official site

Flickr group

Google image search
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:02 AM on October 15, 2011

White person from San Antonio here. I agree with Ink-stained's friend's pregnant nun comparison. While it is no huge disaster, it probably also would not be your finest hour of good taste...which is fine.

Actually, joking aside, because I am from S. Texas after all, I would find a straight-up Dia de los Muertos costume kind of cliche. Not that I should be your arbiter, God forbid. Just for the record. Do what you want. I like justkevin's cool takeoff idea above.
posted by skbw at 9:50 PM on October 15, 2011

Maybe a not-totally-out-there comparison: would you go as the red dragon who appears in Chinese New Year parades? Maybe not, maybe so.
posted by skbw at 9:54 PM on October 15, 2011

Response by poster: Ink-stained wretch is right: I didn't ask about the propriety of these costumes. I didn't feel it necessary because I read the prior thread on this exact topic (from last month), and specifically linked it in this AskMe. Everyone in that thread was positive on the idea, no one suggested it would be in any way offensive, and there were no comparisons to pregnant nuns or the like. In fact, quite the contrary:

I'm Mexican, and seriously? If done well this is the BEST COSTUME.
For whatever it's worth, here in Texas I've seen a fair number of Dia de los Muertos inspired Halloween costumes, such as you're considering, and I've never heard anyone suggest there might be anything politically incorrect about it.
I'm Mexican; there's nothing offensive about this.
Another Chicana here to say-- this would be a great costume!
Just another Mexican-American chiming in to say that La Catrina costumes are beautiful.

In any case, it belongs more to the realm of a universal 20th-century Art than it does to an ancient Mexican tradition or anything like that. That is, it belongs to everybody.

My Mexican mother, who tells me of traditional Day of the Dead gatherings she went to as a little girl in Mexico, also has told me how pleased she is that Americans seem to value the aesthetic.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:17 AM on October 17, 2011

To me, the iffy isn't so much about sacrilege. It's more about cultural appropriation. It may not be improper. But it might be a little tacky (geisha costume, anyone?). Tacky is not the worst thing on Halloween. Enjoy!
posted by skbw at 12:07 AM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Here is a photo of what we wore. We received nothing but positive responses. Several other people at the party we went to were similarly attired, which made for some cool group photos with random strangers.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:33 PM on November 5, 2011

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