Costume suggestions: female character from a book.
September 6, 2013 10:24 AM   Subscribe

It's the time of year for Halloween costume suggestions again! I work at a university library, and usually some of the staff dress up on Halloween. This year, we're considering suggesting the costumes be characters from books. Who do I pick?

I have not done any Serious Costuming in almost fifteen years, because I haven't had any real place to wear it, so my fingers are itching to create! Even if we end up not suggesting the costumes be book characters, I just may do it anyway.


--I would prefer historic or fantasy female characters. Typical 20th/21st century clothing bores me to sew.

--Characters that U.S. college students might stand a chance of recognizing would be better--from TV and movies is fine, if there's a book associated with it (like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, etc.). Shakespearean-type would also be fine.

--I am short and fat, although with an hourglass figure. Silhouettes that work really well on me are Tudor through late 18th century, and 1860s through the end of the bustle period. Regency is a total fail! I look like I'm wearing a tent. Basically, full skirts and nipped-in waists (but not 1950s!).

--Bonus points if I can convert it to something I can wear to the science fiction and anime conventions I staff, even if it's just a matter of steampunking it up.

--Complex construction is fine--I used to be in the Society for Creative Anachronism and made medieval and Renaissance clothing, and RenFaire-type outfits. I won't pass muster in a costume competition because my lack of attention to detail is astounding, but I can tackle reasonably complex construction, like making slapdash corsets. I can easily find historic patterns to use or convert.
posted by telophase to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (39 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Catelyn (Game of Thrones)
posted by Dashy at 10:29 AM on September 6, 2013

Minerva McGonnagall
posted by SkylitDrawl at 10:34 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Other Mother, from Coraline. 20th century, but twisted and creepy.
posted by Adridne at 10:36 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Queen of Hearts (A in W)
posted by flesti at 10:36 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Emma Goldman (though you'd probably also have to be dancing all the time for them to get it)
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:36 AM on September 6, 2013

You could be the Princess from The Tale of Despareux and carry around a small mouse.
posted by teleri025 at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2013

Minerva McGonnagall
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:34 PM on September 6

Also bring a cat to work and release it over your lunch break.
posted by DynamiteToast at 10:53 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

I actually think of McGonagall as being tall and thin. For short and fat my immediate thought was Dolores Umbridge, but she's more of a 1950s kinda gal, which doesn't quite work. Professor Sprout might be more fun.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:56 AM on September 6, 2013

Check the Take Back Halloween site in general for good costume ideas for women - they're all DIY ideas with a pro-women, anti-skank mindset, and many are generally easy and not too expensive. (A lot of them start with regular old sheets which are creatively pinned rather than sewn.)

some of the ideas that may particularly work:

Any of the goddesses
Christine de Pizan
Jane Austen
Lizzie Borden
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:00 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Ooh, Take Back Halloween has Queen Mab this year as well, that's new.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:01 AM on September 6, 2013

If you enjoy a cross-over into costumes that are also puns: Madame Ovary.
posted by fikri at 11:04 AM on September 6, 2013

Carrie Nation.
Ayn Rand.
You describe yourself as being short, fat, and hourglass: please remember that gender-swapped Napoleon would be fucking boss.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:17 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]

Effie Trinket, oh my god, please.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:18 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Anne of Green Gables.
posted by mynameisluka at 11:22 AM on September 6, 2013

Naw, Anne is pretty clearly tall and thin. Now, if you worked with a tall thin redhead who would play along, SHE could be Anne and you could be Diana Barry, which would be so heart-meltingly adorable. Walk around arm in arm, call each other "bosom friends."
posted by AmandaA at 11:29 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Hester Prynne, Ophelia, a lady Hobbit
posted by mermayd at 11:31 AM on September 6, 2013

I think the Queen of Hearts would be perfect for you. And it would be easy to steam punk up.
posted by dchrssyr at 11:35 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

From Harry Potter, I'd go with Rita Skeeter or Madame Rosmerta (Madam Rosmerta is the landlady of The Three Broomsticks pub. She is described in the books as "a curvy sort of woman" with curly hair)
posted by Sophie1 at 12:01 PM on September 6, 2013

How much gore are you happy with?

Because one year I went as a tricoteuse, covered head to toe in fake blood, wearing a cheapo polyester "bar wench" costume I found at one of the many Halloween shops.

Add in wooden needles and nasty Red Heart Super Saver in a boring grey, and I was knitting and looking terrifying all Halloween long.

(This year, I'm going as Nymphadora Tonks, just so I can experiment with colour-changing fibre optics on a baby doll I'm naming Teddy.)
posted by Katemonkey at 12:43 PM on September 6, 2013

More specifically on Katemonkey's point you could be Madame Defarge.
posted by telegraph at 12:46 PM on September 6, 2013

What kind of hair do you have? Or are you planning on covering it?

My costume buddies and I are doing dead Shakespearean ladies this year. I'm Ophelia (I have a spare Mad Margaret costume I made for a production of Ruddigore this summer) with a garland of flowers wrapped around my neck, streaked with that fake water stuff from flower arrangements. Another is Lady M. with a nightgown, plaid shawl, bloody towel, and raw-scrubbed hands. I think the third is going to be Juliet with a poison bottle and trick knife.

A Shakespeare fairy/supernatural costume like Titania, Puck, or Ariel could probably double at a con.

The Little Women could wear that wide-skirt-narrow-waist look, and if it was basic enough it could be punked out.

I always wanted to get three more girls for Halloween so we could get all 6 wives of Henry VIII. The ones who didn't die immediately would be hard to make scary. Katherine of A. could be all wasted away from her cold castle, clutching a big cross, I guess. But not everybody's as stuck on scary as I am, either!

Queen Elizabeth I is always fun, but you'd probably be up all night Bedazzling. Would the kids these days recognize Queen Victoria?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:23 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

More specifically on Katemonkey's point you could be Madame Defarge.

A caveat - I tried Mme Defarge one year myself, and people were coming up to me all night calling me "Betsey Ross".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on September 6, 2013

My current hair's cut and texture would be perfect for a 1920s costume, alas the fashions of the 1920s are not for me! So I'm planning on a wig or hat.

The Red Queen is, so far, the most intriguing, although if I can talk a few other coworkers into Harry Potter-themed costumes, Professor Sprout/Madame Rosmerta might be a possibility.

Thank you to everyone so far!
posted by telophase at 1:29 PM on September 6, 2013

Jennifer Goverment, for nicely subtle
posted by Jacen at 1:58 PM on September 6, 2013

EmpressCallipygos: You obviously needed more fake blood.

posted by Katemonkey at 2:15 PM on September 6, 2013

Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. Break out the glue gun and rubber spiders!
posted by BostonTerrier at 2:28 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Librarian from Terry Prachett's Disc World's Unseen University.
posted by easily confused at 2:35 PM on September 6, 2013

The Empress Laisa in the later Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold is short and plump, and is rich enough to have some gorgeous clothes.
posted by Azara at 4:22 PM on September 6, 2013

What is more fun than a pirate? Nothing, that's what. Also gets me those bonus points! Especially if you make it into a steampunk skyship pirate!
posted by zueod at 5:23 PM on September 6, 2013

And of course when I said "Red Queen" up there, I meant "Queen of Hearts."
posted by telophase at 6:44 PM on September 6, 2013

What is more fun than a pirate? Nothing, that's what.

The Take Back Halloween folks just so happen to have four different pirate ladies to choose from.

I swear I'm not with them, I just found the site last year and thought it was totally cool.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 PM on September 6, 2013

La Adelita
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:06 PM on September 6, 2013

If your hair is suited to the 20s, you could easily get away with a 30s style as well. Maybe be an Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers character? Ooh, or Miss Pettigrew!
posted by nonasuch at 9:56 PM on September 6, 2013

Also, if you want to do a really labor-intensive historical costume and carry a fencing foil, ain't nobody cooler than Julie D'Aubigny.
posted by nonasuch at 9:58 PM on September 6, 2013

posted by BlueHorse at 10:46 PM on September 6, 2013

I bet you could actually pull off a really good Daenerys Targaryen, particularly if you go for her more tailored Season 3 blue dress. I've just been sewing a version thereof for a friend, and it's super fun to construct. Complication: others may have the same idea.
posted by Acheman at 4:46 AM on September 7, 2013

The dress. The back of the dress. You will need a white blonde wig, and to be COVERED IN DRAGONS.
posted by Acheman at 4:48 AM on September 7, 2013


......Guess what.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 AM on September 7, 2013

What kind of hair do you have?

One reason I originally asked is that I always thought if I had short hair of the right (or close) color, I'd love to go as Violet Hunter from the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" (full text here), in her "electric blue" dress.

But I'm not sure if even the young folk who are into Holmes would recognize it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2013

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