Nerdy costume ideas for large woman
October 11, 2015 2:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm finally working with people that like to celebrate and have fun, including a Halloween costume party w/ prizes! I find myself feeling very competitive, I want to win! Unfortunately, nothing in the Halloween stores fit me. Looking for suggestions on the nerdy side. Contest categories: best dressed & scariest costume

I am, unfortunately, shaped like Peter Griffen. A recentish photo, and a recentish photo w/ newly dyed hair. If I had to describe the hair color, I'd say raspberry.

I'm not against using a temporary hairspray dye, but the red might make that difficult.

Would that money and skill allowed me to, I'd go as Fem!Thor. Alas, I'm not skilled enough to pull off the helmet or armor.

My second thought was to do Voyager-era Star Trek uniform, but instead of pants, make it a fluffy skirt. Something like this. but I have no clue how to make the shoulder seams.

I am handy with a sewing machine, although most of my experience has been straight lines. The biggest problem I've run into is that none of the patterns out there are made for people in my size.

I love superheroes, star trek, star wars (but this is off the table because nearly everyone else is doing star wars), and other fantasy. Not so much Sci-fi.

Chuck your ideas at me! I'd love to stick around $50 in materials, but could swing that up to $100 if the idea rocks. Coworkers are ~25-35, with a smattering of late 40 and 50 year old women. Also, I'm going alone, so I can't do something that requires a partner.
posted by INFJ to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
There are probably papercraft versions of Thor's helmet and armor out there, if you have the time.

These may not be your fandoms/interests, but:
Rose Quartz from Steven Universe (any curly pink wig is probably OK, given that this is an office contest and not a cosplay competition)
Sisterhood of Karn from Doctor Who
Minerva McGonagall (young Minerva McGonagall?)

You might also hit your local big department stores or thrift shops for an afternoon and see if you can find a formal dress to work from--it could make a great base for a costume if you find a color that goes with a character you like. For that matter, if you find a dress cheap enough (I've seen $10 gowns!), you could spend the $50 on readymade accessories, e.g. black dress + gloves + purchased Vader helmet, green dress + purchased Loki headdress, etc.
posted by wintersweet at 2:47 PM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is my plus-size costume board on Pinterest. (You might need to have a Pinterest account to see it.)

Some nerdish thoughts from that board: Clara from The Guild, most likely IC because OOC Clara is just sort of a person. Recreating the Jane Hate costume. Molly Weasely.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:48 PM on October 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

What is your size? When I put together my Wonder Woman costume last year, for instance, I got a very short blue skirt, gold leggings and red corset top (the Wonder Woman accessories, like crown, lasso and cuffs, are size agnostic). My genius idea that I felt too shy to execute, which would be great for "best dressed" would be a blue tutu and a fancier red top (bustier? cami? tube top? etc?), a wonder woman prom dress.
posted by sweltering at 2:58 PM on October 11, 2015

Lumpy Space Princess!
posted by bile and syntax at 3:21 PM on October 11, 2015 [10 favorites]

The best Halloween costumes are:

1. Something immediately recognizable to the other people who'll be there. Especially if there'll be judges, since you're relying on them to know what you're dressed as. If you work for a Sci Fi publishing house or Geek And Sundry or something, sure, go as FemThor (or the like), they'll get it, and it'll be appreciated. If you work at the typical office full of people whose pop culture taste runs the gamut, nobody's going to recognize a Voyager-era Star Trek uniform.

2. Something unexpected. You've already got a good impulse for this, knowing to avoid Star Wars since everyone is doing that. (And, seriously, I think EVERYONE is doing that this year, I drove past my neighborhood community center's Fall Festival yesterday and at least half the kids were wearing Star Wars costumes.)

Some contest-worthy costumes I've seen in recent years include a group of girlfriends who dressed as the Golden Girls, with getups that were immediately recognizable from a block away, a couple who went as Hall & Oates, and friends of mine who went as Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol (separately, in different years). My all time favorite con cosplay I've ever seen was a guy dressed as Ed Wood, in mohair sweater drag. Recognizable yet unexpected in a sea of Groot and Elsa.

I think cosplay-inspired geeky costumes can be good, but if you're hoping to win a contest in a non-geeky environment, you're going to want a serious crowdpleaser that everyone will know immediately.

For one thing, I don't think you should let your weight or physical type influence your costume too much. Or even your gender or species, for that matter. Go as something funny and exciting. There will probably be some physical constraints, but try not to let that dictate what you dress as. I'm a petite white woman, and I've dressed as both Oscar Wilde and Che Guevara for Halloween.

With all that taken into consideration, ideas:

Mrs. Frizzle, of "Magic Schoolbus" fame.

Wonder Woman. If you're going as a superhero, go as a goddamn superhero. You might want to look into a brunette wig for this. Feel free to have fun with the costume to make it less booty shorts and more something you'd feel comfortable in.

Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Ursula RULES SO HARD, and you should be able to do this pretty easily if you can find a black strapless maxi dress somewhere.

Mario. Mainly throwing this out there because it was one of my big contenders this year, which I almost regret not picking.

Any of the more recognizable Harry Potter characters (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Snape, Malfoy, etc).

Kirk or Spock. If you want to go Star Trek, go big.

Cthulu. This is another good one for a relatively geeky workplace.

If you work in a truly geeky workplace, I'd either go with the current comic book iteration of batgirl (techy getup, yellow Doc Martens), or She-Hulk. But I think these are not going to be as recognized or appreciated if your coworkers have more typical tastes.

I'm dying to cosplay as Missy, from recentish Doctor Who episodes, but that's pretty deep into geeky stuff that, again, might not win you awards if the judges aren't mega-nerds. I mean even if you work at a D & D emporium or comics publisher or something, you have to be pretty up on your Who to go there rather than "miscellaneous Edwardian lady" or something.
posted by Sara C. at 3:23 PM on October 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

Also, I gotta say, ever since I saw video of the Metropolitan Opera's recentish production of the Ring Cycle, I've wanted to go as Brunhilde.
posted by Sara C. at 3:33 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't have any specific costume ideas, but I do have a great sewing resource: Curvy Sewing Collective. If you happen to find a costume pattern that you like but that is too small for you, you can "grade it up" to be your size. Awesome, right? Here are their how-tos about grading up, and here's an online class (paid, on a different site) they've recommended that goes into depth on the topic.
posted by ourobouros at 3:58 PM on October 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Borderlands has become popular for halloween/convention costumes, including the character Ellie.

You might want some extra padding to bulk up though, as some (but not all) people have done:
GIS of some Ellie costumes people have made.

If you like facepaint or makeup, that helps - some people really go the extra mile to make themselves look cell-shaded/painted like in the game.
posted by anonymisc at 4:07 PM on October 11, 2015

OK, first, drop the Peter Griffin comparisons. That is you tearing yourself down, and we won't have it.

Second, if you really want to do Thor, I think you could definitely make that happen without spending a lot of time or money on it. I see the hammer selling on Amazon for like $12 and the helmet (adult size) going for like $17. If you can't find a plus-size costume you could make yourself a red cape and just wear boots, black pants and a black t-shirt with some grey circles sewn on. Like this dude. Or you could buy one those Thor breastplate t-shirts.

Marvel comics stuff is SO big right now, I'd be kind of amazed if you can't walk into a costume/Halloween story and find what you need for under $50.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:20 PM on October 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

There's a totally separate comic book character who is a female iteration on Thor. She wears a distinctive costume that isn't the same as the (male) Thor from the Marvel movies. Said costume is not widely available in Halloween costume shops.
posted by Sara C. at 4:52 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

On preview, I see Sara C.'s note and it seems you might be talking about the current comic female Thor. I think this is her costume? In which case, yeah, that helmet might be tough and the metal boob armor/belt/undershirt look is a little complicated.

If you meant gender-swapping male Thor, this woman's Thor costume seems achievable.

Get the hammer and helmet props from Amazon or a costume store. Amazon also has some Thor winged goggles that are kinda nifty. Then a fitted black shirt with silver fabric circles glued or sewn on, a yellow or silver belt, bright red fabric for cape, bright blue leggings or floofy tulle skirt, and some kinda wrapped boots.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:58 PM on October 11, 2015

What about (the new) Ghostbusters?
posted by O9scar at 5:12 PM on October 11, 2015

I think your new hair color would really benefit from an updo, if it fits with the costume - and red updo + green or white plastic snakes + the right dress = a spectacularly creepy Medusa. Add body paint and more snakes as necessary to make it more dramatic/emulate Martha Stewart.
posted by sweltering at 5:27 PM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nimona is awesome and would work with your body type and hair color!
posted by jillithd at 5:32 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I knew about the new-ish female Thor, but I wasn't remembering she had a different costume. If anything I think wearing something closer to the more traditional male Thor outfit will read a lot more clearly as "female Thor" to most people. I don't think the female Thor's look is that widely known outside of superhero comics fans and most people would probably look at that costume and be like, "Uh... a lady from some opera about vikings?" But if a woman was dressed like male Thor, I think everybody would go, "Oh, you're the female Thor, right?"

It's true though, if she wanted to dress like the female Thor from the comics that's a much more complicated proposition.

OP, I'd suggest going to a Halloween store and browsing around in the men's section. They'd probably have all kinds of geeky costumes and they'd either be bigger than you need (in which case you take them in) or at least big enough that you could adapt them to your purposes.

What about (the new) Ghostbusters?

I'd say wait until the movie comes out. What if it turns out to be terrible? (Paul Feig created Freaks and Geeks... but he also directed Unaccompanied Minors.) Years later it could be like looking back at that one Halloween before The Phantom Menace came out, when you were Jar Jar Binks.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:57 PM on October 11, 2015

What about Jem? You've already got the hair! You just need a pink wrap dress, silver scarf/belt and tights/leggings.
posted by siouxsiesmith at 6:10 PM on October 11, 2015

Dolores Umbridge?
posted by bluedaisy at 6:39 PM on October 11, 2015

Not sure if you've ever heard of her, but Rose Quartz from Steven Universe is a great character, With a look that can be pretty easily replicated with stuff you can find at a thrift shop. You even already have the right hair color!
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:11 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think you could make a lovely TARDIS dress, with a light-up hat and a door flap covering a picture of the inside. I've seen a lot of really awesome ones. Depending on whether you decide to nip the waist like a sheath dress, it would be a very easy sewing project. It's also a comfortable cut for an apple shape.
posted by theraflu at 7:12 PM on October 11, 2015

Rose Quartz is good but don't overlook Amethyst!
posted by robcorr at 7:49 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Poison Ivy would be a perfect way to rock the red hair. And the costume is pretty flexible, go as complex as you are able. Basic requirements are bright red hair and green outfit with ivy sewn on.
posted by lizbunny at 9:14 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Admittedly, this goes past the cosplay/fantasy kind of costume and straight to nerdy, but:

With the idea that you are dressed all in black, create several "coins" that you could attach to your arms, legs, or even a really big one, sandwich board style, to your torso. You could make the coins using metallic painted foam circles, or cardboard with a glued on edge or those cupcake cardboard platter stands to give it a 3d appearance. You'll need several different sizes and denominations. You could outright copy US coins, but the point is to make sure it's obvious they're coins. You could even make these symbols/writing a little bit 3D to make it more coin like by attaching something (rubber tubing, glue itself - I'm sure a visit to the craft store would give you ideas) to the surface before you paint it.

But instead of the coin symbols like a building or head, you put on various symbols that represent climate. It could be a lightning bolt; a simple bar or point graph that goes up plainly labeled CO2 or sea level; a thermometer with a high temperature; melting ice; a simple wave hitting a square building; etc.

And then you have your costume: climate change.

Nerdy and scary.
posted by barchan at 12:48 AM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you need a pattern: McCall's Cosplay line has some larger sizes, but not for all patterns.
posted by bentley at 7:20 AM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

OMG I just saw a picture of the cutest Totoro cosplay at NY Comic-Con. Totoro! Go as Totoro!
posted by Sara C. at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am also shaped like Peter Griffin. My workplace Halloween costume last year was Professor Sprout from Harry Potter. I bought a green graduation robe from eBay and wore it with fancy rubber gardening boots and a witch hat that I twined with fake ivy and flowers. Smudged a little dirt on my face (actually, brown eyeshadow to look like dirt) and carried a magic wand and a trowel. It was a hit.

This year's costume is a Crazy Cat Lady. I've already found fuzzy PJ pants with cat faces on them and I already own fuzzy slipper-socks with cats on them. I'm topping it off with a fuzzy bathrobe with Beanie Baby and other small stuffed cats pinned on it, in the pockets, etc. (Also a packet of cat treats in the pocket.) I'll probably put my hair up in silly foam curlers or perky ponytails.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:29 AM on October 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

I decided today that I'm dressing up as one of Monty Python's Hell's Grannies. Black dress, handbag, small black straw hat with millinery flowers, black cardigan with appliqued felt letters on the back. I already have all the clothes; I just need to add the lettering and the flowers for the hat.

Other fun options (most of these are pretty quick and simple):

Do you like Doctor Who? Do you own a galaxy-print dress? Acquire one, then tape a printed-out photo of the head of any of the first seven Doctors to your torso. You are now the Doctor Who Opening Credits. Use Sylvester McCoy winking for extra creepiness.

Go to the thrift store. Find a drape-y ivory blouse from the 80s, a waistcoat, and some brown pants. Cut the pants off at mid-calf. Add a scarf: voila! Hobbit.

Do you like swing dancing? Get a 40s-style dress with a swishy skirt (try eShakti or Modcloth), a pair of wings on elastic, and some bobble antennae on a headband. You're a jitterbug!
posted by nonasuch at 12:14 PM on October 12, 2015

I love this World War II Dalek dress/costume. It's a second order of nerdiness because it's not only a Dalek but a Dalek from one specific episode. Seems like you could do it with your budget!
posted by ejs at 12:19 PM on October 12, 2015

Don't know if it'll count as best dressed or scary, but for comic-book-nerd cred The Red Tornado fits your description.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2015

What about Tina Belcher from Bob's Burgers?
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 8:26 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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