02 November 2013

lady mary; or how natural reserve translates to a brilliant Halloween costume

yes, yes, yes. Halloween is over. Mid-week Halloween translates to parties before and parties after, and sometimes really late parties. For once, I didn't actually throw a Halloween party, but simply attended one at a dear friend's house.

I've been planning a turn as Minnie Mouse for years, ever since I got a red polka dot dress that's a bit too short and a bit too low cut to wear without some tights and covering layers. It, a black sweater, black tights, my favorite yellow patent leather flats, and some gloves would put me ninety percent to Minnie. It's my default costume. I even made ears and a bow on a headband. Everything was ready and hanging on my door.

but, I couldn't commit. I'm not fond of cutesy and Disney, and I am absolutely against Halloween as a way to encourage women to dress in a manner they'd be horrified to do any other day of the week. I'm all for an excuse to dress up, but I've a lingering disassociation with all things Disney. I don't quite get it, but there's a visceral dislike, for me, of the attendance of the parks and of the grown people putting on mouse ears. No matter that it might be the most easily recognizable costume I'd put on in years...I just couldn't feel comfortable.

Then, wonderfully, the night before the party {upon Halloween itself} it came to me: Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey, played by Michelle Dockery. She's pale. I'm pale. she has dark hair. I have dark hair. The character is reserved, sometimes downright snotty. Believe me, I'm reserved and absolutely snotty. Stick my chin out, look down my nose, we're good to go.

I did go through quite the closet overhaul, looking to find just the right 1920's but not flapper sort of look. By the point in the fourth season {series, if you're British} the British audience is currently watching, Lady Mary is coming back out of herself after a horrific tragedy. She's got the dropped waist and boyish figure part of the fashion, but she's an aristocrat. There won't be flappers at Downton Abbey, unless we count her young cousin.

I wanted something immediately recognizable as Lady Mary, so it was an absolute stroke of luck that my mother has a cocktail dress in her wardrobe that is both the burgundy purple Lady Mary often wears, and boasts the sort of sheer overlay the character just wore in the most recent episode. Alas, it was far too short.

the internet led me to this photo, from S4, E6
After much creative pinning and cutting and fussing, I managed to overlay mom's dress, a chiffon ankle length dress, a sheer wrap, and numerous brooches. A bracelet masquerading as a tiara completed the effect, as did some marcelling of my hair...though I may possibly have wondered where my lady's maid Anna had gotten off to when I desperately needed help.

The only thing missing were black elbow length gloves, but I cut the legs off a jumpsuit from our Halloween bin and sewed up the insides for a fingerless variety. I was in such a tizzy to be off, only one good picture captured on my phone showed my complete effort.

Still, the party was most delightful, I was in a room filled with Downton watchers, and my costume made me feel like Halloween should: dressing up but as an awesome other version of me. It's why so many people dress as superheroes.

"Be well. Do good work. Keep in touch." - Garrison Keillor

No comments:

Post a Comment