Thursday, October 31, 2013

Classic Hollywood Halloween Costumes Suggestions

Good morning!

Well, the witching hour is upon us. Have you got your jack o lanterns all lit up, on display? Candy ready for your trick or treaters? I am so pumped for the big day to be here! Today I was looking for Old Hollywood costumes on Google images and thought it might be fun to make some styleboards for costumes I either haven't seen enough of or haven't seen any of. If you're looking for a classic Hollywood costume and are out of last minute ideas, profitez from my little haphazard daydreams of "costumes I haven't worn yet".

Roll film!

1) Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Wigshoesbaby dolldress
This is really something I've been kicking around doing for ye-e-e-e-ars, but I've never gotten around to it! Mainly, I think you would need a wig to drive home the point (did you know the one Davis wears in the film is actually one that co-star Joan Crawford wore in a silent movie, waaaay back at the beginning of her career? Total coincidence!), and I have yet to commit to one for the part. I'm pretty sure 90% of people would just think you were going as a baby doll, but maybe you could carry a copy of the dvd or your own "Baby Jane doll" around with you to help jog people's memories. For this part, Bette Davis famously made herself look every year, month, day, and hour of her fifty four years, and then some, accentuating those enormous eyes with dark kohl, and painting her face an almost geisha white. Heavy black eyelashes and a beauty mark would round out the makeup. Don't forget to practice your best rendition of "I've Written a Letter to Daddy", with or without accompaniment, and your delivery of the line "But-cha aaaaahhhh, Blanche, y'aaaaahre in that chaaair!" It takes a lot for me to favor a non-Joan Crawford character in a Joan Crawford movie, but Bette Davis is just extraordinary in this scene-chomping role. 

2) Rita Hayworth as Gilda in...well, Gilda

If you were thinking something glamorous and sophisticated, but didn't want to go for the more obvious Holly Golightly costume, why not try Rita Hayworth as Gilda in her famous glove-strip-tease scene from the 1946 noir, co-starring Glenn Ford? While a long, strapless satin gown would be prettier, all I could dang find on the internet was pageant dress after pageant dress, and this strap-ful satin hourglass dress-- yet I know your local Goodwill is bound to have something suitably at least 1980's-does-1940's for your bombshell needs. The opera length black satin gloves are crucial, as Rita makes their removal in the musical number "Put the Blame on Mame" somehow more scandalous and suggestive than a full burlesque fan dance in pasties. Another important part is Rita's hair-- you need a serious forties' style wave to get your Rita across in earnest, and auburn red hair wouldn't hurt, either! This pincurl tutorial looks can draw inspiration from one of the most famous head-flips in all of movie history. "Me? Decent?" She kills me! Every time!

3) Marlene Dietrich as Lola Lola in The Blue Angel

Deadset on a "sexy" costume, in spite of perilously plummeting late October temperatures? How about Lola Lola from von Sternberg's The Blue Angel? Dietrich drew her costume inspiration from cabaret singers and drag queens she knew from her bohemian social life in Weimar Berlin in the late twenties', the top hat and some of the sequined shifts actually on loan from the real deal people. Even though she would slim down to a wisp of herself for her American film debut in Morocco the next year (you could cut glass on those cheekbones!), she's smoldering in her breakthrough role as the temptress who ruins repressed schoolteacher Emil Jannings one sexily turned ankle at a time. This is similar to a Sally Bowles, Cabaret costume, but more frilly and embellished with sequins and frippery than the sleek Liza Minnelli wardrobe for that film. Like the previous two suggestions, this costume, too, comes with a musical selection! "Falling in Love Again" is Lola Lola's signature song, and Dietrich's deep-voiced, belted, sultry delivery on this made it a recognizable personal anthem in her later personal appearances and concerts for the next thirty-five years (here she is singing it in 1963 in the Netherlands!).

4) Lauren Bacall as Vivian in The Big Sleep

Last but not least, possibly the easiest costume out of the bunch-- if you can find a decent houndstooth suit and a black beret, you've got a perfectly serviceable Lauren Bacall costume from her role in the second of four movies she and Bogart would make together. The former Betty Joan Perske had become the fourth and final Mrs. Bogart by the time this movie was released, and boy, do they crackle together on screen. With her poise and elegant looks, it's hard to believe Bacall was twenty one during production on the's note, I neither looked that poised nor that elegant at the age of twenty one (or at twenty-eight, for that matter!). This checked suit shows up so beautifully on screen, too-- perfect for black and white photography. This cracks me up about the movie, from the Wikipedia page: 
The Big Sleep is known for its convoluted plot. During filming, allegedly neither the director nor the screenwriters knew whether chauffeur Owen Taylor was murdered or had killed himself. They sent a cable to Chandler, who told a friend in a later letter: "They sent me a wire ... asking me, and dammit I didn't know either".
That's movie magic though! What does it matter when all you're really concerned about is whether or not the two principals will get together in the end after the murder is more or less solved! Bogart's ruse as a "book collector" in one of the scenes is one of the highlights of the movie. Iconic costume in only two major pieces...what could be easier?

What do you think? Which of these would you like to try for yourself on Halloween this year or next? Have you ever dressed as an old time celebrity? I was Bette Davis as Margot Channing in All About Eve one year, with a big, Margo-esque dress and my hair curled, but I still had to point to my VHS copy of the movie all night so people would get it. It was college! What did I expect? What are your plans this year? Let's chat!

That's all for today, but I'll be back tomorrow for Photo Friday. Have a FRIGHTFUL Halloween night tonight, and I'll see you then! :)


  1. I love doing Hollywood inspired costumes (my favourite costume ever was when I went as Rhoda Penmark from The Bad Seed!). I especially love 'doubles' costumes with my friends and even my dogs! This year...for Pip's first Halloween...we're going to do an easy one---Wednesday Addams and Cousin It. Next year, however, I've already decided on Tippi Hedren and a 'bird'. I think he'll make a nice looking crow! Gotta get on making that mint green suit! Actually the Baby Jane thing would be great too. I could be Jane and he could be Blanche being rolled around in a wheelchair! How funny would that be?! "But chya ARE Blanche! Ya ARE in that chair!". One of my friends and I had that on our Halloween possibilities list one year, but went as King Arthur and "Patsy"...complete with coconuts...instead.

    1. King Arthur and Patsy...just dies. I love you and Pip's team costumes, that's a brilliant idea for such a cute dog!

  2. In past years, I dressed as more recent movie characters: Margot Tenenbaum and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (white kimono). One year I was Marianne Faithful, which I'm sure no one would get unless I told them.

    1. I love your costume ideas, esp. MF! Even if people didn't get it, YOU know how cool it was.

  3. These are all such wonderful ideas! love you interpretation of these characters!

    1. Thank you, Sara! I had fun puttin 'em together.

  4. FACT: Rita Hayworth was asked what held up her dress in the big dance scene in Gilda.
    She replied, "Two things."



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