Characters I Would (or Have) Dress Up As

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I love costumes. I love theater, and acting. Carl surprised me this weekend by taking me to our community theater’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” which was brilliantly done, and which I would have adored even if it had been less professional, because I haven’t been to a live performance since … well, before college. Carl had never seen live theater (aside from high school plays) before, so it was a whole new experience for him, and he was surprised at how much he enjoyed it, too.

Anyway. Because I love acting and theater, I also love dressing up as various characters. Always have, probably always will. Here are some of my favorites from the past, and some I still dream of attaining:

1. Raggedy Ann. My kindergarten Halloween costume! My mom sewed me a dress and pinafore, and made a red yarn wig; we couldn’t find striped stockings anywhere, so I still remember sitting in class and my dad showing up right before the parade with wide red elastic bands to put over my white tights, to look like red and white stripes. It worked beautifully, and set the tone for going all out with costumes in our family.

2. Robin Hood. This was for a friend’s 18th birthday party, where she wanted everyone to dress up as a character from their favorite movie. I chose Robin Hood, being a big fan of the Errol Flynn version, but also of the character himself from the many stories I read. Having short hair worked really well for that one; I recall I used an eyebrow pencil to give myself a mustache.

3. Joe Hardy. This was a last-minute costume. The well of inspiration ran dry, and we had a Harvest Party that night, and I had no idea what I was going to do. Staring at the bookshelves finally gave me an idea. I ran to the local department store and bought a pinstriped Oxford shirt and clip-on tie; borrowed my dad’s old leather bomber jacket, and slicked my (again, short) hair down with a disgusting amount of gel. Success!

4. Regency Lady. This was not any specific book character, but definitely inspired by my fondness for all the Jane Austen books and adaptations. In one week, I bought the pattern and fabric, cut the dress out, and sewed it. Still one of the fastest sewing projects I’ve ever managed to complete. I sewed the sleeves in backward, but no one ever noticed! We tied a wide ribbon around my head and my sister coaxed a few curls out of my hair, and there I was. (Fun side note: that was the night both Carl and I started having more-than-friendship feelings for each other.)

Now for characters I would want to dress up as, even still!

5. Lucy Pevensie. I want to wear this dress, and be Queen Lucy the Valiant. Someday.

6. Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan. Let’s face it, fantasy-medieval characters are pretty much the best, especially when they get to carry weapons with them. I made Joy a blue princess outfit for Halloween this year, and we are figuring out how to concoct a shoulder belt and scabbard out of ribbon for her foam sword, while her shield clips at her waist, and with a headchain/crown on her head, she is a pretty uncanny representation of Eowyn (not that she knows who that is, of course – she rolled her eyes when I called her a Shieldmaiden of Rohan).

7. Rounding out my medieval list would be Eilonwy, daughter of Angharad, daughter of Regat, daughter of – oh, it’s such a bother going through all that. Carl recently read “The Book of Three” for the first time, and he told me afterward: “So, Eilonwy … pretty much you as a kid?” Hey, there are far worse book characters I could have been.

8. Anne of Green Gables. Though to tell the truth, I would honestly mostly like to dress like Anne for everyday life, not just as a costume. After watching the movie with some of my neighbors recently, I found myself craving long wool plaid skirts and hand-knitted sweaters for autumn and winter wear.

9. Harriet Vane. An excuse to wear 1930s clothing and say clever and biting things! What more could one want?

10. I had a terrible time narrowing down this last one, but I think I finally settled on Albert Campion. I’ve already got the glasses and pale hair and indeterminate face (I love that descriptive phrase, by the way: indeterminate face. Isn’t it evocative? And since I cannot go anywhere without having people say “Oh yeah, I know you … don’t I?” because my face always looks like somebody else, I think I can claim that phrase for myself). All I would need would be a natty 1920s gentleman’s outfit.

Carl could accompany me as Lugg.

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8 thoughts on “Characters I Would (or Have) Dress Up As

  1. Aww, how romantic is that, falling in love in a Regency dress?

    In my life I have not, alas, done much dressing up. Germans don’t do Halloween, and the one occasion of the year when there *are* dress-up parties, Mardi Gras, was shunned by our family for moral reasons (Yeah, well. We did get over that.). However, I did have a few cool costumes, still do, as a matter of fact. I have one full medieval-lady outfit, with a long white wafty veil and a pillbox hat to hold it on; the shape of the headpiece was modelled on the Uta statue from Naumburg Cathedral.

    As for Albert Campion, I have a picture of my father as a young man, ca. 1953, looking *exactly* like that.

    • Most of my love for Peter Davison comes from his portrayal of Tristan Farnsworth in All Creatures Great and Small (Gracie would have been Tristan if she’d been a boy, and personality-wise it would have been a perfect fit); but I have to confess that he is the only Campion I can possibly imagine.

      I’m envious of your medieval lady outfit! I was sorely tempted to buy the adult version of the pattern I used for Joy’s costume … but without a place to wear it, I couldn’t justify it (nor the amount of money I’d have to spend on fabric alone for it). And after making it up in the child’s size, I don’t know that I *could* do it in the adult – even the kid’s one nearly did me in!

      • Yes, the fabric alone would be pricey. Mine’s made out of old bedsheets, one of which I dyed green for the overdress and sewed red, brown and blue trim around the neckline. Cost was practially nil. But it’s not as snazzy and authentic-looking as it could be. One of the things on my wish list!

  2. I’m kind of shocked at myself– the only SPECIFIC characters I’ve ever dressed up as (aside from playing dress-up with whatever’s on hand) were Hermione and Leia, and the latter isn’t even from a book! WHAT kind of children’s librarian AM I?! My default for the past, like, decade is just this very Tolkien-elvish dress, but it’s starting to bother me that I don’t have the EARS to go with it. It’s just a generic fantasy-medieval dress otherwise (although, like you say, CAN’T GO WRONG WITH THAT), whereas I COULD be actually SAYING I’m going as an elf. Or Arwen– it’s very Arwen-eque actually. Oh, I was definitely aiming for a very Galadriel look with my wedding dress/getup, too, if that counts. :)

    I did dress Sam up as Sam-I-Am for his first Halloween. Now he’s at the age where HE wants to pick his costumes, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get him to dress as his biggest namesake, Samwise the Brave. Then our children could roll their eyes together at both of us!

    • Oh, I forgot to mention my wedding dress – my mom made it from the same Regency pattern I used for that costume (she put the sleeves in properly, though). And then we gave it a pearl-embroidered split overskirt and overlay on the sleeves, and … it was really beautiful. Carl, alas, wore a modern suit. No cravat.

      A Galadriel-inspired wedding dress sounds absolutely dreamy.

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