It’s (Almost) Halloween, and You Have No Idea What I Am! A Semi-Literary Costume Compendium

The truth is, I don't really dress up. I don't even go the laid-back-but-still-fun parent route and throw on a pirate hat or a pair of zany glasses. (Is this because I am not laid back but still fun? Probably.)

Diana and Chestnut though? Oh yeah, they dress up.

But here's the thing: from almost the very beginning their costumes have been, shall we say, nontraditional. Also literary, sort of. And so obscure that no one ever knows who or what they are. I blame books.

It started out with Chestnut always (convincingly) portraying a baby with an ear infection (well, she was a baby with an ear infection), and with Diana moving from Ado Annie (from Oklahoma, natch), then Eleanor from The Diamond in the Window (this involved, I believe, a skirt and blouse), then Samantha (American Girl), then someone from a Tamora Pierce book I think, then Maid Marian. Last year she upped the ante (literature-wise) with Lady Macbeth. This involved a plaid kilt and a bloody hands.

No one has ever gotten any of them.

Happily, this does not disturb her, and she goes her ghoulish way with incomprehensible costume followed by incomprehensible costume. This year? A "character from a Manga that no one knows about!" Said with much joy.

Chestnut? Similar. From mage, to "spirit of the fall," to "A rich merchant's daughter on her way to market to sell her hand-sewn pillows."

I hope you are somewhere getting ready to eat candy corn and preparing to be befuddled by various incomprehensible costumes (literary and not).

Happy Halloween. And tell me your own literary/incomprehensible costumes, if you dare.

20 thoughts on “It’s (Almost) Halloween, and You Have No Idea What I Am! A Semi-Literary Costume Compendium

  1. Well, we had a lot of fun the year that we dressed as Harry, Hermione and Tonks. (and even with my spray-painted pink hair, no one knew who I was)


  2. This year, I am Death from the Sandman comics. Pretty much everyone is like “Why are you wearing so much eye makeup?”
    My nine year old is Athena, though. I’m loving that.


  3. Sarah is going as Annabeth, daughter of Athena from the Percy Jackson books. She will be wearing an orange “Camp Half-Blood” t-shirt, jeans and a Yankees cap. She may have a dagger too, but really, that is just not enough to let people know what the heck she is. It will be interesting. I am always a Witch. Usually in Jeans and mittens. Who says I can’t be?


  4. In our house we’ve been through MANY ideas for literary costumes this year. Annabeth was rejected because the costume wasn’t interesting enough, Sadie Kane because not enough people knew the Kane Chronicles. Then we thought briefly about Katniss, and did get as far as buying several things at a thrift shop that would work for Effie Trinket. Thankfully then my husband got involved, and now–today–we finally have a beautiful and completely non-literary costume.


  5. One year my son was a Nac Mac Feegle (red hair, blue skin, kilt, “tattoos”, the whole nine yards) everyone thought that he was Braveheart.


  6. I love your childrens’ costume concepts so much. My girl was going to go as Danarys Targaryan, the dragon-wielding queen-wannabe from Game of Thrones (we told her we thought it had too much sex and violence for her, but she started watching clips on YouTube and eventually we just caved). But today she announced that Danarys is too complicated and she’s just going to go as “a general enchantress.”
    When my spouse was 13 she went as Anne Boelyn, with her head tooked underneath her arm. My own favorite-ever costumes are all from high school. Like the time I went as the Wife of Bath. It’s all been downhill from there.


  7. This year is Alice in Wonderland (age 7). Consists of a blue dress and white apron and a headband. She noted it could just as easily be Dorothy from Wizard of Oz.


  8. Love the costumes! Last year, my daughter was Katniss. (and we passed quite a few Katnisses her age while Trick or Treating). This year, she is going to be a Shadow Hunter from the Mortal Instruments series.


  9. When my son was 2 1/2 he insisted on dressing as Godfather Drosselmeyer from the Nutcracker (the NYCB video was in heavy rotation at our house). After hours carefully constructing a top hat, pocket chain, and shoes with buckles — and finding the perfect Nutcracker on Amazon — he, naturally, refused to wear it.


  10. Somehow, you inspired me to rummage through the closets to create something literary. And – I will be greeting the trick-or-treaters as Miss Havisham this evening.


  11. This isn’t exactly literary, but a few years ago my son went in a replica of the ghost costume Charlie Brown wears on It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. (We drew all the extra eye holes with a black fabric marker)
    Some people got it immediately while others just stared. It was a fabulous costume


  12. Well, there was a skirt involved. I think I skipped the rucking up about the thighs part, though. Mainly there was a walking stick cut from a big tree bough. And some general lascivious leering.


  13. This isn’t exactly literary–but a few years ago my son went trick or treating in a replica of the ghost costume Charlie Brown wears in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. (The extra eyeholes were drawn on with a black fabric marker.)
    Some people got it immediately, others just stared. It was a fabulous costume!


  14. I’m a bit late on this but my 8 year old daughter went as Sadie Kane from Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles, despite the fact that (as another commenter mentioned) no one would know who she was. She didn’t care, which I LOVED. Last year she was Hermione.


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