IMG_1230Christy Lorio

IMG_1234Halloween! It really is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather (sometimes) gets cooler, the leaves start to change (who am I kidding), the air turns crisp (except when it’s steamy as $%#@ outside), and okay screw it, no need to pretend; fall in southern Louisiana toys with my emotions every year. The temperature still creeps into the 80s some days, and figuring out what to wear is a crap shoot. In the morning I’m digging in the back of my closet for a sweater, and by noon I’m deeply regretting not wearing shorts.

Oh, what were we talking about? Oh yea, Halloween. I’m slowly starting to enjoy the holiday again. I have to admit Halloween lost its luster for me a few years ago for several reasons. I worked in a store that sells costumes for 8 years, which was great for my costume closet, not so much for my spirit. There’s nothing fun about trying to locate all six parts for “slutty bumblebee dress with tutu, gloves, headband, and stinger” while you’ve got a line piling up at the fitting room and last minute shoppers calling in desperation looking for “anything 1960s.” Another aspect of Halloween that bums me out is seeing so many damn costume-in-a-bags on the streets. I understand people are busy and sometimes need to piece together a costume on the fly, but as someone who takes great pride in coming up with original costume ideas, it does nothing for the atmosphere (yea, I’m serious) when half the people at the party show up wearing the same uninspired flimsy costumes. I guess mass produced costumes are better than no costume at all, but half the fun of Halloween is seeing the creative costumes that people come up with.

That said, last night was the funnest Halloween I’ve had in years. It rained off and on all evening, which helped with crowd control, which meant only the die-hard partiers were out. I saw some great costumes (lots of Beetlejuice, N.W.A, skeletons, Star Wars, some jellyfish), and the energy was upbeat despite the weather forecast. It was almost like people had a “we’re all in this together” mentality each time it started to pour.

We pieced together our costumes this year with thrift store finds and some online purchases. I found my Victorian-style blouse and a khaki skirt at a thrift store on the same trip. The pieces screamed British safari to me, so we decided to build our costumes around my outfit and the pith helmet that Thomas already owned. The medals on his jacket are leftovers from my high school marching band days. I found them in my mom’s attic recently and knew I would find a way to put them to good use. I made my clutch out of a piece of leftover buckram I had from an old Mardi Gras costume, scrap fabric from another project, and extra trim from this year’s costumes.

Halloween: Space Age Vikings

Thanks for the picture, Daniele!

Halloween used to be a special time for me. It was all treats, with the occasional trick from a finicky sewing machine. I used to labor away on our costumes, until a few years ago. A friend told me she didn’t realize how awesome our costumes were until she saw the pictures on Facebook the next day. “It was too dark and I was too drunk to appreciate them that night,” she admitted. That comment made me realize it wasn’t worth the hours hunched over leopard print faux fur, stitching wooden beads and hand cut fabric leaves to a chest plate. Halloween has lost a little bit of its luster, unfortunately, and I don’t know how to get it back. It’s the equivalent of your parents telling you Santa isn’t real. 
This year we slapped viking costumes together using pieces that we already owned. A few last minute purchases pulled the look together; his helmet and my shell necklace tied everything together. I told myself I would be okay with going light on the costumes this year, but everything about our look bothers me. I need a headpiece, his cape and loin cloth look half assed, and we’re more Ziggy Stardust than Eric “Bloodaxe” Haraldsson. My laissez-faire attitude caught up with me; next year I’ll focus on what satisfies my creative spirit and not let other people influence my decisions as much. 

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Reader Submitted Halloween Costumes

As much as I look forward to Halloween every year, I didn’t celebrate very much this go ’round. Between a month of jury duty (read about my experience on Uptown Messenger), the busiest month of the year at my full-time job, freelance writing projects (more on those soon), and the unfortunate timing of a horrific stomach virus on Samhein itself, I just couldn’t get into the costuming mood. So instead of sharing my Halloween getup with y’all, I have a few reader submitted pictures instead. Enjoy, and I’ll see y’all on Mardi Gras for my normal tomfoolery.

My favorite kid ever- Nolan Zombie

Rachel Marks as Frida Kahlo
My friend Edward Cox and his Simply Stunning creations

A pharaoh friend and MacKenzie Smith as Tinkerbell (nice cleavage, dude)

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Cavortress at Voodoo Music Fest

Halloween in New Orleans is huge. In addition to the costumed people watching happening on Frenchman Street, Voodoo Music Fest brings hoards of festival goers to the city, coming to celebrate all weekend long. With this many events going on, having a stash of costumes at the ready is practically a requirement to being allowed into the Big Easy.

 Charleston based swimsuit line Cavortress (read my Oxford American piece on the brand) will be at Voodoo this year, with plenty of costume accessories to keep you looking festive if you came unprepared for the party. Custom tutus, devil horns, animal ear and tail sets, and Swarovski magic wants are just some of designer Julie Wheat’s pieces that she’ll be hawking in addition to vintage ensembles. Go check out her booth at Voodoo and make sure you tell her Slow Southern Style sent ya!

And a (slightly naughty) video.

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Gator Heads and Oyster Shells courtesy of Half Shell Productions

If you’re still looking for something to complete your Mardi Gras costume (or perhaps you haven’t even started on it yet), Halfshell Productions may have your solution.  Tracy Hamlin in NOLA offers a selection of appropriately quirky Mardi Gras headdresses and bustiers.  Like all good Mardi Gras costumes, Tracy’s designs feature plenty of feathers and beads as well as some more unconventional materials.
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

Here’s a bit from Tracy herself about her unique offerings.
You mentioned in your Etsy shop profile that you started making headdresses for the 2011 Mardi Gras season.  What prompted this?
Costuming is a New Orleans tradition. Sometimes it only takes one item:  a bustier, headdress or top hat, to begin the whole look and feel of a costume. That’s how it was for me. I made a Cajun Carmen Headdress, and then a feathered bustier, to march with Mondo Kayo on Fat Tuesday of 2011. I had so much fun wearing the outfit that I wanted to offer that one piece of “the look” that fires one’s creative process. 
Where does your inspiration for your designs come from?
My designs use local items like preserved alligator heads, feathers, king cake babies and nutria pelts because people in Louisiana have a connection to them.  I designed and wore the nutria skirt and Gator Bustier to the Righteous Fur Fashion Show in Lafayette in October. Nutria pelts are so lovely to work with. The fur is extremely soft, and I try to incorporate it into my designs as much as possible
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

You use so many different elements in your creations.  How do you choose the materials for each design?
 I sold a Gator Headdress to someone in Bulgaria.  Through etsy.com, I have sold nationally and internationally, so obviously other cultures have connections to the designs, as well. I also like the look of layers: feathers in background and alligator heads and other items in the foreground. I do have some standard designs, but sometimes, I start with a number of items and put them together in a totally different pattern which creates a new design. At times, I have no idea how a piece is going to end up. Adding and subtracting items until it feels just right. I have to keep materials on hand so they can be incorporated into designs. That means that I have to keep collecting and upgrading the materials that I work with.

What are your plans for Halfshell Productions after the 2012 Mardis Gras season ends?  
I love what I am doing right now.  My 2012 plans include creating new designs, working with new materials, and going to more markets to expand my client base.
If you need still some unique Mardi Gras attire or if you’re just interested in taking a look at some of her designs, be sure to check out Tracy Hamlin at Halfshell Productions on etsy.
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

Elizabeth McNair

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Tapping our way down Frenchman Street

Halloween is exhausting y’all. I love it but I’m always secretly glad when it is over since it is a CRAZY time of year for me at work. Anyone who works in a shop that sells costumes, whether year ’round or seasonally can attest to my tiredness and enjoy a good night’s sleep come November 1st. I’m not getting that much of a break though, in the next two weekends alone I’ve got three wardrobe consultations lined up and I’m getting my butt out to the Freret Market this Saturday since I missed the October one. Oh and I’ve already got some fabulous Mardi Gras costumes this year. How’s that for planning ahead? But back to the present, err recent past our Halloween costumes this year were Broadway performers, for lack of a better description.

When in doubt, the more sparkle the better

I failed miserably at making a 2 foot tall treble clef fascinator so this plain gold topper had to suffice. Jumbo pipe cleaner doesn’t cut it kids, stick to foam if you want a sculpture on your noggin. Aside from my headpiece woes these were easy, no sew costumes. I’m putting so much effort into our Mardi Gras costumes that I slacked for Halloween but I still think we looked pretty darn good.
See that expression? I’m so excited to have my brother in law’s thumb in the shot.
And not to stray off subject too much but the Halloween shootings in the downtown area were sad and unacceptable. It’s bad for locals and tourists alike when such stupid decisions are made.

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Scary time in the South

Oh yea, it’s costume season. Y’all know my unending love for playing dress up and New Orleans is really just the gateway drug for my habit. There’s always a reason to costume here, no matter if it is Halloween, Mardi Gras, Red Dress Run, the list goes on and on. When Halloween falls on a weekday it means everyone needs multiple costumes for multiple nights. I  like to unveil a new creation every year on Samhain itself which means we’ll dust off old favorites so they can make a reappearance on other nights. This past Saturday we biked downtown, the only place to be unless you’re throwing a house party. Frenchman and Decatur Streets are hands down the best spots in the city to see the most creative costumes. In other words, you have to bring it and I’m not talking about some cheap drug store bagged crap. My husband busted out his warrior costume from two years ago and I was a red headed boa constrictor, something I’ve only worn once to work. Yea, I get to wear costumes at work, pretty awesome right?

 Speaking of work I was interviewed on Crosstown Conversations to talk about Buffalo Exchange and costumes this past Thursday. It was my first time doing radio and of course I had an entire script in my head and completely forgot what to say once we were live on the air. Regardless it went pretty great (either that or my family was lying to me) so take a listen on their website, the costume segment starts around the 40 minute mark. And if you want some visual inspiration check out all of my past costume posts, but please don’t wait until the last minute to get your costume again okay?

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Cree’s Cheap Chic 10th Annual Costume Sale

Halloween is coming up and y’all need a costume. October 31st is a big night in New Orleans and the town goes wild with goblins, political figures, and creatures that crawled out of the swamp. I’ve written a slew of blog posts if you need a little help deciding what to be this year but what you really need to do is get out and start shopping before all of the good stuff is gone.

Cree McCree, founder of Righteous Fur is having her 10th Annual Halloween Costume Sale this weekend to help you get on the right track. There will be vintage and recycled costumes for men and women, Halloween cocktail couture items such as bat bustiers and skeleton hand bras, and a $5 rack and $1 boxes with “costume makings for all you creative types.” Check out the flyer below for times and location.

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Halloween 2010

I love Halloween but I’m always glad when it is finally over. As much fun as I  have the slew of events, last minute costume tweaks, not to mention my work load increases substantially so November 1st is always a peaceful day. That said I had a great time this year!

If you haven’t experienced a New Orleans Halloween then you are really missing out. An entire week’s worth of celebrations and special events take place and this year was no exception. 

On Saturday night we went to Eiffel Society for their costume party. 

Hubby threw together this last minute genie costume with great results. I buy costumes for us year ’round and had purchased the jacket for him on a whim. A gold turban and an old Mardi Gras costume later and he was granting wishes in style. Bonus points for finding the floating carpet at the event!

I just threw together something I’ve already worn. A corset and ruffled bottoms are easy and fun to do.
Of course Sunday night we broke out our actual outfits, Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Frenchman St. and Decatur St. are the hot spots for people watching and this year was as good as ever.
The bulk of what we bought came from Buffalo Exchange. His skirt is actually a grey silk J. Crew and the white leather strips was another skirt that I cut up and made into this. My outfit is an old dancing costume with a gold lame bodysuit and leggings thrown underneath.

We had our pictures taken several times by complete strangers, which I always consider a mark of a good costume. We also had lights, purchased from REI. I sewed his around the perimeters of his cape and wrapped mine around my waist. 
So how was your Halloween?
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Halloween costumes- Get ’em while you can!

October is an amazing time of year  in the Crescent City. The weather is perfect and there is lots to do. This year alone, Voodoo Music Fest, a Saints game, and Halloween all take place on the same day.  This means lots of people will be in town, both locals and tourists alike, and everyone will be shopping for the same thing: costumes. I know that Halloween is more than a week away but hear me out: 


Our Aztec warrior costumes last year were a hit. I hand sewed practically everything y’all see here from recycled fabrics.

Whether you are hitting up Frenchman St. or trick or treating with the kids, a costume is a necessity. This is one of the few times of year you can get away with dressing crazy and not getting stared at (wait…this IS New Orleans), so why not take advantage?
Personally, my year revolves around two holidays–Halloween and Mardi Gras–and as any good New Orleanian knows, having a closet of costumes at the ready is a sign of a true local. Just in town visiting? Don’t sweat it, there are plenty of options for you.  Just don’t go the easy route by getting a “costume in a bag.”  There are several stores in town that cater to creative types as well as people who need help, and lots of it.

PARTY STAR Headdress
Party Star Headdress from Carnival Couture

Buffalo Exchange– Used and new costumes.
Miss Claudia’s– Used and new costumes, specializing in vintage.
Uptown Costume– THE costume shop in town. Gets packed the closer it gets to Halloween so don’t wait!
Fifi Mahony’s– The best wig shop in the city. Shop now for the best selection.
Funky Monkey– Used and new costumes, carries wigs year ’round and has a sizable men’s section.
Ragin’ Daisy– Funky and fun vintage picks, perfect for any occasion or Halloween.
Bloomin’Deals– Thrift store with a decent selection of formal wear, perfect for craftier types that can create something out of nothing.
Le Garage– French Quarter staple with a steady supply of vintage, often has a surplus of old Mardi Gras costumes and military gear.

Destroyer Leather Mask
Destroyer leather mask from Mr. Hyde’s Leather

Still in need of some inspiration? Y’all can view all of my previous costume posts here. Might I suggest perusing Miss Malaprop and Dramatis Personae for even more glittery, sequined goodness.

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