Maybe Sandy spoiled your weekend costume-shopping plans. Maybe your past two weeks have been midterm-ridden or paper-laden. Maybe you’re holding out for that holiday epiphany, that sudden vision of a clever, eco-friendly, socially conscious and just-so slutty costume that’s worthy of your status as a totally unique Swarthmore student.Whatever your excuse for being costume-less with less than two days to go before one of Swat’s biggest parties of the year, don’t fret. When it comes to quirky character knowledge, who better to turn to than departmental professors?
Medusa: The most popular of the three serpent-headed Gorgons, this terrifying mythical monster is a surefire way of stopping that cutie across the cafeteria stone cold in his tracks.
What You Need: A bed sheet and some serious hair product. Tease out your hair with assorted picks/hairspray/holding gel and experiment with different washable dyes, or else play with braids, weaving miniature plastic snakes into the design.
Extra Inspiration: “If you wanted something that was both a learned allusion and scary, there’s the pediment sculpture from the temple of Athena at Corcyra (c. 6th CBE I think)” — William Turpin
Extra Deities: Prometheus (chains, ketchup, and stuffed vultures required); Dionysus (god of wine — Franzia, anyone?); Atlas (the globe could get heavy — plan with caution)
Magical Hats and Half Masks: A simple yet elegant — and easy — way to dress up as some of your favorite magical characters, from Harry to Merlin.
Verbatim: “What better than Merlin’s magic hat or Dumbledore’s cap?
“Well, perhaps one of those New Orleans “domino” half-masks with iridescent feathers …
“Or (since in my first-year seminar right before break, the students and I discussed the great movie Amadeus), a unicorn mask like the one Mozart wears in the party scene!” – Professor of English Literature Peter Schmidt
Recommended Reading: Choose any of your childhood favorites and run with a beloved protagonist. Grab a blond wig and magnifying glass for Nancy Drew, don some overalls for Huck Finn or tie up your hair with a blue ribbon a la Lemmony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Blame confusion over your outfit on disparate visual imagery.
Assorted Sea Creatures: Grab a group and arm yourselves with interactive accessories to make waves on the dance floor.
Expert Suggestions: An annual attendee of the University of Washington’s Invertebrate Ball, Professor of Biology Rachel Merz has seen her fair share of maritime garb. “I think the [costumes] that are the most fun are those that you can do as a group (e.g. a colony of corals or a stack of the sex-changing mollusk Crepidiula or a cleaner fish station complete with cryptic predators), or those costumes that let you interact with others — think sea squirt (armed with a squirt gun, of course), or being a decorator crab and attach new items to your carapace, or something that free-spawns (with the help of a bubble blower), or one of the most favorite, pun costumes (a red ribbon around your neck to be ‘red tide’ or holding a clam shell over one’s head to be ‘clam up’, etc.”
Props to Ponder: Foam swords (swordfish), fairy wings (flying fish), red nose and face paint (clown fish), short plaid skirts with apples/pens/notebooks (school of fish)…
Art History Department
Pick a Painting: There’s lots out there — whether it’s the Mona Lisa or Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup, find a subject that speaks to you and imitate. Aim for subjects with distinguishing characteristics. If you’re feeling extra-ambitious, turn yourself into a piece of abstract art.
Prof Pick: “I would love to appear at Halloween as Giovanni Arnolfini in Jan van Eyck’s famous double portrait now in the National Gallery in London. The hat might be a challenge … and an Affenpincher would be required as an accessory.” — Professor of Art Histroy Michael Cothren
Supplies to Scrounge: Felt works great for non-human subjects, as do cardboard boxes/cutouts. Face paint and makeup can additionally spice up a bland imitation.
Helpful Hint: Even if you deign not to include a frame (no small hindrance to your typical dance moves), include a label — as a belt, as a bowtie, on your shoes — with the name of the painting and the artist to boost recognition for less familiar subjects.
We’re not really sure how to do this one. Thankfully, Professor of Statistics Steve Wang suggested a few ideas from paleontology — his field of research. Not-so-luckily, we’re not so sure you want to attempt a trilobite or anomalocaris design.
Skeleton Construction: Let’s face it — if you’d been dead since prehistoric times, that all-inclusive skeleton suit would be a far cry from your bodily remains. Using felt cut-outs, only pin a few bones onto your all-black clothing.
Ditch the Devil: It’s overdone. Alternatively, Adam and Eve are slightly less popular and typically a good deal sexier.
Revive Our Roots: According to Professor of Religion Ellen Ross, there’s a whole slew of Quaker characters craving a costumed debut. “[T]here’s always the 17th c. George Fox — Quaker founder; 17th c. Margaret Fell (she wrote lots of books, had lots of children, was imprisoned a number of times, lived at Swarthmoor Hall in England [where we get our college name]); Lucretia Mott — a Rebecca Chopp favorite (and look on the Religion Department website for the celebration of Lucretia Mott on campus in the tree shrine between Trotter and Kohlberg); then there is Issac Hopper — major “performance artist” Quaker abolitionist — great large portrait of him in Parrish Parlors — we have his cane at the Friends Historical Library on campus — Lydia Childs has a biography of him with good stories).”
Departmental Disguise: Ross additionally remembers a year in which religion members dressed up as the faculty of the Religion Department. “It was very funny — we were all very recognizable!” If you’re planning on sharing pictures, be kind – grades aren’t in yet.
Sunk Cost: Pick up a pair of dollar-sign shades at the mall and wear a swimsuit.