Blogs across the Smithsonian will give an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blog-a-thon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website.
With Halloween fast approaching, digital projects librarian Bettina Smith offers up some suggestions for easy DIY costumes inspired by the Archives’ collections.
We have touched upon the subject of archivally-inspired Halloween costumes before, but with Halloween only a few days away, it seemed a good time to reach out to the slackers among us with some last–minute costume suggestions. You can put any of these together with items you probably already have around the house. And you’ll have a great background story when you tell your friends that your costume has the Archives of American Art stamp of approval!
A classic costume, but Georgianna Webster shows that you don’t need to go overboard on this one (pun so very much intended). Rather than trying to craft a peg leg and a parrot for your shoulder, all you really need is one scarf for your head, one for your waist, and the puffiest shirt you own. Add some hoop earrings and a toy sword and a killer name like “Terrible Ted,” and you will exude pirattitude.
The Wraith and Woodland Nymph
Another classic. To update the traditional ghost costume and kick it up a notch, follow Violet Oakley’s example and fashion a sheet into a robe and wear a pair of black pantyhose over your head so that your face is obscured. If you don’t want to terrify all the kids on the block but you love your sheet robe, just leave your face plain, grab a branch from the backyard and bam—you’re a woodland nymph.
The Artists’ Model
Must be body-confident for this one, but what’s an easier costume than NO COSTUME AT ALL? If you’re not ready to fully commit to a public display of nudity, find some scraps of fabric to create a loin cloth or drape yourself artfully in that multipurpose sheet. Strike a daring pose and you’re done.
My fellow procrastinators, I hope this inspires you to go create something, but not work too hard at it. Happy Halloween!
- Halloween Costume Guide: Archives Style by Mary Savig
- How Do You Process a Rattlesnake? by Bettina Smith on the Smithsonian Collections Blog
- I Found it in the Archives: Creepy Finds featuring Jayna (Hanson) Josefson
Bettina Smith is the Archives’ Digital Projects Librarian and does not know what she is going to be for Halloween. Maybe a pirate.
✱This post was updated on October 30, 2018.