If you're thinking of making this year's Halloween costume yourself, you can stick with simple or go Hollywood pro. Neither has to take much time or money, and either can create a convincing costume, whether you're looking to draw guffaws, shrieks or admiring nods.
Brenda K.B. Anderson, who builds creatures and costumes for the "Sesame Street Live" show at VEE Corp. in Minneapolis, says some of the same theories she uses there apply to making Halloween costumes. A good costume blurs the line between reality and fantasy, she says; even simple subterfuge, such as donning a wig or wearing thick-rimmed glasses, can suffice.
Start pulling your costume together by visiting a thrift shop, Anderson advises.
"Thrift stores are kind of a gold mine for the beginnings of Halloween costumes," she says. "For very little money you can get a whole bridal gown - something that looks more authentic."
Kim Conner, of Vermont., writes about thrifty craftiness at her "seven thirty three" blog. For instance, her simple pig costume: felt ears attached to a pink headband, a plastic bottle cap wrapped in felt and topped with a pink button to resemble a pig's snout. Her mermaid costume, a little more complicated, involves sewing.
The creative types at Martha Stewart Living have turned out another Halloween Special Issue magazine full of costumes, some of which can be had in a flash: Glue blue and green craft-store feathers and a beak cut from yellow paper to green plastic glasses and wear a matching boa. Presto! You're a parrot.
What's really enchanting in the magazine this year? The plethora of faux lashes, contact lenses and gruesome tattoos - evidence that Hollywood's professional makeup secrets at long last can be ours. These items aren't cheap - the featured snake-eye contact lenses cost $70 - and require planning ahead. But the effect can be haunting. For example, the "snake charmer" costume includes contact lenses, faux lashes, snakeskin-patterned lip tattoos, ample eyeliner and a rubber snake worn around the neck like a choker.
Other makeup effects include 3D scars and the latest in tattoos that mimic bruises, cuts and scars.