All Stitched Up: Creating a Halloween costume

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Senior Kavin Sivakumar’s brainstorming process for his first handmade Halloween costume began in June 2017, when Sivakumar was in India. After seeing images of Hindu gods everywhere, Sivakumar decided that he wanted to dress up magnificently as the Hindu god Krishna.

However, after encountering complications with purchasing crowns for his Krishna costume and his father suggesting not to do a religious costume, Sivakumar went to Party City instead to buy makeup for an alien costume.

Sivakumar tested out the silver, black and white makeup over Labor Day weekend, but negative feedback from his little sister led him to scratch his second idea. As of now, Sivakumar is fixated on a costume that he hopes to reveal on Halloween.

“I’m inspired by a lot of music icons, TV shows and movies, and I’ve [been inspired by]a certain movie,” Sivakumar said. “But I’m remaining secretive because I want everyone to be [surprised]by my stunning look on October 31.”

For other students, like junior Stella Rao, costume planning for this year’s Halloween started the minute last year’s Halloween was over.

“I’m very enthusiastic about Halloween, [and]I would make [different pieces]as time goes,” Rao said. “Maybe I get new inspiration and I restart. It’s a time-consuming process.”

Rao dressed up as a woodland elf her sophomore year, making use of the latex elf ears that she purchased. She added foundation and different colors to the elf ears in order for them to blend into her skin, which was something she learned from the special effects makeup tutorials she watches.

Like Rao, sophomore Rachel Millar  also creates her own costumes because she feels limited by the selection of costumes available for purchase.

“My ideas are usually kind of far out there,” Millar said. “Or it’s something specific that I wouldn’t know where to find.”

Millar’s previous costumes have included a steampunk and a 1920s era flapper girl, while Rao’s previous costumes have included Frankenstein’s bride and the aforementioned woodland elf. While the final products were satisfying, both faced challenges along the way.

“The hardest part is putting your own twist on the costume,” Rao said. “If you’re making a costume, you wouldn’t want to copy someone else’s design — you would want to find your own plan.”

Besides originality, Millar emphasizes another challenge with making costumes is making them look professional.

“Sometimes they don’t end up looking how you want them to look, which is a little frustrating,” Millar said. “You have to figure out if you just want to go with that or if you are going to have to buy it.”

Millar and Rao both advise aspiring costume makers to start small, first by thinking of ideas, then by looking towards DIY tutorials to help with the process.

Art teacher Jodi Johnson also advises students to bargain hunt and consider altering pieces that they buy. She recalls buying a pair of slacks and altering them to look like bell bottom pants for her Elvis costume.

“I think it’s just so much more fun and it’s really rewarding,” Johnson said. “You go to the Halloween store and they make tons of money selling the same exact cookie-cutter costumes, and I really appreciate it when students have original thought, original execution and try to reach beyond what you can just buy in a store. It’s much more fun.”

While Millar, Rao and Sivakumar all enjoy celebrating Halloween, they believe that most Cupertino students don’t engage in festivities as much. Millar expressed that although her peers may not appreciate Halloween as much as she does, they generally have positive reactions to her own enthusiasm and the effort she puts into making her costume.

“[People’s reactions have] been pretty good,” Millar said. “I’ve always been a big holiday enthusiast and went all out, so there have been pretty big reactions.”

Reactions to Rao’s costumes have included assumptions that they were store bought, which made her feel good that her stitching for her costume was to that level. Others questioned what her costume even was, critiques which Rao takes into account to strive to be more specific with her costume details.

“I think that a lot of people don’t realize that fashion isn’t just pressing your opinion on someone else. It’s expressing yourself and letting people take in what they want to take in,” Rao said. “If someone doesn’t like [your costume], you have to accept [it]so that way conflicts don’t rise.”

According to Sivakumar, a lot of reactions to his costumes question why he is so dedicated to the holiday and why he puts so much effort into dressing up. He doesn’t let the reactions bother him, and continues to celebrate his favorite holiday.

“I am never going to stop dressing up. I can be on my deathbed. I could die on Halloween night, but I’m going to die covered in face paint,” Sivakumar said. “You have to have the guts to execute your costume. As long as you put effort and you’re passionate about what you wear, that’s creating a look for Halloween.”

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