A costume designer's tips for bringing your Halloween outfit to life

'Soul train' was put together with pieces from a children's production.
"Soul train", a costume available at Costume Rentals, was put together by employees with pieces from Richard Scarry's Busytown and retro soul clothing.
Cassidy Kieck | MPR News

If you are looking to step up your costume this Halloween Alicia Wold, director of Costume Rentals, has some useful advice for you.

Wold has been working in the world of costume design for over 25 years. As director of Costume Rentals, which is part of the Guthrie Theater, she oversees day-to-day operations and ensures that theaters can find the costumes they need. Wold has worked on projects ranging from designing costumes for characters at Camp Snoopy to being the director of costumes at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Renting a professional costume can get expensive, some of Wold's creations rent for nearly $200. Most trick-or-treaters won't be shelling out that kind of cash for their look this year, but she has a handful of practical tips that could be used by frugal costume designers:

1) Consider the cost of your costume

Wold said that the hardest part about dressing up for Halloween is deciding what to be. There are four categories that costumes typically fall under: punny, generic, historical or a replication of a character.

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Wold recommends considering costume licensing when making your decision; you may end up putting in more work than intended or paying more for a costume if you choose to be Batman versus a generic superhero.

2) Do your research

Once your decision is made, it's important to know all about your character. Wold recommends thinking about the world that your character lived in and learning about the types of clothing they would have in their closet.

3) Get the right material

If you want to build your costume like a pro, you're going to need to look the part. Often times costumes that are store-bought use a lighter, cheaper material; they don't look authentic. Wold said you should look for a heavier material and make sure it feels like real clothing.

4) Consider the silhouette

This garment was worn by Ann Kim as the stepmother in 'A Village Fable.'
This garment was worn by Ann Kim as the stepmother in "A Village Fable." It was designed by Lydia Tanji.
Cassidy Kieck | MPR News

You've decided what you wanted to be, you've done your research and you've got an idea of what material would be best. Now it's time to consider the shape you'll take.

If you're going with a costume from the 1950s, you'll know to look for a fuller, poodle skirt. The silhouette helps create the feel of an era.

5) It's all about the details

Small things can pull a costume together. Wold said it's important to think about the kind of makeup, hairstyles and accessories were present in the time period your costume is from.

Accessories can also help to transform a traditionally modern outfit into a classic look.

6) Have a story

Wold recommends giving your character a backstory before going out. This will help you get fully immersed in who you are and can make for interesting talking points.

7) Plan for the weather

Outerwear is an important thing to consider when making your Halloween plans. Wold said it's important to make sure your outerwear matches your costume. Batman wouldn't wear a jean jacket, even if it is cold, and neither should you.


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