Halloween Costumes: Making vs. Buying

10 Nov

Halloween is a capitalized holiday, especially in a college town like Iowa City.  Local businesses offer incentives to visit their establishments, like cash prizes awarded to the best costume…all the more reason to make a unique one yourself!

Halloween is the holiday that allows you to dress up and be someone or something else for the night.  What comes to mind is children dressed up trick or treating and carved pumpkins on home doorsteps.  But Iowa City, a college town who takes holidays to another level, turns it into a four day event with extravagant decorations and incentives to visit local businesses.  The weekend before and including Monday the 31st, college students dressed up in both store bought and homemade costumes.  Making your own costume can be time consuming, expensive (if you don’t know where to shop) and just not worth it when you can buy a fully equipped outfit at Hot Topic.  Why make your own costume you ask?  “I’d say the best reason to make your own costume is that nobody else will have it,”  Andy Jensen, Halloween enthusiast, said.  Jensen who has devoted time and creativity to his Halloween costumes for the past five years takes costume making extremely seriously, and can’t bare the thought of having to buy a prepackaged outfit.  He has been Skeeter from the TV show Doug, a loaf of Wonder Bread, Tim Dwight, among others in the past. His best effort though went into a Big Bird costume he made for this year’s Hallows Eve.

How To Make Your Own Big Bird Costume:

Jensen decided to make this costume as he was dubbed “Big Bird” in high school for his height and blonde hair combo.  He bought most of the materials at Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts in Iowa City.  First, he purchased a few yards of thin fleece fabric (in yellow, of course) for the body.  He sewed that up at home making sure there were holes for his head, arms and legs.  He pasted on yellow feather boas all over his bodysuit he also found at the fabric store.  He also bought a styrofoam cone which he shaped to be a beak; wrapping extra fleece fabric around it to hold in place.   He really got creative for his shoes– Jensen formed paper mache over old tennis, using cardboard as a buffer between the shoes and paper.  He used duct tape to hold it in place.  Once the material dried he again used left over fleece material to give them a yellow glow.  Using the yellow fleece yet again, he sewed yellow gloves or wings I should say.  He came upon orange tights from Ragstock, downtown Iowa City, “I was too tall so I had to cut them into single leg tights,” he said.  He used pink rope from the same store to wind around each leg.  His final purchase, which was his most expensive at $16, was a yellow feather wig off Amazon.com.  Finishing touches to the Big Bird were simply yellow face paint and a good attitude!  Overall Jensen said his costume cost around $70, but is worth way more than that to him, “It’s just cool in the fact that you made it yourself,” he said.  Tip: always use extra scraps of material you bought, it will save you money and will definitely take your look up a notch by adding little things.  (Jensen used extra scraps for shoe covers, beak cover, and gloves.)

Taking the time to make your own costume comes with personal satisfaction and in some cases, cash prizes.  Many bars in the Iowa City area offered cash prizes for best costumes on Saturday the 28 and some on actual Halloween night, Monday the 31.  Deadwood hosted Halloween bashes both Saturday and Monday nights.  Each day they set aside $200 for best dressed–$100 to the best male costume and $100 to the best female costume.  “A group of zombies won and split the proceeds,” Andrew, a bartender at Deadwood, said of Monday night.  This just goes to show that a great costume has the potential to break all of the rules.  The bartender also disclosed the bar was at maximum capacity Saturday, 218 people, with “a one in one out rule”.  Bars and restaurants in the Iowa City area stay competitive by giving away prizes on a busy holiday like Halloween.  But not all bars give away cash prizes.  That doesn’t phase UI student Courtney Lenane though, “I’ve never tried to win anything,” she said, “I just go out with my friends and get drink deals.” She is in luck as many venues have incentives that are not a competition to receive, like drink specials, live music and dance parties.  If you’re anything like me though, you’ll simply enjoy the decorations, halloween themed music and people watching.  Check out what you missed this past Halloween on “Where You Should Have Been this Halloween”.  Most places tend to have the same type of deals every year, so keep them in mind for places to hit up next year!

Where You Should Have Been this Halloween:

Click here to go to the interactive map, which shows you addresses and locations in relation to each other.

The Airliner: $500 cash prize went to the best costume on Saturday night (28), decided by the Bar & Grill’s manager.

Brother’s Bar & Grill: This franchise bar held a costume contest the Saturday before the 31st. $600 total was split up between 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Deadwood:  $100 cash prizes given to best dressed male and the best dressed female for both Saturday the 29th and Monday the 31st.

The Englert Theatre:  Showed the Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight on Saturday the 29th.  Read this article by Brianna Johnson to learn more about the movie, it may inspire you to go next year!

Macbride Hall–Natural History Museum:  Every year UI’s natural history museum decorates the exhibit for Halloween.  The community really comes together as local families are known to bring their kids.  It’s a great change of pace to your regular Halloween activities.

The Mill:  This bar and eatery is known for hosting live music from local talents every Halloween.  So of course they rounded up bands for Friday the 28th.

Sports Column: No costume specials but when you accept the fact that you most likely won’t win the big bugs why not save money on drink specials at SpoCo with $3 Big Beers and $3 Three Olives Vodka drinks.  (No cover!)

The Union Bar:  Let’s be honest people like to let loose on Halloween and where else to do it than on the dance floor of the biggest bar in the big10…all the incentive is already there.

Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon: Saturday night before Halloween they hosted the Robby Michael Band.  This bar is on the east side of Iowa City but worth the drive–it has a mechanical bull!

The Yacht Club:  This hidden bar (in the alley by Sports Column) held Halloween parties Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the 31st featuring Dead Larry and Roster McCabe–all for only $6 admission each night!

Halloween: Night of the Flapper

Mara Hilgenberg, as a flapper, expresses her feelings toward all Hallows Eve.  The slideshow takes place in downtown Iowa City at local bars including Martinis, The Airliner and Brothers Bar & Grill.

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