When folk say “My, your costume is ace!” I usually say two things. One “Ah, yes, I cheat – my wife is a costume designer and she tells me what to wear. And a Wardrobe Mistress, so she can point me at where to hire things I can’t buy…”
One of the things she says is “Accessorise or die, sweetie…” in a pastiche of the AbFab attitude in that title…
She recently took a job working on costume concept for a larp character in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Just a couple of hours of thinking and a Pinterest board, but the player found it really handy. (*)
My favourite bit of over-heard thinking was something like this… “Right, so your character was a corporate lawyer, and while she knows she is where she is, and there’s no going back, she does miss the corner office, so…” That spoke of a practical attitude, which led to a mood board in a corporate look somehow midway between Sarah Connor and Trinity achievable at a wide range of budgets. The sparkle was a recommendation for a old, extremely well-worn silk-scarf as a near-ragged memory of times now past.
That is the kind of accessory which really makes a characterful costume (**)
Darling, even Amanda de Cadenet would remember the word “accessories”Edina Monsoon, Absolutely Fabulous.
It’s nice to have the right shoes. I like a pair of bucket-tops, I do.
But I am old and infirm, and I like my ankles more, so I mostly wear paras. and I don’t often feel bad about it.
Gloves? Yes, but…
Yes, I once played one of Santa’s Elves, and the look on the face of the little child who turned the wrong corner after buying a christmas tree to be met by me mid-inhale of a crafty rollie in my fingerless gloves will live with me forever.
Yes, if you are playing someone horrible, black leather gloves do help.
Yes, it’s somehow just better to challenge someone to a duel by slapping them across the face with your leather gauntlets.
Yes, a Gentleman needs white cotton gloves.
But gloves aren’t indispensable.
When Manda is advising me, she often starts with a hat.
She knows I like hats, she knows I own hats and she knows what hat size I am, and what is in her Wardrobe in that size.
This is 9 hats for 8 characters, clockwise from top left:
- “Mr Blunt, Porter at the University of Koth”, Grand Design, 2003 or so.
- “Leif Ísbjörnsson, House Faust, pre-makeover”, College of Wizardry 12
- “Leif Ísbjörnsson, House Faust, post-makeover”, College of Wizardry 12
- “Lord Arthur Fitzgerald, of the Fitzgerald Family”, Fairweather Manor 5.
- “Keane of the Imagination Palace”, Exiled: on the Shores of Carmoa
- “Matthias, Inquisitorial Stormtrooper”, Death Unto Darkness
- “Mr Collins, Janitor of Czocha College”, College of Wizardry 18.
- “John Of Meade, Speaker Of The Senate”, Empire.
- And strictly speaking, the one in the middle isn’t a larp character, it’s me attending Secret Cinema: Moulin Rouge but it’s one of my favourite hats.
Now, I just love hats. They’re very good at making your character memorable, and they make the same piece of standard costume into the base of someone totally different too.
(If I’d had a happ’orth of sense, I’d have chosen character with the same shirt and a different hat for that image, but there it is…)
In more depth, Matt has put it rather well in this comment:
A hat is the single greatest piece of costume you can own.
Most costume is just something you wear. You put it on and you wear it and that is simply that.
But a hat is a thing of wonder, it is a thing of magic, it is a thing!
The thing about a hat being a thing is that you can take it off. You can doff it. You can stamp on it. You can sell it. You can throw it into the ring. You can wave it at people angrily. You can clutch it to you frantically.
Try doing any of that with a piece of costume!
A shirt is a shirt for better or worse, but a hat is so phat that nothing beats that.Matt Pennington, on Facebook.
Matt said I had to finish this with a Dr Seuss quote.
Here it is.
(* Costume consulting? 2 hours takes her from a character background through a chat and a vague budget idea, to some words written down in response and a Pinterest board of recommendations. £30 to you.)
(** Mand never uses the word costume. One of these days I’ll get her to blog why.)
Comedy aside I genuinely do love hats for their ability to be both props and costume at the same time.Matt Pennington again.