Monday, October 25, 2010

WIP: Halloween Costume

This is a year where I pay a fair amount of attention to detail.

Athena, my go-to deity out of pretty much any pantheon (though props also go to Freya!), is, of course, Greek. Therefore an Athena costume is a Greek costume.

Step 1: Not Being Naked

Most of the time, when masquerading as something Greco-Roman, people throw a bedsheet around themselves and hope for the best. I decided to be a little more anal retentive and do some research into Greek dress.

Togas are more or less a Roman thing. For Greek women, you had either the chiton, peplos, or himation. All three are variations on a theme of "attach a piece (or two) of large cloth together such that your naughty bits are (mostly) concealed." The chiton is the simplest of all of them, so I decided on that one.

You can either use a super-long piece of fabric folded in half to create a tube (like in the above image), or two not-so-long pieces of fabric pinned together at the shoulders.

Or, a third option for those of you who don't want one half of your posterior flapping out in the breeze, is to use a piece of fabric already sewn up as a tube. Fortunately, I already owned such a thing!

I went to Indonesia in May of 2009, and couldn't leave without buying some beautiful batik fabric. My host—college friend and math enthusiast Bov—recommended I get it stitched up properly (and on the cheap) while we caroused about Jogajakarta. Bingo! Sarong.

Now, while your typical mental image of the Ancient Greeks may be of austere old men in white and ivory dress, the reality is a little more...tacky. Greek statues, in their day, were not the dignified understated eggshell color of marble, but rather an eye-searing rainbow of rich primary hues. Exhibit A:

Consider also that the Greeks certainly were capable of dying thread and cloth. That their clothing would have been brightly-colored and fancy (at least for those in the higher classes) is not too much of a stretch. So my opting for the sumptuous batik sarong is probably closer to the mark than an old white bedsheet.

Close-up on the batik, there are no words for how much I love it.

Fabric in hand, it's a simple matter of pinning together the sleeves and belting the waist. Real Greeks would have used a leather belt or strip of cloth for that; I'm making do with a curtain pull I got at Jo-Ann's for 50% off. It doesn't really seem too entirely off the mark, based on assorted images on the internet.

Step 2: Staying Not Naked

Chitons and all other garments were pinned to stay in place, either with plain long metal needles (like hatpins) or with fancier brooches. I made two of my own, using carnelian (a stone that would have been available to the Greeks—yes, I did get that anal retentive). Though I'm well aware the pin mechanism in my setting is far more complicated than what would have been used back in the day.

kokoba carnelian

Bonus points: the warm orange carnelian goes well with the colors in the sarong/chiton.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

Athena was in charge of a lot of things for the Greeks, most of which could be grouped under the heading "Wisdom." Hence why the owl, her favored animal, is associated with wisdom.

kokoba owl

And while Athena's wisdom presided over pretty much everything near and dear to the Greeks (philosophy, math, the invention of weaving, the flute, and the plow), the most notable one—the imagery with which she's most often paired—is battle strategy and cunning. (Ares was more interested in violence and bloodlust; Athena was the one in charge of tactics and planning.) Along with an owl, Athena is often portrayed with the aegis (Zeus' shield) or a spear—or both—and a helmet.

That means a trip to the Halloween store is in order; hopefully I can find something sufficiently Greco-looking without having to buy some kind of Roman legionnaire / 300 costume. Bonus points for tie-up sandals, though since I hate wearing shoes in any capacity I'll probably go barefoot. That's probably just as historically accurate!

1 comment:

  1. I love your batik! Also, the owl is fabulous.

    You should be able to get your hands on a spear without having to buy a whole costume, I'd think. You could also look out for curtain-rod ends that look spear-like and a long thick dowel or something.

    I’ve come to terms with the fact that my costume is not getting completed. Then again, I have no plans to celebrate anywhere since we're going out of town. Maybe next year…