I love costume parties like I love loudly singing to myself on my bicycle. Which is to say: A LOT.
Although I have a costuming background and was a seamstress for a few years, I am completely impatient and lazy when it comes to crafting my own costumes. The planning, patience and time required to craft a truly amazing outfit is beyond me. It's like there is an amazing sliding scale of standards in my mind that means that after one hour of labour on a costume for myself, I am suddenly willing to settle for being a paper bag princess. Every year. That's why, when a friend called asking Brenna & I to a Halloween Party at a hip gallery in downtown Toronto a few years back, we just drove straight to Value Village.
After much deliberation, Brenna and I decided on Old Lady costumes. We could be the coolest old ladies ever, since we truly appreciated granny chic as a legitimate daily style option. We decided on a "Queen Mum" look for Brenna with an adorable pale pink suit, granny shoes, a pearl-spotted bag and a little hat. For me we opted for "Whistler's Mother" and I donned a vintage black dress, black brogues, black stockings and a black fascinator.
We gathered our stuff together and paused for pictures by the front door. We were laughing and confident in our outfits (minus that twinge at the back of your mind that says you are wearing yet another Value Village Halloween Costume) as we stepped on the bus. Maybe we pulled them together day-of, but we looked like mighty saucy grandmas and tonight was going to be amazing!
Showing up at the gallery, we looked around for my friend and I began to get a sinking feeling in my stomach.
Nobody was dressed like an old lady.
Nobody was even really dressed as a woman.
I texted my friend immediately. "DID YOU FORGET TO MENTION THAT THIS PARTY HAS A SPACE THEME???"
Everyone was dressed like aliens, robots, spaceships and sci-fi characters. While clutched our little bags, people around us were clutching light sabers, flashing electronic circuitboards and space transmitters. They had gone all-out in the way that only artists really do. People had flashing lights over their entire costumes. Some had carved alien heads and faces or done prosthetics to give themselves extra eyes or features.
Nothing looked like it came from Value Village.
Nothing looked like you might have mugged an old lady.
Nothing could be more embarrassing. (Not true. I only said that for effect. One day I will tell you about the Chicken & Fly incident.)
I think the best part of the evening was the very end. As we came in the front door of our home, my mom had waited up to see how the costumes had gone over. As I recall, we tried to slide past her, muttering under our breath that the party had been space themed. Her eagle mom ears caught the words anyways, and she burst out laughing.
I was actually reminded to write this post because a few months ago we got an email from her out of nowhere with a picture of us by the front door, dressed as grandmas. The tone of the email suggests that she remembers the story and is still laughing at us.