The Cost of Halloween, Part 1: Costumes

spellbinderI went to my first Halloween party of the season Saturday night, which meant it was time to put together my Halloween costume.

As you know from earlier postings, this year I’m costuming/cosplaying Julia Wicker from Lev Grossman’s Magicians series. (One of the parties I’m attending is themed “come as your favorite author or book character,” so that’s where I got the idea.)

Julia doesn’t have a specific look to copy, which makes the costume a bit easier. I decided to make the base level of the costume pajamas, because if there’s one thing I know about people who spend all day studying magic and posting to online message boards, it’s that they’re probably doing it in their pajamas.

Since I already own pajamas, that meant I only needed to buy a few additional items:

Binder: $12.99

Glittery letters to spell “Spellbinder” on binder: $5.49

Blue star stickers to simulate Julia’s star tattoos: $2.79

And, of course, the wig.

We know from the books that Julia has dark curly hair, and as she gets deeper and deeper into her magic studies she dyes it black and stops taking care of it. So… long black curly wig, should be easy enough to find, right?

I ended up going into three different stores before I found the wig I wanted. (There are a lot of straight black witch wigs, and a lot of Bride of Frankenstein’s Monster wigs, but not a lot of long black curly wigs.) Luckily, I was on Capitol Hill, so the three stores were practically next to each other.

The last store I visited was packed with costume shoppers. This is relevant to the story because it meant the salesperson who was helping me kept getting interrupted. She would start to go into the back to get the wig, then someone else would want something, then another salesperson would be asked to find the wig, etc. etc. etc. They went into the back and then into the way back and discovered that the wig I wanted was out of stock, but they’d be happy to sell me the display model. And then they had to find more people to take down the display model, wrap up the wig, etc.

So by the time this was all done and the salesperson said “That’ll be $49.95, is that okay?” I was both floored and too far into the experience to turn around. I had invested my time, other people had invested trips to The Back, they had gotten out a stepladder and de-wigged a fake head. So I paid.

But $49.95? For a synthetic wig? The last time I bought a wig for a costume (Ramona Flowers, 2010), it cost maybe $9. I was expecting to pay maybe $20.

So that’s a story of how I spent more than I expected on Halloween costumes this year.

Total cost: 71.22 plus tax.

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