Gone are the days when dressing up as a mummy was regarded as properly entering the spirit of the 31 October. Now it’s 2019 and a costume that doesn’t nod at the pop cultural touchstones of the previous nine months is no costume at all.
Nowhere does time move as fast as it does online, so some of these incidents that previously seemed unforgettable may have slipped down the back of the mental sofa.
So peruse our guide to creating an of-the-moment, minimum fuss, maximum impact costume that will attract the most precious currency of all: that sweet cultural capital.
Despite being an incident that took place solely in the digital sphere (much like our lives in 2019), it’s relatively easy to depict the feat of investigative journalism that was Coleen Rooney exposing Rebekah Vardy’s account as a tabloid mole via the magic of costume.
That’s thanks to the nickname “Wagatha Christie”, bestowed upon Rooney by the internet, which instantly makes translating the concept of an elongated ellipsis (“It’s………… Rebekah Vardy’s account”) into child’s play.
All that’s required to bring to life “Murder on the Leyton Orient Express” is a smartphone, a magnifying glass, a taupe trench coat and an extremely sleek blow dry.
Evian Guy, aka Andy King, aka the man who went to the Bahamian customs office “fully prepared to suck d***” in order to release supplies for the doomed Fyre Festival, is a costume that requires a few key, but easily attainable elements.
A short grey wig is good; a fleece and shirt combo even better. But most important is, of course, Evian. King himself did not have Evian – hence the preparation to fellate a customs officer – but without the Evian, the get-up is just that of a slightly bemused middle-aged man. Which works better as a Brexit costume.
Natalie and Caroline
How do you dress as a viral essay, you might ask? This is a couples/friends costume that pays homage to the saga of Instagram influencer Caroline Calloway and her sort-of ghostwriter and former friend, Natalie Beach.
Caroline had already achieved online notoriety in certain sections of the internet in early 2019, thanks to a meet-and-greet event that was either a scam or a horribly organised enterprise, depending on who you ask.
Natalie came to public attention when she published an essay about her experience of one-time friendship with Caroline – and helping to write her book proposal.
What’s needed to realise this vision is two wigs; one blonde, one brunette. And a heady miasma of resentment. But also mason jars, a potentially copyright-infringing Matisse print and – the crucial element – some Yale plates. Mislay these at some point to be truly method.
Simone Biles winning everything
October saw Simone Biles officially crowned the greatest gymnast in history. So talented is she that there are currently three different gymnastics moves named after her and the International Gymnastics Federation are trying to water down the points value of her skills – because no other gymnast can match her.
Don a leotard and scrape hair into a tight bun for the basic Biles look. But what makes this look is the medals. As many as possible. Attach ribbon to large chocolate coins for accessories that double as snacks.
No one will come close to emitting the pure carnal energy Andrew Scott’s portrayal of the priest in season two of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag brought to screens in 2019. But many will try.
To pull off the costume (rumpled black trousers and shirt, white piece of paper tucked around the neck for a dog collar) and elevate it from merely “priest” into “hot priest”, add a can of M&S Gin and Tonic and a half-smoked cigarette. Utter the word “kneel” in a sultry, commanding tone intermittently, but never directly to anyone specifically because sexual harassment is not sexy. A Bible can also be added to stay in the go(o)d books.
Megan Rapinoe on the Women’s World Cup Victory Parade
The Women’s World Cup felt like a landmark occasion for myriad reasons, not least that women’s football finally grabbed – and kept – the attention of a record number of people.
While many players were cemented in the history books during the tournament, it was American winger Megan Rapinoe who became global name.
Not only did Rapinoe take the Golden Boot and Golden Ball for being both top scorer and best player at the tournament, as co-captain, she also led her team to overall victory in the games.
Channel the World Cup winning energy of Rapinoe at the team’s New York victory parade by donning a black T-shirt and leggings and a thin gold chain around the neck. Accessories make this look, specifically: oversized chunky red sunglasses, a bottle of champagne and one Fifa World Cup trophy. Fakes acceptable. Bonus item: confetti, made from shredded sex discrimination lawsuits demanding equal pay. If one of these is not on hand, normal paper will suffice – just about.
It’s hard to represent a social movement with good intentions and a strong message, ruined by overzealous drama students. The best way is probably via Mr Broccoli.
Mr Broccoli, for the uninitiated, is a member of Animal Rebellion, an Extinction Rebellion offshoot. He’s actually a 46-year-old carpenter but chooses to make his serious point about the ongoing climate emergency by dressing up as a large vegetable who pretends to take phone calls from a banana. Great, meaningful stuff.
Mr Broccoli is a risky costume choice. Being daubed entirely in green paint, with broccoli as headgear is a shortcut to losing friends and alienating people but hey, commitment to the bit is everything. Also be wary of actually being mistaken for the real Mr Broccoli (is there a real Mr Broccoli? Or is he played by a series of sleeper agents?) and heavily lampooned.
Phoebe Waller Bridge at the Emmys
Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge cleaned up at the 2019 Emmy Awards, snagging four trophies, including Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Comedy Series.
So she had reason to celebrate – which is why her friend Josh Cole managed to snap an iconic photo of the star.
Surrounded by her trophies, PJW was pictured reclining on a Chauteau Marmont sunlounger in her Monique Lhuillier dress; margarita in one hand a cigarette in the other. The snap went viral within 24 hours (how could it not?).
The only difficult aspect of this costume is obtaining fake Emmy statuettes, which are harder to track down than their Oscar counterparts. Some compromise might be required here; a swap for a generic trophy perhaps, or a Dundie if you want to pay homage to two pop culture giants at a time.
But the other elements to turn someone into PWB are easy; any blush coloured dress with a plunging neckline, a cigarette (fake, if preferred but do not swap for a vape, it will not work. Vapes do not channel the requisite BDE to pull off this look) and a margarita. Pair up with a Hot Priest for meta satisfaction.
The World Record Egg
Remember the egg? Come on, the egg. Oval, smooth, brown? The most-liked post ever on Instagram? That beat Kylie Jenner’s previous record (which was the first photo of her daughter, Stormi)?
For this one, simply procure an egg costume. That’s it. If anyone wants to really commit, strip off the egg costume at some point to reveal three advertising professionals who claim to reject corporate culture, then partner with streaming service Hulu for an undisclosed amount of money.
30-50 Feral Hogs
The summer of 2019 was particularly unrelenting as far as a constant stream of news goes, but surely everyone can recall where they were on 4 August, when 30-50 feral hogs burst into the collective consciousness within three to five minutes.
Apparently hogs are a legitimate problem in parts of the American south but the tweet that introduced the concept of these feral piggies – penned by user William McNabb in response to a question on gun control – inspired levity across the globe at the time.
To nail the “pig” aspect, all that’s needed is a snout, pig ears and a tail. But these are feral hogs.
A deranged air must be conveyed. Get white-out contact lenses, smear fake dirt around the mouth, perhaps hang children’s toys (or a doll!) from clothing. Anything to indicate you’re hogwild and also capable of running through a yard within three to five minutes.
The ultimate group costume.
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