The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday December 1st

Costume enthusiasts weigh in on what makes a good Halloween costume

If Halloween on Franklin Street is big enough to warrant a Wikipedia page, the costumes are bound to be interesting.

After seeing incarnations of elaborate movie references and the classic low-maintenance anti-joke costumes, it’s hard to imagine the rudimentary origins of dressing up. What was once a spiritual Celtic festival has now developed into a massive costume party. 

Jade Bettin, a costume designer and dramatic art professor, said costumes give people a chance to try out a new persona.

“We have a tendency to like to play dress-up — to be people who we are not,” she said. “We can express parts of ourselves that aren’t able to be expressed at other times — we get to be something new.”

Bettin said this holiday liberates people from their usual self-representations and from society’s expectations of appearance.

“All of these rules are thrown out the window,” she said.  

Although there are different measures of success — creativity, wit, etc. — regarding Halloween costumes, Bettin said it's up to the person wearing the costume. 

“I think a good costume is one that makes you feel good about yourself in whatever way that means,” Bettin said. “It might be that you are really showcasing your creativity or how fun you are through the cleverness of the costume that you created for yourself, or how counterculture you are by referencing some movie that is obscure.”

Sophomore Leah Balkoski, a vintage clothing archivist for PlayMakers Repertory, agreed that creativity is one of the most important factors.

“What makes a good Halloween costume would probably be levels of detail and unique creativity,” she said. 

Balkoski also said a practical functionality of costumes is warmth. 

“I don’t like to be cold, and I don’t like to see people who are cold.”

Many UNC students are indeed keeping warmth levels in mind as they prepare their costumes. And some are trying to combine this functionality with childhood nostalgia. 

First-year Dana Averbook has secured a unicorn onesie for the occasion and plans to convert it into a Beanie Baby costume. “I’ve had a passion for Beanie Babies since I was little, so I just want to be one,” she said.

Averbook also said commitment and originality are essential to the making of a good costume.

Bettin said she agreed.

"Halloween is a chance to rewrite of who you are through your clothes."


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