I’ve settled on a costume for this Halloween but there were a few (read: several) contenders along the way. Should you find yourself short of ideas, female, and nerdy as the day is long, consider going as:
Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. You’ll need: an old wedding dress, a moldy piece of uneaten wedding cake, and a black, black heart.
Katey Kontent from Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility: You’ll need: ample doses of sass, a Deco dress, and a willingness to drink alone.
Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz, re-tooled. Or should we say…re-tulled? You will also need a silver wand, un-shakeable optimism, and some sparkly shoes.
“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why…” There’s no holiday better suited for polyamory than Halloween (at least in New York). Take a lover or two and go as Pulitzer prize-winning poetess Edna St. Vincent Millay. You’ll need: a flame-red wig, lacy undergarments, and a gauzy, trailing gown.
If your date likes gin and you find yourself feeling a bit unhinged, why not dress as Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald? You’ll need: a tendency towards narcissism, liberal amounts of flapper-wear, and an iron liver.
Thetis, from Madeline Miller’s forthcoming The Song of Achilles. Anyone who has read this excellent re-telling of The Iliad will agree: Thetis—Achilles’ mother—steals the show. Don this slinky goddess dress, curl your hair, and take no prisoners.
Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind). You’ll need: a dearth of self-knowledge, a book of Southern exclamations, a passion for vittles, and a dress to wear to the barbecue. Remember: if you sit at a picnic table, you’ll only have two sides. Better pull a chair out and let your beaus surround you.
Madeleine Hanna from Jeffrey Eugenides’ latest, The Marriage Plot. You’ll need: a pile of Victorian novels, incurable romanticism, and a borrowed Betsey Johnson dress. Get it dry-cleaned, just to be on the safe side.
Patti Smith, musician, poet, author of Just Kids. The best part about this costume is the range of choices, though I’d go with Patti’s menswear phase. For that you’ll need: a tux, a dog-eared copy of Rimbaud’s collected works, a white collared shirt, and a pocketful of stolen steak.