Hansen’s Halloween costume tips for students on a budget

By: Paul Medina

East Los Angeles College Theater Arts instructor, Costume Shop Manager and designer Jessica Hansen has some advice for creating a costume, especially for college students.

Building a costume isn’t as difficult as it may seem. It’s all about starting out with one piece then the rest comes into place. “Reuse and repurpose whatever you may have inside your closet,” Hansen said.

A key component to creating a Halloween costume is by reusing what we currently have in our closets. Not only do college students on a budget save money, but oftentimes this practice can lead to creating a great creative costume.

“If you are new to sewing, I recommend just making one piece of your costume and then purchasing the other pieces or pulling them from your closet, so that you are not stressed about making the whole thing,” Hansen said. Hansen has some advice for certain pieces which need to be purchased. “Buy things that are inexpensive in which you can manipulate into whatever design you are making,” Hansen said.

Halloween falls on Oct. 31, immediately before All Saints Day which “in the Christian church,[is] a day commemorating all the saints of the church, both known and unknown, who have attained heaven,” Britannica encyclopedia said.

At ELAC’s Theater Arts Department, the majority of show costumes start from scratch. One strong piece of advice Hansen suggested when designing a costume is something the costume department follows. It begins by doing research, then thinking conceptually (what is the mood when people are watching the costume), then drawing out the costume. “Many of our students are into cosplay, and this process brings excitement into the process of costume making,” Hansen said.

Halloween is believed to loosely have its origins in pagan roots, and is often associated with a darker theme, donning costumes and frightening others. With the fall season upon us comes many changes in scenery. It is a time which many look forward to the imminent holidays or notable days of celebration. Among those days is Halloween, which is often mistaken for a holiday.

The National Retail Federation’s annual survey expects Americans this year to spend $10.14 billion dollars on Halloween-related goods from candy, to decorations and costumes. Oftentimes costumes are only worn once, then consumers tend to never wear them again. Furthermore, with many supplies typically imported from China, on short supply and currently being held at the Port of Los Angeles/ Long Beach, it is imperative this year for people (especially students) to get creative.

On Sunday while appearing on a CNN show, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci released guidelines for enjoying Halloween. With more people getting vaccinated, Fauci encouraged those vaccinated to “go out there and enjoy Halloween.”

According to the Wall Street Journal “The supply-chain snarls that have shaped much of life in the pandemic are now responsible for shortages of Halloween décor and costumes. Consumers and suppliers alike are getting creative and planning ahead.” If you are interested in learning more on costume design, ELAC’s award-winning Theater Arts costume department offers many courses.

Contact Jessica Hansen at hansenjl@elac.edu or Talin Gharibi at gharibt@elac.edu.

Courses are currently offered in-person and online.

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