My second costume for my fancy dress week was the one that got the most attention. I spent a day dressed as the Other Mother from Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’, and it’s definitely one of the better costumes I made. Mr Gaiman retweeted the picture, and after I finished flapping my hands in a state of nervous excitement, I got the idea for this blog.
The costume was surprisingly easy to put together. Because I was recreating a whole character rather than a specific outfit that left a lot more room for interpretation. As well as the book, I had the 2009 film as inspiration, and the finished look was a combination of the two. As ever, keeping it cheap was my main concern and I put together the outfit from clothes I already had. The only real challenge was the button eyes.
I’ve always thought of the Other Mother as one of the creepiest villains from children’s literature second only to the Grand High Witch from Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’. She’s terrifying. Part of the fear that these characters inspire comes from their relatively normal appearance that conceals something monstrous. The Other Mother is almost an exact replica of Coraline’s real mother, save for her black button eyes. With that in mind, I wanted to keep my outfit looking relatively normal, feminine and conservative, while still retaining an air of menace. In the end, I chose a black dress and tights, a dark red jumper and some black pearls that I found in a charity shop for about £2.50. I also stuck on some evil lipstick (dark red is for villainesses) but I didn’t want to go for anything too showy that would distract from the button eyes.
Now I’m rubbish at arts and crafts and always have been, so this was the part of the costume I was worrying about the most. I wanted to have something convincing, but something that I would also be able to make without slicing open a finger or gluing my hands together. In the end, the method I found was surprisingly easy, and cost just under £10.
- Take a pair of fake glasses. The lenses must be round and if possible, the frame should be as unnoticeable as possible. I went for glasses framed with a thin, gold wire and they were perfect.
- Take a pair of buttons. At the very least they should be the same size as the lenses, but ideally you’d want them fractionally bigger, to hide as much of the frames as possible. As for the colour, you can pick any you like, although black is traditional.
- Take some blu-tack, glue, or double-sided tape. I used blu-tack because I’m lazy.
- Stick the buttons onto the lenses, being careful to keep them roughly in the centre.
- Have a cup of tea and congratulate yourself. That was hard work.
I was very happy with this costume. It was immediately obvious who I was supposed to be and I successfully creeped out people who hadn’t even read the book. It was very effective; all I had to do was tilt my head and smile and they’d just back away. However, I can’t recommend wearing the button glasses for long periods of time. You can see through them but it’s quite an unsettling experience as you have to rely on what’s directly in front of you and your peripheral vision. I had to keep taking them off, as after about an hour I was beginning to get a headache. Aside from that, the only other downside was that I had to keep reapplying my evil lipstick all day.
I’m very proud of this costume. I’d definitely wear it again, although perhaps not for a whole day. All the pieces that make up the costume can be worn as normal clothes and I think it holds up as a decent cosplay. Also, it was cheap and easy to put together, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.
Next week, I’ll be looking at my Ramona Flowers costume. If you’d like to follow my progress – or better yet, to donate to my cause – you can do so here: https://www.myraising.com/jo-harwood/incatrek2013
Total so far: £950
Projected final total: £2850
Amount left to raise: £1900