The Art of the Butch Halloween Costume

Although Christmas, 30th September (Taylor and my anniversary) and 9th December (my birthday) are all competitors for my favourite internationally recognised and celebrated holiday, the winner is Halloween. Everything becomes creepy but in a cutesy, camp way. Basically a tonne of shit which I'm into 365 days a year becomes popular and celebrated worldwide.
This year, however, my fave festival has reached an even more exciting level. Because I've seen many wonderfully executed examples of a glorious thing: the Butch Halloween Costume.

Especially if you're going out partying on Halloween, as so many do, it's customary to wear a costume. We're all familiar with this famous quote from The Best Movie Ever Made: "In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it." And of course, you all just envisaged Rachel McAdams in her bunny costume wiggling her butt in front of her overenthusiastic mum.

And it's true that so-called "slutty" costumes are popular choices for femininely-inclined ladies on Halloween. Websites such as Take Back Halloween exist because of the scandal surrounding the kind of Halloween costumes that are marketed for women and worse, little girls . As an aside, I personally think people should dress how they want on Halloween and every other night. If that's in a provocative way then fine. If it's not, also fine. I obviously think people shouldn't be pressurised to dress a certain way or be slut-shamed if they want to dress like that.

But when you're butch, you don't have the sexy dress and "I'm A Mouse, Duh!" ears option, even if you wanted it. As a teenage butch, peers with fashion preferences which matched the gender they were assigned at birth incessantly shamed me into thinking I was unfashionable. These comments meant it took me a long time to gain confidence in many aspects of dressing, fancy dress being one of them. I get afraid of being laughed at or looking like a fool.

Add into the mix that when it comes to fancy dress, masculine women are totally ignored. I actually googled "Masculine Women Halloween Costumes" for links for this article, and for some reason all I got was links to straight couples' Halloween outfits. As a butch, the easy solution is to wear a comedy costume, but comedy isn't usually what you're going for when you hit a club! As shown by the thousands of women who choose to wear the continually controversial "Sexy Cat/Devil/Witch/Pizza/Ja Ja Binks" get-up, Halloween isn't just a time to wear fancy dress, but also a time to feel attractive in your outfit.

Despite my struggles with dressing up, this Halloween I pushed the boat out and made a real effort. I got together an Eddie Munster outfit and I felt really proud of myself! Dressing as Eddie leant itself perfectly to my being a butch. Eddie is a little boy, so what I call my "Peter Pan appearance", and what others call my "Justin Bieber appearance", was totally appropriate. I put together my outfit from my own butch wardrobe and gelled back my short hair, wolfman-style. Once I had blacked out my eyebrows to Frida Kahlo proportions, I was good to go. And I felt good. All night.

Perusing Instagram from the depths of hangover hell the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see many similarly Butch Halloween Costumes (or BHCs). I follow a lot of women on the butchy end of the spectrum and seeing them dressed up for Halloween gave me a confidence boost. It's so nice to know I'm not the only person navigating situations like this while remaining true to my butch identity. This is a good example of what I discussed in my article on masculine women's visibility: seeing them, I finally felt legitimised that you can have a look that's both stylish and fun on Halloween when you're a butch.
For the first time it occurred to me that in Butch World, and if you do it right, Halloween could be the one night a year when you can have an extreme masculine look and be celebrated for it.

I assembled a few extra memorable BHCs that I wanted to make a shout out to:

Vero Sanchez
The former bassist of rock band Hunter Valentine looked totally debonair as Prince. Wearing a blue velvet suit with shoulder pads, huge visor sunglasses and even huger facial hair, she looked slick and ever so slightly shady, just like the man who sang Gett Off himself. Like with my Eddie outfit, Vero's slender frame suited the Prince persona perfectly. This was definitely my favourite BHC I saw!

Laura Petracca
Current Hunter Valentine drummer also rocked the glitzy suit, facial hair and even chest hair for her get-up to be Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. Extra kudos for the intense binding ritual which she also documented having gone down for this outfit.

Kacy Boccumini
The Real L Word's Kacy went as Clark Kent and looked very charming too, with black-rimmed glasses, slicked back hair, a suit and an open shirt to reveal a Superman t-shirt. My favourite thing about this costume is how simple but effective it is! This idea provides butch costumes for years, starting with Peter Parker and just going on and on and on...

And I'm sorry, but I had to throw in a couple of BHC Don'ts...

Ellen DeGeneres
I know Ellen is a comedian but her Nicki Minaj costume reminded me unpleasantly of the millions of times people have gratingly suggested I go as a "girly girl" for Halloween parties. It also bugged me that Minaj shared a pic of this outfit on her Instagram with the caption, "I didn't know Ellen could get any sexier", implication being my most hated stereotype that butches are unattractive. I hope Ellen enjoyed her outfit but I think butches can look wicked on Halloween without having to look like jokes. This having been said, I was somewhat comforted when I read Hollywood Life's verdict: "we have to say we prefer Ellen in a suit and sneakers any day."

Lucy Spraggan
This was last year, but I will never forget British singer/songwriter Lucy in that shapeless giant pumpkin outfit. It looked way too much like the opening scene of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, in which the main character has a "cringey" experience when she gets laughed out the room for dressing as a giant olive rather than the standard Mean Girls-style looks adopted by her friends. Again, being butch doesn't just mean you have to look funny, you can look fashionable if you prefer. Spraggan's look is exactly what the Butch Halloween Costume does not need to be.

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