My Fancy Dress FRIGHTMARE

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Amy Dawson has learned about making Halloween costumes the hard way…

AH, autumn. It can only mean one thing – Halloween is rapidly approaching. I secretly dread it because, more than anything, I hate making an effort when it comes to fancy dress.

It’s all very well if you’re a celebrity, off to one of Heidi Klum or Jonathan Ross’s famous Halloween bashes. With money to burn and a stylist to do all the shopping for me, I’d be delighted to rock up dressed as Queen Nefertiti. Instead, I always end up trying to cobble something together at the last minute and on the cheap – with unspectacular results.

Back in school, I decided to dress as Buffy The Vampire Slayer one Halloween. My ‘costume’ consisted of me wearing a crucifix around my neck and carrying a large twig snapped from the apple tree in my parents’ front drive as a ‘stake’. Nobody has ever looked less like Sarah Michelle Gellar. Strangely enough, nobody asked me the way to the Hellmouth.

Things didn’t improve once I’d entered the world of work. A few years ago, I was finishing up on a Friday, when I suddenly remembered I was due at a Halloween party that evening. I hurried home and spent a sad and sweary hour attempting to fashion a cat’s tail out of a wire coathanger and a pair of Primark opaque tights. It looked like Wednesday Addams’s old badminton racquet – not something I was ready to affix to my derriére.

I decided to go as a zombie instead, and set to work shredding an old T-shirt and backcombing my hair. I didn’t have any face paints, but by this point I had lost the will to live – much less go back out to the shops. So, for reasons I now don’t entirely understand, I decided to daub wet self-raising flour on to my face and rub some soil from a pot plant on to my skin. I even threw a bit of ketchup over myself to complete the look. At the party, I bumped into the super-hot but supremely annoying friend-of-a-friend dressed in an eye- wateringly short nurse’s outfit. ‘Amy!’ she said, ‘Why didn’t you dress up?’

Not only was my outfit terrible, I smelt like a mouldy baguette; I hadn’t got the memo about sexy Halloween garb yet. For, as they say in Mean Girls: ‘In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.’

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However, by far the most impressive are the witty, silly outfits – I give you Katy Perry as a giant orange Cheeto, or Kate Moss dressed as Cara Delevingne. Even when I plan a funny ‘concept’ costume, it seems to go awry. One year I decided, with two friends, that we would dress as Beyoncé and her backing dancers from the Single Ladies video – in zombie form. I’m not sure how to explain this decision, except to say that I was at least a bit drunk for most of 2008. When it came down to it, I felt too self-conscious to wear high heels, so teamed my leotard with a cosy cardi and ballet pumps. I looked like a dishevelled woman who’d forgotten to put her skirt on after the gym.

So, if you’re as useless as me, what are you to do? One option it’s hard to go wrong with is the cat – just leave out the tail part. Ears can be bought for a few quid on your lunch break and you can do a nose and whiskers in eyeliner on the bus (when you’re inevitably running late).

Or just take the magisterial attitude of my friend Laura. When I asked her if she had a costume ready for Halloween, she replied, ‘Of course not, I’m not a child.’ A withering riposte to keep in the chamber – better, in any case, than reaching for the flour.