Even though I grew up watching the old black and white Addams Family TV show, it wasn’t until The Addams Family Values came out that I truly fell in love.
This was the first movie that I ever memorised. I watched it so many times as a kid that I still know all the words--and the accompanying dance--to The Turkey Song. Obviously, I sing it every Thanksgiving, because is a holiday REALLY a holiday if someone isn’t doing something inappropriate?
If you guys haven’t seen The Addams Family Values for a minute, you’ve GOTTA watch it again. It’s about a million times better than the original Addams movie. I was astonished at how much really adult humour there is, not to mention how thorough the discussion of really complicated subjects. Class, wealth, privilege, sex... all of it, satirised beautifully in a movie where a disembodied hand is a main character.
But let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about one of my ultimate LIFE icons, Morticia Addams.
Morticia IS glamour. She’s perfection, from her smooth black hair to the hem of her tight black dresses. Her nails are always immaculate, her skin glows, she understands the power of amazing lighting. And she and Gomez have the kind of glorious love I think we all dream about having someday.
Anjelica Huston as Morticia was even more glamourous and deadpan-hilarious than in the TV show. She also brought something languorous and heavy to the role--something that I could clearly see, but not quite understand. It wasn’t until I was much older that I recognised it as sensuality.
I’ve wanted to be Morticia Addams for Halloween for as long as I can remember. I’ve put it off because OBVIOUSLY a store-bought Morticia dress wouldn’t do--it’s perfection or it’s nothing. But this year, it’s ON.
While I work on the dress, I’ve been perfecting the makeup. I’ve been secretly working on this since I bought the black wig for my Cher look back in August. That’s called planning.
Let’s get to work.
Morticia’s dresses are black and fitted, with long sleeves and swishing skirts. Her necklines are usually low, but not cleavage-y. Look for a dress with a v-neck that doesn’t come down too far--think sternum rather than boobs.
I’m still working on the dress, so instead I’m wearing a long-sleeved black t-shirt. It has a crew neck, but it comes down pretty low, so it still works.
If you don’t have long black hair, you’re going to need a wig. You might be familiar with my black lace-front from when I turned myself into Cher--if not, here it is again.
Wigs can be tricky. I really don’t like the ones from Halloween stores--they never look as good as they do in the product pictures, and if your wig game is messed up, your entire outfit suffers. Plus, really cheap wigs usually have bangs to hide the jankiness of the front. I love bangs, but Morticia didn’t have them.
I bought this wig online for under fifty bucks, and it’s really good quality. This is the second costume I’ve gotten to use it for, so I feel okay about spending a bit of $$$ on it.
I don’t mess with wig caps because they give me a headache, so instead I pull my hair back into a flat bun and hold it in place with some bobby pins.
I gently brush my wig (ends first!) to get rid of any major tangles, then pop it on my head and adjust my hairline in the front.
Smooth it out and you’re done.
Since this is costume makeup--rather than a look adapted for everyday life--I’m gonna lay out everything you need ahead of time, so that you can line up all your stuff in advance. Be prepared, because nobody wants to run around trying to find a lipstick when they have half a face done.
You will need:
- White facepaint or white foundation. I'm using MAC Face and Body foundation in White.
- Normal foundation, if you're using facepaint.
- Pale powder (not essential). I'm using Laura Mercier Pressed Setting Powder.
- Light brown for contouring. I use Wedge eyeshadow from MAC.
- Shimmery white eyeshadow. Mine is Max Factor but has been discontinued, sad face.
- Black or dark grey eyeshadow. This is Oil Slick by Urban Decay.
- Matte black eyeshadow for eyebrows (not pictured, because I forgot).
- White eyeliner (also not pictured because I didn't know I was going to need it).
- Black liquid eyeliner. Mine is LORAC Front of the Line PRO.
- Mascara. I'm trying out Diorshow because everyone is so sprung on it.
- False lashes (optional).
- Red lipstick. I’m mixing two lipsticks together: MAC Red and So Scarlet.
- Coordinating lipliner. Mine is L'Oreal Colour Riche liner in Burgundy.
- Blood red nail polish. Mine is Essie's Fishnet Stockings.
And here are swatches before we start, so that you can really see the colours I’m using:
Morticia is very pale. Her skin glows with an unearthly pallor, yet she doesn’t look like a clown or a marble column. This might be natural on her, but for the rest of us, we’ll fake it with very light-coloured makeup.
A word about white facepaint, if that’s what you’re going to use: It’s trickier to work with than you think. It’s very heavy but almost never goes on evenly all over; it peels and pulls, it dries too quickly to really blend, and it never ends up looking as good as you think it will. I have a work-around for this.
Take a blob of your normal foundation, then add a little bit of your white facepaint. Mix it together until you have a very light base. This will make your foundation much, much lighter, but the undertones in it will keep you from looking like a scary statue. It also makes the facepaint about a million times easier to blend.
Apply this all over your face, neck and chest. You can use a brush if you like, but I use my fingers because I feel like it gives me more control.
I have a bottle of MAC’s Face and Body Foundation in white, which is what I am going to use. I’m opting not to mix it with any of my regular foundation because it's already so easy to blend.
If you have very light powder to set this with, you can. I’m using translucent powder from Laura Mercier, because I’m photographing this in natural light and it's a little sweaty. This step isn’t essential, though.
Because I am quite fair, I imagine a few of you are looking at this and going “OK, that’s basically her normal skin colour.” Not so! Observe!
Now that you look pale but not DEAD, we’re going to move on to contour the cheekbones. Anjelica Huston has cheekbones for days, so let's recreate them as best we can!
Take your light brown contour shade and put a little bit of it on a medium brush. Make what I call the “prune face”--this involves making your mouth all little and scrunchy, and pulls your cheeks forward so that you can really see the bone. Run the light brown contour shade UNDER the cheekbone and slightly under the apples of your cheeks. This will make a Nike swoosh shape.
Then clean your brush and blend. Blend like crazy. Blend like you’ve never blended before.
Your cheekbones will end up looking something like this:
The key to this entire look. And they're actually easy to pull off! How often does that happen?
Start by covering your entire eye socket with the white shimmery shadow. Lash line to brow, everyone. Get nuts with it.
Take your dark grey or black eyeshadow and extend it up from the edge of your upper lashline and out. Make it dramatic--no subtle eyes here.
Now bring it across your eyelid. I positioned this line slightly above my natural crease because my creases are deep--so it went along the bone that forms my eye socket, not underneath it. If you’re creating a crease or you have a shallow one, run the shadow along the indentation where your eyeball meets your orbital bone (you can feel it if you gently press down).
Morticia’s eye makeup is halfway between a softly defined crease and a cut crease, which makes it really easy to blend. Using the windshield wiper technique (to and from along the dark shadow with your brush until the line is very soft), blend the grey shadow all the way across the crease line. Don’t blend it down too far and start mushing it into the white shade on your mobile lid--that should stay white.
Now from the outside, take a little more grey and blend it inwards just a little. Try not to get much of it on your lid. If you have too sharp a line on the very outside, soften it slightly with a clean brush so that it’s blended but not smoky.
This is how it looks when you’re done.
The liquid liner is pretty easy. Classic '60s Morticia had cat eye liner, but Anjelica Huston’s Morticia had fully lined eyes. That’s the look we’re going to go with. I am, as always, using LORAC Front of the Line PRO liner. The thin, delicate applicator makes this extra-easy.
Start from the very, very inner corner of your eye and line your top lid with a medium thickness line. Extend it out oh-so-slightly in a subtle flick past the end of your lid.
Starting from the outside flick, draw the line down and connect it to your bottom lash line. You can line your entire waterline with the black if you like, but that never works on my face. Instead, I lined my water line with matte white liner, then traced in between my eyelashes along the very outer perimeter of my waterline with the black liquid liner. It gives a similar tight-lined look without making my eyeballs look tiny.
Take that line all the way to your inner corner and connect it up with the line you drew on top. Tah-dah! Morticia liner!
Of course, you can make this thicker and more dramatic if you want to. It’s all up to you!
If you want to apply fake lashes, now is the time to do it. My lash application routine is to curl my natural eyelashes, add mascara, stick false lashes down (I always use the glue that dries clear because I like it better) and wait for the adhesive to dry, mascara again, re-line top lid with liquid liner so that any visible glue won’t be super-shiny and obvious.
I tried to do this, guys--I did. But my eyes are being GIANT IRRITATED BABIES right now and I couldn’t even get one on without them tearing up like crazy, so I had to jettison this. I guess this could be a teachable moment: Listen to your body! If something isn’t right, don’t force it--work around it!
Instead I settled for doing several coats of Diorshow mascara. My natural eyelashes aren't quite as huge as falsies, but they’re pretty sweet.
Finally, we tackle the eyebrows. Morticia’s are kind of '90s in the best way--medium-full, and rounded without a really noticeable arch.
I tried to cover my brows and draw this shape on, but it looked TERRIBLE on my face (I should know better). So instead, I picked up my trusty angled brush and matte black eyeshadow, and stuck to slightly rounding my natural brow shape instead. I smoothed out my generally quite pronounced natural arch, and made the outer ends a little longer than they normally are.
Here’s the finished eye product.
Morticia’s lipstick is blood red and flawless. And because the Addams movies came out in the '90s, we’re looking at a matte finish.
Because I wanted my lipstick to match my nails as closely as possible, I ended up mixing two lipstick colours together. MAC Red, a blue-based bright red, was my base, and So Scarlet which is a very deep burgundy-red was dabbed on overtop until I was happy with the colour.
I cleaned up the line afterwards with a lip liner in a deep red shade, because come on--Morticia is perfection even in labour. OF COURSE she has immaculate lips. A light brush of translucent powder to set and mattify everything, and I’m done!
I’m going to hold off on a photo here, so you get the full effect of the outfit at the end.
Morticia’s nails are long, square-tipped and blood-red. I considered press-on fake nails for this tutorial, but they aren’t really compatible with the amount of work I needed to do. Photography is hard! Instead I painted my natural nails with two coats of Essie's Fishnet Stockings, a deep blue-based blood red that I used as a guide while I was mixing my lipstick.
If you’ve picked a brighter red for your lips, use a brighter, warmer red on your nails. The key here is to match. Don't forget to paint your hands white once your nails are dry!
OK, are you ready to see the entire look?
Remember to have an icy-yet-seductive attitude and to memorise a few words of French. Bonus if you have someone to be your Gomez.
Am I pulling it off? Are you as crazy for the Addams Family Values as I am, or will you argue that the first movie was better? Should I get a Lurch of my own to run all my errands for me and just swan around my house dressed like this always? I’m thinking YES ABSOLUTELY.