This year I’ve been invited to several zombie-themed parties. Some of the hosts even took the precaution of insisting that IF YOU ARE NOT DRESSED AS A ZOMBIE, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ATTEND. SERIOUSLY, YOU WILL NOT GET PAST THE DOOR. DON’T EVEN BOTHER.
And I mean, if people who live in River North in an obsecenely gorgeous penthouse are telling us to dress like zombies while we eat crudites, that’s a pretty clear indicator that we’ve reached official Zombie Saturation Point.
I’m not a huge zombie fan. I stopped watching Walking Dead halfway through season 2. I thought 28 Days Later had more in common with Lord of the Flies than any traditional zombie film. Sean of the Dead and Warm Bodies were pretty awesome and clever, but I’m not exactly out making a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan.
Or actually, I am. My plan is to find and stand next to Brad Pitt. He was improbably fine all throughout World War Z.
So when I was thinking about fun Halloween ideas, I started thinking about how I could make the played-out zombie costume fun again. And what better way than to pair it with another totally played out costume?
Meet Zombie Holly Golightly:
She’s tired of modern girls romanticising her character, sick of hordes of them wobbling around Lincoln Park in tottery heels and dark glasses at night, and she’s ready to get her revenge... by eating them.
I’m going to show you how I pulled Zombie Holly together, but the tips I’ll be giving you can be used for any and all other variations of this theme. Zombie Marilyn! Zombie Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader! Zombie Andy Warhol! The sky is the limit here.
Step 1: Decide on an outfit.
I’m sticking with the classic black sheath dress with black tights, as it’s arguably the most recognisably Holly Golightly costume in the movie. The tights are because it’s cold in October.
When you pick your outfit, choose something that is preferably light in colour. This way you’ll be able to see the fake bloodstains, dirt, etc. on it. It goes without saying that whatever it is should also be cheap, because you're going to be ruining it. Here's something I bloodstained a few years ago--and by the way, when you've forgotten you have a fake-blood-stained shirt in your closet, this is VERY SCARY TO FIND.
Step two: Rough it up a bit.
Zombie Holly Golightly has been staggering around Manhattan, looking for rich men. They think they’re taking her to dinner, but really... OK, that joke is mega-cheesy and I’ll stop.
The point is, life as a zombie is rough. Your outfit should look it! I can’t mess up this dress (before it was a costume it was a bridesmaid’s dress, and I spent A LOT on buying it and getting it altered) but my tights? Oh, absolutely. I ripped these suckers up with a pair of tweezers, my fingers, and my barely-contained rage.
Think about your zombie. Where have they been? What have they been doing? What’s happened to your outfit? Make alterations accordingly. Like if you’re Zombie Freud, can you (SAFELY, NOT WHILE YOU’RE WEARING IT) put cigar burns and leftover ash all over your costume? If you’re Zombie Bear Grylls, can you get sticks and leaves and mud on yourself from crashing through the wilderness? If you’re, I don’t know, a sexy zombie taxicab, can you get motor oil on your outfit and maybe some tire tracks?
Step 3: Hair.
Holly Golightly created an illusion of immaculate glamour, even though the reality of her life was really different, and one of the ways she did this was with her elaborate hair.
To recreate this, I teased my hair into the double-ponytail bun. I also split my bangs horizontally, pulled the top back in a sort of a bump, the swept the rest over to the side. It’s not exactly like her hair in the movie, but it’s close.
Then I undid it.
Zombies don’t sweat their hair that much. Maybe because they’re missing an eye; maybe because their essential humanity is dead. I don’t know, but they don’t deal with mirrors, and therefore they have no idea if their hair needs fixing.
So I got to work, pulling small bits out from around the crown, unpinning sections of the bun so it’s messy (but still recognisable), teasing my bangs a little and sticking them out at angles, then setting everything with hairspray.
This is how it ended up. I put a couple of twigs in it, because I decided that Zombie Holly was probably in Central Park, eating horses. I like it.
Step 4: Makeup.
As mentioned, zombies aren’t carrying compacts to touch up their foundation. They’re the living dead! But since you’re a zombified version of something else, you still want to look recognisable. Nobody would know who Zombie Holly Golightly was is she wasn’t still a little bit glamourous.
I used MAC Face and Body Foundation in white to give my skin that corpse-like pallor. I am using a foundation brush now because--as I learned while doing my Morticia makeup--it’s really hard not to accidentally get white smudges all over your black outfit while you're painting your body. The thought of staining this VERY FREAKING EXPENSIVE bridesmaid dress was more than I could stand. Hence the brush.
Anyway. Paint everywhere that’s going to be visible. You might need an accomplice to get tricky spots, like the back of your neck. Here’s how you’ll look when you’re done.
Obviously my immaculate makeup didn’t stay that way after I died. I applied some makeup--blush, eyeshadow, lipstick--with a heavy hand, then smeared it. I also sprayed a little water in my face to get it smudgier.
Good look. Mess with your makeup however you like until it’s the way you want it; I added a more black shadow and smudged it out a bit.
Next we mess with the eyes. I lined my upper and lower water lines with red lip liner, which made my eyes look REALLY SCARY. Then I applied some dark purple matte eyeshadow to the circles underneath, because that’s the fastest way to let people know you’re a zombie. They really mustn’t get any sleep.
But because I don’t want to look totally awful, I threw on some mascara and--messily, zombies are not know for their steady hands--put on some lipstick. A girl can face an awful lot with her lipstick on, including being a member of the living dead.
Step 5: Gore.
Zombies are out eating people. They just are! It’s their lives! So obviously your zombie will be a little bit bloody and disgusting.
At the same time, don’t OVERdo it. You don’t want people to see your costume and be like “Oh, you’re a gross red smear... Neat?”
As with everything else, get smart about it. Zombie Holly probably isn’t going to have blood all over her hair and shoulders, because nobody dumped pig’s blood on her. They wouldn't dare.
She will have SOME blood in her hair, though. Instead of fake blood, which can stain light or damaged hair--mine is both, especially right now--I’m using red eyeshadow which I just brushed onto whichever sections I felt like.
Maybe she has a bunch of blood around her mouth from eating dudes. I’m using a dark red liquid lipstain for this, because it looks SUPER realistic, and it’s easy to touch up.
I bet she has a lot of blood on her arms and hands from ripping people to shreds. So I smeared some dark red acrylic paint on my hands--missing my fingers, we’ll get to them--and up my forearms.
I also put some blood on my legs between the holes in my tights, once again, using acrylic paint. I didn’t take a picture of this because I’m a dope. Wahmp wahmp.
I also put some scratch marks on my chest and some blood on the pearls I’m wearing, because I imagine Zombie Holly ripped them off a rich lady in front of Tiffany’s before eating her (but she fought back, because she was tough).
And now we’re done. I like the effect so far--and we're almost done.
Obviously you don’t have to follow this exactly for whatever costume you’re doing. Just think about your zombie a little, and pay attention to the small details.
Step 6: Nails and hands.
Zombie Holly Golightly has been ripping humans apart with her bare hands, so her nails are going to be in a sorry state. For this, you’re going to need two colours of nail polish: a lighter, bright red and a darker red.
Messily apply both shades--I mean REALLY blop it on there--on your nails. Once you’ve got enough messy polish, smear it up along your fingers towards your wrists.
Nail polish on hands is better than face paint OR acrylic paint. Once nail polish is dry, it’s done and it stays until you take it off with remover. Plus it stays on the palms of your hands, too, which nothing else would do.
Mess around with the colours as much as you want. You could even get press-on nails and make them all chipped and broken-looking, then paint them. That would be amazing.
Here’s my finished product.
Gross! And I mean that in the best way!
As with everything, the whole is even more impressive than the sum of it’s parts. Meet Zombie Holly Golightly.
She’s daring and darling... and dead.
She’ll steal your heart...literally.
OK, enough with the corny jokes! In all seriousness, though, this was one of the most fun costumes I’ve ever put together. It cost me $5 (tights) and about an hour of my time to get everything looking the way I wanted.
Which totally-over-it Halloween costume would YOU zombify? I think either Zombie genderswapped Avengers (I call Zombie Iron Woman!) or Zombie Playboy Bunnies (with Zombie Hef) would be really, really fun.