How to create your own costumes from book characters

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): My Eyes by Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day [Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog soundtrack].

First of course, you need a character. (If you don't have one in mind, I'm sure your local library is brimming, nay, screaming with books dying to be read. You have one? Excellent).

Next, you have to find out what your character looks like. No easy task at times. I notice a lot of authors like to "leave it up the reader's imagination." Nice for reading, not helpful for costume design. So you take pieces of what you know. Often they will at least give a hair/eye color.

This can often be a liberation for the super-creative, because you then get/have to look into the character's personality themselves and figure out what they might wear. Favorite color is blue? Hangs out with a goth friend - would any of that rub off? Lives in Michigan, so sweater country? How about the dark days - would he/she carry a weapon of some sort? I actually think this avenue would be a lot more fun, but does take a bit more planning then say, a hogwarts uniform.

I was lucky in the fact that Katniss has a ton of specifically described outfits to choose from (that usually isn't a common occurrence in books from what I know). Let's see... there's her hunting/Seam outfit, her arena gear, and all the costumes Cinna made for her (her fire chariot one, her interview outfit, her little girl sundress at the winner's banquet. Are there others?) There is also their green leotard type practice outfits while they are waiting for the Hunger Games to start. And let's not even mention all the ones in Catching Fire. Her wedding dress immediately comes to mind.

I knew all these costumes were mentioned, but I was worried they didn't offer much description. I was especially concerned about her arena outfit, which was what I wanted to dress up in. Luckily, I was wrong. Quite wrong. Her description is surprisingly detailed.

From pages 145 of the US version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:

I struggle to keep my breakfast down as I shower and clean my teeth. Cinna does my hair in my simple trademark braid down my back. Then the clothes arrive, the same for every tribute. Cinna has had no say in my outfit, does not even know what will be in the package, but he helps me dress in the undergarments, simple tawny pants, light green blouse, sturdy brown belt, and thin, hooded black jacket that falls to my thighs. "The material in the jacket's designed to reflect body heat. Expect some cool nights," he says.

The boots, worn over skintight socks, are better than I could have hoped for. Soft leather not unlike my ones at home. These have a narrow flexible rubber sole. Good for running.

So really good and bad for me. Good because I know exactly what I need. Bad because there isn't much room for interpretation. I need:

  • A black hooded jacket (thin) that falls to my thighs
  • A light green blouse (there is a lot of shade/design interpretation in that)
  • Tawny pants (skintight? What material? Ah, that is the question)
  • "Sturdy" brown belt. (any embellishments? Would it have a traditional buckle that could be used as a weapon?)
  • Leather boots with rubber tread. Used for running, so no heels.
  • Skintight socks - that you won't see. :)
  • Bow and arrow that she finds in the arena
  • Her mockingjay pin (can't forget that).

The UK cover is actually fairly accurate about the above description, but the funny thing is, I still don't imagine her or her clothes looking anything like that. So there is in fact quite a bit of freedom in this.* :) I can't wait to get started and to show you what I find. :D

*I really want someone to do their own version of Edward/Bella/Jacob/the Cullens not based on the movie, but their own original idea. Harry Potter is included in that too.


Kate said...

Oooh, very interesting post. Unfortunately, my drawings can cause blindness (and not in a good way). But I may try this sometime and take a photo. Great idea!

Heather Zundel said...

Luckily this is not my drawing either. I keep practicing my own drawing as often as I can. I woul really love to unveil some of my own book-related drawings sometime.

And photos are always awesome. :)