Some folks focus on the gory side of Halloween costumes—the more fake blood and pustules the better. Others shoot for the stars with garbs inspired by their favorite sci-fi characters, or a sexy “fill-in-the-blank,” or punny DIY numbers. I mean, who hasn’t seen a cereal killer? Couple of empty boxes of Special K and Froot Loops. Check. “Bloody” spoons. Check. Halloween costume. Done.
Then there are fashionistas like Karyn Oetting, owner of Second Skin Vintage on Castle Street, who like the elegant macabre side of All Hallows’ Eve. When she first opened her shop a couple of years ago, the whole month of October was abuzz with costume planning and customers looking to her for ideas.
“I have always joked that Halloween is the high holiday of vintage,” she quips. “I talked with so many people who had fantastic, creative, over-the-top costumes they were putting together. But when I asked what wonderfully fantastic event they were planning to attend, it turned out they didn’t have anywhere to go. Their plan was to walk around downtown and bar hop.”
Oetting decided to throw her own formal, costume-centered masquerade party for friends and fans of Second Skin Vintage. She debuted the first Vampire’s Ball last year and is now preparing for an already bigger second annual event. The Vampire’s Ball: Witches and Warlocks is Saturday, Oct. 29, and will feature vinyl-spinning by DJ Quinn Blake (a.k.a., Ol’ Spooky Sweaty), craft beer from Waterline Brewing Company, and light food.
First and foremost: It’s a free party, but it requires guest participation—and the dress code is essential. Seriously, absolutely no street clothes are allowed.
“You will be turned away,” Oetting adds. “The Vampire’s Ball is a formal masquerade party, and the concept only works if everyone dresses up along the same theme. So a dress code is essential. But I like a dress code with room for interpretation and creativity.”
Last year’s theme was “Elegant Undead,” with lots of lacy layers and slinky silks accompanying painted skeleton faces, and of course, handsome vampires with droplets of blood dripping from their lips. This year’s “Witches and Warlocks” leaves a lot of room for play, according to Oetting. She has lots of ideas on how to assemble a stand-out garb.
“Look for images and motifs that appeal to your inner sense of style, and build from there,” she advises. “I’m encouraging people to think way beyond green warts and pointy hats. There’s so many great directions one can go in a ‘witchy’ vein: From light witches, faeries and nature worship, to dark and brooding, gothic and vampy. Plus, tons of iconic witches and warlocks from mythology, history and pop culture.”
It’s all a matter of thinking outside the box. Other ways to stand out in a dark crowd (literally, it’ll be dark and lots of people will be in black): Add some sparkle or headpiece, feathers or fur. Period pieces can be an easy way to build a costume. A bit of fringe, lace overlay or sheer layers—lots of which can be found at Vintage Skin—help add depth and movement.
“We have vintage lingerie, gloves, hats, suspenders, scarves, and coats,” Oetting lists, “in addition to dresses from every decade from the Victorian era through early ‘90s—lots of affordable lace and velvet in the ‘90s!”
As for Oetting’s own costume inspiration, without letting the black cat out of the bag, she “comes from a firm belief that a Halloween costume should be a little bit creepy but also a time to let out your inner self.”
Castle Street neighbor Elsewhere Salon has been instrumental in publicizing the event. Stylists/co-owners Paula Lemme and Emily Martian are known for mastering funky hair colors and artistry.
While Waterline hasn’t confirmed what crafty signature beer they’ll bring, folks will need to bring ID and cash for beer and other libations such as wine. Munchies will come in chips, veggies, dips, and Halloween candy. “I’m a vegetarian, so we’ll be making lots of vegetarian and vegan-friendly dips and spreads,” Oetting adds.
They’ll also host tarot readings, a photo corner and costume contest from 9 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Winners of Best Male, Best Female, Best Couple, and Best Interpretation of the Theme get a “gold” wooden stake and gift cards.
“The response from last year’s event was so positive that we want to make sure we don’t disappoint,” Oetting assures. “We transform the store into an entirely different space for the evening—all the merchandise is gone and we decorate like crazy. This year the store will be transformed into a witch’s lair.”
For more info on The Vampire’s Ball at Second Skin Vintage, as well as photos for inspiration, visit their online event page at http://www.facebook.com/SecondSkinVintage.