It's been a long time since I dressed up for Halloween. Part of it is not having anywhere to go, and part of it is simply that the act of dressing up lost some of its shiny after working the Renaissance Festival (Georgia, Ohio, and a couple of days in Michigan). So while I've always got an easy costume to fall back on, my Ren Fair garb feels more like a uniform than a costume.
Likewise, although I'd love to put a fun Steampunk outfit together, that wouldn't really feel like a costume, either, because it's the kind of thing I can see myself wearing at least elements of as day-to-day wear. I'd just leave the zip-o-matic-steam-powered blast gun at home :) Period clothing to me, in general, isn't costuming because I'd wear it to the office without a second thought. (All of the new patterns I'm looking at for next year's sewing effort are from the 1930's or earlier).
So what makes a costume, a costume? For me, the answer is "dressing up as something or someone you're not." It's an exercise in make-believe. It's playing a part, even if you don't fully act it out (but seriously, what's better than a cosplaying Captain Jack--either of them--who doesn't either swagger around "drunk" or flirt with that sexy plant in the corner? You can decide which Jack is swaggering and which one is flirting because both are plenty likely to get slapped.)
Probably my favorite costume is from middle school when I had a small costume part and I dressed up as (warning: embarrassing moment ahead!) Boy George. This was back in the 1980's and I had an oversized night shirt that was perfect for the part. The rest of it was pretty easy too. My hair was already about the right length and not too far off in the color and makeup is a snap. (Yes, pictures exist, no, you don't get to see them. Instead, here's the genuine article, singing their first big US hit: )
It was special because I was a huge fan (I still am) and Culture Club was my "gateway band" into a lot of things: new wave and later punk rock music, gender fluidity and non-conformity, and ultimately LGBT awareness and issues. Obviously being LGBT myself, I would have figured those out eventually, but having some grounding in at least what I understood of it at the time, I only felt a little lost when it came to self-identifying as LGBT.
The best costume I ever made for someone else was for the year my kid dressed up as Sailor Jupiter. *G* (Sorry, as far as I know, no pics exist. I'm sure I took some, but Heaven only knows where they ended up.)
So what was your favorite Halloween costume and why? (Either yours or something you made for your kid/grandkid/niece/nephew, etc.)