Aliza's Gallery of Tznius Costumes
My cosplay shan't be restricted by my modesty. I mean, it is, but I work it.
Oh hey, I have an article in Modest Magazine! It’s about how I make costumes more modest for the holiday of Purim. Here are all the photos and stories that didn’t make it into the edit.
Purim is MY holiday.
It’s around my Hebrew birthday, I care the most about costumes among family and friends, and I’ve inherited my parents’ penchant for dramatic entrances.
Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite “cosplay lite” costumes over the years:
2011: Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Here I’m sitting in my aunt’s kitchen in the Five Towns. This is because I had made plans to hang out in Washington Heights with (admittedly ill-advised) people from college, but my grandparents, with whom I was living for the year, didn’t believe it was proper for me to go hang out with the riffraff (it wasn’t).
Do I need to explain to you how devastating it is to have worked that hard, look that good and have to home after the megillah reading?
I paid $70 for a private car and went to my aunt in Long Island. She took me to their shul shindig with my cousins. It was good.
Costume rating: 4/10
2012: Victorian Lady
Back home in Chicago, my friend was still in college, so it felt sneakily okay to go to a college party. I have a young look. No one would know I was decrepit. God, I hated being around college students and their optimism about the future. I was in grad school, which was nothing like undergrad (as I’d been hoping), and I was feeling very very depressed and very very unoptimistic about what I was doing with my life.
Had I really wasted all that buoyancy while I was at Stern? What could I have accomplished with all that ego? Thinking the world was waiting for me, ready to offer up whatever I wanted from it … but, like, what did I want from it?
So we went to the UIC Hillel party, and we went to the Skokie Chabad.
We were the Seven Deadly Sins. As Pride, I was ALSO Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice. At least, I would have been Pride in the world’s greatest group costume, if three people hadn’t appropriated Sloth as an excuse to be The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Costume rating: 6/10
2014: Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland
I GOT A CUTE PIC THIS YEAR! Thanks, Mom!
I look back on this costume and I’m like, “Yes, you did what you set out to do.”
Which was to be someone who gets to scream a lot and also has a vested interest in embodying this photo:
We went to a Chabad party (noticing a pattern?) and forced a friend (sad trigger warning for that link) to sit through a megillah reading. I guess what I’m looking for in these Purim parties is assurance that I didn’t waste my time? That I got mileage out of the costume I lovingly crafted and put together and obsessed over for weeks/months?
I think I got that this year.
Costume rating: 8/10
2015: Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians
More villains! Somehow, this year I was persuasive enough (I’M NEVER PERSUASIVE ENOUGH! STILL DON’T KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED!) that my friends agreed to be my Dalmatians.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that doing production for high school Erev Shiras for three consecutive years was partly worth it because my colleague lent me this spotted faux fur coat.
This was our first year going to Wicker Purim, the cool Chabad in Wicker Park. It’s the college kids/“young professionals” crowd, with a neohippy Carlebachy band playing jam band music mixed with a tepid Al HaNissim. I was talked into a corner by a priest and my friend came and saved me. My childhood crush complimented my costume. It was a good year.
Costume rating: 8/10
2016: Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady
Okay, so I wasn’t supposed to have a standalone costume.
But when my two friends and I finally agreed on a group costume – the Cat in the Hat and the Things – I realized my costume amounted to a sticker and a wig and that SIMPLY WOULDN’T DO.
So we went to Wicker Purim again as the trio, tolerated the multiple jokes addressed to the Cat of “Are these Things yours? hahahahaha”
Then for my daytime look I MADE THIS ELIZA HAT. I guess I have to credit those Erev Shiras again, because I didn’t understand how glue guns can hold the world together if you ask them nicely before I had to make so many things for those productions.
Also, my mom still randomly shows people this picture of me, so I know she actually liked it.
Costume rating: 8/10
2017: Elsa from Frozen
Elsa from Frozen was neither my most original nor my proudest costume to date, but she served me well in her own perfect way. My original inspiration that year was to be a hot air balloon.
That did not go as planned.
This is not only because a three-foot beach ball would have made me nine feet tall, but also because it was a painfully unsexy concept.
I am not proud of the conclusion that a character in a children’s movie is sexier than a hot air balloon, but here we are.
Hence, the forced theme on my friend group that year: Disney characters.
This was also the year I finally cracked the PURIM PARTY CODE:
If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed.
If something magical happens, you will get to experience it with your full capacity for wonder.
Costume rating: 7/10
2018: Queen Elizabeth I
It’s kind of amazing how an image can stick with you.
Ever since I was ten and I read my mother’s copy of Kevyn Aucoin’s makeup tome, Face Forward, I remained enchanted with the idea of a Queen Elizabeth I costume.
And so, the forced theme on my friend group this year was Queens.
I was FEELING MYSELF.
It was the first Purim that the muzh was a part of my life, and I spent the entire Uber to Wicker Purim panicking and texting him that my costume wasn’t sexy and not to expect much.
When we got there, he was wearing a crown to match me.
And that is a little piece of how I fell in love with him.
Costume rating: 10/10
2019: Morticia Addams
I tried to think ahead. I tried to come up with a concept that had wide-reaching applications for a variety of interpretations. I also wanted to wear my Etsy halo (yes, the same one Moira Rose wore to her premiere!!)
So the theme was going to be Sinners and Saints.
For my first year doing a couples costume, the muzh and I (HA! IT WAS ME. IT’S ALWAYS ME) decided to be Morticia and Gomez Addams, the ultimate sexy sinners.
My wonderful, wonderful friends, who complain about my themes incessantly until a week before Purim when they ACTUALLY PUT THE WORK IN, changed the theme and decided we’d all go as The Addams Family.
And what a power move that turned out to be.
We tied for Best Group Costume, by the way, but they gave it to the Jewel Osco Haamentaschen sellers.
Costume rating: 9/10
2020: Te Fiti
Is it avodah zara, as my niece asked? Most likely. But most of my Grand Costume Fantasies had been fulfilled by this time last year. Other than figuring out how to recreate Rihanna’s yellow Met coat and Beyonce’s golden onstage pregnancy, which needs BUDGETS, henny, I have already become the characters I wished to become. (I did Viking and Steampunk Explorer, too, in earlier years.)
Well, Te Fiti is a pretty bomb ass character.
The Group was not as amused by this prospect, but two of them had left for grayer pastures (Washington Heights) and it was turning out to be a very quiet Purim.
The muzh, a little concerningly, did not immediately adapt to the idea of playing a volcano monster. So, in the theme of shamayim v’aretz, I got him a suit covered in clouds, which took him twenty seconds to put on and got him more compliments than my best efforts. Le sigh.
Then my friend showed up as the ocean, and we were three of the four elements!
And then there was a pandemic, and that was the last time I got to hug my friend and be in a room full of strangers.
Costume rating: priceless.