My homemade Mystique costume inspiration began when I decided to dye my hair bright red at the end of September. I’m a natural brunette and had not dyed my hair for years, so I wanted to do something different for a while. I absolutely LOVE Halloween and making my own costumes, so at the beginning of October, I began to start brainstorming on what I should be with this bright red hair. My early thoughts included the obvious: Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Poison Ivy, Jessica Rabbit, and even Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. My reservation with these, however, was that they all have long red hair and my hair is a medium length. One morning while I was researching more ideas as a distraction from studying, my boyfriend suggested that I be Mystique from the X-Men movies. I did an online search and instantly was in love with the idea. I began to formulate a plot on how I would achieve this and how much time and money it would realistically cost me.

I used the Coolest Homemade Costumes site to figure out what I wanted it to look like and really liked the look of a full body suit with scales painted on as opposed to the more nude full body paint look. My original plan was to buy a full body unitard from a site recommended by one of the other girls on the site, and she said that she also bought socks and blue gloves. I remembered that my friend had a pair of royal blue heels, so I called her to see if I could borrow them for the costume and she suggested that I just buy a full body zentai suit and cut off the hood. She said that it would most likely be cheaper and easier and I couldn’t agree more! I began searching Amazon for full body suits, and realized that they even sell full body suits without the hood, even better and also less than half the amount that I expected to spend! My only concern was that it would not ship in time for Halloween since it was coming from China, but despite the estimated ship date of November 4th, the seller reassured me that it would most likely get to me in 5-15 days from shipping. I took his word for it, and I’m so glad I did because it arrived on October 20th, just in time for me to start decorating it in time for my first Halloween party on October 25th.

I bought metallic black puffy paint and looked up pictures of the Jennifer Lawrence Mystique to get an idea of what I wanted the scale patterns to look like, and ultimately I ended up combining a lot of different ideas and also just creating some of my own patterns. I put the full body suit on and used pieces of tape to landmark areas of transition, such as my elbows, knees, hips, chest, etc. The process of painting the scales took me about 10 hours overall over the course of about four days. I had to allow each section to completely dry before I could move the costume to paint other parts. As for the face makeup, I watched a tutorial on YouTube in which the girl used liquid latex and a brush to paint on the scales, and then used blue cream makeup to cover the whole face and neck. I bought a shimmery blue eye shadow to highlight the scales and used a shimmery black eye shadow that I had for around the eyes. As for the glowing yellow eyes, I considered using cat eye contacts but Mystique doesn’t really have cat eyes. I am an optometry student and remembered a time that I accidentally dropped Fluress (an ophthalmic drop containing Fluorescein Sodium) into a pair of contacts and they were stained yellow and ruined. In this case, it was the perfect “solution” that was completely safe and would cost me absolutely nothing!

My first night out with this costume was to a house party, and I thought it would be a nice test of the costume to see what I could improve for the next time I would wear it. I slicked my red hair back with a combination of hair gel and pomade and got to work on the scales. The makeup in total took me about three hours to pull off, but when I was done, I was so impressed with the final look! I then slipped into my painted body suit and could not believe how well the color of the blue cream paint matched the body suit. My boyfriend dressed up as Gambit (also an X-Men character) and we had a photo shoot in our apartment before leaving the house. My costume received rave reviews from all my friends and I learned that I should definitely bring my blue cream makeup out with me next time to touch up the face! From laughing, talking, drinking, and taking my costume on and off when using the bathroom, the paint on my neck, chin, and cheeks was pretty much gone by the end of the night.

The next night, I uploaded a picture from the night before onto my Facebook and my boyfriend decided to upload the picture onto Reddit to see what kind of response it would get. I did not expect what happened next: I woke up on Monday morning to friends posting on my Facebook page that my photo was on the front page of Reddit! The photo on Imgur had over 2.5 million views and then began appearing on many sites with lists of best costumes of 2014 such as BuzzFeed, PopSugar, Distractify, Neatorama, etc. With the reception this costume was getting, I decided I should try to go to as many costume contests as I could and try to win some prizes for all my hard work! The first night I wore the costume out was to the Fireball Halloween Bash at Ladder 15 on Thursday, October 30th. Many people came up to me asking to take pictures with me and asking about how I made the costume. I was given a ticket to participate in the Sexiest Costume Contest and I won!

I had to touch up my blue paint about 10 times in the bathroom that night and thought that there must be a better way to keep the paint on! I did some research and decided to try using a primer before the makeup and then a neutral setting powder after applying the makeup to keep it in place better. On Halloween night, I went to another house party and decided to give my face a night off from makeup. However, Saturday night November 1st,I heard about Xfinity Live’s Nightmare on Broad Street party with over $10,000 in cash and prizes and decided to rock the costume one last time. Despite the extra products I bought for the face makeup, it still didn’t hold well (especially on my neck) but I made it a point to not have anything to drink and try to make as few facial expressions as possible to preserve my makeup. I only needed to touch up the neck once that night and after being there for about 30 minutes, I was recruited into the Sexiest Costume contest once again! They chose 12 girls and after the first round, narrowed it down to 5 girls. I was in the top 5! They then narrowed it down further based on the crowd’s cheers and I was in the top 3! Then the top 2! I ended up winning second place to a sexy cat woman and was so amazed and excited to have made it as far as I did with the excellent costumes I went up against.

All in all, the costume only cost me about $60 but required a great deal of time and patience to complete. I had a blast doing it and feel it was completely worth it. This was the best Halloween I can remember having and I don’t think I can ever top my Mystique costume, but it will be fun trying next year!