Monday, October 16, 2006

How to make a Medusa costume

My biggest Halloween success came waaay back in the 90's. I decided to be Medusa. Another associate at my law firm said, "That's a terrible idea. No one will know what you are." I more than had the last laugh, as he went as a bunch of grapes, attempting to adhere balloons to his body, and looked terrible.

As for me, I had such a success that the crowds were parting around me and people were calling, "Medusa! Medusa!" I got separated from my erstwhile best friend, but she said she could always find me by just listening for the people saying, "Meduuuusa!" Some guys took an ad out in a local weekly later trying to track me down, but being married to Husband 1.0, I didn't follow up on it.

Being spoiled by the attention I got, and being relatively lazy, I stayed Medusa for years and years after that, just making the costume more and more elaborate. I also noticed, not to take credit, but that every year I saw more and more Medusas around. I was probably just ahead of the Medusa curve, tapping into the zeitgeist without realizing it.

Anyhow, without further ado, I shall share with you The Secrets Of Being Medusa:

Basically, you need a lot of plastic snakes and a lot of little rubber bands. Are you with me here? Don't cheap out on the rubber bands; you will go insane if you have the regular size rubber band (you need the teeeny ones; if you know any poor soul who wears those old-school braces with elastic torture bands, you need about a year's supply of orthodontic elastics). Get yourself at least 20 plastic snakes, not too big, not too little. You can get up to 50 snakes, but I can tell you from experience: if you go overboard with the snakes, you're going to feel like one of those African women who amazingly carry massive weights on their heads for long distances. Optional: get some silver, gray and black face paint and some black lipstick.

Next, you will need a lot of time. I recommend to you that you put on some excellent music, nothing too fast or furious, something more mellow. You'll be sitting around braiding and fastening with elastics, and you need to get into a groove. Have a glass of wine nearby.

Your options are either to use a wig or your own hair as a base. I used a wig for years, and you will achieve superior results as you can see what the hell you are doing much better, and your arms won't get so tired. On the other hand, if you use your own hair, you won't have to buy a wig. Your call.

Create a head full of braids. The smaller and more numerous the braids, the better. Take your time, and don't get frustrated and just make a few big ol' braids. Being Medusa is not for the easily frustrated. If you don't have hair long enough to create braids to which you can fasten artificial snakes, you need a wig.

Next, you will rubber band 1-3 snakes to each braid. In order to achieve the best look, you will want some snakes with their heads up on top of your head, at the crown, and some with their heads hanging down below. If you are using a wig, this part is a lot of fun, as you can arrange and rearrange your snakes to achieve a fabulous end result. If you are using your own head as a base, you'll probably need to call in someone for assistance to do the back of your head for you. I like to get one snake to curl just so on my forehead, but then, I spent about a decade doing this costume.

It is possible to get carried away and have too many snakes. I added more snakes every year to my Medusa headdress, and finally, the last time I wore it, I had difficulty holding my head erect all night. After that, I put the Medusa away for a few years, and the next time I took it out, all the rubber bands had aged and were disintegrating. So the last two Medusa outings were done using my own, personal hair as the base.

If you wish, you can also purchase some giant artificial snakes for fashion accessories. When I was younger and considerably more hot, the basis for the Medusa costume was a fishnet dress, and I would coil one looooong fake snake around my waist with its head resting up in my evil cleavage. This caused a liquor store owner to unsolicitedly give me free alcohol, which has never happened to me before or after. Nowadays, it would probably cause people to say, "Give it a rest and act your age, why don't you?", so I left that snake at home last year.

And now for the part which separates the extra-fabulous Medusa from the ordinary Medusa: the make-up. Obviously you want extreme black eyelashes and black eyeliner. Black lipstick is also best for this costume, and you'll get an extra good lip if you use a black kohl eye pencil for a lipliner. If you feel up to it, especially after all that braiding and rubber banding of snakes, make your whole face, neck, and visible cleavage silver. Using either a black eye pencil or black facial paint, draw in some scale lines on your forehead, the edges of your face, and into your cheekbones, but no more. Don't cover your whole face; just do the forehead, sides of the face, and tops of the cheekbones. The outermost scales can be shaded slightly with gray facepaint, if you wish.

Finally, do not go insane on the footwear. A fabulous Medusa draws the eyes to her head and away from the feet, and thus she may wear a sensible flat shoe which will enable her to have comfortable feet.



texzmissy said...

Mr. Texzmissy and I really enjoyed this. By the time I finished the post, I was almost talked into being Medusa myself for Halloween...

We just recycle recital costumes for Halloween so it is really fun to read about creative ideas!

2amsomewhere said...

This narrative brought to mind a flashback to Halloween 1998. My wife worked as a phone/e-mail customer service representative, and her department was known for dressing up at Halloween.

She got the idea to dress up as a mummy and got a bunch of scrap fabric for her costume. She didn't quite work out the logistics of how things were supposed to be attached, so she had me helping her that morning.

I did the best I could to help get her wrapped up, but things just weren't working right. Her patience ran out and she made some sort of outburst about leaving me over the whole thing.

Maybe I would have been better of if she had? Who knows!

Spill The Beans said...

This is an awesome idea. I'm so using it.

Deezee said...

this is too brilliant!

ARIEL.=) said...


thanks so much for posting this.. I was planning on being Medusa for Halloween but hadn't any clue how I should make the headdress.

I'll definitely try this. Thanks.=)

manga-chick said...

Lol Thxs for the idea i like it ansd im ony 12 so lol thxs im a girl and yes i need this costume for a holloween costy, thxs

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great costume! Pictures, please!

Anonymous said...

s is a fantastic idea!! But you should post some pics so that we can get a better idea of how small the braids should be!

Saili said...

Hi, this sounds great! Do you have any pictures? I'm a much better visual person. If you want to email, send to sailishop @

Medusa (Isabelle in duisgise) said...


Iwant to be Medusa but I have NO IDEA what she looks like exept that she is greek, where's a toga tipe thing and has snakes for hair.



Anonymous said...


I Hate Homework said...

Thx soooo much! We've got to make instuctions for making a Medusa headress, so naturally I had absolutely no idea what to do (don't worry I'm not copying- just taking notes!).

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Anonymous said...

AMG, you are a life saver! I have to dress like Medusa FOR A GRADE in my AP English class and had absolutely NO CLUE how to do so. Thanks you bunches!

Lee-Ann said...

This is awesome. I am going to book mark this page for Halloween as my 10 year old wants to be madusa!!

Anonymous said...

this is soooo awesome...wish u had a pic.....making one for my daughter for world book day....hope it comes out like yours....thanks a million...

SoberNUp said...

I <3 it! Thanks for the tips.

FairWren said...

My main costume for this year is Medusa...thank you so much for the tips!!! Is there any way you could post some pictures? I'd love to see the actual costume you used!

Anonymous said...

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cool and not that hard or expensive. I'm 11 and it's awesome!!!! :) Thnx

Anonymous said...

Could use a picture

Anonymous said...

Thx this helped me a lot. Im the costume designer for a local high school and we have to have a medusa for our play. She is supposed to look likea meusem exhibit and I couldnt figure out how i was going to bea able to make the wig but your article helped me a lot thx so much

Anonymous said...

wish you had pictures

Looking With Side-Curved Head said...

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