Halloween 2018 Costume Contest Winners

Every year the entries to our contest get better and better. I want to give everyone a prize. So many beautiful costumes, so much creativity, so many agonizingly difficult decisions. I’m just in awe of all this heartfelt handiwork.

Some of the categories were brutally competitive this year. If you didn’t win, don’t be discouraged! Try again next year! Seriously, some of these decisions were painful and I kept wishing I had more prizes to go around.

As ever, we reworked the prize money pot a little bit to match the entries we received. The basic pattern we’re going for is to award prizes at the amateur, expert, and junior levels, but some categories had a ton of entries and some had only a few. We added in a handful of Judge’s Choice awards to round things out. For reference, here’s the original contest announcement.

All the winners will be uploaded to our 2018 Costume Contest Winners album on Facebook. You can also review all the entries this year in our 2018 Costume Contest Album. I will be emailing the winners with official notifications and Amazon gift certificates over the next couple of days.

Thank you all so much for sharing your creations and making this year’s contest so inspiring.

Division I: Category Costumes

These are the prize categories that we award every year. They’re based on our own costume categories here on the website: glamorous stars, goddesses and mythological figures, queens, and notable historical women. These should be specific individuals, not generic costumes.

Best Glamour Grrl Costume

Winner, amateur level: Cheryl Blakemore as Dorothy Dandridge.
As somebody said on Facebook, “Nailed it!” Cheryl is the very image of Dorothy Dandridge in the movie Carmen Jones. Everything is perfect, from her toenail polish to the brick wall photo shoot. Just gorgeous and beautifully done.

Winner, expert level: Debbie Redfern as Helena Bonham Carter.
Debbie recreated the Dolce & Gabbana couture gown worn by Helena Bonham Carter in Ocean’s 8 to beautiful effect. She writes: “I created the dupioni poly-silk gown by draping onto a dressform (no patterns used), and the dress is only comprised of three pieces of fabric with horsehair braid on the hem. I then hand stitched on a bazillion flowers, mostly cut out from embroidered mesh lace but some are 3D chiffon and there were also two large appliques. I used bought paniers and underskirt & corset that I made from another project to wear under the gown. I made the headpiece using some wire, branches from a vine wreath, silk flowers and birds.” You can see construction photos with lots of details on Debbie’s Facebook cosplay album.

Winner, junior level: Miriam as Lindsey Stirling.
Mom Sandra Zeigler tells us that Miriam designed and created this costume completely by herself. It’s a recreation of the look from Lindsey Stirling’s “Shatter Me” video. Miriam did a wonderful job! It looks just like the video.

Best Mythological Costume

Winner, amateur level: Ann Anderson as Mother Earth.
What a clever idea! Ann writes: “Attached are photos of the costume I wore for work this Halloween. I went as Mother Earth and cycled through the four seasons throughout the day. The last two photos are because climate change throws things out of whack.” In our montage above, the seasons go clockwise beginning with Spring in the lower right. The photo in the middle is one of the “out of whack” situations.

Winner, expert level: Jodi Doster Giacalone as a Valkyrie.
Now this is hardcore. Girl even makes her own chainmail! Jodi writes: “I’ve been part of reenactment group for the Viking Age for about two years and did my best to represent a Valkyrie as they are described in the stories. Sometimes depending on the translation they are said to fly into battle either on horses or growing wings, so I made a cloak of feathers as the fantasy element. The rest is as accurate as I could make it and everything was handmade, from my boots to my mail and weapons.”

Winner, junior level: Annie Izumi’s daughter as Medusa, costume by Annie Izumi.
This is the most beautiful Medusa costume I’ve ever seen. I don’t usually care for Medusa because, you know, snakes, but this is gorgeous. Annie is an incredible artist.

Winner, Judge’s Choice: Ainsley Hawthorn as Ereshkigal.
Ainsley is a professional Assyriologist and a professional dancer, which means she’s uniquely prepared to pull off a fabulous look as an ancient Mesopotamian goddess. Here she’s protraying Ereshkigal, the goddess of the Netherworld. She writes: “The costume is based on texts that describe Ereshkigal as having black lips and skin as yellow as a tamarisk, and on the Burney Relief (also known as the Queen of the Night) ca. 19th-18th century B.C.E.” As for those great talons: “I cut the fingers off skeleton gloves I bought at the Hallowe’en store, spray painted them black, dry brushed them with bronze to match the horns, stuffed them with cotton, and glued them to an old, spray-painted pair of shoes.”

Winner, Judge’s Choice: Lindsay Cee as Baba Yaga.
This is the scariest Baba Yaga I’ve ever seen. Incredible makeup and acting (that photo on the left is downright menacing). Lindsay writes that she “made the skull on a staff with death-fire eyes and tried to represent the chicken-legged house by wearing a miniature made from an adapted birdhouse and dinosaur legs.”

Best Notable Woman Costume

Winner, amateur level: Tara Osler as Sappho.
This costume is delightful: simple yet flawlessly executed. Tara writes: “I used a bed sheet to make a Doric chiton, and a pashmina tied around a belt to create a wrap to hold my scroll. I made the scroll myself by weathering paper with tea, and transcribed Sappho’s poetry in the original Greek onto it. I also made a crown of fake violets and other flowers because of the importance of the violet and general flower symbolism in Sappho’s poetry.”

Winner, expert level: Prentice Watson as Madam C.J. Walker.
It’s like Madam Walker came to life! Madam Walker was a phenomenal lady, and this is marvelously well done. Prentice writes: “I created a 1910-14 woman’s tailored suit. My thought process was that as business woman this is something that she could have worn during the day while visiting her company building or having a business meeting. I made the undergarments and the toque hat as well.”

Winner, junior level: Angie Glynn’s daughter Emma as Eleanor Roosevelt, costume by Angie Glynn.
The buttons! This costume is incredible—of course Emma is absolutely precious, but I can’t stop staring at the buttons. Every detail of the outfit is perfect.

Winner, Judge’s Choice: Kathryn Hamilton, Barb Parnarouskis, Liz Greene, and Diane Tucker as the Supremes.
Barb writes that the four of them wore these outfits to their office costume party this year. I like to think that they spent the whole day sitting in that conference room just like this, recreating the Nelson Shanks portrait, silently receiving admirers.

Best Queen Costume

Winner, amateur level: Amber Nichol as Boudicca.
Very, very tough category this year with lots of great entries, but Amber takes the prize with her absolutely splendid Boudicca. Amber writes: “My take on Boudicca showcases a Welsh-inspired shield of original art, and her mighty spear.” That shield is dazzling, and Amber’s face paint and golden circlet pick up the gold and black magnificently.

Winner, expert level: Lisa Ashton as Mary Tudor, the French Queen.
History geeks know this already, but: Mary Tudor was Henry VIII’s kid sister. She was married off to the King of France, who promptly died. Mary came home and married the Duke of Suffolk, but was forever known as “the French queen.” There she is in her famous portrait, and there’s Lisa looking like her spitting image. Absolutely incredible costume.

Best Realization of a Take Back Halloween Design

Winner, amateur level: Marguerite Ahl as Hecate.
I gotta be honest: if this was the vision that greeted me at the gates to the underworld, I’d be pretty psyched. Doggos! We have doggos in the underworld! Also, Marguerite’s version of our Hecate costume is just beautiful. It’s actually better than the original. She describes her costume as: “Hecate, with her black dog, frog, and keys. There is a moon face earring on the front of the hat. I used the Greek key trim, sewn on by a friend, to symbolize her history as a Greek goddess.”

Winner, amateur level: Adriana Gonzalez as Sor Juana.
Sor Juana was an amazing woman, and Adriana’s costume represents her beautifully. She writes: “I identify with her because of her love of writing poetry. Most of the topics I choose to write about are inspired by the topics she chose, feminism and love being my favorites. Her dedication and fight against misogyny is also another reason I consider Sor Juana Ines a role model. I am honored to put together this outfit to dress up like her and to, once again, represent Mexican culture in this contest.” Our Sor Juana costume page explains the escudo de monja (nun’s shield), in case you’re wondering about the paper plate-like object.

Winner, junior level: Elizabeth Klett’s daughter as Freyja, costume by Elizabeth Klett.
It’s always fun to see what a gifted seamstress or costumer can do with one of our designs. Elizabeth has rendered our Freyja costume as a completely sewn dress, with the armor as a sort of over-bodice of bronzy material with feather trim. Elizabeth made everything, even the necklace (not the plastic helmet though).

Division II: Masquerade

This is our division for costumes that don’t fall into our usual categories. The key thing here is that there’s no requirement that you dress up as a real person or specific mythological figure. We’re still interested in history and mythology, but this division is for period costumes and fictional or fantastical interpretations.

Historical Recreation

Winner: Nadja Robot recreating “Judith and Holofernes” by Artemisia Gentileschi.
Nadja’s email says it all: “I was going to be something lighthearted but I ended up embodying my feelings about the state of the world.” Yes.

Period Costume

Winner, amateur level: Melissa Claire as a suffragist with Charlie as Ruth Bader Ginsbark.
This is a charming costume and perfectly in step with the times (heh). It’s even better with a time-traveling doggo representing the Notorious RBG.

Winner, expert level: Monica DeSouza and Arthur Griffith as Tudor nobility, costumes by Monica DeSouza.
Monica consistently makes the most elegant costumes I’ve ever seen. I can only imagine what her fabric stash is like. These outfits are particularly sublime: the green, gold, and cream are exquisitely balanced. The sleeves! The pearls! The little ruffles! Okay, I’ll stop.

Winner, junior level: Nina Ghaffari’s daughter in traditional Persian dress.
Aw! What a cutie pie! Little Sophia is only a year and a half and cute as a button. Nina says these gorgeous traditional costumes were handmade by family members. Wonderful!

Fictional Characters

Winner, amateur level: Lori Russell as Madame DeFarge from A Tale of Two Cities, costume by Robyn Russell.
Never mind Madame DeFarge; she’s just hanging out here at the guillotine, knitting away, watching the executioner work, collecting the aristocrats’ heads in her basket—no wait, not that last part. That’s a little extra feature that 87-year-old Lori and daughter Robyn decided to add. Robyn writes: “My mother is costumed as an 18th century working class Parisian woman of the French Revolution, complete with red, white, and blue cockade. The cockade was the only sewing I did for this costume. Everything else was fabrics from my fabric stash and existing costume pieces. The severed head was a styrofoam head wrapped in muslin and then covered in ketchup (Mom’s suggestion). As you can tell, she’s really enjoying ‘sticking it’ to the aristocrats.”

Winner, expert level: Melissa Pevy as Mina Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Eiko Ishioka won an Oscar for her costume designs in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, including this incredible dress worn by Winona Ryder. This isn’t the Oscars, but we’re awarding Melissa a prize for her phenomenal recreation. Those pleats are intoxicating. The whole gown is just sumptuous and magnificent. Authentic, too; Melissa writes that it was “made as closely to Victorian era as possible (no zipper, hidden corset closure, etc.).”

Winner, junior level: Christy Cook’s daughter Eloise as…Eloise!
It’s so perfect! Little Eloise (the real one) is only two years old and adorable. Her outfit is a perfect match for “Eloise who lives at the Plaza.” Clearly some expert Mom-fu going on here.

Winner, Judge’s Choice: Laura Mayer as Mother Goose.
I love this costume! It’s beautifully put together and immediately recognizable as Mother Goose. Laura writes: “I looked at many images of Mother Goose before deciding on my interpretation. I saw that she is most often pictured with a tall Welsh or stovepipe hat, mob cap, shawl, and ankle boots. She is also sometimes seen with a basket and a goose. I knit many of my accessories. My mitts and big lace shawl are from commercial yarns. My hat was also knit with commercial yarn and then felted. The ‘buckle’ on the hat is a vintage pin purchased second-hand years ago, by my mother. The stockings (actually leg warmers) are also hand knit, from my partner’s handspun yarn. The only completely new, purchased items were the pre-made doily and bias tape for my mobcap and its strings, and thin muslin fabric for my fichu. Oh, and the stuffed goose toy!”

Fantasy Costumes

Winner, amateur level: Becky Murphy as earth mage Ainsley Shadowhawk.
“Ainsley Shadowhawk” is Becky’s own creation, which she describes this way: “She channels energy from the earth through her staff, and uses her wand for working larger magics, like summoning her familiar. Handmade tunic, pouch, staff, feather cloak, wolf-eye amulet; purchased skirt, belt, boots, found wand. The orb on the staff is a solar globe—I can put a battery in it and it changes colors.” Great costume, very earthy and natural looking. My only question is what that friendly-looking doggo thinks about the “magicking” Ainsley appears to be attempting.

Winner, expert level: Hannah Stoppel in an 1870s version of Ravenclaw House gear.
Now here’s some expert level magic! This is a jaw-dropping costume. Hannah writes: “This is my early 1870s interpretation of Ravenclaw House from Harry Potter. All of the design elements and details are based on extant period garments, with design inspiration from Ravenclaw’s colors and eagle mascot. I had so much fun searching through historical garments and discovering things like the feathery peplum and cuffs and wing-like overskirt shape. Everything from the underwear out, including the hat, was made by me except for shoes and stockings.”

Winner, junior/family level: Emily Scharf’s family as the Wicked Witch, a flying monkey, and the tornado from the Wizard of Oz.
Emily calls this “the darker side” of Oz, which it is, yes, but it’s also super cute and cool. Emily’s husband is an awesome tornado! That’s Emily looking very green as the Wicked Witch, and their daughter as the most adorable flying monkey I have ever seen in my life. How did they get the sky in their neighborhood to be the perfect Wizard of Oz color?

Equine Division

Winners: Kari Newman and Blueberry as Death.
We created a special division for Kari and Blueberry because a) they are awesome, b) Blueberry is a horse wearing a HORSE HALLOWEEN COSTUME, and c) it’s really not fair to judge other contestants against a HORSE WEARING A HALLOWEEN COSTUME. But we were delighted by this entry and thrilled to include it in the contest. Kari assures us that Blueberry was totally fine during this whole thing, the chains were plastic, nothing uncomfortable at all.



11 Comments → “Halloween 2018 Costume Contest Winners”

  1. Laura


    Thank you so much for this, Suzanne! I am so honored to be in this excellent and creative costume company! I deeply appreciate the mix of studiousness and hands-on creativity displayed by everyone! I love Halloween, and I love Take Back Halloween!!

  2. Suzanne Scoggins


    You are more than welcome, Laura! You’re a mighty knitter and a very creative costumer. It’s always a delight to see your outfits. Thanks for entering the contest!

  3. Jodie Giacalone


    Thank you so much! To tell you the truth I was actually a little disappointed with how the outfit turned out and I was delighted to see you voted me in at the expert level! I’ve already got ideas for next year starting to take shape.

  4. Ann Anderson


    All of the entries this year were absolutely wonderful. Amazing winners. Amazing contestants. Amazing people all the way around. Thank you so much. I too am really honored to be included with this amazing company. And I am really grateful to this website and all it offers, especially the way it inspires us. Thank you again!

  5. Emily Scharf


    Thank you so much to all the judges and for picking our family! I love Halloween and this is so exciting!

  6. Suzanne Scoggins


    Jodie, you looked great! What with the chain mail and an actual horse, you’re the most authentic Valkyrie any of us are ever likely to see.

    Ann, your costume was so clever and well done; everybody just loved it. I hope your colleagues enjoyed it as much we all did.

    Emily, your “darker side of Oz” concept was terrific and you all looked the part. Well, actually your daughter is way too cute to be a flying monkey, but… Great job!

  7. Lisa Ashton


    So excited to win an award. I’ve been costuming for quite a long time now and still am entering competitions, the next one is next weekend at Philcon, a SF convention held in Cherry Hill, NJ. I also do beaded art pieces and quilting as well as mixed media. It’s so wonderful to see so many young costumers creating wonderful things!

  8. Robyn Russell


    Both my mother, Lori, and I are very happy and very honored to have won Best Fictional Character (Amateur). Neither of us thought we had a shot this year–the competition was very, very impressive. And I agree with Suzanne, I wish we had more awards to give out. As always, very heartening and inspiring to see the work of so many creative people. :-)

  9. Prentice


    Suzanne, thank you for this wonderful opportunity to participate in this year’s contest. I am honored to have been selected as the winner for best Notable Woman. There are so many talented creative costumers out there sewing and creating away in the dark. You shine a beautiful inclusive light from which we all benefit.

    I would like to thank all of the contestants who took a chance to have a spotlight placed on their work and made this a great competition.

    Again, thank you Suzanne and the judges for this honor.

  10. Marguerite Ahl


    Thank you for including me among this year’s winners. I’m so honored to be among so many creative people! Your costume ideas inspire me to see what I can come up with on my own that stays basically true to your portrayal.

  11. Suzanne Scoggins


    Lisa, your Mary Tudor outfit is amazing! Remarkable fidelity to the portrait and clearly the work of an Expert with a capital E. Very happy to have you in the contest!

    Robyn, you and Lori did a wonderful job with Madame DeFarge! Your Mom is a born actress, and the styrofoam head in the basket was the coup de grâce (as it were).

    Prentice, your Madam Walker entry was a thrill. Beautifully done and so authentic. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. By the way, Madam Walker’s great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles is a friend of the site, and if anyone here hasn’t read her bio of Madam Walker, I recommend it: http://www.madamcjwalker.com/bios/alelia-bundles/ I think Netflix has optioned it for a series next year (?) starring Octavia Spencer.

    Marguerite, I absolutely loved what you did with Hecate. The Greek key border adds so much. I think when we get around to re-doing Hecate I might incorporate that as an option. You’re a natural!