Radioactivity. It was Marie Curie (1867-1934) who coined the word. She had a right to: she discovered the stuff (along with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel). She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, and is still the only person in history to have won Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields. First she won it in Physics in 1903 for the discovery of radiation—that was the shared prize with Pierre and Becquerel. Then in 1911 she won the solo prize in Chemistry for her discovery of the elements radium and polonium. Marie freaking Curie, everybody!

The great thing about a Marie Curie costume is that she is so famous, all you really need is a long black dress and a few key props. By which we mean radioactive-looking props, since Madame Curie was soaking in it. It was a long time before people realized that radiation was deadly, so Marie spent years handling radioactive material, carrying it in her pockets, holding it in her hands, looking at it for fun, even keeping a vial of the stuff next to her bed as a nightlight. The items we suggest, from left to right:

Marie Curie in her lab in 1920.

Marie Curie in her lab in 1910.

1. Priestess Dress in black. We have no idea why this is called a Priestess Dress, but basically it’s a kind of universal long dress. It has lacing everywhere so you can customize it right on your body. The simple unfitted nature of the thing is reminiscent of the smocks and pinafores that Marie Curie wore in her lab every day.
2. Alternate choice: the Cordelia Dress in black from the Ladies Emporium. This is a real dress, and it’s very nice. The only drawback is that it’s rather short, only 48 inches long. That’s tea length on most people. That store also carries separate skirts and blouses if you want to put together a mix and match thing.
3. Victorian lace-up boots.
4. Glow Sticks. People think of radiation as glowing green, but actually radium gives off a cool blue light. Whether you choose blue or green, glow sticks are an easy prop for that radioactive look.
5. Volumetric flasks (from eBay) with Blue Glow Bubble Solution. If you want something that looks more authentically scientific, fix up some flasks with glowing liquid inside. This Glow Bubble Solution is very convenient for the purpose. It also comes in orange and pink, if you want to get really colorful. As for the volumetric flasks, they come in a large range of sizes and are available from numerous suppliers.
6. Optional: Mehron Fantasy FX Glow In The Dark Makeup. Silly but fun. Just don’t overdo it; you don’t want to look like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. A bit of an unearthly glow on your hands and face will be quite sufficient.


Other costumes in this category: Notable Women