“Oh my god, I thought you were late for the 9 p.m. yoga class!”
“Dude, I nearly f—-d you last week.”
“Umm… I was wearing that this afternoon.”
How often does one man hear these words? Generally never, but when you rock your Halloween costume, it’s music to your ears. And flattering, I might add. And that is how this whole idea started: I set out to flatter.
And if I believe one thing about Halloween costumes, like so many things in life, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it. Being a man of limited acting merits, but a double helping of over-confidence, I decided to get right into character. But a question remains: where does one find their muse for Halloween? I look to the things that surround me. Sometimes it’s pop-culture: the ultimate warrior, Guy Fieri, or as many Vancouverites demonstrated over the holiday season, Miley Cyrus; sometimes the obscure: banana, marathon runner or female varsity field-hockey player. This year I went meta; I channeled my inner Christopher Nolan – a costume within a costume amid an ocean of costume wearers. I decided to pay homage to a person near and dear to my heart: the Vancouver woman.
Why did I choose this? One, I have an affinity for dressing in drag. I think it’s really fun, and liberating. . .we can save that can of worms for another chat. Two, Vancouver women are awesome. They smoke when they’re drunk, they go to Brandy’s for girl’s nights out, they eat organic and drink vodka sodas, they judge the s–t out of everybody, and, oh lord, do they do their yoga proud. Three, they’re everywhere. I have constant access to the personalities, behaviours and ‘fashion’ choices of the Vancouver woman. I went so method with this outfit that I nearly forgot who I was. Like Brando, Day-Lewis and diCaprio before me, I became her.
How do you become a woman, Vancouver woman, at that? Well, a degree in rocket-surgery is not required to know where to look first. The contagious yoga culture – for the better, sometimes for the irritating – is the most quintessential Vancouver thing since gluten-free paddle boarding and bike lane bitching. Where the stretchy Lycra was normally saved for the inner confides of the smelly, sweaty, flexy den of the yogi, it has somehow oozed into mainstream fashion; tights with flats, tights with heels, tights with sneakers, tights with matching jumpsuit coat, headband, sandals and tote. The choice of what to wear was far simpler than I had originally considered. It should be noted that while the costume was all borrowed, I owe a certain person – let’s just call her ‘my wife’ – a whole new wardrobe. When the supposed guru of stretchy mentioned that his pants aren’t to be worn if you have big thighs, he was right.
While it’s all well and good to look the part, any fashionista, costume designer or Halloween enthusiast will tell you it’s never just what you wear, or how you wear it, but how you accessorize it. A costume, like any outfit – another word for costume, am I right? – can go from ‘meh’ to Thor’s Hammer with the right accessories. So, what defines a Vancouver woman? Delving into this chasm of stereotypes was where I thought the offense may come; many of these accessories are expensive and to the outsider – aka, the male – seem completely redundant and useless. Questions like: “That headband cost how much?!” come to mind. It is now clear to me that it was this attention to detail that catapulted me into the stratosphere of Halloween lore. The list of accessories is exhaustive, and therefore shall be presented as such:
Tote bag: preferably from a famous wellness company or a health-bar-cum tea-bar-cum-grocery-store. Said totebag should also include at least one reusable water bottle that says: Sweat six times a day, or, ‘I Heart Van’, or ‘Cry it out’. It should also include a rolled up mat which screams: F–k you, I was just bent in a half, b—h!
Smartphone: held out at a 63-degree angle at all times. It should be on, not always being used, but always being looked at. It should be noted that the wrist should be angled on 270-degree slant. Instagram should be readily accessible.
Big glasses: lemurs do not require glasses this big. Why do you? Glasses that large are the reason why men don’t know if you know we are staring at you. They also give you the appearance of a kitschy extra-terrestrial.
Hair band: bobs or manes, wear it. Keeps your hair out of your eyes, and totally matches your coat.
Infinity Scarf: big, woolly, going in and through itself so many times it’s like counting to infinity. Oh, I get it now! The scarf that never stops. Looks a lot like the foreskin of a descendant from Kaashyk. And don’t tell me it’s a summer scarf. It’s a winter scarf. Scarves in general are a winter item unless you’re a Bedouin wandering the vast desert-scape, not hopping out of your M-Class.
Headphones: on at all times. These are important to have in so that when someone is talking to you, you can either ignore them or talk loud enough in the coffee line so everyone can hear. Everyone. Especially the other friend with their headphones in. Oh, these should be connected to your smartphone. What you listen to is okay, but if your barista has heard them, that’s not very good.
Nails: if Halloween was in July the nail colour should be so neon, Ray Charles would squint. But, alas, it’s in the fall. Match your nail polish accordingly. Brick red. Toes and talons.
Flip-flops: black. Originally designed for the shower. Now more commonplace than 420 red-eyes. Totally matches your pants!
Miscellaneous: lip gloss made from bees wax ( apply every ten minutes), straw for your scalding hot coffee, no money in your purse – as if you’re buying, reusable water bottle with homemade algae drink, weekly celeb mag that you only read for the diet tips, fob for Yale town condo.
So, you’re now looking like a true Vancouver gal. Decked from head to toe in the latest fashion that screams: See these red cheeks? I just bettered myself. . .excuse me, I have to take this text.
As the opening quotes should illuminate, the costume was well-received. And oddly, everyone recognized it. Let’s begin with the first quote. The bouncers/hosts naturally assumed that I was late for a yoga class; a beefy housewife, running late for the 9 p.m. yoga class. When they realized I was in costume, they were mystified, scared, turned-on and hysterical all at once. It should be noted that the Halloween party was at a hockey rink and had an annex with a yoga class at 9 p.m. Apologies were issued, cover was collected and we all went on our merry way.
The next quote should represent the way most men viewed me that night. The number of men who asked for ‘selfies,’ pictures and conversation about my apparel blew me away. One particular discussion is burned into my brain. One drunk, ruggedly handsome hockey dude pulling me aside and saying, “Dude, I nearly f—-d you last week.” And I thought to myself: how much do I actually look a woman that men recognize? This is both a credit to the yoga culture becoming prominent, and for allowing women who perhaps 5 to 10 years ago would not have felt confident enough to wear tight fitting apparel such as this, feel sexy and beautiful ( as they are). I would say that every female in Vancouver has a more feminine body than I do, and I felt sexy as hell in the pants I should add. Apparently I was so convincing as this woman, the dude called all his buddies over, exchanged high-fives and had three other guys corroborate the first guy’s story, “dude, you totally look like the girl he nearly f—-d.” I put on my bitch face and said, “Whatever,” then walked away. This was a great defense mechanism all night; it allowed me to pass in and out of boring conversations as I wanted, and all I had to say was that I’m in character. Hilarity ensued.
The last quote represents the female reaction to the costume. Women could not get enough of this get-up. The amount of women who were telling me they were wearing that outfit that exact day, validated to me how bang on my perception of the Vancouver woman really was. There was no anger in any of their voices, because I think they realize that this new style of dress is essentially the ‘pajamas in public’ of the late twenty something age bracket. It’s the: I don’t give a f–k, so I’ll toss on these pants that make my butt look great (my butt really did, BTW) and put all my s–t into this tote bag and I’ll be on my way. For the record, this look is way better than pajamas in public. The best part of the costume for me was when the first female bartender of the night was like: “Oh ya, if you’re a Vancouver woman, where’s your to-go coffee cup?” This was promptly revealed from the tote and drank out of the rest of the night. It should also be noted that carbonated beverages and paper coffee cups don’t last all night. Pfft, whatever.
Besides walking around all night asking if this was organic or gluten free, and perfecting my downward-dog, I had a great time throwing on my bitch face. Anytime someone would talk to me I would say some trite remark and pretend to text. Ladies, this is how most men view you in public. It’s hard to talk to women in public. Like some brain scanner out of a sci-fi film, you stare at your phones when walking. When you’re not looking at the phone, you’re snapping selfies. I’m a man, and I don’t excuse men from this either. Grown men on mass transit playing some algorithmic jewel game, sitting at bar with your friend showing viral videos instead of talking, taking ‘pics’ of your abs in the mirror at the gym!!!!! Vancouver people, in yoga gear or not, are pricks in public. Whether it’s headphones in church, texting while walking, or openly questioning if this tap water is organic, we need to get our head out of our butt.
But I digress…
Ultimately, the reason I chose this costume is like the water bottle says: I heart Van. And I do. I lived here for nearly my entire life – a few years in Asia, some travelling and an adolescence in the ‘burbs notwithstanding – Vancouver is my home. Okay, I don’t call it Van-City, I save that for people from ‘you know where’ downtown on the weekends; but I love Vancouver. It’s an amazing city, with amazing people. My amazing wife is a Vancouver woman, my amazing sister and my sister-in-law are Vancouver women, all my remaining school-girlfriends are Vancouver women, everyone knows that’s how Vancouver women dress casually. Someone, somewhere, once said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Halloween is all about imitation. Therefore, whoever you become on Halloween, you are paying homage to them. People must really love Miley Cyrus then. Vancouver women: don’t change. Stay true to yourselves. And if staying true to you means looking like a caterpillar stuffed into a Lycra tortilla with a tote bag that could carry a litter of lion kittens, do it. I love Vancouver so much that I subjugated myself to wearing Lycra all night. And if that Lycra makes women of all shapes, sizes and abilities feel beautiful, I say: wear it, because you are beautiful. Sometimes you are funny to look at, but you are beautiful.
So, sweat once a day. Drink your water. Stretch your butt off. And heart Van.
Oh, and I won best costume.
Written by Lukas Bennett, guest contributor to Vancity Buzz.