Growing up my family never celebrated Día de los Muertos. Late October and early November were spent preparing and celebrating Halloween, my tía Martha’s birthday, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. I didn’t learn about the wonderful traditions associated with Día de los Muertos until I got to college. I was hooked by the imagery and art, especially any take on José Guadalupe Posada’s 1913 zinc etching of la Catrina.
I realize la Catrina may not be a low-budget or low-effort costume, unless you have turn of the century clothing and hats lying around. However, dressing up as la Catrina will set you apart from all the other women dressed like sexy [insert random profession here]. As la Catrina, you won’t be showing any skin. You also won’t be just any other lazy Chicana who simply painted her face like a calaca as your costume shows much more effort. Finally, you can easily go from your average Halloween party to a Día de los Muertos event in the same costume.
Here’s how to do la Catrina:
- Black and white face paint (I shouldn’t have to tell you what to do with it)
- Fancy women’s clothing circa 1910 OR
- Fitted maxi skirt and fitted long-sleeved blouse with a high collar (or a dress)
- White gloves
- Ankle boots (they’re in style these days!)
- Wide-brimmed straw hat decorated with many fake flowers
- Optional accessories: faux fur, feather boa, expensive looking earrings
- Works best if: you’re tall and thin
If you can pull it together, send me pictures!
Upper left photo (purple hat) by Pepergrass, used under Creative Commons License.