5 (Last Minute) Costume Ideas for Midsummer Masquerade

The 2016 Cincinnati Midsummer Masquerade is officially one month away. What does that mean for you? Well, if you’ve already planned your costume, then you can continue plucking along – provided that plan included some construction time, and you haven’t caved to the Lords of Procrastination. Still, if you at least know what you’re doing, you have something to work towards. If you haven’t even planned your costume (yours truly is among this number), then it’s time for some reasonably well controlled panic. It might be time to call in the back-up and get that second coffee machine running. And panic. Did we mention panic?

Don’t panic. Here are five pops of inspiration to get you crafting.

1 – Use the Masquerade’s theme to your advantage

The Midsummer Masquerade has always borrowed inspiration from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the high court of fairies therein. While Oberon and Titania are always classic costume inspirations, remember that there are a number of other characters in the story, including Bottom, the man with the head of an ass. Whether you want sparkles or slapstick, the original source material has you covered.

2 – Expand the theme

If you like the fairy theme, but Shakespeare just isn’t edgy enough for you, consider using creatures from myth and legend that could loosely be called ‘fairies.’ Want a group costume? The Morrigan is often considered a trinity of Irish battle goddesses (Bacha, Nemain, Badb), and this is a particularly great look if you’re planning to scare the soul out of an ex. Greek and Roman mythology is ripe with naiads and satyrs. Japanese yōkai provide an endless world of horror and enchantment. Use your cultural and creative roots to explore beyond 17th Century English literature.

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Fan art of Holly Black’s Tithe

3 – Modern translation

In the age of the internet, legends and fairy tales have taken on a new life in the dark realms of subreddits and message boards. I speak, of course, of creepy pasta. Once upon a time, fairies and the people in the hills were the monsters that went bump in the night, but these days many of us are more afraid of Jack the Killer than kelpies, and worry about forgotten killers in the crawl space instead of red hats.

4 – Urbanize your fantasy

Stories by authors like Holly Black, Richard Kadrey, and Neil Gaiman have turned urban fantasy from a niche fandom into one of fantasy’s most popular subgenres. If you’ve ever read a book by one of these authors, you probably understand why. The magic grows from abandoned warehouses, forgotten subways, and human decay – but it’s still magic. Many steampunks enjoy thrifting for their costumes, and while there’s no reason not to include thrifting as part of any costume, it is a particularly useful skill when designing the robes of a fairy queen who holds court in an abandoned factory, or a version of Puck who masquerades as a human from the wrong decade.

5 – Forget the fairies

Nearly every story about fairies involves some poor mortal who – willingly or otherwise – finds themselves in the midst of a fey party. You can grab inspiration from anywhere, including your own closet. If a sprite popped into your window right now, called you to a fey ball, and you only had the clothes and accessories in your wardrobe to create a stunning ensemble and mask – what would you do? Fairies are clever things, though, and it’s entirely possible they could steal characters straight out of your favorite books and movies.

Of all the characters to be abducted by fairies…

Remember – you only have one month left to prepare. Who will you be?


M. Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.

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