Into The Woods, Disney’s fairy tale amalgam based on Stephen Sondheim’s and James Lapine’s smash musical, hit the box offices near the top of the list over the holiday season. It has since wormed its way into the heart of musical, fantasy, and fairy tale fans alike.
With Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands) behind the style, there should be no surprise if this movie becomes one of the bigger influences for costume ideas this year.
Since it’s never too early to start thinking about the summer’s comic convention scene, or even next fall’s masquerade, here are a few of the film’s more memorable characters, and how to capture their look:
Why He’s Cool: When is a “Big Bad Wolf” ever not fun? Human baddies have such deviant reasons for their bad choices, but a wolf’s just an animal… and he’s gotta eat. Right? Okay, maybe not. He might not always be likable, but he’s always entertaining. In the stage version of Into The Woods, Wolf is a coveted character by actors, not just because the one who portrays him is often the same one who gets to be the flighty Prince, but he’s so much fun to play. Johnny Depp’s small but screen-stealing movie version will only make the character that much more popular.
What to Wear: Depp said in the movie’s press information that Atwood’s design was pretty much exactly what he imagined for himself in the role.
“(I just) had this burning sort of vision in my head of the Wolf, and all I could think of was the wolf in the zoot suit in the Tex Avery cartoons: a hip, big, bad wolf with a fedora and a zoot suit and a cat chain,” he said.
This is so easy to do, as all it takes is an old second hand oversized suit. Some costume retailers like Spirit have gangster and zoot suit costumes for $30 to $50 that are easy to modify, as well. The “wolf” effect can be created by a simple black and silver line design with cloth paint, along with craft fur added to the lapels, and coat cuffs. Tack on costume wolf or fox tail (or make one using a craft store boa). All the wide-brimmed hat needs is a pair of wolf ears on the hatband. Like the tail, these can be made with a couple of pieces of craft fur, cut to resemble wolf ears.
A cheap, dollar store gag mustache can be cut and waxed to make the wolf’s whiskers, and you’re good to go.
Baker and Baker’s Wife
Why They’re Cool: The Baker is the true hero of this adventure. This average, everyday man unintentionally steps into the role of the kingdom’s savior as he overcomes his self-doubt.
The Baker’s Wife isn’t the princess in distress, she’s the one who steps up to challenges, struggles with right and wrong choices, but remains reliant and brave. These may not be the characters people dream about being in their fairy tale fantasies, but they certainly are the most believable.
What to Wear: The trick to either of these characters, which will work as individuals or as a couple’s costume, is the accessories. These characters bring the rest of the fairy tales together as they try to gather special items to lift a curse. Any earth-toned peasant-looking clothes gathered from the closet will work. A brown vest or coat, and baggy pants with a white shirt is fine for the Baker. Use a brown or patchwork long skirt or peasant dress for the Baker’s Wife. These aren’t what people will be noticing, in the costume, as long you are loaded down with the four items–a red cloak, gold slipper, yellow hair and snow white cow.
These will be much easier to gather than the story suggests. Braid three long pieces of yellow craft boa for the hair, spray paint gold an old high-heeled pump, find a bright red piece of cloth (it doesn’t have to be an actual cloak; a red blanket throw or scarf will work), and grab a white toy plush cow. Toss these items over your shoulders, have them sticking out of pockets or pouches, or tote them awkwardly under your arms, and there’s no mistaking the quest on which you’re embarking.
Why She’s Cool: Don’t let the blue dress, red shoes, and braids fool you, Little Red Riding Hood is no Dorothy of Oz. This kid is headstrong, tough, just mischievous enough to be cute but not bratty, and no one is going to throw her off her path… after the first time, that is. Little Red is the ideal costume for young girls with a purpose and a passion for life, but is also a fun choice for grown-ups.
What to Wear: There is only one essential element for the Into The Woods version of Red Riding Hood, the cloak of blood red. Any simple blue peasant or sundress can be used to start.
A simple cloak or throw with large red ribbon attached is all there is to the standard storybook cloak, but it needs a special twist to really make it adhere to the spirit of the film: wolf skin. Line the inside of the cloak with craft fur similar to that of Wolf’s costume. Now you have reversible cloak for after her victory over the ravenous beast.
Red lace-up boots or even high top sneakers will look cute and sporty with this, but for purists and adult cosplayers enthralled with those unique boots in the movie, Victorian Trading Co. has their cabaret high top boots in red for under $100.
Cinderella’s Step Family
Why They’re Cool: They are absolutely horrible, rude, narcissistic, and nasty, and therefore extremely fun. While Cinderella’s golden ball gown and slippers were beautiful, the real costume party is with the evil stepsisters. Cinderella’s humility and kindness may make her the one to emulate, the stepsisters’ outrageous behavior makes them the ones to imitate in the cosplay world.
What to Wear: These characters get their look from a little classic fairy tale, a little gothic steampunk, a bit of lacy French boudoir, and a lot of sass. This is the chance to go a little wild and crazy with things. Put together some combinations of ornate, lacy black, white, and champagne colored corsets, bloomers, ruffled slips or skirt, colored tights or stockings, and vintage dressing gowns. These can be pieced together from consignment stores or costume site. A camisole and fancy belt can also replace a corset. Accessorize with gaudy costume jewelry ribbons, hair bows or combs, and stockings or tights. Overdo your nails and eyes with dark polish and eyeliner, and get a pair of tacky pumps or lace-up boots. These are great characters to really make your own, and don’t be shy about adding too mush lavish silliness. This family is all about the attitude. Go ahead and flaunt it ad nauseam, just for one day.
Why She’s Cool: The Witch drives the plot, for good or bad. The quintessential fairy tale witch, she is the one who set the curse, the one who enslaved the princess, and ultimately the one who offers the right solutions. Hero or villain, there wouldn’t be a story without her.
What to Wear: The hair is more important that the dress with this one. It’s blue tones echo the blue of the moon on the “last midnight” of the adventure, and it is instantly recognizable.
According to the press release, Atwood made sure “The Woods” were well represented in all the costumes, and each character’s costume had a texture of wood in some way. The “transformed” Witch’s chiffon dress included some pieces of leather stitched in to look like cracked bark. You don’t have to go that far, as long as you follow the color scheme. Any used blue ball gown with puffed sleeves will work, when paired with a blue wig in a loose updo.
These costumes don’t have to match exactly, as long as they capture that dark fairy tale essence. All it takes is just a little searching to find the right items, and you’ll be ready for any of those “moments in the woods.”