The Skeleton Diaries: Our Own Skulduggery Pleasant

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After several Halloweens of indecision, we finally broke down and purchased a couple of full-size skeletons.

Well, by “full size”, I mean five-foot-tall rather than those 12 or 20-foot giants. Still, we had been wanting a couple of good-sized skelly friends. Now we faced with the fun task of thinking of something clever to do when them.

The month, I’ll share a couple of fun ideas we came up with to give our skeletons a unique personality…and they seem happy about. They haven’t stopped grinning.

A patient skeleton awaiting his fitting. All images: Lisa Tate

This week, my oldest daughter took over and decided to make a almost life-size version of one of her favorite fantasy book characters, Skulduggery Pleasant.

Skulduggery Pleasant, written by Derek Landy, is about a dapper, smart, and magic-possessing detective who, with his tough teenage assistant, is trying to save the world from all sorts of magical baddies.

She fell in love with this series when she first picked it up in her early teens, and is still a big fan. She is also a huge admirer of the well-dressed and skeleton title character, and couldn’t wait to have him join our household.

It was just a matter of dressing him up right, but not just any old set of clothes will do. See, Skulduggery has a pal, Ghastly Bespoke, who makes him, nicely fitting bespoke suits. 

So, we raided some used clothes and discount shops, keeping some things in mind that would make him stand out from the other “skeletons in suits.”

The fit. Skulduggery’s suits are tailor made (literally) to fit his bony frame. That means nothing too baggy. Instead of a coat or suit that would fit a regular sized-adult, find a children’s suit coat or a blazer for a petite woman. We did the latter, as it was cut for a small frame. It worked well on him. If the blazer or coat fits, the shirt can be a little loose. That won’t show, as long as the collar looks nice.

The pants are also snug, but instead of finding small suit pants, we opted for leggings. He’’ bony enough to make them work. Plus they are less likely to fall off.

Daughter and pets got Skulduggery fitted in his suit, then we added a rubber band for a better fitting hat. One spool of purple ribbon made all his matching accessories, and a store bought costume prop gave him his “elemental” powers.

The hat is a nice wide-brimmed fedora or “homburg” (I think that’s what it is called). You can find one-size black costume hats of these at many stores this time of year. It they are a little big for his skull, tack a large rubber band inside. It will hold it in place. Make sure he wears it low over his eyes, and not too far back.

The accessories. One thing my daughter made sure of is Skulduggery needs some purple. She insisted he have a touch of purple in his clothes. A black or pinstriped suit is fine, but giving him a nice matching tie and hatband, shows he accessorizes well. I found a large roll of wide lavender ribbon, and was able to use it for his hatband, tie, and a pocket square. To keep the tie in place,  I made tie tack by gluing a small gem to pushpin, and attached it with a pin back.

Finally, he often wears gloves. Small black costume gloves are all you need. I liked the skeleton hands, but my daughter said he needed gloves. Ergo, we went with the gloves.

Finally, find a long scarf to match the hatband and tie. If you can’t find a scarf, use a piece of material or ribbon. We used leftover ribbon, to best match the color.

Skulduggery glowing at night.

The flame. Skulduggery is an elemental, and can manipulate power fire. Make sure he’s demonstrating that trick with a flaming hand. I was going to explain how you can make a flame hand using a small string of battery-operated holiday lights, but places like Spirit Halloween or other costume shops make some “floating fireball” hand props for about $15 to $20. These fit over the hand, but you will want to use a small rubber band to hold it in place. His hand isn’t as big as a fleshy, non-skeleton person’s, even with gloves.

Now, you have a well-dressed, skeleton, who is ready to protect your home from evil wizards or world-threatening entities. He may, if you ask him nice, also sit a look cool for visitors during the spooky season.

A well-dressed skeleton showing off his favorite book series.
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