Halloween 2009: And Swee'Pea makes three!

What do you do when your family grows?  We've moved past couples costumes, and all of a sudden a whole world of possibility opened up.  With the arrival of Stan, I have ideas through 2011, in case you're wondering.  Here's the first year of our family of three.

Photo at left courtesy of Darren Copeland.  (Taken at Liz's party.  Ignore the watermark; I batch resized this among the lot from that night.)


Pipe: From a costume shop, bought through eBay.  They actually used a real corn cob!  I could not get over this!  You would think it'd be molded plastic, but no!

Shoes: Okay, technically Popeye wears bulky brown loafers, not black.  I already had these, so whatever.  No one really notices shoes anyway.

Pants: Rather than just going with conventional jeans, I wanted a pair that matched the odd blue tone of the character.  The only place I could track down a pair like this was in the "old guy's" area of Sears where they sell overalls and such.  I didn't realize such a place even existed.

Belt: Just a strip of plain yellow cotton fabric with a parachute buckle attached.  The belt folds over the buckle so you don't see it though.

Hat: The only real challenge Dani had in bringing this costume to life was finding a pattern for a captain's hat.  Ultimately, we  just bought this cheap one from Party City and she reverse-engineered it.

How do you keep a tiny hat on a bald head on a windy night?  You sew a snap to a band-aid, and you stick it on my head.  Very effective way of battening down the hatches.  It stayed on the whole time we were out in Oak Lawn.

Shirt: I preferred this to the while sailors outfit Popeye sometimes wore in the cartoons and Robin Williams wore in the 1980 movie.

The red collar was from scratch with buttons from a fabric store.

The sleeves were taken from the ends of the pant legs.  We purposely bought them extra-long with the intention of doing this.

(Photo taken as we were getting dressed at Katie's before we headed out to Oak Lawn.)

Arms: I didn't have these for our party.  We put off doing anything like this so we'd have time to do the decorations.  It wasn't until we were going out to Oak Lawn the next week that we got around to even trying out the poor-man's prosthetics and modified it some with the addition of batting the next week before going to Liz's party.

First layer: A rolled-up, cut-off men's sock.

Second layer: Batting.  This smooths the edges of the sock so that the contour looks more natural.

Third layer: Pair of pantyhose with holes cut for fingers and thumb.  Note that you can still see the sock/batting through it.

Fourth layer: Another pair of pantyhose (this pair from Katie).  At this point you wouldn't even be able to see the white underlayers if it weren't for the light from camera's flash.

*Fun fact from Kristin's ex: If a guy wants to go in drag without shaving his legs, two pairs of hose works much the same way.  First pair covers up the hair, then another pair (or fishnets) look natural over that.

Finally we "tattoo" my anchors on with a Sharpie and we're ready to go!

More than just costuming, these were perfect since it was so cold the first night we went out with them.

Here's a quick contrast between the cartoon and live-action versions of Popeye.

Note that I didn't bother with a can of spinach on account of carrying either a baby or a camera around most of the night.  Props are a bad idea unless they're absolutely essential for the costume.  And then I'd make the case that the costume is a bad idea if you want to do anything other than manage your props all night.

I seriously thought about doing prosthetic make-up for the chin and nose as well as the arms, but we didn't have time to experiment with it.  The party took up a lot of time and make-up is too expensive to waste on this scale if you don't know what you're doing.  Just about every year I say I'm going to try something in this area, but I just don't get around to it.  Oh, well.

Olive Oyl

As with Popeye, there are a lot of variables within Olive's recognizable look.  We sorted through these and made the best choices aesthetically while sticking as closely as we could to the cartoon version.

Shirt: Something from Dani's closet.  The white collar and cuff rings were added.  Note that in some versions the collar isn't frilly.  In the movie version it was actually lacey, not just wavy and 2D.  This seemed like the best compromise.  This was a toned-down version.  Dani trimmed back the "petals" of her original attempt.

Skirt: Again from the closet.  It was hard to match the length properly because few humans have Olive's proportions.  In order to have boots that tall and show some leg (but not knee, which is covered by the skirt), you have to have legs about four feet long.  Even Shelly Duvall wasn't built to do this.

Another point of variance within the depictions over the years was the band above the hem.  Most of the cartoon versions alternated between white and yellow, the latter of which is odd considering she already had red, black, and white everywhere else (except that sometimes her earrings are depicted as gold).  In the movie it was red (see poster above) or (sometime) almost black (see below).

Boots: We didn't invest in a pair of properly manly boots.  Like most else, these were already in Dani's possession.  They're brown, meaning they don't match anything else in the color scheme, and therefore are one of the most important elements in making a trademark statement.

Socks: Plain white socks just sticking above the tops of the boots.

You can contrast some of the differences in this publicity shot with the cartoon and Dani's take above.

Earrings: The cartoon version always seems to have on white (presumably pearl?) or gold earrings.  Both look weak to me.  The movie version makes the better choice of red to match most of the rest of the outfit.

We didn't remember to get earrings for Dani until we were at Katie's on our way to Oak Lawn.  Katie had some earring backs we could use and some superglue.  A trip to the dollar store for the aforementioned Sharpie, and we made use of a couple red Spree candies for edible earrings!  (I am not making this up.)


First thing I did when Dani told me she was pregnant was mentally calculate how old (s?)he'd be on Halloween.  True story.  Stan is not only the best baby you could ask for, he's easily the best prop ever!

We got asked this a lot, so I looked it up: Swee'Pea is not Popeye's son, but his actual parentage depends on which incarnation you go by.  According to Wikipedia, the story is different depending on whether you read the comic strip, watch the cartoons, or go by the version in the Altman/Williams movie.

In any case, the character is designed to be something of a combination of the two characters just as though Popeye and Olive were his two parents.  His skipper's hat is Popeye's in miniature while his nightie mirrors Olive's red long-sleeve shirt with white trim.

Unfortunately, this is not the most convenient costume to change diapers in.

I joke about him being a prop, but some people at Liz's party actually thought Stan was a doll he was so quiet throughout the night.

(Photo courtesy of Marcie.)

Stan pooped out at the end of the night on Halloween.  He was exhausted after handing out candy to Trick or Treaters and then hitting the party.  He was (and usually is) a dream.

Misc. pics
Thankfully, our Swee'Pea is nothing like this-->

Dani working on some final modification on Stan's costume Halloween night.  (Remember when we didn't have a baby and used to keep the house clean?)

Olive and Swee'Pea on the front porch on Halloween night.

Handing out candy to Trick or Treaters.

The first attempt with the arms (this was on our way to Oak Lawn the week before actual Halloween).  Note that we hadn't picked up the Sharpie yet to "tattoo" my anchors on.  We picked that up on the way, and I did it in the car after we parked.

(Swee'Pea stayed with his grandparents on this night.)

Photo courtesy of Darren Copeland.  (Taken at Liz's party.  Ignore the watermark; I batch resized this among the lot from that night.)

Update: Jim and Pam stole our ideas!  This is from an episode of The Office (season 6, I think; it probably aired the next Halloween after we did this) in which the characters dressed up as Popeye and Olive (and Swee'Pea) for the office Halloween party.

Copyright 2009 the Ale[x]orcist.