The Times
  • ‘Mad Men’ theme of Halloween party

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  • One local Halloween party is encouraging guests to celebrate in style — 1960s style, that is.
    The Catalyst Group will host a Mad Men Murder Mystery Halloween Dinner Party from 7 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Trackside Restaurant in Utica. And Don Draper-inspired attire is highly encouraged.
    But don’t rush out to a costume store just yet — the things you need to fit in at Sterling Cooper & Partners may already be in your own closet.
    “A lot of that stuff is already out there readily available,” said professional costumer Fran Wagner. “You just have to be willing to hunt for it and to go places where you wouldn’t normally go.”
    Wagner, former owner of the Razzle Dazzle Costume Company in Utica, offered these tips for a total time warp transformation:
    1. Watch “Mad Men.” Find a character that you relate to and use him or her as your inspiration. But, “don’t try to copy a character exactly; bring your version of the character (to the party).”
    2. Plan your look. The fashion in “Mad Men” is from the early ‘60s. For men, that means slender-cut suits and skinny ties. For women: pencil skirts, fitted blouses and slightly lower necklines.
    3. Search your closet (or your mother’s). “It’s amazing what you already have that you can’t imagine will work until you put it over a sweater,” Wagner joked. No vintage blouses to be found? Look for pumps, belts, gloves or costume jewelry to use as accessories.
    4. Pop some tags. Your next stop should be a thrift store or a shop that specializes in vintage wear, such as Sik Threads in Herkimer or Boom Babies in Syracuse. No costume could be more authentic than clothes that actually came from the ‘60s, and a tie that costs $15 at the mall might only be $2 at the Salvation Army.
    5. Still stuck? Look for ‘60s-inspired office wear at major retailers like Burlington Coat Factory, T.J. Maxx, J.C. Penney or Marshalls. (“It’s coming back,” our expert said.) Trawling the clearance racks can help keep you on budget; Wagner recommends keeping your costume costs at or below the price of admission (which, in this case, is $50).
    6. “Practice, practice, practice.” Don’t wait until the night of the party to pull it all together. Test out your whole look a week or so beforehand. For women, this might also mean practicing cat eyes (black liquid liner, false lashes) or coiffed hairstyles (curling iron, rollers, hairspray) so you’re sure you can pull them off.
    7. Have fun! Costumes don’t just change how you look; they change how you walk, how you stand and how you feel. Embrace it! “It’s a lot of fun to be somebody different, even for a couple of hours,” Wagner said.
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