Holly Madison is a woman of many hats — she’s a New York Times bestselling author, a wife, a mother (she recently gave birth to her second child, Forest) and an entertainer, and come October? She’s also the queen of Halloween — just see her latest Lizzie McGuire impression for proof. “I’ve always loved it, ever since I was a little kid,” she tells us.
Holly is such a big Halloween fanatic, in fact, that she’s been known to start prepping up to two full seasons ahead. “Back in the day, I used to start thinking about it in spring,” she says. While she admits it “kind of sneaks up on her a little bit more” these days, she’s still got plenty of tricks and tips up her sleeve for creating the perfect costume, and luckily, she was willing to share a few of them with us. Read on to find out how she preps like a pro below!
First things first: To get a killer costume, you have to have a killer theme. For Holly, that means tapping into those thing she already knows and loves. “For a long time, I always wanted to be a Disney character every year,” she says. (It makes sense — a quick glance at her Instagram page will confirm that girl is a diehard fan of the House of Mouse.) “Once I ran out of those, [it became] whatever I’m obsessed with in pop culture at the moment (check out her awesome “California Gurls” era Katy Perry).
That’s not to say she shoots for the easy target, though. In fact, if you really want to make an impression, “Go against the grain,” she says. She recalls a time at a big Halloween party with most guests dressed in scantily clad costumes that an ironic choice became the hit of the evening. “A couple just came as sheet ghosts with classic cut-out eyes. [It was the] biggest hit of the party because it was so random,” she says.
She, for one, will be shying away from this year’s obvious choices of Harley Quinn or Eleven from Stranger Things. (“Everyone’s gonna do that,” she predicts.)
Instead, go with something that suits you naturally — an especially helpful tip for those who have *gulp!* waited until the last possible second. “Go with something (or someone) you already kind of look like, that your friends tell you you remind them of [without]… makeup or wigs.”
Holly, with her flowing blonde locks, is tossing around the idea of Clueless’s Cher Horowitz, for instance. “It just looks like a cute outfit I would wear on a normal day,” she says.
Given the fact that she tends to dress up on the weekends in addition to the big day, wearing up to three different outfits for any given year, Holly says she’s also not against pulling a Kate Middleton and recycling her favorite outfits — or, at the very least, elements of them. “I have this Sally Skellington I did [with] all the blue and green makeup; I totally want to do that again, even better than I did before,” she says.
She’s also tossing around the idea of recycling a previous Harry Potter Ravenclaw costume this year, if only for the comfort factor alone. With its big black wizard’s cloak, “There’s nothing more comfy than that on a cold Halloween night,” she says. Amen to that, sister!
Now that you’ve decided WHAT you’ll be, you need to determine how to go about it. But even if you’re purchasing your costume, perfect execution takes more than just heading over to Halloween City on a whim, at least for Holly. “I usually do research on the Internet [about] what already exists and then I… try to one up that a little bit,” she says.
Whether that means collecting inspiration shots, studying makeup tutorials to really take your character next level or getting nitty gritty about even the most minor of details, Holly says it’s best to look for ways to put your own spin on it.
Her favorite of all her costumes, for instance, just so happens to be her go at Frozen’s iconic Elsa. Holly had a seamstress she knew from some of her live Vegas shows custom-make the outfit to ensure every little detail was on point. “She really went the extra mile,” she said.
But that’s not to say you can’t make (or buy, if you’re craft-challenged) just as cool of a costume on your own. “If you really don’t want to make anything, [try] bargain hunting,” she suggests. “Look for pieces of the costume in ways that already exist as inexpensive clothing,” she says. Giving lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn from The Sandlot as a prime example, it’s a costume that Holly points out is easily recreated with a retro bathing suit, a lifeguard badge, a whistle and clip-on bangs.
The same principle can be applied to kids’ looks, as Holly recently discovered while attending Mickey’s Halloween Party, where she saw a mini Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from Zootopia (now on Netflix!) that caught her eye. “The boy was just wearing normal clothes,” she says. “Khakis, a button-up [and] a little man tie [with] generic fox ears and a fox tail…but you could tell exactly [what he was].”
Once you’re all set up for the big day, there’s not much left to do but enjoy all your hard work, and depending on where you are in life, that can mean different things for different people. Since having kids, Holly says the holiday “has definitely changed a lot for me. Throughout my 20s, it was these big adult parties,” she says, citing the two-day Electric Daisy fest her husband, entertainment guru Pasquale Rotella, throws annually as an example.
Nowadays, she says there’s more of a focus on her (growing!) family. She recently put her writing skills to good use when she couldn’t find a kids’ book with her daughter Rainbow’s favorite characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas, crafting her own instead.
There’s also the gated community trick-or-treating she and Pasquale worked to start several years back with their neighbors in Vegas, where it didn’t previously exist. “Now that’s our favorite Halloween activity!”
What a difference a few years can make, indeed. Happy Halloween, Holly — we can’t wait to see what you come up with this year!
Which tip of Holly’s resonated with you the most? Share @BritandCo!
(Photos via Ethan Miller + Mike Windle/Getty)