Jillian Holtzmann from Ghostbusters is EASILY the best character to come out of pop culture this year (fight me), so for once my Halloween costume choice was not horribly agonizing. I am trained as a scientist, currently work as an engineer, and am also madly in love with Kate McKinnon, so it was basically the perfect fit. Who doesn't want to be Holtzmann?
Holtzmann is a brilliant scientist, incredibly talented and resourceful engineer, and also just an all-around weirdo. What I loved about her (and the other Ghostbusters!) is how well developed her style was, and how it reflected her personality. I wanted to dress up as Holtzmann in her comfort zone, making crazy stuff in her lab or just taking it easy, as opposed to in the classic jumpsuit, so my costume is her "off duty" look.
Step 1: Inspiration
For completeness and maximum joy, I recommend starting by downloading Ghostbusters and watching it again. Come back when you're done.
Sadly, when I started assembling my costume, the movie was not yet out on DVD, so I had to make do with youtube videos and the million and one articles written about how great Holzmann is. I've included a few of my favorite videos in this instructable, and challenge anybody to watch them and not also fall helplessly in love with Kate McKinnon.
The best resources for this costume is Autostraddle's amazingly thorough guide to dressing like Holtzmann. As they put it:
The number one rule of dressing like Dr. Jillian Holtzmann is a complete and total unabashedness in your choices.
For the details of her outfit, I also just spent a long time looking at various tumblrs dedicated to her greatness. My references for her hair and the crop top & overalls outfit were this:
I decided I wanted to wear the crop top + overalls combo, with black boots, a black leather (pleather, really) jacket, the brown fingerless driving gloves, a scarf worn as a tie, and round yellow glasses.
Step 2: Acquiring Accessories
I wanted to wear the round yellow glasses that essential to the iconic Holtzmann look, but I need prescription glasses to function and dislike contacts too much to ever wear them. For those of you not in this predicament, there are a bunch of differentglasses available on amazon, or on many other websites. The key is to search for "round yellow steampunk glasses". However! If you need to be able to see, you can also order prescription glasses from somewhere like Zenni Optical and add a yellow tint to them. I got these ones, which worked out really well, and they only cost $20 with the slowest shipping. They also have expedited shipping if you're making a last minute costume, and that takes max 10 days from ordering if you live in the US. Yay internet prescription glasses!
I also bought these fingerless motorcycle gloves in camel from amazon (if you're a woman I'd recommend an XS- they run pretty big), wore a silk scarf I already owned as a tie, and bought a black pleather moto jacket from a thrift store. It's less important that the jacket be real leather or even pleather as long as its black and therefore clashing with the brown gloves. I also wore a pair of black boots I already owned- if you have combat boots wear those, but as long as your shoes are black and practical, or you wear some masculine oxfords you'll capture Holtzmann's footwear tastes.
The crop top I just bought at Forever 21, though you can make yours using a dedicated pattern or just shortening the pattern of any tight fitting knit shirt. Just make sure you pick a size that gives you at least a few inches of negative ease.
Step 3: The Overalls!
The overalls were also thrifted for about $15. If you're feeling really ambitious, you can sew your own, but really any light colored overalls in the light blue/grey/brown range will do. I couldn't find any light wash overalls in my size, so I bought black ones that fit me and bleached them. To bleach them, I wet the overalls, filled a 5 gallon bucket with water, added a cup of bleach, and then stuck the overalls in the bucket. I'd recommend doing this outside or in a tub, because it gets pretty messy as the dye comes off the overalls. I tried to stir them to make the bleaching more even, but they ended up pretty splotchy anyway. Not actually a bad thing, since the overalls are supposed to look messy and used, and Holtzmann is anything like I was when I worked in a science lab, she probably gets bleach on her clothes all the time.
After they were bleached, I ran them through the wash (with some more bleach, though I'm not sure it did anything) and dried them. I took the overalls outside and hung them up on portable clothing rack (initially purchased for guests, but very useful for craft projects!) and then splattered them with paint! I used craft acrylic paint that is used for painting models and such, and got it in yellow, purple, and glow in the dark. I was pretty free handed when splattering- I used a brush and also just squeezed straight out of the tube while flailing. I did yellow, purple, and then glow in the dark. I was hoping the glow in the dark would make it look like I got slimed, but (1) I don't think I used enough glow in the dark paint to have a strong effect and (2) our halloween party wasn't dark enough for the slime effect. Use more glow in the dark paint then I did! I brought it inside to dry, since it's our rainy season, and put down vinyl sheets below to catch dripping paint and avoid angering the landlords :)
Step 4: Hair
Kate McKinnon actually has significantly longer hair than I do, and Holtzmann's hairstyle involves tying the bottom half back and fluffing up the rest. She is also a blonde! My approach was to use gold hair mascara, which shows up pretty well on dark hair. My hair is already curly, so I just added some soft hold gel to make sure it stayed up, and then added hair mascara in sections moving backwards and just pinned it messily. The sides of my head are already cropped, so I just added hair mascara and left them alone.
If you have longer hair, you'll want to tie the bottom half back. If your hair is not at all curly, you'll need to use a curling iron or rag curls and hairspray. Be gentle when you add the mascara to curled hair, as it is wet and if you pull too hard it'll straighten your hair. This youtube tutorial seems pretty helpful for those with long, straight hair.
Generally you want to go for the look of messy curls that are not that long, so pin it up as needed but don't be neat about it!
Step 5: Get Into the Mad Scientist Vibe
Once you've put the whole costume together- I recommend doing it in order of crop top, scarf, overalls, hair, jacket, boots, gloves - practice getting into the mad scientist vibe. I went into our 3D print shop and polished and examined what I thought was a test print for one of our artists in residence, but given its looks and Holtzmann's background as a theoretical physicist, was probably a globe containing a singularity or portal to another dimension.
Cackling maniacally and contemplating the power you wield are highly recommended. Also, if you are in an actual lab or workshop, make sure that unlike Holtzmann, you do wear the proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
Step 6: ENJOY!!!
Enjoy your Halloween/convention/casual Friday/new work uniform! Make sure to dance without inhibition and generally be a ludicrous human being! Dr. Jillian Holtzmann definitely does not understand awkwardness, so let her confidence and strangeness be your muses. If you need to, get into an epic gunslinger style battle!