Dressed to Kill

How our clothes shape our selves

When Wednesday Addams attends a Halloween party in the 1991 film adaptation of the comic horror classic, The Addams Family, a puzzled schoolmate asks her why she doesn’t seem to be wearing a costume. “I’m a homicidal maniac,” Wednesday replies serenely, “They look just like everyone else.” 

The irony is that Wednesday’s distinctive look -  sleek black plaits, narrow black dress and sharp white collar – has itself become an iconic Halloween costume. Her observation, though, that Halloween is an opportunity to look like everyone else isn’t exactly right. It’s true that come late October our streets will teem with the usual brigades of small ghosts, skeletons, witches, mummies and Marvel superheroes. High on sugar, their sticky fingers will ceremonially ransack the proffered bags of Haribo. But the business of dressing up –  whether in Halloween costumes or fancy dress – also poses more unusual questions about the relationship of clothes to

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