Sunday, 25 February 2018
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Halloween 2017

Every year in the weeks and days running up to Halloween, the queues outside Elliotts joke/fancy-dress shop in Belfast are, not just long - they are grotesquely, interminably long, stretching for hundreds of yards down the street.

Indeed, the mob often becomes so big that a team of bouncers guard the hallowed lines looking ferocious in a bid to keep the hordes of would-be werewolves, ghouls and ghosts at bay. And what are these anxious shoppers buying? Certainly, not the latest iPhone or the hot, new H&M collaboration with Balmain, Matthew Williamson or Erdem. No, the crowd assembles in our Northern Ireland drizzle to buy witches’ hats, broomsticks, zombie bride dresses, fake blood and vampire cloaks.

What’s frightening about Halloween is not the latest slasher movie or the general thrills and chills of trick-or-treating. What’s frightening about Halloween is the amount of money I’ve spent on dodgy polyester costumes for the kids, Jim and I! We’ve been the Addams Family, Fallen Angels and Devils, a variety of zombie characters (schoolgirls, brides, cheerleaders … and yes. All of us!) not forgetting key cast members from Star Wars.

They have made colourful Facebook posts (although Charlie still cringes at his Uncle Fester – why Mum did you think that was a good look for me?) but where are these costumes now? Gathering dust in a massive dressing up box in the attic! It’s the story of my life and makes me think of all the other frightful fashion I have invested in over the years. So, listen up folks because I’m about to tell you a very scary story…

Once upon a time in a land far, far away (okay it was Donegal but bear with me…) there lived a young maiden who thought she was very stylish. Her parents taught her to think for herself, follow her dreams and be brave. So brave was this maiden that when a family of five siblings called Five Star (Google them folks) burst onto the music scene with their infectious pop tunes and dance routines, she rushed out with her best friend Marian to buy the full Five Star replica outfit, complete with fuschia pink DMs. The pair posed and paraded around the kingdom in their multi-coloured attire until the day when our heroine was dramatically shot through the heart, Bon Jovi were to blame and she gave style a bad name...

Gone were the bold, colourful and outrageously huge plastic earrings, paper bag trousers (Yes! We wore them first!) and preppy collegiate jackets (again, been there, worn that) and into the wardrobe crept the attire of a rock chick. Part-princess, part-biker, jeans were ruthlessly slashed, sweaters hung low off one shoulder with a tank top underneath and hair was backcombed to within an inch of its life.

The “do” was kept in place by half a can of L’Oreal Stu Stu Studio Line hairspray (essentially Bostik in a can) which left your hair littered with white flakes after a night out. In fact, it was so ‘claggy’ that the first time I used it I woke up the following morning thinking I’d developed contact dermatitis.

This was not a proud moment in the young maiden’s life but things began to look up when she followed her dreams to another land (Coleraine) and became friends with an exotic foreign fairy named Anna. This new land opened a door to a whole new world of yuppie style and the maiden was introduced to the magical powers of ‘credit cards’ which she embraced fully. This new magic transformed the former meek maiden into a style maven in a whirlwind of shoulder pads, sailor outfits and bolero jackets.

Fast forward to a Julia Roberts ‘Pretty Woman’ inspired graduation outfit and our maiden makes the decision to venture forth into the new world. Destination Barcelona and for a year she embraces local culture, local delicacies and several of the locals. In a scene reminiscent of Sabrina Fair, the maiden returns to her homeland a little older, no wiser but certainly a lot more style savvy.

No longer a teenager, the maiden decided to seek her fortune in the big smoke. In a tale as old as time she hopped on her trusty steed (Translink) and made haste to Belfast where the streets were paved with tarmac. I could continue readers but you know how this ends... the maiden meets a fairy godmother, becomes magically transformed, gets a fabulous pair of shoes and rides off into the sunset with Prince Charming.

And the moral of the story? In every fairy tale you must kiss some frogs, hide from wolves, and run away from (gingerbread) men – but always be your own version of a princess. The right shoes can change your life (ask Cinderella) and never worry about the stroke of midnight.

Style Note

Professional make-up artist and ‘The Apprentice’ semi-finalist, Grainne McCoy will be bringing her flair to a unique collaboration with stunning make-up brand KARAJA for an exclusive make-up masterclass at the Canal Court Hotel, Merchants Quay, Newry on Sunday November 12. At this not-to-be-missed event, Grainne will demonstrate the application of two beautiful, on trend looks, as well as how to add some extra sparkle for the Christmas party season. Exclusive KARAJA collections will be available to purchase on the day, each comprising of the fabulous products Grainne will be using, letting anyone recreate the looks for themselves! Tickets £20 per person. To book Tel: 028 9044 9744 or email

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