The annual question: What to wear for Halloween?
These past three years I’ve recycled the same costume -- a black spandex bodysuit that premiered in 2013 as “Catwoman,” returned 2014 as “Spider Lady,” and was reinvented one more time last year as a “Bat Babe.” I was running out of ideas. Moreover, as I approach my mid-century mark, I thought: Why not go for an icon who wasn’t famous for sex-appeal, but for intellectual influence and literary achievement? The answer became clear.
This Halloween, I would dress up as Ayn Rand.
Revered -- and reviled -- Ayn Rand had a style all her own. The side-swept choppy bob. The flamboyant capes she favored. The long cigarette holder. The dollar pin.
How hard would it be to pull this off? Well, I was about to find out.
While Ayn Rand (nee Alyssa Rosenbaum) and I shared some similar ethnic roots in our Eastern European/Russian semitic genes, we were physically opposite in some ways.
So I enlisted the help of one of the young women I’ve met through the informal Ayn Rand meetups I host. Adeline Li is a 23 year old Au Pair and freelance makeup artist who came to the U.S. from a very small town from the Chinese province of Hunan. She loves American fiction, American fashion, and yes, American boys! But she’s also come to love Ayn Rand, as a fellow emigre from a Communist country, another woman who came to the U.S. with little money, but big dreams, and a fierce determination to succeed.
“We chose to emulate Rand in her 50's, the way she appeared when on the Mice Wallace interview in 1959,” said Adeline. “I began by doing a study of Rand’s face next to yours,” she told me.
“While I tailored this makeup to your face,” she told me, which you can watch her do in the timelapse below, there are a few simple steps that anyone can do for the ‘Ayn Rand’ look. Here they are:
Step One: Apply primer and regular foundation, light or medium is fine.
Step Two: Draw strong, thick, sharply arched brows with dark brown brow color.
Step Three: Rand’s eyes are huge and round. For liner, draw a eyeliner past the end of the eyes -- not a cat eye -- but the liner should be thicker to make the eyes look bigger. No eyeshadow necessary.
Step Four: Her nose was prominent, so if yours isn’t then highlight a big round area on the nose point.
Step Five: Her lips were full and sensual, don’t go too crazy with the color, as you don’t want to draw attention from those big intense eyes. Choose a red lipstick, but if your lips are not super full then over-draw the liner so that you can have a wide Rand smile.
Step Six: Of course, when she did smile, she had that Lauren Hutton style gap between her teeth. So we decided to use black tooth paint or tooth color (see photo) you can order online or pick up in a costume store. In a pinch, you can use waterproof liquid eyeliner -- just dry your teeth before applying.
Step Seven: Brown eyed girl? Good to go. But if your eyes are light, then get brown contacts. Try to find those with the extra large iris -- so that you get the full effect of her brown-black eyes.
Step Eight: Don’t forget the wig! We got a cheap one for $20 and cut it in a bob and pushed the part to the side, and cut a piece so it would jut out like a spike the way she wore it in the Wallace interview. Cheap wigs of course are made out of artificial material and so may be too shiny. We “matted” ours down by adding setting powder to make it look a little more natural.
Step Ten: Accessorize! Two musts, a dollar pin, and cigarette (fake, preferably -- but you can also get a good e-cig equivalent, like these from NJOY. A cigarette holder can also be found in most costume stores.
So you’re ready to go. For extra credit you can try to fake a bad Russian accent, like the one I did in my Ayn Rand Draw My Life video, which will be bound to get you a laugh, which is the most important part of this exercise: Enjoy, and have fun!
Jennifer Anju Grossman is the CEO of the Atlas Society.