Meet Amelia Earhart. She’s an adventurous, pioneering female pilot whose fearless determination made her an icon. Personally, I find flying absolutely terrifying, but I think that’s what makes me admire her more. In the days when old planes were cruder than today’s computer-operated vehicles, a pilot really needed to know what they were doing in the air. Today the plane does much of the maneuvering for you, with onboard systems that take hundreds of measurements at any given time, but back then, pilots were trained, had to know their machines, their readings, and even with all the skill and knowledge, there were still mishaps. Despite the high bar of expertise and the lack of women in the field, Amelia Earhart followed her dream to fly in the sky.
I spent some time thinking about this costume and going through the photos from the last few Halloweens. I didn’t realize there was a theme, but collectively there’s one category: iconic women of history. Jeanne d’Arc, Cleopatra, Frida Khalo, Marie Antoinette, and Amelia Earhart. These women have changed the world, have overcome obstacles, moved against the current, and chosen their own paths. Like the other women I’ve dressed up as, Earhart was decidedly one of a kind. She was a woman of great determination and true fearlessness, with a hunger for knowledge and a crafty resilience that got her places. Even after suffering plane crashes, seeing the deaths of fellow pilots, and having no means to afford her love of flying, she never gave up. She was a formidable woman well ahead of her time.
So here I am, doing my best to honor her this Halloween.
I think the most interesting aspect of building this costume was that I already owned the clothes. This has been true for many other historical female “looks” that I’ve shared. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I like to think of it as a combination of good taste, classic style, and my attraction to clothing that nods to women’s empowerment. And clothes do have power. While my leather jacket is over a decade old, I read that Amelia Earhart slept in her new one for four days to make it appear weathered and worn. She did not want to look like a newbie in front of the other male pilots. For Amelia, her masculine wardrobe might have been all that was available at the time (no one in their right mind would wear a frilly dress in a highly mechanical airplane), but she also wanted to be seen as a pilot and not just a woman.
It was fun and comfortable to wear this exact outfit, and despite the clothing being my own, the combination of leather jacket, boots, and high-waisted trousers felt different. It’s not a look I would ever put together, and that made the outfit feel entirely new. I could feel the strength in wearing what she wore to fly. A leather jacket on a woman is powerful, but add some kick-butt boots, comfortable pants, and a can-do attitude, and I found myself channeling the enthusiasm with which Amelia Earhart lived life.
If you take a look at any of the old photos of Earhart, you’ll notice a quality that transcends all of the snaps: she had spirit. You can see it in her eyes and in her smile — a brightness that can only come from someone living their life to the fullest. She was an intelligent woman, and her personality shines through in each of her portraits. Earhart had a fearless sense of adventure, she possessed an unwavering determination to push the limits, and she fought hard to further the right for women to follow their dreams. This was a woman who found what she loved. At the height of her love affair with flying, she died attempting to be the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe.
I think if there’s anything I’ve taken away from this costume, it’s to find things that bring you joy and that help push your limits. Pursue a dream that you would risk everything to achieve. So if you’ve found you have a passion for flying or something that you can’t live without, hold on tight, keep the spark alive, and fly higher than you ever thought you could. Because surely, that’s what Amelia would have done!
Happy Halloween! I hope it’s a safe and wonderful holiday for everyone!