Costume Hoodies: My Costuming Protip for Geek Parents

Wearing their costume hoodies Spiderman and Ironman team up to fight evil on a chilly fall afternoon. Photo by Ryan Carlson 2013

Wearing their costume hoodies, Spiderman and Ironman team up to fight evil on a chilly fall afternoon. Photo by Ryan Carlson 2013

As a geek parent I’m pretty envious that my kids have so many cool durable costume options for everyday play (as well as special events like Halloween). We recently discovered the existence of costume hoodies and they are a new family favorite. In addition to having an increase in fun superhero imaginary play, my kids haven’t fought me a single time these past few weeks about having to put on something weather appropriate for a chilly afternoon.

Captain America and Captain America Kid go on an adventure (and in public) quite often.

Captain America and Captain America Kid go on an adventure (and in public) quite often.

My daughter and I often wear matching Captain America hoodies and have received a lot of compliments while out in public. We received a selection of hoodies for both the adults and the kids in my household courtesy of 80sTees.com. The folks over at 80sTees.com have been working at acquiring the merchandising rights to create an entire line of shirts, costumes, and now costume hoodies for the masses. Most of their best sellers are directly out of my childhood like original Transformers, Voltron, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars (Episode IV, V, and VI), and a wide range of super hero characters. About every nostalgic heart string has been pulled, so just take my money already, ok?

When I grew up, our costumes for trick-or-treating in the ’80s came in three varieties. You had the homemade costume that mom helped make with varying results. On the other end of the spectrum was the costume that involved little to no effort because it used stuff we already owned or had around the house (e.g. sheet ghost, ski-mask robber, cowboy, hobo, or the classic sports-uniform wearing kid).

One of my Halloween costumes from the early 80's as your friendly neighborhood SPIDER (boy).

One of my Halloween costumes from the early ’80s as your friendly neighborhood SPIDER (boy). Photo by Deb Mull 1982

The vast majority of kids like myself had settled on the crappy flammable plastic body suit and the uncomfortable ridged plastic mask with holes too small to safely see out of. As an adult I think the worst part about the all-plastic body suit and elastic-band mask was that the costume was typically a pretty poor representation of whatever character you were dressing up as. Just in case people didn’t recognize who you were dressed up as there was a large picture of the character on the chest. Just below the picture of the character you were dressed up as was the name of the character or the television show it was from. I remember the year my costume brazenly advertised that I was SPIDER-MAN. I still remember cutting my tongue when I stuck it out of the mask’s mouth slit to make a funny face at my sister.

My wife is very fond of the Wonder Woman hoodie.

My wife is very fond of the Wonder Woman hoodie. Although my daughters are really bummed it does not come in kid sizes. – Image Ryan Carlson 2013

Now that I am a father I am re-experiencing Halloween and costume play all over again with my three kids. My kids may not have the plastic body suits that my sister and I grew up with that lasted a single evening of trick-or-treating. What we do have is a collection of cheap polyester superhero and princess costumes complete with flimsy boot covers and crappy foam belts and tiaras. I remember when my nephew wore his Batman costume every day for a month and my daughter wore her Supergirl costume over any outfit we would dress her in. I had to remind myself that every healthy well-adjusted child goes through a phase in which dressing up as a dinosaur or a superhero for every occasion is non-negotiable. As a parent or understanding uncle I was able to realize it was just not worth the fight. Although constantly washing the sweat-soaked costume didn’t help the lifespan of the garment. It’s nice to feel that we just might be turning a corner in this chapter of our lives.

Magneto isn't evil, he's just misunderstood.Try and explain mutant rights to my kids.   Ryan Carlson 2013

Magneto isn’t evil, he’s just misunderstood. Try and explain mutant rights to my kids. Ryan Carlson 2013

The Magneto hoodie is incredibly cool and has those really nice thumb holes to keep your sleeves down. - Ryan Carlson 2013

The Magneto hoodie is incredibly cool and has those really nice thumb holes to keep your sleeves down. – Ryan Carlson 2013

With the addition of costume hoodies to our wardrobes I’ve now found the ultimate compromise that is fun for the kids and a parent approved chilly-weather outer layer. My kids dress me and my wife up in our adult sized hoodies and typically I’m teaming up with them as either Captain America or Iron Man when we run errands around town. Although, when all the kids get together they request that I play the supervillain Magneto by changing hoodies. Did I mention that it’s old-school classic X-Men Magneto? Not the silly business suit that Ian McKellan wore in the movies. The Magneto costume-hoodie is a classy red and purple zip-up complete with Magneto’s signature mind-shielding helmet. I’ve found that if you keep the hood down any of the costume hoodies works quite well for every day use. The only question left to answer is which hoodie do I wear for Trick-or-Treating with my kids? If I took a vote today I’m pretty sure the kids will vote for the Captain and his shield.

Calling the wookie short is liable to get your arms torn off. - Image Ryan Carlson 2013

Calling the wookiee short is liable to get your arms torn off. – Image Ryan Carlson 2013

If there was a single complaint to be had about the costume hoodies is that the kid-sized options for young girls are slim to none. Want to be Princess Leia? Wonder Woman? Rainbow Dash? Sorry, girls, they start at size small, no Junior sizes. As a result my daughter has opted to wear a ridiculously cool Chewbacca hoodie to keep Princess Leia safe on a trip to the grocery store.

Be safe this Halloween, my fellow geek parents. My the force be with you.

Overall Quality: Adult hoodies are incredibly comfortable, strong zippers, soft interior. Women hoodies could have been a little bit longer according to my wife. The kids hoodies were the same materials, although the zippers on the juvy Spider-man and Iron Man require adult assistance to get started (all plastic hardware). The Chewbacca hoodie is absolutely fantastic, very well constructed. The hoodies are warm enough for cool weather and stand up to roughhousing rather well.

Safety: I’m really happy with how well my kids can both see and breath with the hoods up. The manufacturers paid close attention to the kid-friendly design by preventing airways from being blocked. The mesh that goes over the face and eyes is the same as the adult Iron Man and Boba Fett hoodies that I was able to review. I wouldn’t drive with the mask on, but had no issues running around the neighborhood. Believe it or not, the darker it is the easier it is to see out through the mesh.

Conclusion: I’d recommend these hoodies as a gift idea for a geeky spouse, as a costume for kids that enjoy dress-up, and for geeky parents looking for a warm and durable Halloween costume that has a great replay value for themselves.

Ryan Carlson

About Ryan Carlson

Father, Husband, GeekDad of 3 Girls, and a Glass Explorer. A Technologist for The Nerdery by day and an Alpha Geek by night: Wargaming / Painting, LEGO, Roleplaying, Board Games, Podcasting, and Writing.

Ryan Carlson

About Ryan Carlson

Father, Husband, GeekDad of 3 Girls, and a Glass Explorer. A Technologist for The Nerdery by day and an Alpha Geek by night: Wargaming / Painting, LEGO, Roleplaying, Board Games, Podcasting, and Writing.

4 thoughts on “Costume Hoodies: My Costuming Protip for Geek Parents

  1. When I saw the Spider-Man costume circa 1982, my first thought was “what a nerd!” Then I saw the missus and thought “how did that nerdy kid get her!” :-)

    Seriously, I loved this. I’m going to look for these hoodies for my two boys and I.

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