If you need a group Halloween costume for six and want to be funny and really recognizable while having a simple costume, you can't do better than to get yourselves some Village People costumes. The iconic disco band is still referenced, and even listened to, today and you don't need the instruments to be a macho man.
Origins of the Village People Costumes
In 1977, at the height of the disco era, a French composer worked with an American lyricist to create a concept band. The name refers to New York's Greenwich Village, traditionally a gay haven and the birthplace of the gay rights movement and gay pride parades, both of which used the music of the Village People as anthems.
While the band, featuring such enormous hits as "YMCA," "In the Navy" and "Macho Man," was popular from the start, it was the costumes that made the Village People so memorable. The idea was to have each singer represent an archetypal American male that was also a gay fantasy object. Thus, there was the Cowboy, Construction Worker, Soldier, Indian Chief, Cop and Biker. And the big 1970s moustaches were required!
Despite the openly gay references, the Village People became a mainstream success because the music was so much fun. It was one of the earliest instances of a crossover appeal and general acceptance of openly gay culture.
Creating Village People Costumes
The great thing about Village People costumes is that you don't have be absolutely exact in any one look to be recognizable. While there are any number of costume shops that have specific Village People costumes for rent or sale, you can also just rent or make a costume that says "Construction Worker" or "Cowboy" and be one of the band.
Some things are necessary. For the Indian Chief, you have to put aside all notions of political correctness and splash out with a giant feathered headdress. Add face paint, beads, more feathers and maybe a peace pipe.
While the Soldier can be achieved with any naval dress, he's only right when he's in spotless whites, including jaunty cap and dickey.
Beyond that, though, so long as you're definitively one of the characters, you're golden!
Mastering the Details
If you want to be Rolling Stone cover exact, you'll need to get into some detail work. First and foremost is the facial hair. Some shops will have gigantic sideburns and droopy moustaches that you can glue on, or you can try making your own. You can even be like Groucho Marx and paint one on, but everyone, especially the Biker, has to be hairy.
The Village People's costumes tended to be either tight or revealing - the Indian Chief and Biker were often shirtless. You don't have to go this route if it's cold, but tight is definitely good. The Construction Worker especially should have a tight shirt with short sleeves rolled up to show off his bulging guns.
Don't forget props! Since the Village People only sang, rather than played instruments, they could have fun with great character props. The Indian Chief had his peace pipe, of course, and the Cop had handcuffs and a baton. The Construction Worker is often pictured with a screwdriver between his teeth, which is very sexy, but if you want to carry a screwdriver around in your mouth, you should probably opt for a toy version, just to protect your teeth. You can't be a Cowboy without a lasso, and if you learn how to do a few basic twirls, all the better. For the Sailor and Biker, anything goes!
Learn Your Chorus Line
Chances are you're not going to be asked to sing. But to better up your odds of winning a costume contest, or just for more fun, learn the lyrics of YMCA and be prepared to wow the crowd!