For almost 30 years, Hocus Pocus has been the quintessential Halloween movie, so when Disney announced back in 2020 that the infamous Sanderson sisters would be returning to the screen, there was no doubt that this would be the must-see movie of Halloween. The film, which was released September 30 on Disney+, has filled fans of all ages with a sense of nostalgia, made possible by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy reprising their roles from the original film, and, of course, their iconic costumes.
When costume designer Salvador Perez signed on to the film, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. And as a longtime Hocus Pocus fan, he was well aware he had his work cut out for himself. “It’s a daunting task to take on such an iconic project,” Perez tells Byrdie. “I've probably seen [the film] 40 times since I took the job and 20 times after I took the job because we sat there and just analyzed and analyzed the details.” These “details” are what made the Sanderson sisters' costumes an undeniable moment in Halloween fashion.
Below, we spoke to Perez about everything from how to recreate the Sanderson sisters’ legendary outfits for Halloween to hidden easter eggs scattered throughout the film.
On Recreating the Sanderson Sisters' Looks
Before setting off to recreate the trio’s costumes, Perez chatted with friend and original Hocus Pocus costume designer, Mary Vogt, and the sequel's director, Anne Fletcher, to decide what approach they wanted to take. Instead of starting from scratch with new-age witchy costumes, Perez and Fletcher agreed it was best to stay true to the costume’s original colors and silhouettes, just with a touch of modernity.
Some of these changes were as small as brightening the green color of Winnie’s green dress to reflect better on digital filming to updating the details on Sarah’s corset to be more lavish, but Perez also dove deeper into the “wicked” symbols from the original costumes. “Anne Fletcher was like, 'Everything on the costume should have a meaning,' so why is it there?” explains Perez. ”With that in mind, I sort of gave a backstory, and I asked Mary what the symbols meant on the original costumes.” Vogt said she simply made the symbols up, but hard-core fans of the film have given their own meaning to the moons, the stars, and the eyes on the costumes. “This is really about the fans,” adds Perez.
As a result, Perez turned these theories into a folklore about the Mother Witch, played by Hannah Waddingham, who also wore the symbols on her costume, insinuating that they are passed down from generation to generation.
On the Films' Easter Eggs
Whether you’re a Hocus Pocus superfan who analyzes the movie or someone just watching the film for a bit of childhood nostalgia, you may notice a few easter eggs hidden throughout the sequel—some intentional and some not. For example, Perez points out that fans have noticed a glaring similarity between the Mother Witch and Dani’s Halloween costume from the original film. Shockingly, this wasn’t Perez’s intent when designing Waddingham’s character's costume. “After I was done making it I was like, 'Did I just make the grown-up version of Dani? We were like, 'Nobody is going to pick up on that,' and people have been," he laughs.
The witches aren’t the only characters Perez had to consider when putting together costumes, though. The new trio of teenagers in Hocus Pocus 2, Becca (Whitney Peak), Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), also had a few easter eggs hidden in their costumes.
Throughout the movie, there is a reoccurring theme of eyeballs, which although not intentional, has became an homage to “book,” an animated accessory of Winnie from the original film. “As the clothes came in from our shoppers, there was an eyeball on everything. We had an eyeball on Izzie’s DVF blouse and an eyeball on Cassie’s shoes, and Becca had a little eyeball charm,” says Perez. The three teens also have the colors of the Sanderson Sisters subtly sprinkled throughout their 2022-esque looks, maybe signifying they are in line to be the new witch trio after the sisters.
How to Recreate the Sanderson Sisters Costumes This Halloween
Undoubtedly, the Sanderson Sisters will be a popular costume choice this year, so we asked Perez how to replicate the infamous looks without a costume designer. First and foremost, the colors are, of course, what makes the Sanderson Sisters' costumes. From there, though, Perez says to just have fun with it. “I love seeing the cosplayers’ interpretation of it because they are not literal, and that's the most fun because I want to see that creativity,” he adds.
Whether it’s as subtle as tying a plaid shirt around your waist and carrying a Swiffer WetJet like Mary or going as the drag versions of the sisters as the costume contest winners did in the film. And while you may not be able to find your own cashmere yarn crocheted spider sleeves like Sarah’s character sports in the movie, a mesh spider web top will perfectly capture the ‘90s vibes. Plus, makeup and hair are also fun and easy ways to play into the theme, with SJP’s jet black eye makeup or Najimy’s hair-turned-witches hat (slightly more complex). At the end of the day, there are so many different ways to interpret the costumes to make them your own, and individuality is what we love most about the Sanderson Sisters, right?