The Sneaky Costume Detail You Missed In Hocus Pocus
The Disney Halloween comedy “Hocus Pocus” has charmed its way into many hearts thanks to a trio of zany witches — the Sanderson sisters — who are intent on being young forever by harvesting the souls of children. In 1693, they are found guilty of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials and executed. Then, 300 years later, the Sandersons are accidentally brought back to life by jaded high schooler Max (Omri Katz) 300 years late. To save the children of Salem, Max, his younger sister Dani (Thora Birch), and his crush, Allison (Vinessa Shaw), have to stop them before the end of Halloween.
It’s a good story, but truly it’s the Sanderson sisters who make “Hocus Pocus” a Halloween classic thanks to their impeccable comedic performances that make them a delight to watch. Bette Midler plays Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson, the eldest sister, leader, and brains of the group. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Sarah, the ditzy one that can attract children with her singing, and Kathy Najimy plays Mary, who sniffs out children with her magical sense of smell. Their performances are only enhanced by their amazing costumes.
As it happens, there’s a sneaky little costume detail seen early on in “Hocus Pocus” that connects the dresses worn by the Sanderson sisters and Max, the one Salem teenager who doesn’t believe they exist, that foretells of the witches’ resurrection.
Max's tie-dye shirt matches the Sanderson sisters' dresses
The sneaky “Hocus Pocus” detail is not actually in the Sanderson sisters’ richly detailed dresses, which costume designer Mary Vogt designed, but rather, is connected to those costumes through Max’s tie-dye T-shirt. Max’s outfit is actually mentioned determined by the script, which references his tie-dye shirt in the dialogue. When we first meet him, he is in one of his new classes and looks bored while his teacher tells the story of the Sanderson sisters. After he responds with disbelief, she says, “We seem to have a skeptic in our midst. Mr. Dennison, would you care to share your California, laid-back, tie-dye point of view?”
Since the script called for him to wear a tie-dyed shirt, the costume department simply used the same dye they had gotten for the witch dresses. The prominent colors of his shirt match up to the cloaks of the sisters: Winnie’s green, Sarah’s purple, and Mary’s red are all swirled together. In an October 2019 interview with The Costume Designers Guild (via YouTube), Vogt said that the fabric for the witches’ dresses started off white and was dyed the many colors that are seen on screen. So, when they needed dye for Max’s shirt, they reused those colors. It’s actually just one of several small details that are easy to miss in “Hocus Pocus.”