Halloween Costumes From Your Closet: Whip Up a DIY

boy getting ready for the Halloween party with his mom

It feels sacrilegious to celebrate Halloween without dressing up. Even if you're a de facto, last-minute reveler, you too can whip up an award-winning Halloween costume straight from your closet. Not all of these costume ideas are as simple as they might appear, but a clever approach and an eye for design can really help you and your homemade costume stand out in a crowd.

The Tourist

Whether you love them or hate them, you've probably been one at some point in your life. They ooh and ah about everything they see, make friends with locals, and always carry a camera around with them.. By dressing up like a tourist, not only can you easily take photos of your Halloween party and share selfies with friends, but you can do it all while staying in character!

Costume Essentials

  • Sun dress/Hawaiian shirt and shorts
  • Hiking boots/Birkenstocks
  • Camera
  • Travel guide
  • Sun hat
  • Fanny pack/backpack

Evil Stepmom

Evil stepmoms may legally have kids, but they always dress to ignore them. This costume is 0% loving soccer mom and 100% glam and attitude. Think of the ostentatious outfits of hit 80s prime time soap operas like Dynasty. While you're piling on those jewels, don't forget the best one-liner in your arsenal; should you need to exert your authority, use the threat, "I'm going to tell your father."

Costume Essentials

  • Evening dress
  • Accessories (pearls, broaches, purses, and so on)
  • Stiletto heels
  • Slicked back hair or a tight chignon

Choose a Decade

young women styled in 80s clothing

Choose from a roaring '20s Flapper, '50s pin-up girl, '60s hippie, '70s disco queen, '80s power woman, or '90s grunge hipster. Because fashion is constantly being recycled, everyone has a few modern pieces that look like they walked straight out of a previous decade, making it super easy to create a recognizable costume on the fly. Currently the 1990s is back in fashion, so here's a tip on dressing like your favorite '90s icons:

Costume Essentials

  • Butterfly hair clips
  • Bright pastel crop tops
  • Chunky sneakers
  • Micro sunglasses
  • Mini skirt/oversized jeans

Singer-Songwriter

If you know at least one chord on a guitar, you're ready to rock the Halloween party as a singer-songwriter. Make sure your outfit is as down-to-earth as your musical persona, and speaks to your troubadoring ways, and anyways, here's Wonderwall.

Costume Essentials

  • Guitar
  • Leather jacket
  • White T-shirt
  • Jeans
  • Doc Martins/Combat Boots
  • Scarf and beanie

Noir Detective

Girl with detective costume

Bring back the mysterious and starkly lit noir detective to life this Halloween using a few seminal pieces from your wardrobe. Inspired by Humphrey Bogart's many illustrious film noir characters from pictures like To Have and Have Not and The Maltese Falcon, all you need is a few staple pieces of what some call your Sunday attire and you'll be ready to fight crime in no time at all.

Costume Essentials

  • Trench coat
  • Fedora
  • Slacks
  • Magnifying glass
  • Prop gun

Beatnik

The Beatniks were followers of a unique literary and aesthetic movement in the late-1940s and 1950s focused on returning to experiencing a more authentic life. Although they didn't share a single style, there is a lingering cultural fascination is the Hollywood image of the Beat with their monochromatic chic outfits and languid movements. To embody the spirit of Beats fashion, focus on creating a costume made out of clean lines and dark colors.

Costume Essentials

  • Striped long-sleeved shirt
  • Black capris pants
  • Black beret
  • Jean jacket
  • Black sunglasses

Men in Black Operative

Men in Black was one of the first movie franchises to launch Will Smith's adult acting career, and its legacy lives on in the original film's many sequels. Whether you want to keep it traditional and adopt the iconic Tommy Lee Jones flat stare or modernize it with Tessa Thompson's newer role, you can induct yourself as a Men In Black agent with a classic black suit, white button-down, black tie, and black sunglasses.

Costume Essentials

  • Black suit jacket/sports coat
  • Black slacks
  • White button-down
  • Black tie
  • Black sunglasses

Rosie the Riveter

woman dressed as the iconic Rosie the Riveter

Perhaps the most famous piece in Norman Rockwell's oeuvre, there's not many people out there who aren't familiar with Rosie the Riveter. Her determined glance and muscular pose reflected a new type of woman in American media and in the workforce during the 1940s. Make sure to tie up your hair real tight, and throw that red lipstick on, because Uncle Sam will be coming for you before you know it.

Costume Essentials

  • Red bandana
  • Rolled up button-down
  • Red lipstick

The Crocodile Hunter

boy dressed as crocodile hunter

Steve Irwin--better known as The Crocodile Hunter--continues to be beloved around the world for his inspiring work on promoting animal and environmental conservation. Though he was lost tragically early, you can pay homage to this absolute '90s legend by donning his iconic khaki ensemble.

Costume Essentials

  • Hiking shoes
  • Tall socks
  • Khaki shorts
  • Khaki short-sleeved button-down

Guy Fieri

You don't have to watch the Food Network to be able to pick out chef Guy Fieri in a line-up. With his ever-present frosted tips, loud shirt, and sunglasses sitting low on the back of his head, Guy Fieri has risen to become one of the most famous faces of American cuisine around the world. To be Guy Fieri for the day, dig out a flame-printed button-down out of your closet, spike you hair up high (and frost the tips with temporary hair dye if you're feeling really dangerous), and grab a pair of polarized sunglasses. Fieri's also not afraid of a little body jewelry, so if you have some necklaces, rings, or earrings on hand, feel free to toss them on too.

Costume Essentials

  • Flame printed short-sleeved button-down
  • Sports sunglasses
  • Spiked hair
  • Body jewelry (optional)

Cowboy

Kids dressed up as cowboys

It's time to put the YEE in your HAW this Halloween by whipping up a super quick and easy cowboy costume. Now, despite its name, the cowboy costume isn't limited to any gender identity, and rather embodies a hard-working, come-and-get-me attitude which everyone can enjoy. To transform into Jesse James or Annie Oakley, all you need are a couple of everyday clothing items, and a pair of cowboy boots, if you have them on hand.

Costume Essentials

  • Button-down
  • Vest
  • Jeans
  • Bandana
  • Work gloves
  • Cowboy boots
  • Cowboy hat

Kim Possible

You might feel like it's impossible to dress up like Millennials favorite animated Disney heroine, but it's actually one of the simplest--and easily recognizable--characters from the Disney canon to recreate. As long as you have some dark green pants, and a couple of articles of clothing in black (like boots, shirts, and gloves) you can turn yourself into the cheerleader, babysitting, hero Kim Possible.

Costume Essentials

  • Black three-quarter length shirt
  • Black gloves
  • Black boots
  • Army green pants

Stephen King's Carrie

Relive the tragedy of your teenage years for one night only by dressing up as the main character from Stephen King's debut novel, Carrie. Of course, the most recognizable costume from this 1970s film is Carrie's slip prom dress covered in pig's blood. Now, you don't have to slaughter any animals to be able to embody Carrie this Halloween; instead, you can pair a simple satin slip dress and a cheap tiara with some home-mixed fake blood.

Costume Essentials

  • Slip dress
  • Crown
  • Fake Blood (water, red food coloring, corn syrup, corn starch)

Clark Kent

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's you dressed up as friendly Metropolis reporter, Clark Kent. If you're trying to make a costume on the fly, Clark Kent is the character for you. You can evoke his superhero alter ego by just tossing your regular office attire over top of a shirt with the Superman logo on the chest.

Costume Essentials

  • Shirt with the Superman logo printed on it
  • Button-down
  • Slacks
  • Black framed glasses

Lady Bug

girl flying in ladybird clothing

Perfect for people of all ages, prepping a lady bug costume from the contents of your wardrobe will involve a few easy arts and crafts that'll bring you back to your elementary school art center. With a red shirt and black pants/tights as you're base, you can concoct your lady bug accessories. Cutting out and pining or hot gluing black construction paper circles to your shirt will give you the necessary black spots, and a few pipe cleaners wrapped around a black headband can simulate your insect antennae.

Costume Essentials

  • Red shirt
  • Black tights/pants
  • Black construction paper circles
  • Safety pins or hot glue
  • 2 black pipe cleaners
  • Black headband

Mr. Rogers

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood to make all the kids in your area have a delightful trick-or-treat experience. Be a respite from the ghouls and goblins and dress up like Mr. Rogers this year. All you need to be a great neighbor is a pair of slacks, a button-down shirt, a tie, a pair of simple sneakers like Keds, and the iconic red sweater.

Costume Essentials

  • Black or khaki slacks
  • Button-down
  • Red sweater
  • Tie
  • Keds

Repurpose Your Wardrobe for Halloween

Sometimes you just don't want to have to go out and spend $50-$100 on a new Halloween costume, and that's okay! So, for those years when you don't feel like investing in something new, you can turn to your own closet to serve as the costume catalog for your new spooky attire. Pull out that favorite pair of pants, rediscover that weird vest you picked up at the thrift store that you never really thought you'd use until now, and get ready to monster mash your way around town.

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Halloween Costumes From Your Closet: Whip Up a DIY