It’s hard to imagine Halloween without costumes. And though kids costumes often get the most attention, adults love to dress up too. After all, it’s the one time of year we get permission to act like a kid again. And though you can certainly buy your costume in a store, making your own means there’s no limit to your imagination.
And you don’t necessarily have to be an expert with a sewing machine to become whatever you want for Halloween. It’s amazing what you can do with a little cardboard and paint or the random hats and scarves lying around your house.
Do-it-yourself costumes are also lifesavers at the last minute. It’s easy to make fun costumes that don’t require a lot of time or elaborate materials. You can pull off many ideas with things you already have on hand — including makeup that pairs with your everyday clothes — for the ultimate eleventh-hour costume. And you can pick up anything you don’t already own from a thrift store or dollar store or have it delivered to your door with Amazon Prime two-day shipping if you have a membership.
Even better, whether you opt to sew one, craft one, or put together pieces from your closet, as long as you stick to inexpensive materials, you can save money on your Halloween costume when you make your own. And while there are plenty of easy and affordable DIY ideas for women’s and men’s costumes, gender-neutral ideas give you even more options.
Then it’s just a matter of drawing on your own creativity to make some Halloween magic with a beautiful, scary, creepy, or funny costume all your own.
How to Pair a Face Mask With Your Costume
Whatever costume you decide to wear, Halloween will look different this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And while your Halloween costume party may have to take place via Zoom and collecting or handing out treats will become trickier, there’s one advantage to Halloween costumes when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cloth face masks are perfect for pairing with them while simultaneously reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission. Combined with lots of hand-washing, hand sanitizing, and social distancing, it’s possible to have a safe Halloween and still get to enjoy it.
But it does mean wearing an appropriate face mask based on federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. And that leaves out rubber and plastic costume masks, which don’t provide much protection against the virus molecules. The CDC also warns against wearing a cloth face mask under a plastic or rubber costume mask, as it can make breathing more difficult. But that doesn’t have to ruin your costume plans. Whether you’re dressing as Andy Warhol, a wicked witch, or a superhero, you can buy a face mask — or make a face mask — that coordinates with your outfit.
But avoid neck gaiters and bandanas this year, even if they go with your costume. Though they’re more breathable than tight-fitting cloth face masks, that makes them less safe. According to September 2020 Duke University research published in Science Advances, the loose fit means they could be worse than wearing nothing when it comes to protecting against coronavirus spread.
But all is not lost if regular masks make breathing or speaking comfortably a nightmare. A mask bracket can solve the issue. You wear the bracket under your face mask to lift it away from your face, thereby creating more room for airflow. Note that Prevention reports some health experts have concerns a mask bracket could make your cloth mask less effective if you aren’t careful. A good seal around your nose and mouth is essential, and a bracket can potentially compromise that. So make sure your mask fits securely around your nose, chin, and face with the mask bracket inserted. You may need to size up your face mask to accommodate the bracket and still maintain a proper seal.
And if you’re wearing a face mask with makeup, you only have to paint the top portion of your face, then let a cloth face mask do the rest. Or wear a clear face mask, so your makeup job remains on (mostly) full display.
There are so many options, no matter what you decide to be for Halloween, there’s a workable solution for pairing a face mask with your costume.
Cheap & Easy DIY Halloween Costumes
Keeping homemade costumes doable also means getting flexible with how you put one together. Many adult costumes work equally well for older kids. Likewise, tutorials designed for kids are often the cheapest and easiest method to make an adult costume. You can adapt almost any costume tutorial — whether intended for kids or adults — to any age. And for even more ideas, check out our post on Halloween costumes for couples, groups, and families. And if you’re looking for ideas for little kids, see our post on Halloween costumes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Halloween Costumes for Women & Older Girls
Whether you want to be a wicked witch, Madonna, or Batgirl, chances are there’s an easy DIY costume idea for it. And that means you can customize something uniquely your own while saving a ton of time and money.
Halloween is all about fantasy. So if you’re looking to make a little costume magic this year, why not go all out as a magical creature?
1. A Modern Witch
According to Good Housekeeping, the modern-day witch costume is all about color. So ditch the monochromatic black dress and warty nose and opt for a glam look instead. Make a long tutu-style skirt using strips of black tulle and green tulle (or any color combo you like). Pair the skirt with a sleeveless black top embellished with a feather boa, witch hat, and homemade glittery broomstick.
For your makeup, use your normal foundation, blush, and mascara, but take it up a notch with thick black eyeliner, shimmery green eye shadow, and black lipstick with a bit of shimmery green lip gloss applied over the top. You can pair this glam witch costume with a lace face mask with an underlay matching your colored tulle.
Get the full costume instructions on Rain on a Tin Roof.
2. A Modern Vampire
You can bring this look together with clothes from your own closet. Pull out any leather-look pants or leggings and pair them with a V-neck red tank or cold-shoulder black top. A leather moto jacket completes the outfit.
Then don some vampire fangs and some glamorous vampire makeup complete with smoky eyes, ruby-red lips, and dripping fake blood. Get a full vampire makeup tutorial on Roxette Arisa’s YouTube channel. And pair this look with a clear face mask to show off your makeup and fangs. If you’re in the mood for something a little flashier, get inspiration from the men’s steampunk warlock costume.
3. A Dark Fairy
Take the typical fairy costume for a ride on the dark side. Start with a modern gothic dress in a dark color. Then add some homemade fairy wings fashioned from iridescent cellophane and 12-gauge wire.
To make the wings, first sketch them out (life-size) on poster board, complete with all the veins. Use a pencil so you can erase as needed. You only need to draw one side. You’ll make both wings from the same template so they’re mirror images of each other. Search online for fairy wing images if you’re unsure how to sketch them or what you want them to look like. Then use your sketch as a template to make the wings’ skeleton.
Cut wire to cover each of the lines in your drawing. Make each wire slightly longer than the line in your image so you can twist all the wire ends together using pliers. Once you’re finished making each wing frame, join the wings together with another piece of wire.
Then cut two pieces of cellophane large enough to cover each wing frame. Coat one sheet with some spray adhesive, lay the wing frame on it, and lay the other piece of cellophane on top so the cellophane completely covers the wing frame on both sides. Repeat with the other wing. Cover the wings with a towel, and iron each side. That shrinks the cellophane over the wires. (I’ve also used a heat gun or hair dryer to shrink the cellophane before).
Get the full instructions on Making with Megan.
Once you have your wings, take your costume over the top with some dark fairy makeup complete with a smoky eye, black lips, and dramatic black veins, as shown on HGTV. Then pair this costume with a gothic-inspired face mask.
4. A Mermaid
Make your own mermaid tale from sequin fabric and coordinating glitter tulle by wrapping the sequin fabric around your body and pinning it in the back so the material falls in a cascade from the back of your waist. Sew it into place, and add layers of the tulle to fill out the back of the skirt, which becomes your mermaid tail. Pair it with a homemade shell bustier, which you make by gluing shells onto a flesh-colored strapless bustier bra. Get the full instructions on Lauren Conrad.
Finish the look with some shimmery mermaid makeup using lots of glitter and iridescent colors. You can replicate the look of scales by blotting makeup through a pair of fishnet stockings. Get a full mermaid makeup tutorial on Valerie Pac’s YouTube channel. And pair your makeup with a mermaid-scale face mask.
Fairy Tale Characters
According to the NRF survey, “princess” is a top choice for both kids and adults. And while princess costumes often require elaborate — and expensive — dresses, there are a few highly recognizable Disney princesses you can DIY with simple pieces. Or opt to become a Disney villain.
5. Snow White
Snow White’s simple look is arguably one of the most famous. Start with a basic blue top and yellow skirt, which you can thrift or find in your closet. Not only will it save you money, this modern spin is also fun, flirty, and easy to wear. Finish the outfit with a big red hair bow, red shoes, and simple makeup with apple-red lipstick. Pair your costume with a Snow White-inspired face mask. See the look (sans the mask) on Color Me Courtney.
If desired, take your outfit to the next level with a black wig and an apple purse. Make your own by painting a round paper-mache box apple red and gluing on a cinnamon stick stem and a construction paper leaf. Amp up the glam with some glitter. Complete the purse by attaching a gold shoulder chain. The tutorial shows you how to affix letters to spell out “Wicked,” but you can skip that step or choose another phrase for the story’s protagonist. Get the full instructions on Raising Whasians.
While we know this princess for her blue ball gown (which you could attempt to emulate by thrifting a blue prom dress), her pre-fairy godmother look is much easier to throw together with simple pieces you may already own. Plus, it’s a unique spin few other princess costume-wearers are likely to take on — but just as iconic.
Pick up a long-sleeved blue shirt, a dark brown or black tank to put over it, a brown skirt, and a white apron. Finish the look by pulling your hair back into a ponytail and tying it with a blue ribbon. You can pair your pre-princess costume with a helper mice face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on Brit + Co.
Tutu costumes are perfect for princesses. They let you DIY an almost no-sew skirt that’s as full and lush as you’d expect for a royal gown. Make a floor-length Tiana skirt with strips of green tulle and yellow tulle following the tutorial on HGTV. Pair it with a green camisole over a pale yellow tube top, both of which you decorate with rhinestones if desired. See example looks on Coolest Homemade Costumes and Pinterest.
Then make a regal green crown to go with your costume. Twist floral wire into five leaf shapes of graduating sizes, leaving enough “stem” at the ends to attach them to a headband. Hand-sew sheer green fabric over the leaves. Then embellish them by sewing green pearl beads around the edges of the leaves. Twist the leaves onto the headband, starting with the largest leaf in the center. Then use clear nylon string to sew more green pearls around the headband. Get the full instructions on Instructables.
Tutu costumes also work for queens. Make one for Elsa from blue and white glitter tulle. Pair the skirt with a blue camisole top over a long-sleeved white shirt. To make Elsa’s long, sparkly cape, sew some white glitter tulle onto the back of the blue cami. You can pair your Elsa costume with a snowflake face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on A Pumpkin and a Princess.
Ursula’s octopus tentacles are a complicated DIY. But you can get a similar look by making a long tutu-style skirt using various shades of black and purple ribbon and purple tulle. To make it, measure a strip of ribbon to be the waistband, then loop folded strips of tulle, cut twice the length you want the skirt, over the waistband. Finish with wide purple ribbon to mimic the look of tentacles. Pair the skirt with black leggings and an inexpensive black corset. Get the full costume instructions on DIY Inspired.
And if you want to pair your costume with makeup, get a full tutorial on Dope 2111’s YouTube channel.
Making the usual iconic black dress for this villain requires some extensive sewing. But it’s possible to easily DIY something worthy of the evil queen by sticking to basic black pieces. Root through your closet for a dressy all-black outfit, such as black faux-leather leggings and a black wrap top. That leaves room in your budget to splurge on a single piece — Maleficent’s signature black horns.
Finish the look with some dramatic makeup, including her blood-red lips and chiseled cheekbones. Get a full Maleficent makeup tutorial on Sara du Jour. And pair your Maleficent costume with a black rhinestone-studded mask or a Maleficent mask.
Pop stars and flashy outfits go hand in hand. And that’s what makes them so much fun to watch — and to dress as for Halloween.
11. ‘80s Madonna
To get Madonna’s look from the 1980s, the key pieces are a black tutu skirt, lacey leggings, and lace fingerless gloves. You can make the tutu yourself by following the directions on HGTV. To get her signature hair, tease yours to the max or opt for a fringe wig. And if you have a black leather moto jacket in your closet, it’s the perfect complement to this look. Pair your Madonna costume with a black lace face mask.
And that’s just one of the iconic looks you can copy. Find plenty of Madonna inspiration on PopSugar.
While pop stars don’t wear many outfits you can easily pull together on the cheap and easy, Beyonce’s Coachella look is an outlier. Start with some cutoff jean shorts, white fishnet stockings, and a cropped yellow hoodie. Then use the free template and directions by Tabitha Sewer to make your own monogrammed patch from cut felt and beads.
To make Beyonce’s fringed boots, hot-glue strips of iridescent fringe around inexpensive white boots. Keep layering the fringe until you’ve covered the whole boot. Get the full instructions on Paige Joanna’s YouTube channel.
13. Jennifer Lopez
J.Lo has worn many iconic outfits, but the easiest to recreate is her look from the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. You only need a pair of white jeans, a white cropped tank, and a white bandana. To take this look to the next level, use rhinestones to embellish the top and accessorize with big silver hoop earrings and a silver belt. Pair the costume with a white rhinestone mask matching the rest of your outfit.
For more Jennifer Lopez costume inspiration, visit Hip Latina.
Superheroes are a perennially popular Halloween costume choice, according to the NRF’s annual surveys. And fortunately, these days, women have plenty of characters to choose from when it comes to dressing up for Halloween.
14. Black Widow
Emulating Black Widow’s signature look just requires accessorizing a black bodysuit (or a tight-fitting long-sleeve T-shirt and leggings). To make your own belt and gun holsters, start with a strip of black leather sized to fit your waist. Then create thigh holsters to hold your weapons by spray-painting black cardboard boxes cut to mimic holster shapes. Rig them to your belt piece with more strips of black leather. And make a Black Widow symbol for your belt by cutting the shapes from craft foam. Ensure your “bullets” are at the ready by fashioning bracelets from a toy bullet belt. Just cut off enough of the belt to fit your wrists, and spray-paint the bullets black to look like Black Widow’s. Finish the look with S.H.I.E.L.D. shoulder badges made of gray craft foam and colored with a black permanent marker. You can pair your Black Widow costume with a solid-color black face mask or an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mask.
Get the full costume instructions on We Must Be Dreamers.
With her signature totem necklace, Vixen can channel the power of any animal. And she wears a supersuit you can easily mimic with just a yellow bodysuit and a belt similar to her necklace. String your own necklace and belt using animal tooth beads interspersed with round wood beads. Cut her fox totem (the pendant at the center of her necklace) from craft foam, and paint it gold or silver. Then hang it from the center of your necklace and belt. See the look on Flickr.
A Batgirl costume comes together using a black top and pants as the base. Use gold or yellow fabric paint to draw a bat symbol in the center of the shirt. Then cut a belt and pouches from gold or yellow craft foam to make her utility belt using free templates. There’s also a template to make arm guards from the same craft foam. Turn a pair of yellow shoes into boots by cutting a pair of yellow leggings and attaching them to the shoes (for gold, just spray-paint your shoes in a color matching a pair of gold leggings). And fashion her cowl from a black knit cap with black foam bat ears glued onto the sides. You can pair your Batgirl costume with a black bat symbol face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on Fangirl Nation.
Halloween Costumes for Men & Older Boys
The ladies don’t get to have all the fun. There are plenty of DIY costumes that let guys show off their creativity — from mythological creatures to swashbuckling pirates to music legends and even superheroes. And you can pull some together with clothes and accessories you already own or can pick up from a thrift store. The rest just require a few simple crafting techniques to rock your Halloween look — even if you’ve waited until the last minute.
Whether you decide to walk on the light side or the dark side, a little magic always makes for a lot of Halloween fun.
17. A Satyr
If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, this costume is right up your alley. Go bare-chested or wear a homemade muscle shirt for warmth. Sew one from knit fabric in a color close to your own skin tone following the tutorial on Make It Love It.
For the satyr’s legs, make shorts from faux fur, and wear those over black leggings. Make the hooves by carving them from Styrofoam, painting them, and gluing them to a pair of slip-on shoes. Trim them with more faux fur.
Next, cut horn shapes from black fleece, sew the pieces together, and stuff them with batting. Then wrap the horns with string to create a spiraled horn. Glue or sew a hair side comb onto the bottom ends of the horns to keep them firmly attached to your head without a headband. Finish the look with a belt made from a strip of leather, a shield, and a sword. You can pair your satyr costume with a beard face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on Make It & Love It. This tutorial is for kids, but you can easily translate it to a larger size.
18. A Cinema-Inspired Vampire
Since modern vampires often blend in as humans, these costumes are easy to pull off with clothes from your own closet. Dress in gray-scale (including blacks and pale blues) clothes and a gray jacket with a slight vintage flair. Then pop in a pair of vampire fangs to turn yourself into Edward Cullen from “Twilight.”
Dressing up as the eponymous character from the “Angel” TV series is easy to pull off using your own clothes. Pair a black T-shirt with a black leather blazer (or jacket) and some black jeans. Use gel to spike your hair. And then pop in some fangs.
Or opt for a Blade costume. This half-human, half-vampire character hunts other vampires, so to get his look, you need his classic weapon — a (plastic) black katana. Wear monochromatic black pants, a black shirt, black leather gloves, black combat boots, and black sunglasses. Pick up a black duster from a thrift store if you don’t already have one, and don some vampire fangs. Find inspiration on SheCos.com.
And, if you’ll be going out this Halloween, a clear mask lets your fangs take center stage.
19. A Steampunk Warlock
Take a steampunk spin on the traditional wizard robe costume. Start with a long duster coat from your own closet, or try thrifting a Victorian-style duster.
Then pair it with a steampunk hat and a wizard’s staff. You can make a DIY steampunk hat using an old thrift store top hat and discarded items from around your house, such as baby food or other small jar lids, feathers, old gears and pins, old playing cards — even old mini teapots and magnifying glasses — and an old belt to serve as a hatband. It’s OK to have some color on your hat, but stick with a theme, and make sure everything looks old. You can use aging techniques like antiquing hardware to accomplish it. To find techniques to age your finds, you can search something like “how to make playing cards look vintage.” Get steampunk hat inspiration on Pinterest.
You can also make a PVC pipe staff with a motion-activated light-up gem. Use a heat gun to bend and twist the PVC pipe to mimic the organic shape of a tree branch. Then use thick wire to create twisted, gripping branches to hold the gem. Cover the whole thing in craft foam. Use a rotary tool to give the foam a woodgrain texture, and paint it to look like wood. Make the gem from resin by pouring it into a self-made mold over a motion-activated light-up ball. Or skip that step, and just attach the ball itself.
Get the full instructions on Odin Makes’ YouTube channel.
Fairy Tale Characters
Princesses don’t get to have all the fun. There are tons of male characters from fairy tales that make for enjoyable Halloween costumes.
20. The Dread Pirate Roberts
To put together a costume for this iconic character from “The Princess Bride,” start with a black pirate shirt. In this case, it doesn’t pay to DIY. Even if you’re skilled with a sewing machine, making your own won’t save you money. Buying a pattern plus fabric costs more than buying an inexpensive manufactured shirt.
Pair the shirt with a pair of slim-fitting black pants. These can be any pants from your closet, including dress pants or jeans. Then wrap a black bandana over your head and wear a black eye mask. Finish with a toy sword, a sword frog to attach it to your belt, and some black pirate boots. You can fake these inexpensively by using boot tops (covers that fit over black shoes to make it look like you’re wearing boots). Then pair your costume with a black pirate face mask.
See the look (sans the face mask) on SheCos.com.
21. Prince Charming
Whether you’re escorting a fellow royal or just looking for love, turn heads by dressing as their Prince Charming. For an easy no-sew DIY, use Heat n Bond to attach a gold ribbon stripe down the side of each leg of a pair of red pants. Buy an inexpensive white button-down shirt with a mandarin collar or make your own by cutting the top off a regular white button-down shirt just above the seam. Remove the regular buttons, and hot-glue gold buttons in their place. Make a new collar by layering gold ribbon over red ribbon and hot-gluing it where the collar should go. Make a belt from more red and gold ribbon. Use gold cording to create the filigree on the front of the shirt and red felt and gold trim to make the epaulets. Pair your costume with a Prince Charming face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on Desert Chica. The tutorial shows a costume for a little boy, but the directions easily translate into larger costumes.
22. King Triton
The most important part of this costume is the tail. Of course you can use the same tail as the women’s mermaid costume. But if it’s more comfortable, opt for blue or aqua tights, clip slits up either outside leg to just below the knee, and use tulle or another fabric and the same instructions as the women’s mermaid tail to create a bell-bottom look to emulate the fins. It would look something like what they did for Disney on Ice. Or keep the costume super-easy by wrapping a teal-colored cotton fabric around your waist like you would a bath towel. You can use strategically placed safety pins to keep it from coming undone during the night, but wear it over tights or sweats either way — it’s bound to be chilly (and potentially wet) on Halloween.
Then you need a trident, white wig and beard combo, and crown. You can make your own trident for about $1 by cutting 3-D spokes from cardboard, gluing them to a wooden dowel, and spray-painting the whole thing gold, as shown on Becca Beach’s YouTube channel.
And make your own crown by printing a Disney King Triton crown template from MorePrintableTreats.com, forming sturdy wire, such as oven wire or a wire hanger, in the shape of the crown, and glueing gold craft foam cut in the same shape to the front and back or the wire frame. (Or skip the template and shape the wire however you want). Glue the crown to a white or clear headband to blend in with your wig.
And if it will be cold, make yourself a DIY muscle shirt as described in the satyr tutorial.
For guys who’ve always dreamed of being rock stars, now’s your chance. Indulge your fantasy and dress up like one for Halloween.
23. David Bowie
Legendary performer David Bowie’s daring makeup and costume choices make him super-fun to emulate for Halloween. Start by thrifting a light blue pantsuit or anything shiny, metallic, or sequined. Pair it with a fire engine-red mullet wig. Then follow the makeup tutorial on Mask World to make his signature Ziggy Stardust lightning bolt. Pair the costume with a lightning bolt face mask.
24. Freddie Mercury
Start with a pair of blue jeans and a white tank. Add a studded black leather belt and a yellow leather jacket (check the thrift store before buying). Or score the exact look by searching a resale site like eBay. Finish the costume with sunglasses and a faux mustache (or grow out your own). Pair this costume with a rhinestone-studded Queen face mask.
25. Bruce Springsteen
To get Bruce Springsteen’s legendary look, layer a sleeveless denim jacket over a leather jacket. Then pair the combo with sunglasses and as many red bandannas as possible. Wearing an actual bandana as a face mask isn’t very protective. But you can pair this costume with a face mask that looks like a red bandana.
See the look (minus the mask) on Style Girlfriend.
26. Elton John
Lean into the success of the Oscar-winning “Rocketman” by dressing in one of Elton John’s legendary outfits. While there are so many recognizable looks to choose from, one of the easiest to put together is his all-white 1973 angelic look. Combine a white shirt and white pants with a white blazer. Then hot-glue some white feathers and loops of white rope onto the jacket’s shoulders. For the finishing touch, add a pair of inexpensive sunglasses with large bedazzled frames. You can pair this costume with a white rhinestone-studded face mask.
Although superheroes frequently top the list of costume choices for men, donning a full supersuit can get expensive fast. Even after you spring for the $40 (or more) costume, there are still all the accessories — like web-shooters, blasters, hammers, and shields — to buy. Fortunately, there are a few superheroes with easy DIY workarounds.
27. Black Panther
This Black Panther costume comes together with a long-sleeved black top and black pants, electrical tape, black felt, and silver fabric paint. Cut gray electrical tape to mimic the designs around the neck, elbows, and legs of Black Panther’s supersuit (see an example on Primary). Then use the money you saved to invest in a helmet to go with your supersuit. If you’re going out this Halloween (or just to save money), opt instead to pair your costume with a black face mask and a Black Panther Sun-Stache combo.
Before Peter Parker had Tony Stark to make him a high-tech supersuit, he made do with a homemade disguise made of red and blue sweats. To make this no-sew costume, remove the sleeves from a red hoodie. Use the sleeves to make boot tops and save the cuffs to make web-shooters. Draw a spider symbol on the front of the sweatshirt with black fabric paint and layer it over a blue long-sleeved shirt and pants. Finish the look with a store-bought Spider-Man mask. Or if you’ll be heading out this Halloween, go with a Spider-Man cloth face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on Life She Has.
Along with Spider-Man, Batman is a perennial top-10 costume choice for both kids and adults, according to the NRF’s annual surveys. But pulling off his costume is also high on the expensive list — especially for adults who won’t be satisfied with a cheesy plastic mask. But believe it or not, you can easily fold your own Batman cowl from paper and glue without it looking like a kids art project. Download the pattern for a Batman mask on Etsy. Then pair it with a long-sleeved black T-shirt, tight-fitting black pants, and a black cape. Accessorize with your own utility belt made from craft foam, just as in the Batgirl DIY. And pair your costume with a clear face mask.
If you’re looking for something more unique than your run-of-the-mill witch or vampire, gender-neutral costumes provide some of the most creative ideas — everything from the entire solar system to a punny play on words.
Creatures & Magical Beings
Whether your Halloween mood is glam, ghoul, or “Game of Thrones,” you can find a magical beast lurking in your closet or craft kit.
30. An Angel or Devil
Are you feeling naughty or nice? No matter the answer, you can DIY black-, red-, or white-feathered wings for an otherworldly angel or devil costume.
Start by measuring your “wingspan” — the width of your back plus an extra foot on each side. Cut electrical oven wire the length of your wingspan, and bend it into a wing frame (it should look something like a coat hanger without the hook and bottom crossbar). Cut two flexible clear plastic cutting mats into semioval shapes, and hot glue them to either side of your wire frame toward the floor. These become the backing for all your feathers.
Next, have a friend hold the frame on your back so you can attach two pieces of elastic on either side to become a shoulder harness. Then glue a layer of inexpensive white craft feathers for an angel costume or red feathers or black feathers for a devil costume onto the front and back of the clear plastic. Fill out another layer with big, lush white, red, or black ostrich feathers. Finish by gluing on pieces of a feather boa in the same shade as your wing feathers to cover any glue spots or other imperfections. If desired, you can also embellish your wings and cover your wire frame with glitter paint. Get the full instructions on The Sorry Girls’ YouTube Channel.
For the costumes, you can go multiple directions. Opt for elegance with a fancy outfit or make your angel or devil just another working stiff by wearing appropriate-color office-wear (ill-fitting thrift store finds reinforce the lower-rung 9-to-5’er aspect). You can even go with trendy picks in your character’s color of choice to appear as a teen angel or devil or add another costume element, such as ‘80s-inspired fashion (see the Madonna and Elton John costumes for guidance).
For example, you can pair angel wings with a DIY zip-tie halo, an elegant white outfit (like a white dress or tux) or cheesy white suit, and a white satin face mask. If you decide to wear makeup, keep it simple with a natural lip and a sparkly eye, as shown on Mariah Robinson’s YouTube channel. For the office worker look, add some costume glasses to complete the look.
And for a devil costume, pair the wings with DIY devil horns, an elegant red or black outfit (like a red or black dress or tux) or a cheesy red or black suit, and a red or black lace face mask. If you decide to wear makeup, you can go glam, like the look on Katerina William’s YouTube channel, or garish, as shown on Shonagh Scott’s YouTube channel. If you’re going for the office worker bee, you can also don some costume glasses.
You can also play with the colors on this one. For the devil costume, you can combine colors, such as a red outfit with black wings and a black face mask or vice versa. Or swap the colors altogether, going with a pastel like pink or baby blue for the angel or purple or dark blue for the devil. Start with what you have in your closet, and expand from there.
31. A Dragon
“Game of Thrones” may have ended, but dressing up as one of the HBO series’ characters is still a popular choice. But skip the overdone John Snow or Daenerys Targaryen costume and stand out from the crowd as a dragon. Make a dragon mask and set of claws from paper by downloading a template on Etsy. Wear the pieces with monochromatic clothes matching the color of your dragon mask. And for extra wow-factor, make a set of coordinating dragon wings using the instructions for the dark fairy wings but use a dragon wing template for the design and a coordinating wrapping color, such as red cellophane or black cellophane. Pair your costume with a black face mask.
32. A Zombie
If the elaborate makeup on “The Walking Dead” has you intimidated, don’t be. All it really takes to turn yourself into a zombie for Halloween is some old clothes, makeup, and food coloring. Use a serrated knife and scissors to slash your clothes and red food coloring to make them look like they’re covered in blood. You can see how to do it on Kait Nichole’s YouTube channel.
While fantasy typically dominates Halloween, there’s room for a little science fiction. Try a costume that puts a fun twist on a common science trope.
33. An Experiment Gone Wrong
To transform into a mad scientist, you need a lab coat, some rubber gloves, and some crazy hair. But you can take it a step further by tweaking your costume to show yourself as the victim of an experiment gone wrong. Make yourself look like the after-effect of an explosion by rubbing activated charcoal powder on your face so you look like you’re covered in ash and soot. Then slash up your lab coat to make it look like the explosion tore holes through it. Rub more charcoal dust all around the rips and tears.
34. Outer Space
Instead of an astronaut visiting outer space, this year, dress as space itself. Start with a plain blue T-shirt, some Styrofoam spheres in various sizes, and a foam mini-wreath. Cut the spheres and wreath in half and paint them in bright colors. Lay out where you want your planets, and then hot-glue them onto the T-shirt. Use the half wreath as a ring for one of the planets. And pair your costume with a galaxy face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on Studio DIY.
35. A Glow-in-the-Dark Stick Figure
This costume only works at night. Dress in black so your body blends into the dark. Use clear packing tape to attach glow necklaces to your arms, legs, and torso to form a stick figure shape. Turn out the lights and watch what happens. To ensure only your stick figure glows in the dark, pair your costume with a solid-color black face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on HGTV.
We could all use a vacation right now. So why not pretend you’re on one and dress accordingly?
36. A Tourist
If you’ve got a Hawaiian shirt in your closet, you already have everything you need for this simple DIY idea. Take it up a notch with accessories — like a toy camera with a neck strap or a homemade lei filled with flowers made from tissue paper. To make the lei, cut squares from four shades of the same color tissue paper. Layer the squares on top of each other with the darkest shade on bottom and the lightest on top, then twist in the middle to make a flower shape. String the flowers into a necklace by tying the bases with string, as shown on 30 Something Urban Girl. Pair this costume with a Hawaiian-print face mask that coordinates with your shirt.
37. A Scuba Diver
If Halloween involves a pretend tropical vacation, a scuba diver costume is the way to go. Make a pair of scuba tanks by repurposing two 2-liter soda bottles. Paint them a fun color, and strap them together with electrical tape and rope. Combine them with a “wetsuit” made of tight-fitting black clothes, and complete the look with an inexpensive snorkel set. Pair the costume with a black face mask or a tropical reef mask.
Get the full costume instructions on Delineate Your Dwelling.
38. A Shark
If your scuba divers are planning to head into treacherous waters, there’s no more ideal denizen than a great white shark. Turn a gray hoodie into a shark costume by cutting pointy teeth from white felt and sewing them around the hood. Cut a back fin from gray felt, and sew it to the back of the hoodie. Complete the shark by cutting eyeballs from white and black felt and stitching them onto the hood. Wear it with matching gray sweatpants, and pair the whole thing with a shark mouth face mask.
Get the full costume instructions on HGTV.
Sports costumes are another idea that’s easy to pull together from stuff you already own.
39. A Line Coach
This one’s easy to pull off if you’re already a sports fan and have a team jersey or T-shirt in your closet. And given that so many of us are working from home these days, you likely already have the key accessory on hand — a phone headset. All you have to do is don the jersey and the headset with whatever pants you like. Pair your line coach costume with a team logo face mask.
40. An Athlete
If you’d rather be an athlete than a coach this Halloween, use that same team jersey as the base piece for an athlete costume. Then add in any other key elements to complete the look, like basketball shorts for a basketball player or shorts and cleats for a soccer player. Wear a football jersey with white leggings and shoulder pads and smudge some black makeup under your eyes to mimic the eye black players wear. Or skip the jersey altogether and go as a marathon runner. Don a tank and running shorts and a fake medal, and pin a racing number to the front of your outfit.
41. A Hot Dog Vendor
Concessions vendors are staples at all kinds of sports games, and their costumes are a relatively simple DIY. You just need a white button-down shirt, red apron, bow tie, hat, and concessions box. Make the box from a wooden crate (you can also sub a cardboard box). Use painter’s tape to mark off sections to paint red and white stripes. Loop ribbon through the crate’s handles to become the neck strap (or cut openings in your cardboard box for the ribbon). Anchor it with a thumbtack and then hot glue the ends. Use letter stickers to spell “Hot Dogs” on the front of the box. Finish the costume with a bow tie made of black felt and a hat made of white foam. And embellish with optional buttons made using plastic button forms. You can pair this costume with a red mask matching your apron or a hot dog face mask.
Get the full costume instructions and templates on By Stephanie Lynn.
Punny Halloween costumes use plays on words to create fun and funny looks. But that’s not the only reason to love them. They’re typically easy to pull together using your everyday clothes and supplies you may already have on hand. That makes them ideal for last-minute DIYs.
42. A Blessing in Disguise
Start with any solid-color T-shirt. Use iron-on letters to spell “Blessing” on the front. If you’d rather not make the wording permanent, write the word on an adhesive name tag and attach that to your shirt. Or buy a premade ”blessing” T-shirt on Amazon. Then pair the shirt with some costume disguise glasses. Wear any color face mask that matches your outfit or make the mask part of your disguise with a face mask with a beard or a mask with lips that look nothing like your own.
43. A Chip on Your Shoulder
Possibly the easiest DIY ever, all you need to do is cut a large oval from yellow paper and then make accordion folds so it looks like a potato chip. Use a safety pin to attach it to the shoulder of any shirt from your closet, and don your favorite mask.
Get the full instructions on Club Crafted.
44. A Party Animal
Dress up in your party finest, such as a formal dress or pantsuit from your own closet. Pair it with an animal costume mask if you’re staying home or an animal cloth face mask if you plan to attend a party or trick-or-treat.
45. A Smarty Pants
Start with any shirt and any pair of pants. Use double-sided tape or glue dots to attach packages of Smarties candy onto your pants. Cover your pant legs in as many packages of candy as you like, taking care to avoid the seat of your pants so you can easily sit down. To amp up the nerdy look, add suspenders and a pair of costume glasses. Pair your costume with a nerdy face mask.
46. The Grateful (Un)Dead
Buy a premade T-shirt with the word “grateful” or make your own using iron-on letters. Then use an easy zombie makeup tutorial like the one for the zombie costume to make yourself look like one of the walking dead. Or become one of the walking undead and make yourself look like a vampire by following the tutorial on Mally Beauty’s YouTube channel. Pair your costume with a Grateful Dead face mask.
47. A Candy Rapper
This play on words involves the fun of candy combined with a rapper get-up. Choose your base piece. It can be a sweatsuit, hoodie, or a plain T-shirt. Then sew or tape candy onto your clothes. Ensure everyone knows you’re a rapper by finishing the look with sunglasses, a funky hat, and chunky faux jewelry. Find all the pieces in one place with an inexpensive hip-hop costume kit. Pair your costume with a candy bar face mask.
Even if you don’t feel like an expert with a sewing machine or a glue gun, there are hundreds of simple, easy, and frugal costumes you can put together on your own. Just remember to cut yourself some slack. You usually don’t have to copy a character exactly to achieve the look you’re going for. Instead, strive for pieces that are close enough. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Dressing up for Halloween is supposed to be fun. So exercise your creativity and go wild.
Are you DIY’ing your costume this year? What are you going to be?