Budget-Friendly, Last Minute DIY Halloween Costume Ideas

Oct 29, 2021
700x253 - Halloween Ideas Blog

For every person who revels in the art of assembling every detail of their ensemble for Halloween, there is usually another who is less than enthusiastic about getting dressed up for the occasion, but nonetheless needs to pull together an outfit for any number of reasons. If you’re more of a reluctant celebrant, maybe friends are insisting that you come to their party in costume, you have an event to attend, or you just want something quick and easy for taking children trick or treating.

Whatever your plans on October 31, you truly don’t need to invest an inordinate amount of time, money and effort into a costume for a result that’s festive and fun. Many costumes that are high on impact are also a cinch to make last-minute with many of the wardrobe pieces or household items you may already have on hand. For inspiration, check out these suggestions, all of which are low-cost and easy to make with no or minimal sewing required. With any luck, they might even give you a whole new outlook on connecting with the spirit of this season!

Draw inspiration from literature

If you’re feeling nostalgic, favorite fictional characters from books we enjoyed while growing up offer a wealth of possibilities in term of simple costumes for both kids and adults, from Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, to the Madeline series and Max from “Where the Wild Things Are.” Find guidance for creating some of these beloved characters at Oprah Daily’s  “28 Best Book Character Inspired Costumes That You Can Easily DIY” or check out tips from “The Literary Lifestyle: by Jules Buono.”

Repurpose an old outfit or uniform to create a zombie character

Do you have an old letter jacket, prom dress, or cheerleading uniform that you plan to never wear in public again? This item can be the foundation for a zombie DIY outfit you can make in a few hours or less. Use sharp scissors to tatter the edges of your clothing, or add rips with a seam ripper or knife, or shred areas with a grater. Create holes in an old pair of shoes and use food coloring and tea bags to stain your clothes. Unkept hair and ghoulish make up are a must. Zombie makeup kits can usually be purchased for anywhere from $5 to $20 dollars, and Mia Dinoto on YouTube offers an excellent zombie makeup tutorial using liquid latex, various shades of eyeshadow, black eyeliner, red lipstick and fake blood from a local party store. You can also find an easy guide on how to “zombify” yourself here.

Tap into a character from a favorite movie or TV series

The latest flics and streaming television series as well as classic movies and TV shows are a gold mine of potential options, even if you’re short on funds and need something quick. One fun choice: any of the characters of the comedy-drama “Ted Lasso,” which has something for just about anyone. What’s more, the show’s a great pick for a group theme, or couple’s costume  (e.g., Keeley Jones and Roy Kent). If you really just want to do the minimum, go as a fan of the show’s AFC Richmond English football club. At a craft or fabric store, buy red stick-on or iron-on numbers and letters, and add the appropriate ones from your player of choice to a blue soccer jersey or a blue T-shirt that you get at thrift or discount store.

The lead character of Ted Lasso is easy to pull off with his signature mustache, a dark blue V-neck sweater over a white button-down shirt, beige chinos, and a Kansas accent (optional). Alternatively, you could swap out his preppy attire for a blue track suit, and even add a white visor and aviator shades. An all-black suit works for Roy Kent, or even just a black T-shirt and leather jacket. The fashionable and quirkily dressed Keeley Jones can be created with a high ponytail or backcombed bun that’s big and teased, large hoop earrings, a puffer coat or faux fur jacket, major heels, and a bright-colored dress. Find more low-budget possibilities from the show at “8 DIY Ted Lasso Halloween costumes to channel the Emmy-winning series” by Yasmine Leung.

If you want more options, here’s a sampling of costumes from TV and movies that have been touted as fun to wear, quick to make and easy on the wallet:

  • Jake from State Farm (headset or a landline phone, name tag or “Hello my name is” sticker, red polo shirt, khaki pants)
  • A contestant from the South Korean survival drama series “Squid Game” (green retro tracksuit with a number taped to the front)
  • Wednesday Adams (long-sleeved black mini dress, white button-down shirt, black choker or ribbon, chunky black heels, heavy eyeliner)
  • The late Bob Ross; painter, art instructor and creator and host of “The Joy of Painting” (jeans with belt, blue button-down shirt, brown wig, paint palette)
  • Baby from “Dirty Dancing” (coral-colored tank top, white sneakers, denim shorts rolled up, watermelon)
  • Jets or Sharks gang member, Maria or other character from the musical “West Side Story
  • Beth and/or Rip from “Yellowstone

Look to the music scene

Whatever type of music you gravitate toward, there’s usually an iconic look from a popular artist that you can pull together without much lead time. Chelsea Brimstin has curated some favorites in “11 Musicians to dress up as this Halloween.” Among them: Freddie Mercury, Lana Del Ray, Florence Welch and Drake. Or dress in a music-inspired style that’s instantly recognizable and a blast to wear, like rockabilly.

Make a costume your own with a choice accessory

If you’re down to the wire and all else fails, consider rebooting a classic costume you already own. There’s plenty of good reasons that sports figures, angels and fortune tellers continue to make an appearance during this time of year. These costumes can be incredibly fun without involving too much planning. But what’s also great about these classics is that they are easy to take to the next level with just a minor tweak or two. For example, adding a black eye or arm cast to a baseball uniform, sporting glitter gel on your face and a quartz crown as an angel, or carrying Tarot cards (or even fortune cookies to hand out, why not?) as a clairvoyant. Adding these accessories aren’t likely to blow your budget, and can give your costume a whole new look and feel.

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