Picking out a Halloween costume is rarely a simple process. When surveying all the spooky possibilities for a costume, it is difficult to strike the ultimate balance between originality and appeal. Halloween costumes, as we know them, have been a staple of the holiday since the 1920s. While Halloween costumes were originally meant to ward off malicious spirits, costumes now are seen as a fun activity for children and an excuse for adults to dress up and go out.
With over 80 years of costumes preceding us, it has gotten more difficult than ever to think of an original idea. Just think of how many cat costumes you have seen over the years at Halloween parties or people dressed in all black claiming to be “vampires.” Classic, spooky costume ideas are not necessarily bad, but the pointed hat and cape bought from Party City has gotten a little tiresome. With this in mind, here are some ways that you can step up your costume game without necessarily changing your character or theme.
1. Make It a Mash-up
Some of the most memorable Halloween costumes are the ones that take a classic character or idea and then turn it on its head. Why go as the typical Disney princess when you can go as a punk version of Cinderella or a modernized Mulan? Sure, this might sound a little like fan fiction, but no one can deny that imagining your favorite characters in different time periods or clothing styles is pretty amusing.
Children’s characters tend to work best in this category because they are usually universally known, so the impact of your mash-up will be greater. Try and think of juxtaposing characters and themes to make the most of the mash-up.
2. Make It Topical
In our increasingly interconnected world, it is easier than ever to create a Halloween costume that will speak to a larger social scope — whether it be a politician or your favorite meme. Piecing together a Halloween costume like this could be as simple as putting together a baby blue blazer and floral blouse and suddenly you are our favorite eccentric 2020 Democratic nominee, Marianne Williamson. Similarly, with the release of the movie “On the Basis of Sex” last December, there is also ample opportunity to portray Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Of course, memes are also always a solid choice when thinking about a Halloween costume. Consider going as Kylie Jenner singing “Rise and Shine” or an Area 51 officer or vigilante. Everyone loves a good meme, just make sure it is current and you should be praised for your witty costume.
3. Make It a Group
Including a group of friends to tag along with your Halloween costume idea not only increases the impression of your costume, but it also makes it much more fun. Plus, the potential for group costumes is virtually endless. Just look at your favorite TV show for example. Find a group and go as the cast. Part of the challenge is also finding the right people for the right characters. This is not to say that your friends need to be exact clones of whomever you are trying to dress up as, but there has to be some kind of connection between them and the character.
While TV shows and movies may be the most obvious choice when thinking of a group costume, there are also more basic groupings all around us. You could go as seasons or months. You could go as colors of the rainbow. You could go as different kitchen utensils. The possibilities are infinite. Again, the idea of matching the correct actors to the right characters still applies here but is less imperative.
Although this method requires a bit more planning and organization, going as a group is great option for people looking to keep their costume relatively simple while still adding some interest. Dressing up as one of these things by yourself would be boring, but with friends, your lonely spoon costume becomes a full-fledged place setting.
4. Make It a DIY
Again, just as there is every Halloween, there will be a copious number of witches, cats and vampires bouncing from costume party to costume party this year. Instead of taking the easy route to costume shopping and buying a packaged costume this Halloween, try piecing together a costume from your closet. Or even better, try going to your local thrift store and finding pieces that fit your theme.
For example, in recent years, minions from the popular children’s movie “Despicable Me” have become an extremely popular Halloween costume. An easy way to set your Minion costume apart from the others is to opt for a thriftier approach by finding an old pair of overalls, and a yellow beanie and sweater — then you’re set!
Another way to make your costume DIY would be to literally make it from scratch. This method obviously requires more planning than the previous option, but in the end it will be worth it. Thankfully, you would not be the first person to ever fully create your costume, and odds are that someone has already created a tutorial for your favorite character on Pinterest or YouTube.
5. Make It Spooky
Given the spooky vibes of the Halloween holiday, this option should be a given. One of my more successful years dressing up was when my friend and I went as zombie versions of Harry Potter characters. Similarly to the mash-up option, people were impressed by the creativity and originality of our Halloween costume.
This transformation does not have to be elaborate. It just requires some critical use of blood and makeup. There are an astronomical number of makeup tutorials on how to achieve the “zombified” effect. While the thought of attempting anything that resembles special effects makeup can be intimidating, this tutorial by Frankie Dare on YouTube is relatively simple and requires no prosthetics or additional materials.
Regardless of what you decide to dress up as this Halloween, take a chance and revitalize an old idea by making it something new. You might be surprised by how many more heads your costume turns.