When it comes to homemade Halloween costumes, I have two main requirements:
It has to be cheap.
Because why spend a lot of money on a Halloween costume you’ll wear once, when there are SO MANY SHOES you could be buying instead?
It has to be cute.
Or relatively cute, anyway. I, you see, don’t really DO fancy dress. I mean, I DO like to dress “fancy”, that’s for sure. But I’m not a huge fan of feeling silly (I feel silly enough when I’m NOT in fancy dress…) so the idea of wearing one of those totally OTT costumes which would require me to change my entire personality in order to pull it off is pretty much my worst nightmare. (I’m exaggerating: that creepy old woman from Insidious is my worst nightmare. Obviously.)
Don’t get me wrong: those costumes are amazing and creative, and I love seeing other people in them. But personally, I like to use Halloween as an excuse to get ‘dressed up’ in the glamorous sense: let’s face it, it’s not every day you have an excuse to get glammed up to the nines, so why not make the most of it, with some homemade Halloween costumes that are fun – as opposed to completely mortifying – to wear?
Here are some of the homemade Halloween costumes I’ve worn in previous years…
The Hitchcock Halloween Costume | Tippi Hedren in The Birds
Drawing inspiration from classic horror, all I needed to create my Tippi-Hedren-in-The-Birds Halloween costume was a wig, some wire, and a couple of toy birds – purchased from eBay for just a couple of pounds each. I already had the green, 60s-inspired dress, but if you don’t happen to dress like you’re in a Hitchcock movie a lot of the time anyway, any green, pencil-style dress will do.
My one concession to “proper” fancy dress was the wig: as a natural redhead, a lot of “character” costumes are ruled out for me unless I want to change my hair colour, so a lot of my Halloween costumes from years gone by have featured a wig. This one also came from eBay (and also cost just a few pounds), and provided a handy anchor for the wire headpiece the birds are attached to, which was handmade by my long-suffering husband. (I didn’t think to get a photo of it on its own, but it was basically just a wire circle, which sat on my head. No, it wasn’t the MOST comfortable thing I’ve ever worn, but it wasn’t unbearable either, and the wine definitely helped. Doesn’t it always, though?)
The Classic Costume:Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz
This was probably the easiest Halloween costume I’ve done, because I didn’t have to buy anything, and there was no need for a wig. This costume started with the red, sparkly shoes, which I already had. (Because OF COURSE I had red sparkly shoes. Doesn’t everyone?) One thing I’ve learned from years of putting together homemade Halloween costumes, however, is that you don’t need to exactly replicate the character you’re going for: as long as you get the basic style and colours right, it’ll normally work. My blue dress, for instance (from ASOS, a couple of years ago), isn’t anything like the gingham pinafore Dorothy wears in the Wizard of Oz, but with a turtleneck top (Zara) underneath, it creates the same impression.
Similarly, although my shoes happen to be covered in glitter (which you can actually DIY at home, if you have an old pair of shoes you don’t mind sacrificing), really ANY pair of red shoes will create the desired effect: the main thing here is to contrast them with the blue of the dress and the ankle socks. (Which I actually DID have to buy specially for this costume, bringing my overall cost to about £2…) Add the classic ‘Dororthy’ braids, and a small dog (I took a stuffed version with me on the night itself, although I’m sure Rubin would’ve been happy to come along…), and you have a cheap Dorothy-from-the-Wizard-of-Oz costume, which is nothing like all of the ‘sexy’ Halloween costumes you’ll find in stores.
(Is it just me, or are the ‘sexy’ costumes particularly weird when it’s a ‘Sexy Dorothy’? I mean, she was a little girl, for God’s sake!)
The Pop Culture Costume: Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction
Another easy (and some might say lazy) Halloween costume idea is Pulp Fictions’ Mrs Mia Wallace. Once again, I had to buy the wig, and also the fake cigarette, which has seen me through many a Halloween costume over the years. If you have a pair of black capris, a plain white shirt and a black bra, however, you can easily throw together a Pulp Fiction costume for next to nothing. Wigs like this one will only set you back a few pounds (All of mine have come from eBay: no, they’re not a quality you’d wear OTHER than for fancy dress, but hey, it’s Halloween – it’s allowed. Wouldn’t want to let a REAL cigarette near this one, though…), and will instantly turn you into Mia Wallace. Variations on this costume include fake blood around the nose, and a hypodermic syringe in the chest – if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know why. I actually DID have a syringe on the night itself (this photo was a trial run), but we ended up using it for vodka shots: whoops.
(Added bonus to this one: if you’re feeling self-conscious, all you have to do is take off the wig, and you’re no longer in fancy dress. Homemade Halloween costumes don’t really get more “homemade” than this…)
The Last Minute Costume: Glam Witch
Ah, the classic witch: the homemade Halloween costume of choice for those who need a costume idea in a hurry, and have absolutely no idea what to go as! Luckily, all you really need to be a witch is a pointed hat: I decided my witch would be the glamorous sort , so I found this very stylish little witchy fascinator on eBay (who I promise aren’t sponsoring this post, by the way: I just tend to get most of my Halloween props there!), and the rest of this look was basically all about the makeup. The dress and shoes I already had, and the tulle cape came from my mum’s box of fabric scraps: mischief managed!
More homemade Halloween costumes:Marilyn Monroe, Holly Golightly, Joan Holloway
These photos were all taken in the days before I realised it was a bad idea to take photos indoor at night, so the image quality is kinda crappy. These are three women who can always be relied upon to provide ample costume inspiration, though : Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn (as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…) and Mad Men’s Joan Holloway. I’m actually really tempted to recreate these one year: partly so I can do a better job with the photos, but mostly because I can do a much better beehive these days. When it comes to homemade Halloween costumes, classic Hollywood (or TV shows which drawn inspiration from that era) is a great source of inspiration: you get to ‘dress up’ in the true sense of that phrase!
As you can see, that fake cigarette gets a lot of use at Halloween…
Finally…The Non-Cute Costume: Samara from The Ring
OK, so this costume is a little different from all the others, and doesn’t exactly meet the “cute” criteria. After years of glamming it up every Halloween, however, my friend Ewen challenged me to wear something NON-glam for a change: enter Samara from The Ring! Another cheap wig and a long white nightgown, et voila: I didn’t even need any makeup! (I wore it anyway, though. Well, I was still ME under all that hair…)
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As for this year, I’m not planning to dress up (Although, my usual “exhausted new mum” look IS pretty scary, tbf…), so here’s the full list of all of my Halloween costumes: enjoy!