How to Make Van Gogh Costumes


A custom Vincent Van Gogh costume will set you apart at a dress-up or Halloween party. The famed Dutch post-Impressionist painted 39 pictures of himself between 1886 and 1889, providing plenty of prototypes to imitate. In his self-portraits, Van Gogh's gaze is rarely direct; while in costume, avoiding eye contact adds an authentic touch.

Red Beard

  • Van Gogh grew a signature red beard and mustache, but finding inexpensive ginger-colored facial hair may prove difficult. To make it yourself, you need to draw an outline of a beard and mustache on a thick piece of paper, with an opening left for the mouth. The outline becomes a beard-design pattern that you pin to a piece of red felt and cut out. Two pieces of ribbon sewn to your beard mask -- one on the right side and one on the left -- create ties for securing the beard around the back of your head.

Gory Ear

  • Van Gogh cut off a portion of his left ear at a brothel in 1888 and, before going to the hospital, wrapped it up with a piece of newspaper. At the time of the incident, historical accounts suggest Van Gogh was going through a dark and lonely period in his life. In later portraits, he drew himself with a bandaged ear; dabbing some fake blood around your bandaged ear and letting it drip down your neckline adds gory detail to a Halloween costume.


  • In some of his self-portraits, Van Gogh painted himself wearing a plain, white-collared shirt underneath a vest and suit jacket. Thrift shops are treasure troves for costumes, and may yield a vintage suit in a light blue or brown shade with a matching vest. Van Gogh also is known to have worn wide-brimmed hats and fedoras. Wrapping a black piece of ribbon around the middle section of a tan fedora inexpensively imitates the look.

Final Touches

  • Thrift stores often have stashes of cheap, framed art or empty picture frames that you can hold around your costumed face. Carrying a paintbrush or palette and a pipe puts the finishing touches on your Van Gogh self-portrait costume.

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