How to Dress Like the Joker for Halloween

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The Joker is an iconic comic book baddie. He is one of the most important Batman villains, and he has played a prominent role in comic books, television and films about the Dark Knight. The Joker is instantly recognizable, and dressing up like him is fairly easy. You can find most of the costume items at your local thrift store or at a neighborhood yard sale. Consider which incarnation of the Joker you want embody and then put together the right costume pieces.

Make your own custom playing cards to enhance your Joker costume.
Make your own custom playing cards to enhance your Joker costume. (Image: DaniloTee/iStock/Getty Images)

1960s Television Joker

In the 1960s, Cesar Romero appeared as the Joker in television's "Batman." His costume consisted of a fuchsia three-piece suit that included a high-waisted jacket with tails, a three-button vest and pinstripe pants. You may have to visit a tailor or purchase a pattern to make this vest and jacket yourself as the color and style will be a hard match to find. Include an olive-green button-up shirt and a velvet, emerald-colored bow tie. Buy a piece of velvet ribbon to create the bow tie, and leave the loops of the bow loose to hang down on the chest. Finish with fuchsia gloves and black, patent leather shoes. Of course, much of the Joker's look is in his makeup. Paint your face white, fill in the eyebrows with a green liner pencil, and draw on the mouth with red lipstick. The corners of the mouth come to a sharp point just under the cheek. Color your hair with a green temporary spray designed for hair.

1980s Film Joker

In 1989, Jack Nicholson appeared as the first Joker in film. His costume is similar to the Joker from the 1960s, but it is a true purple. The jacket is high waisted with tails and is paired with a round, scoop-neck vest in green. Instead of pinstripes, the pants are blue and purple plaid. The shirt is an orange, silk button-up, and the bow tie is a teal silk with polka dots in a slightly darker shade. In some scenes, this version of the Joker wears a green silk shirt and purple tie with white diamonds. Purple gloves, a purple fedora and purple shoes complete the outfit. The hair and makeup are the same as the TV version of the Joker.

Recent Film Joker

In the 2000s, the Batman series rebooted with "The Dark Knight." This version of the Joker, played by Heath Ledger, has a distinctive costume. The basic premise is the same as earlier versions, but the costume is more detailed. The costume includes a purple trench coat over a pale blue sports jacket, purple pinstripe pants, a green collared vest with four buttons and a purple button-up shirt with a hexagon pattern. If you are unable to find the right pattern for the shirt, you can create it with a stencil and a fabric marker. Purple gloves, a purple tie with a slanted diamond pattern, suspenders and brown suede shoes accessorize the costume.

The makeup is quite distinct for this Joker. After applying white makeup to the face, brown or gray makeup should be dabbed over it to create a dirty appearance. Silicone rubber scars or wax should be applied to the corners of the mouth to make the pronounced scars. Apply black eyeliner or eye shadow all around the eyelid and under the eye, creating jagged lines. Line the lips in a dark red and rub them to create messy, smudged lines. Use brown eyeliner or eye shadow to enhance lines around the face and on the forehead. This Joker's hair is longer and curly creating a disheveled look, so you may need to wear a wig. Use gel to give the hair a greasy look, but don't lose the curl.

Adding Accessories

All versions of the Joker had props, and adding these can make your costume seem more authentic. Early television Joker sometimes wore a purple burglar mask and a yellow tool belt with large, square compartments. Jack Nicholson's Joker carried a pistol with an extra long barrel, and he often wore a white or pink joke flower on his lapel. He also wore a buzzer on the inside of his hand (for shocking people when shaking hands). The most recent film Joker carried a rocket-propelled grenade at times and a handgun at others. He also often had a hand grenade or pocket knife on him.

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