Homemade Scary Clown Costumes

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It's easy to put together an effective scary clown costume yourself. Many people find ordinary clowns scary enough, but when a character that usually stands for whimsy is twisted into something dark, it can send a chill down the most stalwart spine.

Take your inspiration from classic scary clowns, such as Pennywise, the terrifying villain from Stephen King's It, or come up with your own variation.

Things You'll Need

  • Bright, baggy clothes
  • Frills, pompoms and/or extra bright fabric
  • Hair spray and temporary hair dye, or a wig or hat
  • Face paint

Step 1: The Clothes

Clown clothes are baggy and bright, adorned with pompoms and frills and often accompanied by oversized shoes. A baggy jumpsuit is ideal, but a clown costume can be constructed from oversized trousers and a long tunic. Use old clothes or clothes from a secondhand store so you can modify them.

When you're gathering clothes or fabric to use in a clown costume, go with loud striped, checked or polka-dot patterns. A traditionally bright color scheme is fine for a scary clown costume, but it can also be very effective to use deep, dark tones or simple black, white and red.

There are multiple ways to adapt baggy clothes to look more like clown clothes. You might consider doing any or all of these:

  • Attach pompoms or very large buttons down the front of the top.
  • Attach bright frills to the hems or around the neckline. Alternatively, you can gather hems with elastic to simulate frills. 
  • Sew false patches in mismatching fabrics onto clothes. 
  • Cut hemlines into spikes. You might also consider attaching bells or pompoms to the tips. 
  • If possible, wear gloves and socks in colors that match the rest of the costume. 
  • A bow-tie, suspenders or a tutu can be interesting details in the right clown ensemble. 

It's better to either have a lot of details and a simple color scheme, or a simple costume with a lot of loud patterns and colors. Otherwise your costume may be too busy or complicated, and details will be lost.

Step 2: The Hair

Clown hair is usually bright, frizzy and sticking out in all directions. Temporary spray-in hair dye can provide both bright color and the right texture to your hair. Pick a color that goes with your overall theme. Red, bright green and black are all classic choices.

For one variation of a clown hair style, divide your hair down the center of your scalp. Use a comb and hair spray to tease it straight out on each side of your head. It doesn't need to be smooth or perfect -- the crazier the better. Follow the directions for the temporary hair dye carefully as you use it, so that it doesn't stain your hair, skin or clothes.

Tip

  • You don't have to do a thing to your hair if you don't want to. Clowns often wear hats or wigs, and you can do the same. You can make your own clown wig, or enhance an appropriate hat with pompoms, frills or bows so it fits your overall theme.

Step 3: Makeup

A defining characteristic of a clown is his or her face makeup. As always, there's a lot of room for your own touch here.

One way to achieve a scary clown look is to exaggerate the teeth and smile. Using ordinary black and white face paint, you might paint over-sized, bared teeth and fangs over your lips. Along with a classic red nose and kohl-lined eyes, this can be a frightening look.

Alternatively, you can paint a classic clown face. To make it scary, you might darken the eye sockets or create fake blood trails from the lips. Another alternative is to use black paint or liquid eyeliner to draw "stitches" around the edges of the eyes, mouth or face.

Tip

  • Your makeup doesn't have to be extremely scary or complicated. Pennywise looks like an ordinary clown with simple makeup on, until he opens his mouth and you see his jagged teeth. One scary feature is enough to twist a clown costume toward a horror theme.

Step 4: Accessories

A classic accessory for a scary clown costume is a rubber knife, possibly with fake blood splashed on it. Even an ordinary clown costume will seem scary if you're holding one of these.

However, there are plenty of other choices -- if the costume is scary, even a lollipop may seem sinister. Some other choices for scary clown accessories are:

  • A bunch of black and red balloons, or balloons painted to look like skulls.
  • A baseball bat or old walking stick painted to match your clown color scheme. If you can adorn it with a plastic skull or a fake spider, it will look even better. 
  • A fake knife, machete or cleaver.
  • A large red or black silk flower -- if you can get it to squirt fake blood, that's even better.
  • A plastic water-gun in appropriate colors.

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