Ragged Orphan Costume Ideas

Don't be afraid to be dirty.
Image Credit: Ralf Nau/Lifesize/Getty Images

Whether you're trying to reenact the movie "Annie" or just want a comfortable, easy costume for Halloween, dressing up as a raggedy orphan is easy for anyone from a preschooler to an adult. This costume is also easy to adjust for the weather; you'll be able to wear more layers on cold days and fewer when it's hot outside, so keep these clothes on hand all year round for last-minute costume parties.

Picking a Costume

When it comes to finding clothes for your costume, make your local thrift store your first visit. Select clothing that is one to two sizes larger than what you normally wear, since oversize clothes will make you look more ragged than garments that fit properly will. Look for several items that you can layer together, such as a long-sleeved t-shirt, a button-down shirt, a sweater and a pair of baggy pants. Girls might also wear a long, ripped skirt or nightgown over tights. Pick items that don't match in color and style. You might also take a trip into the closet of an older man -- such as your father -- and borrow some worn-out items.

Preparing Costumes

Wash any items that you find at a thrift store before putting them on. When they're clean, add some wear and tear to them to make your costume look more ragged. Press your clothing onto the driveway or a patch of grass to get some dirt splotches onto the fabric. To make light-colored clothing look older, brew a pot of tea and let it cool to room temperature. Dip the fabric into the tea, wring it out and let it dry. Make some holes or slits in the knees of your pants with scissors or rub sandpaper over the shirt collars and elbows to make them look slightly more threadbare.


A ragged orphan might not wear many accessories, but adding a few items will make your look complete. Pull on a pair of mismatched socks and your oldest, dirtiest shoes; to go even further, place mismatched laces in your shoes. Tear a long strip of fabric off the bottom of one of your shirts and tie it around your head to keep your hair back; boys can tie pieces of fabric around their wrists to create makeshift wristbands. Give children worn, broken thrift-store toys -- such as one-eyed teddy bears -- to carry.

Putting the Look Together

One of the perks of dressing up as an orphan is that suiting up is a quick process. Throw your clothes on in whatever order you pick them up; don't be afraid to pull a button-down shirt on over a sweater or put a shirt on backwards. After you're dressed, add some smears to your face and hands to make yourself look like you've been out in the elements. Rub dirt or brown makeup onto your skin. Complete your look by running some gel through your hair to make it look greasy and unkempt.