A 13-year-old brainstorming for a Halloween costume often depends on the older teens and adults in the house to accomplish their creative ideas. Teen Halloween costume ideas may range from books to popular entertainment to a favorite pet.
Whether your teen is portraying a cat, a superhero or a Disney character, consider the budget, weather and practicality of the costume when assembling the elements from local and online vendors, like Spirit Halloween and Amazon.
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DIY Dystopian Dramatics
Apocalyptic and dystopian themes are popular costume ideas. Teens are drawn to the heroes, survivors and zombies of the Walking Dead comic books and TV series (2010-2022), classic Mad Max movies (1978-2015) and the Hunger Games trilogy (2012-2015).
Dressing in grungy rags (with leggings and T-shirt underneath for both warmth and modesty), wearing their hair messy and using gray face paint and fake blood lets your teen portray a modern zombie. An apocalyptic character, such as Robert Neville in I Am Legend (2007) or Joel from Love and Monsters (2020), might wear vintage clothing or Army surplus, a leather jacket and work boots and may carry a toy rifle.
When portraying Katniss, Peeta or Rue, your teen might put on all black, such as black jeans and a black man's shirt with a collar, or dark khaki cargo pants, a matching long-sleeve shirt and a dark gray or black hooded raincoat over it all.
Braid the hair and add a bow and arrow-filled quiver and your Hunger Games hero is ready to go out and save the Halloween party guests or win the cosplay contest.
Fantastic Fictional Characters
From Black Panther to Superman to Wonder Woman, superheroes fill the need for strong characters in comics, movies and television shows. Rest assured, not all characters are as spooky or dark as Batman, Spawn or Venom.
With the right color spandex tights and top, a well-known or custom insignia on the cape and a sparkling mask, tweens and teen girls and boys can make a bright showing on Halloween or National Superhero Day (April 28).
Not all fictional characters are superheroes. Tolkien's novels provide plenty of inspiration, from halflings and Harfoots to dwarfs, elves and wizards. In The Hobbit (1937), the main characters wore leggings, tunics and hooded capes. Just add a gold ring on a chain and fake hobbit feet to become Bilbo or add a beard, staff and hat to become Gandalf the Grey.
Magical and supernatural coming-of-age tales, including the Harry Potter novels (1997-2007) and movies (2002-2011) and Stranger Things TV show (2016-present) add magic and mystery.
Round glasses, a painted-on forehead scar and a wand are Harry Potter essentials, while the Stranger Things characters wear '80s street clothes. Make group Halloween costumes with each teen dressed in a favorite Stranger Things actor's outfit and they'll be instantly recognizable to fans of the still-running show.
Favorite Fairy Tales
The late Walt Disney and his teams of talented artists, animators and screenwriters were and still are masters of converting fairy tales into enchanting characters on the big screen.
If your teen is a huge Disney fan, you might suggest dressing up as:
- Mickey and Minnie Mouse
- The Little Mermaid
- Snow White
- Sleeping Beauty
- Prince Charming
Does your teen prefer villains? Consider Cruella de Vil, Maleficent, Jafar or Professor Ratigan costumes.
Don't limit yourself to Disney characters; there's a wide range of fables, folk tales and fairy tales from many lands that you can use to create costumes.
Whether it's the Slavic wild witch of the woods, Baba Yaha, who wore iron teeth and lived in a house with chicken legs; Aesop's tortoise and hare; Greek and Roman mythology; werewolves; or Bigfoot, there's no limit to the fantastic costumes you and your teen can dream up after delving into the tall tales of many nations.
But please remember that real people are not costumes, such as a hula dancer in a grass skirt, yellowface in a kimono, blackface with an Afro wig or Native American in a feather headdress. Tweens and teens aren't too young to distinguish between dressing up as fun fictional characters and disrespecting real people and their cultures.
Furry Friends and Their People
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Whether putting on a cat costume with cat ears and tail or dressing up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz complete with her little dog Toto, many teens love their furry friends.
Goldilocks and the three bears, the Cat in the Hat, bees "buzzing" around their beekeeper, bunnies, dragons and unicorns aren't just adorable; the fake fur costumes are also warm and cozy when out trick-or-treating on a chilly October evening.