Costume Ideas of Dead Famous People

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Embrace the style of a bygone era to make a memorable costume.
Embrace the style of a bygone era to make a memorable costume. (Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Show off your creativity and wear a memorable, easily recognizable costume of a historical or popular figure from the past. Whether you want to revive the classic look of a daring pioneer, embrace the style of a Hollywood bombshell, or dress up as a legendary athlete, all you need is a little resourcefulness to assemble a one-of-a-kind costume that will impress all of your friends.

Pioneer Aviatrix Amelia Earhart

The daring and adventurous aviatrix Amelia Earhart had a fashion sense that combined practicality and femininity. The staple of her flying wardrobe was a brown suede flight jacket. Pair this with a white button-down shirt, a pair of khaki pants and brown boots. Loosely tie a pretty silk scarf around your neck for the feminine touch of which Earhart was so fond. Wear a brown trapper hat for the aviator helmet, and place aviator goggles on top of the hat like a headband. You can purchase a vintage pair of aviator goggles, or you can make them yourself.

Things You'll Need:

  • 1 pair of swimming goggles
  • Nail file
  • 1/4 yard brown faux leather
  • 1/2 yard brown grosgrain ribbon, 1-inch
  • Gold craft paint
  • Contact cement

Remove the rubber strap, the nose piece and the foam backing from the goggle lenses. Keep the foam backing pieces intact to use as a template for the pattern. File any remaining pieces of foam off of the back of the lenses with the nail file, and rough up the plastic on the lenses so it will accept paint better. Paint the plastic frame of the swimming goggle lenses gold. Fold the piece of faux leather in half, right-sides together. Lay one of the foam backing pieces on the wrong side of the leather. Trace around it with a marker, leaving a 3/4-inch border around the shape. Trace the inner edge of the foam piece. Cut through both layers of the faux leather along the lines you traced. Glue the swimming goggle lenses to the faux leather eye pieces using contact cement. Cut a 2-by-1/4-inch strip from the faux leather and thread it through the holes where the nose piece was on the swimming goggles. Pull the ends together until the lenses fit comfortably on your eyes and secure them with contact cement. Cut the piece of ribbon in half. Glue one end to the outside edge of each eyepiece, and tie the ribbon around the back of your head to hold the goggles in place.

President Abraham Lincoln

An Abraham Lincoln costume is not only immediately recognizable by everyone, but it's also easy to put together. Begin with a black suit you already own, or purchase an inexpensive one from a thrift store. Wear a white button-down shirt and a black bow tie. Purchase a black top hat from a costume shop or thrift store, or you can make your own. Cut the rim off a paper plate and tape it to the edge of a large cardboard oatmeal container to create the hat and brim. Cover the entire hat with black duct tape. If you want, grow out your beard for a few days, and, then, on the day you plan to wear the costume, shave off your mustache. If not, create the beard with synthetic black hair and spirit gum. Apply spirit gum to your chin and the sides of your face with a paintbrush, and lay the synthetic hair on top.

Movie Icon Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe's look was the epitome of femininity. The most important elements of Marilyn's glamorous look are hair and makeup. If you don't have blonde hair, purchase a wig from a costume shop. If you already have blonde hair, create her retro waves with hot rollers. Use large rollers rolled back away from your face on the top of your head and medium rollers rolled down on the sides and back. After you remove the rollers, brush your hair out and back-comb where necessary to add volume. For makeup, wear classic red lipstick, gently arched brows, and create a beauty mark on your left cheek with an eyeliner pencil. Wear a white halter dress and white pumps to recreate her costume from The Seven Year Itch. If you can't find a white halter dress, wear a white skirt and create a no-sew halter top from a white T-shirt.

Things You'll Need:

  • White, v-neck, short-sleeve, knit T-shirt
  • Chalk
  • Scissors

Lay the T-shirt on a flat surface with the front facing you. On the front of the T-shirt, draw armholes with the chalk. The armholes should extend from the upper shoulder seam to the bottom of the sleeve seam, and they should curve inward slightly. Cut off the sleeves along the lines you drew. Flip the T-shirt over and lay it flat. Draw a horizontal line with chalk across the back that is even with the bottom of the armholes. Find the center of this line and mark it with the chalk. Measure 2 inches from the center on either side and make a mark. Draw a vertical line from each of these marks to the collar of the shirt. You should now have a vertical rectangle drawn on the back of the shirt. Cut out this rectangle; then cut along the horizontal chalk line on each side to the armholes. You now have the straps of the halter top that you can tie around your neck. You don't have to worry about finishing any of the lines you cut because knit fabric will not fray.

Baseball Icon Babe Ruth

To dress up as the Great Bambino from his New York Yankee days in the 1920s, borrow or purchase a classic blue and white pinstripe baseball jersey and pants with a New York Yankees emblem on the left front side of the jersey and the number 3 emblazoned on the back. You'll also need the blue and white New York Yankees baseball cap. Wear striped baseball socks and dark baseball cleats, and carry a baseball bat. If you can't find a jersey with the number 3, create your own iron-on patch.

Things You'll Need:

  • Paper-backed iron-on adhesive
  • Scrap of blue fabric
  • 6-inch stencil of the number 3 in block font

Cut out a 5-by-8-inch piece of the paper-backed iron-on adhesive. Lay it flat with the paper-side up. Lay the stencil on the paper side of the adhesive so the number 3 looks backwards. Trace the backwards number 3. Lay the blue fabric down flat and place the iron-on adhesive on top so the adhesive side is touching the fabric. Iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. Cut out the number 3 along the lines you drew, cutting through the paper and the fabric at the same time. Remove the paper to expose the adhesive underneath. Lay the number 3 with the adhesive side down on the back of the jersey. It should now be facing forwards. Iron again according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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