Halloween Costume Ideas Using the Clothes in Your Own Closet

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Combine your wardrobe, imagination and a few well-chosen accessories to make a creative Halloween costume.
Combine your wardrobe, imagination and a few well-chosen accessories to make a creative Halloween costume. (Image: Julie Birch/iStock/Getty Images)

Halloween is the one time of year that you can dress in any manner you choose and still keep your job and most relationships intact. While Americans spend billions of dollars preparing for the big event, you have other options. One of the most frightening aspects of Halloween is the way your money, like a ghost, can vanish.

With some creativity, a little makeup and a few clothes from your closet, you can craft an ingenious one-of-a-kind Halloween costume, making it magically appear, then disappear back into your wardrobe when the festivities end.

Be Creative: Save Time and Money

When you are busy and need a quick costume that allows you to instantly join the festivities, unpack your Hawaiian surfer shirts and muu-muus, brush on too much blush, and add straw lifeguard hats and faux flower leis. Grab cheap sunglasses, smear zinc oxide on the nose and find your old cameras.

If time permits, adhere destination decals on on old suitcase. Open it up and lay a couple of old maps and some fake money on the edge. Close the suitcase and show up as tourists. Don't forget your sandals and socks.

The Art of Dressing Up

Pay homage to your most-revered artistic icon by becoming your favorite piece of art. Think American Gothic, Munch's The Scream or modern art like Warhol's Marilyn Monroe, Lichtenstein's graphic cartoon people or Rosie the Riveter.

Raid your wardrobe and linen closet and grab a handful of pins to dress and drape yourself in clothes and sheets that resemble a painting. Measure your head and shoulders to find the picture plane and make a gilded cardboard frame from the dimensions. Cut out three identical frames from large pieces of cardboard or foam-core boards, and stack and glue them together with craft glue. If you wish, cut out and attach details like leaves and cherubs or other objects to make an embellished frame. Spray-paint the frame with cheap paint in gold, black or a color you choose.

If you are Rosie the riveter, glue a cardboard word bubble to the frame with the phrase, "yes we can."

Chews an Easy Costume

Become an old-school gumball machine by covering the front of a T-shirt with hundreds of colorful pompoms from a craft or fabric store using a hot glue gun. Make the base by adding a faux metal panel to the front of a fitted skirt with a fake handle and price sticker made of felt and glued or basted on with a running stitch.

G(entlemen) O(nly); L(adies) F(orbidden)

Dig far enough back in your closet and you may find a '50s to '90s leather motorcycle/bomber jacket. Here's a Halloween equation: Leather jacket equals instant attitude. Become an aviator spec-bedecked pilot like Maverick inTop Gun or a hunky greaser like the Fonz or Danny in Grease. Or, throw caution to the wind and dress as James Dean or a rock star; you may need a wild wig or at least a large can of hair spray to pull it off.

Group guy costumes can be fun too. Assign each of your buds a character from a favorite movie, comic book or story. Long trench coats, old military and sports uniforms, sheets and boots can be aged by spraying the item with cheap brown spray paint; just be sure the clothing is not valuable since the paint won't come off.

For Her Eyes Only

Ladies have a distinct advantage at Halloween. You paint your face every day and have all kinds of cool things tucked away in the closet; your little black dress is a Halloween wild card. Slip into it, and you have instant Breakfast at Tiffany's, Wednesday Addams, a cute black cat, a spy or a super model. Add a garland of autumn leaves and a rolling pin, and you are Mother Earth.

Old denim overalls,a yellow shirt and a pair of canning-jar ring glasses transform you into a despicable Minion. To become a country scarecrow, stitch a few strands of curly raffia inside the cuffs of a plaid shirt. Braid your hair, tie on a bandana. and safety pin a stuffed toy crow to one of the shoulder straps.

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