The king of rock and roll is forever cool, which is why Elvis Presley costumes are probably as popular now as they've ever been despite the fact that he's been dead since 1977 (unless you believe the tabloids). There's a lot of obvious appeal to dressing as Elvis. Not only do you get to play rock star for a night but putting together an Elvis costume is a surprisingly easy last-minute project. He had a lot of memorable fashion moments during his decades-long career from which you can draw inspiration.
Iconic Elvis: The White Rhinestone Jumpsuit
Elvis wore a lot of bejeweled jumpsuits on stage in Las Vegas during the 1970s, but the one he first wore in a 1972 performance at Madison Square Garden is one of the most famous. The white bell-bottom jumpsuit was covered with rhinestones with an attached cape and an ornate bejeweled belt.
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Because a white bell-bottom jumpsuit isn't something you're likely to find in stores, mimic the look with a pair of white pants and a white button-down shirt. Cut slits up the outside of the pants at the ankle so they flare out. Use a sewing machine, hand sewing or even safety pins to secure a piece of white or metallic fabric in the opening you create at each ankle.
Next, grab a hot glue gun and some rhinestones, sequins and/or studs and go to town embellishing the front, sleeves, collar and back of the button-down shirt. Make an embellished belt using a wide piece of white ribbon and rhinestones. Wear the shirt unbuttoned as low as you're comfortable; the King never shied away from showing off some chest hair.
That's One Expensive Halloween Costume!
How much would you spend for a piece of Elvis history? The original Elvis jumpsuit from the MSG performance sold at auction for more than $1 million in 2021!
Bad Boy Elvis: Mostly Black
Prefer early Elvis to jumpsuit Elvis? Take your costume inspiration from his "Jailhouse Rock" era in the late '50s by wearing black pants, a black-and-white striped shirt and a black leather jacket. (If you don't already own a striped shirt, DIY one using strips of black duct tape across a white T-shirt.) You could also copy the head-to-toe leather look that Elvis wore in his 1968 comeback special.
Vacation Elvis: Blue Hawaii
Audiences saw the softer side of Elvis in his 1961 movie Blue Hawaii. Costumewise, he's most associated with the outfit he wore in promotional materials for the movie. Copy his famed Blue Hawaii costume by dressing in a red Hawaiian-style shirt, white pants and a yellow lei around your neck. (Fun fact: Elvis's character never appears in the movie wearing this outfit!)
Finishing Touches: The Hair
Whether you dress as jumpsuit Elvis, "Jailhouse Rock" Elvis or Blue Hawaii Elvis, you know that your costume isn't complete without his signature hair. Wearing an Elvis wig may be easier than trying to make your own hair look like one of his signature styles.
But if you have hair that's between a few inches long and chin-length, you can probably wrestle it into a good approximation of an Elvis pompadour. Start with temporary black hair dye if necessary. Use enough gel to make your hair stiff and shiny and use a wide-tooth comb to shape it up and back over your forehead. Apply hair spray to hold it in place.
Finally, glue on some fake sideburns. The older the Elvis you're dressing as, the bigger they should be. Small sideburns are appropriate for "Jailhouse Rock"-era Elvis. By the '70s, his sideburns were approaching mutton chop territory.