No one likes spending a bunch of money for one single night, right? (But if you think it’s worth it, then you do you!) A PSA though: What you wear on Halloween does not have to cost you a ton. And especially since there won’t be huge parties or trick-or-treating this year because of the COVID pandemic, a low-key, inexpensive costume you can wear at home might be all you need. If you’re still trying to figure out your costume before Halloween rolls around this month, there are so many clever, funny, and just flat-out genius ideas out there that don’t require a ton of work or cash. You can DIY them, shop smart for some good deals, or just get creative with clothes you already have in your closet.
As long as you have some Halloween makeup, basic craft supplies, and some extra time (OK, in some cases, maybe a lot of time), you got this! If you want to make an effort, but also save some serious $$$, these ideas are proof that an amazing ensemble for the night is super easy to make yourself or even with your group of friends. Here, 63 cheap costume ideas to get you into the (crafty) Halloween spirit.
This is more about the sparkly, OTT makeup, but a show-stopping outfit helps pull the whole thing together. You’ll look like you came straight out of the popular HBO show.
The Olsen Twins
Got some denim overalls and a baseball cap? Great. You and your sister (or friend) can go as Mary-Kate and Ashley from their younger days. So cute!
Dust blue makeup on your face and wear a blue jacket to be this Willa Wonka and the Chocolate Factory character. Oh, and don’t forget the chewing gum!
Draw on some freckles with eyeliner, wear a yellow rain jacket, and nab a blue wig (or use temporary dye) to transform into Coraline.
Throw on some red-and-white polka dots, mouse ears, and yellow shoes to be this iconic Disney character for Halloween. So easy!
This is mostly about the makeup, but a ’70s-inspired sparkly (and ab-baring) dress gets the point across too. Cher’s signature back in the day was long sleek hair with a middle part and exaggerated colorful eye makeup, like Halsey’s stunning look here.
You don’t need to actually get married to dress up like you’re going to your own wedding! Any white dress will do, and you can either buy an inexpensive veil or hot glue tulle fabric to a headband to make your own. A small bouquet of flowers and something sparkly on your ring finger helps nail it.
Ash Ketchum from Pokémon
If you’re the crafty type, you can make your own version of Ash’s signature outfit in no time. Grab a pair of jean shorts, a red trucker hat, a green backpack, and, of course, a stuffed Pokémon. If you’ve got a pair of green socks, cut the toes to turn them into gloves, and paint the front panels of a plain white short-sleeve button-down to make the shirt.
This costume might only consist of a pair of boxer briefs and a cape, but anyone who was a fan of Captain Underpants would get it right away. Don’t have a red cape? Use a red blanket or towel instead.
A DNA Test
Turn a regular poster board into a life-size DNA test with a few markers (or glitter if you’re fancy). Bonus points if you also make a giant swab to go with it.
If you don’t have a tea-length dress, anything tweed will work just fine for an Anna Wintour costume. Big sunglasses and a statement necklace are perfect accessories, but a blunt bob wig will really complete the look.
Leopard print shirt, cheetah print jacket, tiger-stripe dress—grab ’em all and make yourself a super-easy Joe Exotic or Carole Baskin costume (or both). Just don’t forget the sequins and flower crown.
For an Elle Woods-inspired costume, you’ve got lots of iconic outfits to choose from: an all-pink ensemble, a sequin swimsuit, or the pink bunny costume. Choose one, or if you’ve got more than one Halloween party, wear them all.
Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
OK, stay with me here. While this ‘fit looks expensive, you can replicate it pretty easily by wearing statement jewelry, hot glueing rhinestones onto a pink bodysuit, and wearing sheer tights and pink gloves. Of course, perfectly coifed and curled hair is a bonus. Basically, Marilyn’s performance of this tune in the 1953 movie is STILL iconic.
Despite what you might think, making a pair of wings is pretty easy. Cut the shape you want out of a cardboard box, then cover it in feathers, and use a ribbon to tie them on. Once that’s done, all you need is an all-red outfit, red heart-shaped stickers, and a bow and arrow with a heart glued to the tip.
Bride of Frankenstein
If you already have long dark hair, use temporary hair dye to paint a small silver streak or throw in a white hair extension. Change into a long white dress, and boom. Bride of Frankenstein.
The most important part of a Maleficent costumes is the horns (okay, maybe the cheekbones, too). As long as you’ve got those right, you can throw together whatever black dress and accessories you have. The easiest way to make the horns? Use wire to create the shape, wrap them in foam for thickness, then secure them together with shiny black tape. Then, all you gotta do is glue them to a headband.
With so many different versions of Barbie, you could go as the famous doll every year and never repeat an outfit. If you like a classic pink Barbie, throw on a pink leotard, shiny nude tights, clear heels, pink sunnies, and a rhinestone belt. Pink Lamborghini optional.
Dionne from Clueless
As long as you’ve got a black-and-white plaid skirt, a red cardigan, and a tall hat, you can pull together a Dionne costume, no problem. To transform your hat, grab some red flowers and thick black tape to add the bow and the exaggerated rim.
You know those old dance costumes you have stuck in your closet? Put one of those on and call yourself a fairy. Add wings and prosthetic pointy ears to complete the look.
If you have crazy-good makeup skills (and a lot of black eyeliner), that’s really all you need for a killer costume like this skeleton one.
Not your typical vampire costume, this version is far from cliché. If your Halloween party is at night (aka morning for vampires since they’re allergic to sunlight), throw on some fangs and your pajamas.
The Wizard of Oz
As long as you can round up a faux-fur coat, a silver outfit, a denim look, and some red slippers, you can put together a pretty convincing Oz-themed group costume.
Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Pair your fave sleeveless LBD with black heels, and wrap a long strand of pearls together with a broach. Top the outfit with little purchases from a costume store: hat or tiara, cigarette holder, and long black gloves.
Ariel from The Little Mermaid
For the ultimate mermaid look, pair a green sequined skirt with a bandeau swimsuit top and a long red wig. If you want to go the whole nine yards, you can also get a purple bra and glue seashells on it for the full Ariel effect.
Become a scarecrow by adding fake stitches to your face, braiding your hair, and wearing flannel and a straw hat. Now you look like you came straight out of a cornfield.
Ashley Spinelli from Recess
Channel this spunky TV character with her signature yellow beanie, pigtails, and leather jacket. You mostly likely already have these things, so consider your costume problem solved.
Why go as one person when you can go as a whole decade? Taraji P. Henson looked like a ’70s babe in flared jeans, oversize glasses, and a studded denim jacket.
Get a super-short (and super-pink) mini, some over-the-knee boots, and hike that ponytail real high to transform into the “thank u, next” singer.
Just wear a white crop top and skirt, wrap some gauze over them, put on some dark makeup, and your costume is DONE.
A dramatic smoky eye, red lips, and a long-sleeve black dress with a slit makes you Morticia for the night. And if your S.O. wants in, all they need is a pinstripe suit and a pencil mustache made with eyeliner.
Reggie from Rocket Power
What do you get when you combine a plain pink tee, glow-in-the-dark paint, cargos, and a wig? Reggie, of course!
Another use for cargo pants? Dressing up like your fave cartoon spy. Pair them with a black crop top, gloves, black combat boots, and a red wig (if you don’t already have red hair), and you can stop any crime.
Turn this party game into a costume with four easy steps. 1) Acquire black shirt. 2) Buy red Solo cups. 3) Hot-glue said cups on cardboard and then onto the shirt. 4) Use white fabric marker to write on it. Optional: Lie on the ground and become a human beer pong table.
The Seven Dwarves
Iron letters onto a short-sleeve tee, wear denim shorts, knee socks, boots, and beanies, and you’ll be the cutest dwarf on Halloween.
Flo from Progressive
One of the most iconic advertisement characters of our time. Get an apron, make some pins, rock a cat-eye and red lips, and you’re basically the embodiment of Flo.
Betty and Jughead
High pony? Check. A pink sweater over a pink button-down? Check. An A-line mini skirt? Check. Congrats, you’re now Betty Cooper! ’s costume might be even easier, because all you need is a denim jacket, plaid shirt around the waist, and an angsty attitude.
Break out your best black band tee, matching pants, and silver chain. Then buy a black wig to complete the rock ‘n’ roll lewk.
Pile on ALL the glitter (in your hair, on your face, on your body), wear your energy crystals, and plop a unicorn horn on your head to be the most magical creature on Halloween.
Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm
All you need for this are plain simple orange and bright green T-shirts with hems you cut in a zig-zag pattern. Then, using black felt fabric, cut out triangles in various sizes and attach them with a glue gun. If you’re Pebbles, add a white bow and matching leggings, and if you’re Bamm-Bamm, cut one shoulder off the shirt and wear a black T-shirt and leggings underneath.
Buy cheap oversized T-shirts in green, pink, and blue, and wrap—or glue—black fabric around the middle to channel sugar, spice, and everything nice. Wear black leggings underneath with plain black shoes, and the look is so spot-on.
The ’80s classic starring Winona Ryder serves up so much fashion inspiration in the form of plaid blazers and jackets. You can easily recreate the high school clique movie with items you already own or cheap thrift store finds. Complete your jacket and skirt combo with knee-high socks and heels, and you too can be a Heather for the night.
If you’re a fan of the game—or just want an easy costume to make—wear all black and cut out white dots and lines to create domino pieces.
All you need for this costume is a white button-down, a solid-color pencil skirt, heels, and a patterned bandana—you’re ready for takeoff.
Oversize T-shirts strike again, but this time you can make them into your fave mini chocolate candy by drawing a giant “M” on them. Style your hair in fun space buns using matching ribbons, put on white Converses, and you’ll be the cutest M&M anyone has ever seen.
Buy cheap white and blue felt, draw pixilated eyes, and cut them out. Hot-glue them to a bright shirt, sport some black leggings, and you’ll be SO prepared to take on Pac-Man himself.
Toy Story Aliens
Supplies needed for this spacy costume include a long-sleeve purple leotard, matching tutu, neon green ankle socks, a coordinating wig, puffy paint, and a headband. Combine them all together and you have one heck of a group costume.
La La Land
Don a bright yellow midi dress and tap shoes and you’ll be the Emma Stone to someone’s Ryan Gosling on Halloween night. “City of Stars” will be stuck in everyone’s head in the best possible way.
Before the Unicorn Frappucino was even a thing, these two dressed up as the Starbucks Strawberry Cream Frappe. Follow their lead, then add an extra ~*unicorny*~ twist by tie-dying a white dress pink and blue, wearing a fluffy white scarf, and attaching a printed-off Starbucks logo to your stomach. Add extra authenticity by painting an empty paper towel roll green and attaching it to a headband with even more white fluff.
Head to your local fabric store to stock up on tulle and sewing supplies. Bunch up the fabric and sew it together tightly to create the ultimate bath pouf. Wear a tube dress or a tank and shorts underneath. And after your pre-party shower, don’t forget to take your shampoo (and rubber ducky) with you!
Rosie the Riveter
Even Queen Bey has donned this classic (and cheap!) number. All you need to dress up as the feminist icon is a red bandanna, a chambray shirt, and 1940s-inspired makeup. Oh, and a toned bicep when you pose for your Instagram.
Purchase or make a white tutu and wear a pink tank. Trade in Carrie’s Manolo Blahniks for any shoe in your closet—and be sure to order a Cosmo at the bar.
Lauren Conrad and crew make this costume look expensive (note the bubbly), but you can make it for no money at all! Wear a dress—long or short, doesn’t matter—with a set of animal ears like Conrad, or dress up as an animal and wear a party hat on top. It goes both ways!
This costume requires a quick trip to your local fabric store to purchase stuffing, pink or blue spray paint, and a hot-glue gun. Grab construction paper and a headband, then follow this free tutorial.
Tom Cruise in Risky Business
You most likely already own these comfy clothes: boxer shorts, a button-down, and high white socks. This costume is ~literally~ priceless—because it doesn’t cost a thing.
Grab a pink skirt, white shirt, and give yourself 10 minutes to cut the word “chill” out of paper and tape it to your clothes. Talk about chill…and cheap!
Sandy From Grease
Prove those Halloween stores wrong and be sexy AF without dropping a cent on a costume. With a tight black top, tight black pants, and slinky heels, you can easily become Sandy from Grease.
Regina George From Mean Girls
White tank with boob holes + purple tank layered beneath with a black skirt = a timeless costume.
Either paint red stripes onto an old tee or buy an inexpensive red-and-white shirt from a nearby store. For a little more money, you can purchase fake glasses and binoculars from a costume store, but why not paint them on?
Nudist on Strike
If you’re not in the dress-up spirit, no worries. Just put on your favorite outfit, grab a piece of paper or cardboard from the recycling, and write the words, “Nudist on strike.”
Pair your finest white ensemble with inexpensive fairy wings and a wand you get at a costume store. Then, glue a cutout of a tooth to the top of the wand.
Pink Shirt Girl Emoji
Need I say more? A pink shirt, short hair, and the right facial expressions will turn you into all these emojis.
Associate Fashion Editor
I’m Cosmopolitan’s Associate Fashion Editor and write about any and all trends, major celeb fashion moments, and why wide-leg jeans are basically the best.
Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
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