Halloween is three weeks away, and that means you still have plenty of time to put together a costume. You want to start as soon as possible though, because trust me, you don’t want to have to visit one of those pop-up costume shops the week of Halloween. Picking through aisles of costumes no one wanted just ends up being depressing and stressful. To be clear, if you want to go ready-made that’s totally fine, but purchase your costume now. Don’t wait!
With that lecture out of the way, I thought I’d share some costuming tips to inspire those of you who want to assemble your Nerdoween attire rather than take it out of a plastic bag. You don’t need to be an expert cosplayer to put together something different and/or awesome for a costume party, you just need to keep an open mind and be patient. Ready? Let’s begin.
Buy a mask and call it a day.
Want to take a somewhat lazy but still fun approach to a costume? Head to your local Halloween or costume shop and purchase a mask or helmet. If you know a member of the 501st Legion, ask to borrow a Stormtrooper, Darth Vader, or Boba Fett bucket. Pair your mask with an outfit that doesn’t quite match. Don a ballgown and sparkly shoes with the Boba Fett helmet, wear a suit with a Batman mask, be like Jack Skellington and wear a pumpkin mask with a Santa suit, or put on any scary mask and wear it with a leotard and tutu.
The thrift store and eBay are your friends.
Say you want to dress like Star-Lord for Halloween. He more or less wears clothes you can find in a closet, and that means you can track down the items at a thrift shop or online without buying a pre-packaged ensemble. It won’t necessarily be screen accurate, but it will be recognizable. I’ve seen plenty of dark red jackets that would work for Star-Lord’s costume on eBay and even in stores like Forever 21. Add black pants, black boots, a light blue t-shirt, and you’re done. You can add a messenger bag, mask, and gun if you want, but it’s not necessary.
Other characters who wear everyday clothes include most of the Doctors from Doctor Who and their companions, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and the Winchesters. Make a list of the basic pieces of clothing you need, buy a cup of coffee, and head to the thrift store(s) of your choosing. Vintage shops are worth checking out, too. Many of them arrange stock specifically for the holiday, and you might find something else you’d like to wear. If you happen to live near Burbank, California, visit all the shops and boutiques on Magnolia Blvd. They’re packed with costume fodder.
Focus on the makeup.
Following the same idea of wearing a mask with a random outfit, you can let makeup be king. There are dozens of tutorials on YouTube explaining how to transform yourself into a Dia de los Muertos calavera, Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, a Titan from Attack on Titan, and so many more. You have weeks to pick a couple of options, get supplies, and practice. If you put the time in, you’ll be able to apply the makeup and/or body paint by Halloween.
Put a zombie on it.
Remember the saying, “Put a bird on it?” At Halloween, it’s put a zombie on it. Go through your closet and find an outfit you don’t want anymore or visit the thrift store and find something to wear that costs less than $10. Weather and age the heck out of the outfit by rubbing it into asphalt, pulling it across tree bark, adding dirt with real dirt or paint, and cutting a few well placed slashes or rips. Then apply zombie makeup (back to YouTube!) and fake blood. Done and done.
Plastic toys make great props.
Prop replicas aren’t super affordable, and they’re not always made for use – only display. However, with a little elbow grease, you can turn a brightly colored and cheap looking toy into something more authentic looking to complement your costume. Let’s jump back to the Star-Lord example since Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise is all over the place. You can purchase Star-Lord’s gun for about $20 from Toys “R” Us or your preferred big box retailer. As is, it’s orange and kind of tacky looking. But, you can paint it to match the one on screen with acrylic paints. It means you have to visit the craft store and invest time, but it’s cheaper and lighter than other options. You could apply the same modification process to Star-Lord’s helmet or Han Solo’s blaster. Why yes, I do have a tutorial for you.
What are you going to be for Halloween this year? Share your Halloween costume tips in the comments!