20 Cheap and Easy Halloween Costumes for Adults


As a 30-something adult, I've dressed up for many Halloween parties and celebrations throughout the years. Would you believe that I've only bought my costume a handful of times? Heading to those crowded, overpriced costume pop-up shops gives me anxiety — and it certainly empties a fair share of wallets. (See also: 15 Halloween Costumes for People Who Hate Dressing Up)

To that end, check out these 20 classic and clever DIY costumes that are sure to impress any crowd.

1. Mime

French style is very in right now, so there's a good chance you have black pants and a striped shirt to make this simple mime costume. If you don't have suspenders you could always use some black tape or ribbon for the evening. But that white and black face makeup is essential.

2. Bandit

You can wear similar clothing if you'd rather dress as bandits. Exchange the face makeup for a basic black eye mask, the suspenders for a sack to carry the cash you steal. Okay. Maybe skip the crime in real life and fill that bag with candy instead.

3. Pop Art Girl

Find all your polka dot clothing and then follow this stunning makeup tutorial to create a pop art girl look right out of a Warhol or Lichtenstein painting or comic book page. All you do is accentuate your features with a strong black line and then use a brand new pencil eraser to apply those textbook dots.

4. Andy Warhol

Speaking of Mr. Warhol, looking like him isn't terribly difficult. Wear all black (turtleneck, if you have one), carry around a camera, and snag a cheap platinum or white wig. Campbell's soup cans are optional.

5. Bob Dylan

Curly haired men and women alike can dress like the legend Bob in his famous Don't Look Back film. You just need dark pants, a dark vest, and a button-up shirt. A pair of Ray Bans finishes the deal, but any bold sunglasses will do.

6. Brawny Man

Slap on a red and black checkered flannel shirt, a pair of jeans, leather boots, and a confident smile to channel the Brawny Man. And be sure to carry around a package of the paper towels so everyone knows it's you.

7. Regina George

If you love the movie Mean Girls as much as I do, this Regina George costume is perfect. Take an old camisole and cut two holes in it, slip into a short black skirt, and let your queen bee attitude do the rest.

8. Hippie

All I'd need to do is borrow my sister-in-law's wardrobe to dress like a hippie this Halloween. Women and men can broadcast their inner flower-children by wearing tie-dye, loose jeans, patchwork skirts, beaded jewelry, etc. Drawing a peace signs somewhere helps, too.

9. Instagram Photo

As an iPhone addict, I love this cardboard Instagram photo costume. The author took a screenshot of her latest photo and got it printed in large format onto foam core for around $12 at OfficeMax. I'd recommend shopping around and considering simple black and white (and possibly mounting yourself onto cardboard) for a cheaper alternative.

10. Twitter Bird

To keep with the social media theme, try this Twitter bird getup. You'll need an oversized blue t-shirt and some matching leggings or tights. From there, you can get creative with feathers (found at most craft stores and even dollar stores) and add your personal touch with your handle. Hey, you might gain a few new followers!

11. Mr. Clean

Talk about easy. Guys — get a white t-shirt and some white makeup to spread on your eyebrows and dress like Mr. Clean (the third photo down). If you're bald or have a shaved head, you're already halfway there!

12. Rosie the Riveter

This Rosie the Riveter costume is incredibly classic and also dirt cheap. You likely have everything you need in your closet. And if not, head to the thrift store for supplies. Bright red lipstick is a must.

13. Scarecrow

Thankfully distressed jeans and flannel shirts are in fashion this season. Heck, you might be wearing the bulk of this scarecrow costume right now. If you'd like to skip sewing patches onto your jeans, just use some masking tape to attach a couple squares of fabric for extra color.

14. Morton Salt Girl

You'll need a yellow frock, umbrella, and Mary Janes to look the part of the Morton Salt Girl. If you don't have one already, I guarantee you can find the right shade dress at a local thrift shop for under $10.

15. Don Draper

Dress for success with a smart DIY Don Draper costume. Guys likely have a suit hanging around their closets. The rest is in the details. A pocket square, thin tie, a clean haircut, and pack of Lucky Strikes goes a long way.

16. Skeleton

Download the free bone template and follow these video instructions for how to make your own skeleton t-shirt. The artist recommends using a rotary cutter for the most precise look. And if you're looking for a cheap t-shirt, check out your local dollar store.

17. Tourist

Have a little fun and hit the town as a tacky tourist for your night out. If you don't have any dorky duds or vacation t-shirts, head to your local thrift shop to find something on the cheap. A map is a nice prop along with a brimmed hat, a camera, tall socks, and — the essential — a fanny pack or large shoulder bag.

18. Identity Theft

Here's a clever one for you — identity theft. Just wear black from head to toe and slap on a bunch of those "Hello, My Name is…" stickers displaying names that aren't your own. This outfit might be the creepiest of all!

19. Mummy

Though this costume is intended for the expectant crowd, the basics for the pregnant mummy are the same whether you're with-child or not. Just cut strips of t-shirt or muslin and wrap them around your upper half. Use red craft paint for blood. If you want to really be frugal, try toilet paper!

20. Audrey Hepburn

Almost all women have a little black dress hiding somewhere in their closets. Put it on with a string of pearls (real or fake), a large pair of dark sunglasses, and a small tiara. Now you look like Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's.

What are you dressing up as for Halloween this year? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Caryl Anne

Absolutely love these ideas! I'm actually going as Carmen Sandiego this year due to a limited budget, but I truly think it may be my best costume yet! I can't wait to wear it out, especially since it's going to be a cool night and I'll be nice and warm in my coat :) Thanks for sharing!