Costumes for Cheapskates

The Man’s coworker hosted a Halloween party on Friday. Due to Carl’s call schedule we didn’t know until the night before that we’d be attending and would need costumes. My family stopped celebrating Halloween when I was seven or eight so it’s been many years since I’ve had to dress up for Halloween. My goal was quick, inexpensive homemade costumes. Also? To prove that women can wear something non-skanky for Halloween. Here’s what we came up with:

The Man: Indiana Jones

  • Jacket, pants, belt, shirt, and shoes from his closet.
  • My olive green computer bag from college as a satchel.
  • Pistol holster from deployment.
  • Whip, made in half an hour by cutting an old black t-shirt from the giveaway pile into strips, braiding them, wrapping the tip in electrical tape, cutting a piece of kindling down to size, shaving off the bark, and attaching the whip to the handle with black electrical tape before wrapping the whole handle in the same.
  • Hat from a thrift/antique store.

Me: Equestrian

  • Blazer, white collared shirt, khakis, and dress boots all from my closet.
  • Riding helmet from our neighbor’s seven-year-old who takes riding lessons.

Side note: see the rocking chair right in front of the TV behind me? We had the neighbors over for a game night and distracted the kids with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so the adults could play Bananagrams. They insisted on watching the movie two feet from the screen.

Should you be in the same “need a last-minute costume” bind, here are a few other free, homemade, in-a-hurry ideas we came up with:

  • Chef: Dark pants and shoes. White collared shirt pulled a few extra inches over and pinned rather than buttoned to imitate a chef’s fold-over jacket . If desired, you could cut buttons out of cardboard and tape them onto the shirt-front for a double-breasted jacket look. You could also tuck the collar under, or fold the top flap back in a triangle. White apron around the waist. Homemade paper chef’s hat (hat band from paper, more paper folded accordion-style and taped on). Add a neckerchief and a whisk if desired.
  • International Garb: You probably have a few international clothing items. I have printed fabric lengths that Kenyan women wrap into skirts, an embroidered shirt from Ecuador, a traditional Romanian blouse, and colorful Indian cloth among other things. Saris are easy to imitate from colorful fabric or a tablecloth.
  • Iron Man/Tony Stark: A friend suggested this one. Hang one of those cheap battery-powered round closet lights (the kind that you push on and off) on a string around the neck like a necklace. Put on an old white t-shirt over it, trace the light’s outline, and cut out a hole for it so it pokes through the shirt. Add khaki pants and a blazer and you’re Iron Man, complete with a light for your “heart” that turns on and off.
  • Pirate or Gypsy: Full skirt or baggy pants with high boots. Baggy shirt. Bandana tied around the head. Various cutlasses, beads, and baubles.
  • Athlete: Team jersey. Shorts, sweats folded under at the knee, or long pants depending on the sport. Baseball/football/soccer ball/tennis racket/whatever it is you need. Neighbor kids might have sports gear even if you left your childhood items at your parents’ home.


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