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DIY Halloween Costumes

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The mighty Orange Ninja is fierce in his makeshift T-shirt ninja mask.

© Whitney Ferrall
Whether Halloween sneaks up on you or you just prefer the homemade look, there are many costumes you can pull together on your own, even at the last minute.

The simplest costumes aren't so much homemade as home assembled.

Comb through the closets, dress up clothes and craft supplies and have fun. Approach the costume making process with a slapdash philosophy, and favor strategic styling over sharp needles, tangled thread and sticky glue.

Here are some costume ideas to get your wheels turning.

Classic Costumes

Vampire

  • Bottom:
    Black skirt or pants
  • Tops:
    Red, white and/or black - Layers are great for this look; pop the collar on one or two to add fierce flare.
  • Shoes:
    Black
  • Accessories:
    Black and/or red cape - If you don't have random dress up capes, think outside of the box. Look to scarves, rain jackets, robes and blankets that can be draped, tied, or folded to look like a cape.
  • Makeup:
    Red lipstick - A few drops of "blood" near the mouth will get the point across without fangs.
    Black or brown eyeliner - Add emphasis to the eyes, brows and widow's peak.

Ninja

  • Bottom:
    Black pants
  • Top:
    Black, long sleeved
  • Shoes:
    Black or black socks over shoes
  • Accessories:
    Black sash (scarf, robe tie, necktie)
    Black sock hat or ski mask - Cut out the fabric between the eyes for added authenticity. Bigger kids can wear a t-shirt mask.
    How to Make a T-Shirt Ninja Mask: Pull the shirt on over the face, not the head, so that back of collar is on top and eyes and nose are exposed. Tie the sleeves behind the head and adjust the fit.

Superhero

Take a good look at most superheroes, and you'll realize that the costumes are pretty basic. A leotard, leggings and cape are the main components of most superhero looks. Invent your own, or get the colors right and add a logo to reference a known character.

Robin

  • Bottoms:
    Green pants
  • Top:
    Green long sleeve shirt, red short sleeve shirt
  • Accessories:
    "R" sticker or pin
    Eye mask

Superman

  • Bottoms:
    Blue pants
  • Top:
    Blue long sleeve shirt
  • Accessories:
    Red bloomers
    Yellow belt
    Red cape
    Red socks
    "S" logo

Pirate

  • Bottom:
    Old pants or capris in black, dark blue, or white - Cut the hems in a zigzag pattern for effect.
  • Top:
    Red and white striped, black and white striped, or white shirt
  • Shoes:
    Black boots, bare feet if you're lucky enough to be trick-or-treating at the beach
  • Accessories:
    Red or black sash, scarf, or robe tie

Cowboy or Cowgirl

  • Bottom:
    Jeans or denim skirt
  • Top:
    Plaid, gingham, checked or western styled shirt
  • Shoes:
    Boots
  • Accessories:
    Bandana

Storybook Character Costumes

Queen or Princess

Add a crown to a fancy dress and she's royalty!
  • Dress:
    Formal or dress up
  • Accessories:
    Crown or tiara, costume jewelry
To evoke a particular character, look to key features of the look. For instance, to conjure the Queen of Hearts, weave red pipe cleaners into a heart shape on a crown.

Snow White

  • Dress:
    Yellow, long
  • Top:
    White collared shirt, blue shirt
  • Accessories:
    Red bow

Alice in Wonderland

  • Dress:
    Blue, tea length
  • Shoes:
    White
  • Accessories:
    White apron
    White tights
    Blue bow

Cartoon and Picture Book Character Costumes

Smurf

  • Bottom:
    White pants
  • Top:
    Light blue shirt
  • Shoes:
    White
  • Accessories:
    White stocking cap

Mario, of SuperMario Brothers fame

  • Overalls:
    Denim overalls
  • Top:
    Red shirt
  • Accessories:
    Red cap, stick on mustache (cut mustache shape out of black fabric and stick on with fashion tape)
    Letter "M" logo for overalls, white gloves, yellow circles for overall button covers
  • Makeup:
    Brown or black eyeliner if you would rather draw on the mustache

Fancy Nancy

  • Bottom:
    Tights or leggings in girly hues and glittery fabrics, especially pink!
  • Top:
    Leotard
  • Accessories:
    Boa
    Hair bows
    Butterflies
    Flowers
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