A Poor Girl's Guide to DIY Costumes

Want to dress up for Halloween?  Why splurge on that Grecian goddess costume that you’ll never wear again because your costume has to be different each year? And why buy a super cheap costume that’ll inevitably tear or break by the end of the night? Ladies: we need to get with the DIY times and start making our own costumes. 

Now, I may be a huge fan of Project Runway, but I don’t know anything about sewing, so these DIY costumes will be stapled, taped, and hot glued to my heart’s content. But even though I can’t sew, I am determined to--as Tim Gunn says-- "MAKE IT WORK.” Mainly because Office Depot and Pinterest always have my back.

  1. 1. Old Cat Lady

    I am a huge cat-lover, so don’t turn this on me, but I will admit, we have a stigma. An ugly one at that. Which I understand because of the four towels I brought to college, one is just cat faces. But, anyway, as for the costume, I have taken some foundation and brown eyeshadow and destroyed my model Abbey’s youth. I also took some cheap, foam Walmart hair curlers and pinned her beautiful hair in a not-so-attractive style. But, to top it off, I took a pink robe--that I just happen to have--and taped some cat faces on it that I printed. My model Abbey was horrified at her transformed face, but she calmed down after she applied the Fountain of Youth, aka, Neutrogena’s Makeup Remover Wipes. To complete the look took about an hour, the longest section being the hair, but I thought it was worth it. Abbey truly looked purrfect.

  2. 2. Black Swan

    We’ve all seen the famous Black Swan movie trailers… in, like, 2010, but it’s recognizable nonetheless. My idea was to take my mom’s lovely homecoming dress from the 80’s and repurpose it into a Halloween costume. She mailed it to me from back home because I said it was going to be worn--little did she know it was worn as a costume. Sorry, Mom! The makeup for the Black Swan took about half an hour and a heck of a lot of black eyeshadow. My model Alexis’s skin tone is a bit more tan than my own complexion, so when the white Halloween pigment (that cost 98 cents) was a bust, my personal foundation saved the day. For once, my pale skin did more for me than just burn in the sun. While my ballerina didn’t have the best makeup artist--she had me--it was still obvious what she was. The black tutu dress and the crown may have helped, but the makeup took it from “ballerina” to “Black Swan.” She was a sight for soar eyes.


  3. 3. "It's Raining Men!"

    The Weather Girls were a wild group of women who really liked the opposite sex. So much so that they wished Mother Nature and the angels would drop some gorgeous men like raindrops to them. I don’t know what kind of phenomena have to occur for hunks to fall from the sky but I doubt it’ll happen. The next best thing, however, is to create one for yourself with the only men who are worth your time: celebrities. Sure, some of the celebs on my crush list are married; sure, some are gay, but for this costume, it doesn’t matter. Because while I know my love, Danny DeVito, isn’t going to drop from the sky into my waiting arms, I can at least pretend. My model Jacey wore her beloved raincoat and cactus rain boots, and I printed some male celebrities’ faces and stuck a string through their foreheads to attach to the umbrella with tape. That’s all it took to make dreams come true.

  4. 4. Queen of Hearts

    When I think of the 2010 movie Alice in Wonderland--starring the beloved Johnny Depp--, I think of that giant-headed queen with the pig as a footrest. But that giant-headed queen was none other than the infamous Queen of Hearts. Even though she was pure evil and cut off people’s heads, I have to admit she was a pretty interesting character. So, I took one of the coolest girls I know and turned her into the abominable Queen of Hearts. As soon as that crown was on, my model Lauryn immediately turned on the sass. It was like flipping a switch because she became the feistiest little thing ever to exist. The makeup for the queen was super easy because all I needed was red and black eyeshadow, black eyeliner, and red lipstick. I had to work a lot less with Lauryn’s makeup because while she told me she absolutely hates the feeling of makeup on her face and doesn’t own any foundation--like, at all--she knows how to apply liquid eyeliner really well! The only “hard” part of this costume was the collar, but even that wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever done. I took two decks of cards and hot glued those babies in the shape of an almost closed circle. Now, since I measured my neck for the collar and Lauryn is tiny, it was a little loose on her, but it still stayed put and looked fabulous. Lauryn’s costume transformed her to the point where I actually thought she was going to scream, “Off with her head!” and send me away if I took a bad picture.

  5. 5. Cactus

    My mom is from Arizona, so I’m painfully aware of what cacti look and feel like. I respect them… just from afar. I like cacti. I think they’re beautiful when they bloom, which is close to never, but I decided the costume I would make would be at the peak of a cactus’s appearance. I used some acrylic pens and a green turtleneck to draw on basically a ton of circles with lines coming off of them to look like spines and I hot glued a foam flower onto a headband. That’s it. My model Ashley was appalled to see the green top was a turtleneck, but, hey, I got the top from a thrift store, so it’s all good on my end. Ashley was an awesome and animated sport, so it was too bad I made her into an evil cactus. But, she looked adorable and I think green is definitely her color. The only difficult part of the costume is making sure none of the thorns are… awkwardly placed.

  6. 6. Chicken

    I’m from a miniature farm in South Carolina, so as you’d expect, we had chickens. Let me just say that they are nasty creatures and they’re mean too. So, I picked the nicest person I know to be a rascally chicken. My model--who was also my amazing Line Camp leader--Amanda really got to enjoy the tutu and utility gloves taped to her shoes. She was an amazing model, aside from her running away from me when I gave her her costume to put on. She even laughed with me when I taped the gloves to her shoes and couldn’t catch my breath. Amanda is camera-shy, so I want to thank her for being a great person and doing it anyway. But, as for the costume, I had a great laugh creating it and watching it come to life. It was a very simple process of white clothes, yellow utility gloves taped to whatever shoes you want, hot gluing a red cardboard piece to a headband and watching the chicken persona come to life. I don’t think Amanda enjoyed the transformation as much as I did if the crazed laughter was anything to go by, but she wore it anyway because she didn’t have enough support to stage a coup.

  7. 7. Scarecrow

    The scarecrow took approximately twenty minutes to complete, definitely one of the easiest ones that I did. I was expecting it to take an hour, but I was pleasantly surprised--as you can tell by my VERY arched eyebrows. All the scarecrow needed was some simple makeup with a stitched-looking smile and drawn-on eyebrows. I know there’s a pretty effective way to cover eyebrows with a glue stick, but all I have is a hot glue gun and I was NOT about to use that on my brows. So, instead, I just layered foundation, concealer, powder until they were semi-covered. The only clothing I had to buy for this costume was a blue, denim-looking button down and I was done! I did have hay that I could have used to make it even more realistic, but I have allergies and no vacuum in my dorm room, so that was a no-go. I just took the flower headband from my beloved cactus and stuck it in my front shirt pocket. I don’t think it was scary, but then again, I didn’t leave my room with it on, considering it’s early October and my dorm hall would think I didn’t have a brain--just like the poor scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

  8. 8. Stuffed Animal

    I had as the first costume an old cat lady, but while I love cats, I love dogs too. To even it out a bit, I stole my sister’s dog Magnolia aka Maggie and made her a costume. Maggie is almost two years old and she is a beautiful and sweet little rescue. She’s moving too fast to get pictures usually, but she’s also a foodie, so if you have a treat in your hand, she’ll pause long enough for a picture. All it took to make Maggie a stuffed animal was a red piece of cardboard in the shape of a heart, a white acrylic pen, and string. Maggie is so amazing she didn’t even chew on it, and when I held the treat up, I don’t think she realized it was there, but oh, girl, her foster sister Chanel noticed! After promising her a treat too, she settled down.

Happy Spooky Season, folks!! Have a fun and safe time while also balling on a budget!