Liz Steelman, Andra Chantim, and Julia Edelstein
1 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
Throw Back Thursday Costume
Can’t tear yourself away from Instagram? Give #TBT a life beyond the screen (in the most literal fashion) by using adhesive letters—masking tape or cardboard cut outs will work, too—to spell “Thursday” on the backside of a T-shirt. Then, wrap a bandage around yourself. Top it off with moans about your aching back.
Even if your RSVP to the Halloween bash doesn’t include a forbidden love interest, a nod to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet will please any lit-loving friends. Simply wear a rose-hued shirt, give yourself a nametag that displays any name but “Rose” (we’re partial to “Violet” or even “Lily”), and tote a few roses along for the night. Don’t want to carry a bouquet around at the party (we don’t blame you)? Iron on a rose patch or two, instead. It is a little more permanent (your shirt will forever have a rose on it), but it does make for a more flexible costume.
3 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
Catcher in the Rye Costume
No matter how hard you may try, you can’t have a do-over for your teenager years (for better or for worse). You can, however, spend the entirety of Halloween night reliving those glory days—if only just for a few hours. All you need is a catcher’s mitt, a little blue (try a blue T-shirt and jeans), and a couple of pieces of rye bread. A nametag with “Holden” written on it ensures that even those who might not have done their required reading in high school know exactly what you are, too. An air of existential angst is also optional.
4 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
Beat Around the Bushes Costume
So you’re headed to a party where you don’t really know anyone? Or maybe you just really don’t want to have to answer the question “what are you dressed as?” over and over again? Slip on a green T-shirt and use safety pins or hot glue to fasten artificial leaves and foliage around the collar (or all over if you’re feeling bold). Then add a pair of headphones and, much to the dismay of your fellow partygoers, ask indirect, vague questions all night long. Consider it the most perfect excuse for keeping awkward conversations to a minimum (you’re welcome).
5 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
Forget about what your salary actually is, because on Halloween it doesn’t really matter. You’re the breadwinner tonight, no matter what your situation actually may be. Wear a T-shirt in a bold primary color (yellow, blue, or red) and hang a gold medal around your neck (you could also pin a first place ribbon to the breast of your shirt). Then proudly carry around a loaf of bread (any variety will do). Just don’t go buying rounds of drinks for all of your friends—unfortunately, you’ll still have to face your real bank account once the party is over.
6 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
Chip on Your Shoulder Costume
If you’re miffed about having to dress up again this year, here’s your chance to air any and all grievances… and pull together a last-minute costume at the same time. And, bonus: There’s little-to-no effort involved in this one. Simply put on a yellow T-shirt and tape a snack-sized bag of potato chips onto the shoulder. For a seamless costume, we recommend matching the color of your T-shirt to the color of the potato chip bag. One thing you will definitely be happy about? With this costume on, you’ll have a snack ready to go whenever the hunger pangs strike.
7 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
It’s generally not proper party etiquette to monopolize the small talk by telling stories about oneself all night long. (We know you’re excited about your kid’s latest report card, but do you think everyone else at the event is too? It’s debatable at best.) But if it’s Halloween and you have kitchen sponges (do everyone, including yourself, a favor and use brand new sponges) glued all over your T-shirt, you might (might) just get a pass. Starting all sentences with “I” is a required part of the getup… just don’t blame us when people start to back away slowly.
8 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
For the person who absolutely can’t stand to dress up, but has a costume party they have to attend (read: work party and no more personal days left for the year). This costume is so easy that you can wear whatever you want, but still consider yourself dressed up and ready to go to the monster mash. Simply spell out “letter” with adhesive alphabet stickers (iron on letters or cardboard cut-outs attached with hot glue work, too) and place them on a plain baseball cap. Bonus points for anyone who scribbles a faux letter onto a white T-shirt and wears that too.
9 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
If your go-to costume (year after year… after year) is a ghost or a witch, stray out of your comfort zone just a little bit and try this quick—and equally as effortless—cat costume this time around. Spell out “copy” with adhesive alphabet stickers (in a pinch, you could also cut out cardboard letters and use hot glue to attach them) and place them on a white T-shirt (or, opt for a black T-shirt with white letters). Don’t forget to finish the look with your old standby ears and tail. See? We told you it’d be easy.
Satisfy your wanderlust (if only for one night) with a costume that comes together quicker than you could travel, well, just about anywhere. Simply purchase an accordion map—or, better yet, use one you already have on hand (because you have your smartphone for that now)—and then lay a blue T-shirt on top of the map. Trace around the perimeter of your shirt, fold in half, and cut. Safety pin one half to one side of your body. If you’ll be dancing the night away or running from house to house, use hot glue for a more secure costume.
11 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
Breathe new life into an old standard with this supremely simple upgrade. All you really need is an old white sheet you can spare (or, grab a new one from the clearance section at your local store). You’ll still need to cut eyes and a mouth out of the white sheet, but two props—a pen and a writer’s notebook—ensure the costume is different from the other friendly ghosts trick-or-treating with their kids. And because the costume wouldn’t be complete without a solid pun, don’t forget to tell everyone about all of the buzz your forthcoming boo-ography is getting.
12 of 22Philip Friedman; Soft styling: Mai Tran
Pretend to be an ordinary thief by gluing a multitude of colorful guitar picks to the front and back pockets of an old pair of jeans (the grungier the better!). A black and white striped shirt, a mask, and a tote bag disguised as a money bag is optional, but would, of course, complete the look. Your Halloween party hosts need not worry about whether or not they should have invited you over though—this costume only sounds mischievous. In fact, the only thing we can condone stealing may be an extra cupcake (or two) from the dessert buffet.
13 of 22James Wojcik
Ceiling Fan Costume
Ready? Ok! H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N! Go Halloween! Use adhesive letters (masking tape or a print out that’s stapled or glued on will work in a pinch) to spell out “Go Ceiling!” across a plain T-shirt of any color. Try the school colors if you’re child is headed to the annual costume parade. Carry pom-poms or even clean mopheads. Don a high ponytail and a short pleated skirt to complete the look. A peppy, cant-bring-me-down attitude is optional, but highly encouraged. The only thing that could possibly make this last-minute costume even better? A few friends that can help you form your very own (and very official) squad.
14 of 22james wojcik
Fork in the Road Costume
So you don’t want to dress up this year? And you’ve made every excuse in the book as to why you can’t: you don’t have time to buy a costume, costumes are so expensive these days…we’ve heard all the excuses. But everyone (yes, even you) has a black shirt tucked away in his or her closet. So you have no reason not to dress up this year. Turn your black shirt into an instant costume by using white duct tape to make a line of dashes (your lane lines) that begins at the bottom of your shirt and ends at your collar. Fasten a plastic fork along the route.
15 of 22James Wojcik
Split P Costume
Cut out a large p from a piece of colored construction paper (green is the obvious first choice, but any color of paper will work in a pinch), and then cut it in half. Tape each half to either side of a zippered hoodie, so that the zipper appears to slice through the letter. You could use a hot glue gun instead, but that’s, unfortunately, a bit more permanent. And just so you don’t have to field questions all night long, ensure everyone gets the joke by carrying a can of split pea soup along with you for the evening.
16 of 22James Wojcik
For a costume that’s subtle enough to wear to the office but infinitely more festive than your standard work wear, throw on an orange collared shirt, and then cut out a pi symbol from black paper (or print one out; just type option + p). Tape or safety pin the symbol onto your shirt.
17 of 22James Wojcik
Iron Chef Costume
An incredibly basic, yet clever costume that’s perfect for the person who would really rather go to the party in her blue jeans and a T-shirt. All you need to complete this costume is a chef’s hat and an iron. You probably already have an iron, but you may have to pick up the chef’s hat at a restaurant supply store or the costume outlet. Alternatively, you could make a chef’s hat out of white paper. Bonus points for going all out and swapping the jeans and the tee for baggy chef’s pants and a white coat or an apron.
18 of 22Ryan McVay/Getty Images
Before the days of selfies there were self-portraits (we know, it’s hard to imagine a world without selfies). This Halloween, keep your phone in your pocket (you can do it!) and carry a large, empty picture frame (minus the glass, of course). No idea where to get a large enough picture frame? Make one out of cardboard and paint it gold. Hold it in front of your face. No filters necessary. The best part? You can wear whatever you want. In fact, we encourage you to show off your most stylish ensemble—it is your self-portrait, after all.
19 of 22James Wojcik
For some, dressing up for Halloween might feel just as torturous as a traffic bottleneck (maybe that’s why you waited until the last minute?). But this costume is pretty painless—and you won’t get heckled for not donning a costume. Simply grab an empty soda bottle from the recycling bin. Then, tie a string around its neck and loop the whole thing around yours. Complain all night about “traffic on the 501.” The best part about this getup? It’s easy to go straight from the office to the party, because you can pair the prop with whatever outfit you want.
20 of 22Jamie Chung
It takes an adventurous person—a buccaneer, really—to venture out on Halloween night with dollar bills tapped to their body. Show your daring side by taping a $1 bill to each of your ears. Now you’ve got a buck an ear. Love the idea but worried you’re going to have to field a lot of questions about this particular costume? (What in the world are you?) Pirate-like clothing (raggedy black pants, a tucked in white T-shirt, a big belt, excessive jewelry) and an eye patch are totally optional, but will help people understand what you’re dressed as.
21 of 22Steve Gorton/Getty Images
Tickled Pink Costume
If your Halloween motto is always glamorous never scary or the simpler the better, you’ll love this fun, easy costume. Just wear your favorite pink dress and accessorize with a feather boa. Everyone will be, well, tickled pink when you show up dressed from head to toe in rose or fuchsia. Want to go all out? Buy a few bright pink boas and wrap them around a white dress borrowed from your closet. Secure with safety pins (or use hot glue if the dress is one you can part with). Now that’s a fun costume that’ll have people talking.
22 of 22Ryan McVay/Getty Images
Cat Out of the Bag Costume
Why dress up as a black cat when you can distinguish yourself from the other felines that are out and about in the neighborhood on All Hallow’s Eve with this clever costume. The new variation on the old standby still requires a pit stop at the costume superstore to pick up a kit that includes cat ears and a tail (unless you already have a set at home). But the only other thing you’ll need is an empty bag or a pillowcase. Bonus points for taking the time to master matching cat make-up for a look that’s nothing but sheer purr-fection!