Yes, I totally planned this

Last-minute costume ideas that’ll save your Halloween (and wallet)

click to enlarge Yes, I totally planned this
August Frank/Inland 360 File
Multiple low-budget and last-minute costumes are shown in this photo illustration, including an undercover hero (hoodie and sunglasses), a “bright idea,” a mummy and trash.

Maybe the month got away from you, or maybe you didn’t plan on attending that Halloween party; either way, you need a costume, and you need it fast.

Fear not, despite the spooky season.

Here are some costume ideas using materials you likely already have at home. This also saves you some money, which should be handy, considering you probably spent most of yours on candy. The other benefit of these costumes? If you don’t have all the materials, you can get creative, make additions or improvise based on what you have available.

Undercover Marvel superhero

What you’ll need: a dark-colored sweatshirt, baseball hat, sunglasses.

The costume: In Marvel movies, there is often a moment when the heroes are trying to avoid being identified as either their real identities or alter egos. Thus they don the undercover Marvel superhero look consisting of a sweatshirt with the hood up, baseball cap and sunglasses. It’s also perfect for introverts who don’t really want to talk to anybody at parties.


What you’ll need: your fanciest clothes, maybe a suit or formal dress. Complete the look with a watch or bluetooth earpiece.

The costume: That suit or dress you bought for that wedding that one time can finally come in handy. You’ll look like you're ready to bust a jewel thief or the villain’s underground casino. Be sure to really get into the role by talking into your watch and/or earpiece.


What you’ll need: white shirt, black vest, black pants, shoes. Complete the look with a bow tie.

The costume: Maybe you already have some of these items for your day job or high school band concert. If you’re at a party, grab a plate of food and hold it on your open hand to add the final element. If you're trick-or-treating, bring a fancy plate or silver dish to collect your treats.


What you’ll need: toilet paper.

The costume: Wearing some comfy sweatpants and a T-shirt, wrap toilet paper about yourself from head to toe, and poof! Instant mummy.


What you’ll need: distinctive items from whatever relative you’re trying to impersonate, such as one of your dad’s well-known Hawaiian shirts or your sister’s letter jacket and cheerleading pompoms.

The costume: This is a good option for a kid-friendly cost-cutting outfit. You’ll probably have to stick to shirts, hats and props for proper sizing. The costume will likely get a few laughs.


What you’ll need: plaid flannel shirt (ideally red and black), worn jeans and boots; suspenders and a beanie are optional. If you’re able to handle one safely, an ax or hatchet, or a fake one.

The costume: Considering the popularity of plaid, you’re likely to have the anchor piece on hand. This is an ideal costume if you are a bearded man. Plus, you’ll be ready for cool-weather trick-or-treating.


What you’ll need: trash bags, small items of trash and tape.

The costume: Wearing whatever warm or comfy clothes you wish, attach trash bags to your person by wrapping them around your body and/or taping them. Using packaging tape will provide the necessary adhesive without obscuring the look of the costume. Adding some pieces of garbage — nothing too sticky or dirty — will help the trashy look.

click to enlarge Yes, I totally planned this
August Frank/Inland 360 File
Using common household items, you can pull together a legit costume within a few minutes.

Werewolf turned back into a human

What you’ll need: ripped and/or dirty clothes.

The costume: While a plan-ahead person might be able to score a werewolf costume with teeth, a mask and fur, you can still be a scary monster without the extra work and expense. Put on whatever torn clothes you have or clothes you are willing to rip up. Add some dirt, muss your hair, maybe even add some dog fur if you can, and you’re all set. You can play it up as little or as much as you want for a look that says “Holy cow, I just spent last night in the forest as a wolf.”

Dress up as your partner

What you’ll need: the clothes of your significant other.

The costume: The perfect couple’s costume, if you both realized you didn’t plan one for that party you’re going to Halloween night. Raid each other’s closets for whatever clothes fit, the more ridiculous or the more it exemplifies your partner’s style (or lack thereof), the better.

Sports fan

What you’ll need: whatever sports gear or team gear you have on hand.

The costume: Basically, this costume is what you’d be wearing on game day, whether it’s your team sweatshirt and hat or full-on face paint. You also can bring along the ball of whatever sport you’re representing.

Frat boy

What you’ll need: khakis or other business casual pants, polo shirt or button-down top, boat shoes or white sneakers, backwards hat, sunglasses.

The costume: You’re probably familiar with the frat boy look, preppy and stylish. It’s also a good group costume if you want to travel with a whole frat of last-minute costume-wearers.

Basic white girl (fall edition)

What you’ll need: leggings, UGGs or brown leather boots, white knit cardigan, long scarf, wide-brim hat or knit beanie with pompom, pumpkin spice latte.

The costume
: This is another familiar look for anyone who’s spent more than five seconds on Instagram. It’s also a good option for group costumes. You can add other items, like a large brown leather purse, or keep your phone in your hand taking pictures.


What you’ll need: your pajamas.

The costume: If someone asks “What are you supposed to be?,” just snore, pretend to wake up and say, “How did I get here?” Wearing your pajamas you’ll be comfy, warm and ready for bed when your evening is over.

A bright idea

What you’ll need: dark clothing, dark hat, lightbulb.

The costume: Put on your dark-colored gear, attach the lightbulb to your hat and you’ll be “an idea.” Sometimes if you need a great costume idea, the answer is to be a great idea.

Background party extra

What you’ll need: regular clothes and a beverage (preferably in a red Solo cup).

The costume: This one works best for Halloween parties. Once you arrive, or perhaps before, grab a drink and you’re all set. As you are chatting away with people at the party, you are already acting and looking like every background party-going extra in every movie.